On the border of worlds. How do people enter an altered state of consciousness?

When it comes to an altered state of consciousness (ASC), we usually remember specific spiritual practices of esotericists, access to the astral plane, meditation or communication with spirits. All this exoticism and mysticism has nothing to do with the majority of people, and in general is most often fake. However, an altered state of consciousness is a completely common product of our psyche; moreover, everyone has experienced it, although often we do not even pay attention to it. On the other hand, in a number of cases the phenomenon of altered consciousness cannot be called either an ordinary or a natural mental phenomenon, although it still has nothing to do with mysticism. However, let's take it in order.

Holotropic Breathwork

Yoga classes usually begin with an explanation of the principles of proper breathing: students are told how to inhale and exhale so that your next change of position does not end with shortness of breath and a red face stuck on the floor.
The technique of holotropic breathing is associated with its excess. In the 60s, American scientists were absorbed in the ideas of altered states and their influence on humans - either in order to create super-soldiers, or in attempts to create new X-Men. The result of such research was the invention of LSD and other substances, for which modern ravers can thank them. But after a series of unsuccessful experiments (there were no explosions of laboratories or the creation of monsters - just the experiments did not give any results, except for the experimental subjects ironing the carpet), the substances were finished, and psychologist Stanislav Grof came up with this very holotropic breathing, based on the history of breathing techniques.

This method is based on oversaturation of the blood with oxygen and hyperventilation of the lungs. The instructor stands above you and tells you to breathe quickly, and now deeper, and now quickly and deeply. And you inhaled so much that, in fact, you are poisoned by your favorite oxygen. Continuing to follow the trainer's instructions, you move from a state of oversaturation to oxygen starvation. And then the “miracles” begin. The brain, experiencing a lack of oxygen, loses control over itself, and the subconscious begins to sketch out the most emotional impressions from the past. And your “teacher” heals your sick mind while you are suffocating. It is not known how effective this is, but after the procedure you will definitely feel better - mainly due to the fact that you can now breathe normally.

Some people simply lose consciousness or feel dizzy after these exercises, and some are literally reborn and forget about their problems forever (perhaps these are the same people who were waiting for a collision with the planet Nibiru). But everything can go according to the worst scenario: it is not difficult to guess that if cells, like any living creature, lack oxygen, then they may soon die, and if brain cells die, then very soon you will begin to drool while sitting at table, or you’ll spend all day watching a cartoon about Dasha the Explorer.

Techniques related to oxygen fasting are used in other areas of life. For example, during sex, someone likes to be choked (you can read more about this and other tough lovemaking in our article). You could also get acquainted with such an altered consciousness at school. I remember how we had a common progressive “dog high” technique, when after a few squats you were choked by an experienced high school specialist and you passed out or experienced a minute of unconscious delirium. I still don’t understand the people who agreed to this then.


Self-programming of a person consists of controlling one’s consciousness and correctly programming one’s subconscious.

  • The task of consciousness is to explain to oneself the existing stereotypes of behavior, analyze one’s strengths and weaknesses, find and replace negative beliefs with positive attitudes.
  • The task of the subconscious is to attract or create circumstances that correspond to the thoughts and images fixed in it, and to bring mental and other habits to automatism.

That is, it is almost impossible to change oneself with the power of thought alone; the desired result can be achieved only when new habits and attitudes are formed, and information about the new self is firmly rooted in the subconscious.

Forming a New Habit

We all know that to form a new habit, develop a skill, it is necessary:

  1. The thought of creating a new habit
  2. Consolidating thought with action
  3. Repeating an action multiple times
  4. Carrying out an action automatically - a habit has been developed

Why is this happening? How to reprogram the subconscious?

It turns out that reprogramming occurs not only at the level of thinking, but also at the emotional, and even at the physical, biological level.

Neuroplasticity and reaching a “new level”

Joe Dispenza talks well about what happens at the “brain level” when introducing new attitudes in his book “The Power of the Subconscious, or How to Change Your Life in 4 Weeks.”

Joe Dispenza, MD, is a neuroscientist who studies topics such as brain chemistry, neuroscience, memory formation, and life extension.

In this book he uses the term neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to form new neural connections with the help of conscious intention and information from the environment. It is this ability of neurons that allows a person to achieve a new level of intelligence:

Neuroscientists call this process neuronal pruning and sprouting, but I describe the changes in terms of “learning” and “unlearning.” Neuroplasticity gives us the ability to transcend limitations and transcend the external and internal circumstances in our lives.

It turns out that we already have everything, all the tools to reach a new level, they are provided by nature. You just have to take it and do it - forget old habits and form new ones.

Sensory deprivation chambers

A small example from popular culture: in the first season of the series Stranger Things, there was a moment when Eleven’s pool was filled with water, a large amount of salt was poured into it, and then a “helmet” was put on the girl, and after that she wandered through the palaces of the mind. It was a homemade sensory deprivation chamber.

Today, such procedures, also called “floating,” can be performed in special institutions equipped with such capsules, or in yoga centers. This camera was invented in the 50s by Dr. John Lilly. At that time, he was studying the human brain, or rather, trying to understand where it gets its energy from. Lilly tried to create conditions of complete isolation in order to make observations of the behavior of the brain - such a camera became the best option for his experiments.

What is a modern sensory deprivation chamber like? In general terms, this is a container of water at room temperature into which a person is immersed. The water has a very high salt content so that the body can float calmly on its surface - this creates a feeling of weightlessness. The chamber is protected from light and soundproofed. It turns out that you are immersed in complete darkness and “floating” there, when even tactile sensations are dulled, and you only hear your own breathing and how your stomach growls if you forgot to have a snack.

Some compare it to the womb, others talk about space. And where can we expect altered states? After all, I don’t experience hallucinations while lying on the couch after work. It's again about the poor brain, for whom extreme situations are created. Your senses cannot read the information, and your brain, like a blind gunner, begins to fire projectiles in different directions, hoping to at least clarify something. Just as a bat receives information about the world around it by shooting ultrasonic waves, your skull buddy tries to understand what is happening by releasing uncontrollable images. But mostly it will be a way of relaxation for you after a hard day. Because here you lie and really do NOTHING.

Not everyone reaches the state of a sick dreamer, but a couple of crazy ideas or pictures may pop up in your head. At least this method is relatively safe for the body. It might just cause a panic attack if you're claustrophobic or can't swim. Oh yes, don’t try to scratch your eyes while you’re lying in this capsule—salty water will be perceived negatively by your retina. Also, various fresh scratches or wounds can remind you when you find yourself in the water.

Programming consciousness

In ticket No. 2 of the “Cheat Sheets for Success,” we dealt with idealizations and came to the conclusion that in order to get rid of them, we must learn to accept life as it is. Thus, programming of consciousness has begun, because awareness of the cause of unfavorable events in life has been established, and the first step has been taken on the path to well-being.

The next step is to understand your beliefs, since beliefs are a filter through which a person perceives the world and determines his place in it.

A person’s manifestation in all spheres of life depends on his attitudes, thinking patterns, fears that were instilled by parents, other authority figures, the media and personal experience. This is a kind of programming of the individual for certain decisions, actions and actions.

We can highlight:

  • Verbal programming. What did the man hear?
  • Imitation. What did the man see?
  • Personal experience. What happened to the person?

This information is stored in memory, and the achievement of goals and personal success depends on its nature.

If some negative event has occurred in life, then the next time a person finds himself in a similar situation, he will already rely on his negative experience. He will treat it with distrust and worry that this could happen again and, as a result, the negative experience will be repeated. It’s as if a person is walking in a circle: negative experience - worrying - attraction of the next negative event - repetition of negative experience.

The same thing happens with imitation and verbal programming. A person saw how his parents acted in a given situation, remembered the stereotype of behavior, and thereby programmed himself to take the same actions in similar situations.

You can’t find a soul mate, get a well-paid job, start your own business, build a career - there is a reason for all this - a personal negative program.


Food poisoning sucks. All the valves in your body instantly break down, and you begin to gush for several hours with short breaks for showers. But food poisoning can also cause hallucinations if you eat the wrong mushrooms or berries, for example. But there are naturalists who deliberately eat the wrong plants.

This practice goes straight back to ancient times, when our ancestors, due to the lack of other entertainment or as an experiment, tried to eat everything. And one day they realized that some plants had an unusual effect, and they began to use the conditions caused by these leaves and mushrooms in their rituals (I’m sure that someone simply continued to use it purely for personal recreational purposes). The best known members of this class are psilocybin mushrooms, which produce a state similar to an LSD trip. Pelevin in his book “Generation P” described in sufficient detail what happens to a person who eats mushrooms (it all ended with the advertising concept for “Parliament” cigarettes invented by the hero).

“The highest form of self-realization of the fly agaric as a mushroom is an atomic explosion - something like a luminous immaterial body that some advanced mystics acquire. And people are simply an auxiliary life form that the fly agaric uses to achieve its highest goal, just as people use mold to make cheese.”

But while Russians know enough about mushrooms (just in case, I’ll say that psilocybin is included in the list of narcotic drugs), then not so much about vines. I'm talking about ayahuasca - a drink of ancient Indian tribes made from a decoction of a special vine. It was used for mystical rituals associated with changing consciousness and immersion in the secrets of ancestors, as it causes powerful hallucinations. Nowadays, in some places similar rituals are also held for tourists.

If in Peru this drink is considered a national treasure, and UNESCO has included in the World Heritage List special songs of shamans that accompany the use of this potion, then in our country, as in many other countries, ayahuasca is prohibited. In 2021, the artist Maxim Gert, who was planning to smuggle a liter of ayahuasca across the border, was detained - 11.5 years in a maximum security colony.


The following reasons for the occurrence of the phenomenon of confused consciousness are identified:

  • traumatic (consequences of penetrating traumatic brain injury);
  • in case of brain injury (organ tissues are highly sensitive);
  • the occurrence of an aneurysm (an enlarged blood vessel affects neighboring tissues);
  • mercury poisoning;
  • increased dose of alcohol in the blood;
  • drug intoxication;
  • effects of neurotropic gas on the respiratory system;
  • entry of organophosphorus compounds into the digestive system;
  • poisoning with neurotoxic substances – puffer fish, mushrooms, carambola;
  • hyperthermia resulting from infectious diseases;
  • pain shock during a fracture, dislocation, significant blood loss;
  • severe diseases - tuberculosis, encephalitis, diabetes mellitus, all types of hepatitis, acquired human immunodeficiency syndrome at the final stage of development;
  • progression of the growth of a cancerous tumor at the last stage - decay (during the process intoxication occurs);
  • coronary heart disease, all types of strokes, occurring both unnoticed and obvious;
  • myocardial infarction, with pronounced pain and impaired blood flow;
  • vegetative-vascular dystonia – dilation of blood vessels occurs in areas of the autonomic nervous system of the body;
  • age-related diseases: senile dementia, Alzheimer's disease, marasmus of all types;
  • bright emotional outburst;
  • hypothermia;
  • a period without sleep for a long time;
  • oxygen starvation;
  • 1st and 2nd degree stunning.

Shamanic rituals

We learned a little about the shamans of the Amazon, but we also remember that Russia also has its own people with tambourines, and not only in Russian song ensembles. We are talking about shamans of Siberia and other remote parts of Russia. Now they even have their own organizations and bosses. The demand for enlightenment is growing, which means that the number of wizards who can offer their services is growing, so that on the shore of a lake among deserted expanses they can shake herbs over your head, make sounds in their throats and bill you for the services rendered. Of course, many of them will simply be actors of a local youth theater with a suitable appearance and skills of fooling.

Real shamans don’t care about the problems of “white people”. The deer getting sick is a problem, the wife can’t give birth is another problem, and stress due to lack of praise from superiors is a lesser problem.

But there are also professional commercial shamans who perform rituals for those who wish. The bulk of people who turn to them are women who cannot get pregnant, people with diabetes and cancer, says Artur Tsybikov, Deputy Supreme Shaman of Russia. I’m not sure that the tambourine can cope with cancer, but no one has canceled the placebo effect. These serious rituals cost about 15 thousand rubles.

Some of them are carried out for help, while others are carried out to achieve an altered state. But if in South America additional substances are used for this, then the traditions of Russian shamans involve going beyond the borders of this world through dancing, throat singing and the rhythmic sounds of a tambourine. The shaman invades the pure consciousness of a person while his brain is focused on monotonous sounds and movements.

But not all shamans are satisfied with citizens turning to them for help: some see the problem deeper and want to influence it with decisive action. Thus, a shaman from Yakutia, Alexander Gabyshev, moved towards Moscow in early March to “drive out demons from the Kremlin.” It seems to me that this is the plot for the anime that we deserve.

Symptoms of the disease

Changes that help establish the diagnosis are pronounced dizziness, variable mood, disturbed sleep, problems with remembering facts, inability to identify a person, internal psychological anxiety without outside provocation.

Spatial symptoms stand out: a sharp change in mood - an apathetic state changes to an aggressive one.

Help in this situation can only be found in a specialized institution that works with psychologically unbalanced people.

A separate category is social disorientation, which cannot be classified as a mental disorder. Its specific features: unclearly pronounced age, long-term adaptation to society, anxiety in an unusual situation.

Vegetative-vascular dystonia provokes worsening symptoms - vomiting, active progressive dizziness, tinnitus, complete or partial hearing loss, headaches, and fluctuating blood pressure.

The diagnostic complex involves an initial consultation with a psychiatrist and a neurologist. The doctor performs manipulations with the patient, a full physical examination with questions to help establish the correct diagnosis. From the point of view of physical manipulations, there is blood sampling for biochemistry and general clinical analysis. A test is performed to detect drugs in the body. Mandatory coagulogram and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. At the same time, the patient is sent for specialized tests to identify his psychological level.

Lucid dreaming

Have you ever had such moments when you realized that everything around you is a dream, which means you can do whatever you want? I hope that if this happened, then you were actually asleep and didn’t start creating chaos at the bus stop. Science calls this state lucid dreaming. You suddenly register a cheat for invulnerability in your own reality and enter God mode. You adjust the world to suit you, launch fireballs or seduce any beauty from your dreams, because she is also part of your subconscious.

Such things are not only useful as entertainment, but in some cases they also help to cope with various problems that are often projected in the head in the form of dreams. For example, every night you see the same nightmare, where Valery Meladze in fish scales runs at you with a chainsaw, singing Eldzhey’s songs. This horror doesn’t let you sleep, every time you wake up in a cold sweat, while the voice in your head finishes singing something about minimal. If you control your dream, you will be able to interrupt it, understand that this is all just fiction, and try to logically complete this story - you will no longer be afraid of the nightmare.

Entering such states can be done in different ways. This is done over time, after hard training. Different methods use different means: self-hypnosis, additional sound, conditioned signals, plants and drugs.

There is no 100% result, since much will depend on your suggestibility, concentration and how lightly you sleep in general (some people don’t even remember their dreams). But the basis is the same everywhere: in a dream you need to understand that it is a dream. It would seem that this is quite simple - in the morning all the dreams seem so crazy that it is immediately clear that this is not reality. But, firstly, in a dream the brain plays by its own rules, it does not think about another reality. Secondly, some dreams are too similar to real life, especially if something very good or very bad happens there - rational thinking is overshadowed by emotions. However, there are several universal tips for determining sleep: try to remember how you ended up in this place, look in the mirror or try to turn on the light in the room.

If you have tried hundreds of times to induce lucid dreams, but only succeeded in inducing snoring, then I advise you to watch the movie “Waking Life.” He clearly demonstrates this phenomenon and tells how to deal with it.

Current of development

To correctly establish the primary diagnosis, it is necessary to note the causes of the anomaly. Fundamental experts identify the following factors:

  • psychological disorders leading to a serious disorder in consciousness;
  • stress, nervous overstrain;
  • exceeding the norm of ppm alcohol in the blood;
  • drug intoxication;
  • medications: tranquilizers, antidepressants, sedatives;
  • long-term exposure to increased background radiation;
  • period of recovery from anesthesia;
  • progressive depression;
  • Alzheimer's disease;
  • senile pseudosclerosis;
  • vegetative-vascular dystonia;
  • schizophrenia;
  • hypoglycemia;
  • senile dementia;
  • lack of water resources in the body;
  • insufficient kidney function;
  • epileptic disease;
  • malignant brain tumor;
  • benign brain tumor;
  • hyperthermia;
  • infection with encephalitis tick.

Disorientation can be observed during a high-power impact and in a large emotional outburst. With this development, fainting often occurs. A one-time case is not a consequence of the occurrence of pathological processes. However, to be on the safe side, a consultation with a psychiatrist is necessary.


Your eyelids become heavy, you want to sleep, your body is relaxed. This is roughly how hypnotists work in movies. A mandatory attribute in this case is a pendulum in the hands of this specialist. Then the suggested object with a glassy look gets up and goes to do what the master ordered.

In real life, the abilities of hypnosis are more limited. A modern hypnotist, or rather a hypnotherapist, works with the patient’s subconscious in order to solve his mental problems. That is, this is one of the types of psychotherapy. The process of hypnosis is similar to the introduction of trance among ancient tribes (but not so loud and large-scale) using certain monotonous actions, keywords and sometimes suitable sound accompaniment. The patient is brought into a state of absolute peace, relaxation, and abstraction, and then the hypnotherapist hacks the person’s operating system and enters developer mode. Of course, everything is not so serious, but he can perform certain manipulations with the consciousness of a gullible patient.

But this is if the experimental subject is suggestible, is disposed to hypnosis and believes that he needs it and it will help him. Hypnosis is not a one-size-fits-all therapeutic tool. Rather, it is a trick for the brain that a person who is delighted with a rabbit taken out of a hat will take seriously, believe in “magic”; and a lover of revelations will always find a double bottom in this hat.

If you are afraid that after a hypnosis session you will wake up on the street without clothes and realize that your gold teeth are no longer yours, then you can try self-hypnosis. The banal technique “relax and count to ten” is also one of the types of self-hypnosis, when you concentrate your attention on mental counting while you experience the peak of surging emotions. This technique also helps with special phrases, with the help of which you “code” yourself and make fine tuning. But from the outside, such things look scary. In some cases, self-hypnosis is used to relieve pain. I recently read in a book how one of the characters experienced post-operative pain: he gave himself the attitude that it was impossible to cope with the pain “entirely”, but he could easily experience every single second of it, that is, he divided the pain into parts and dealt with it in this way . We experienced something from this series in our childhood: “A spoon for mom, a spoon for dad.”


At the time of living in a state of altered consciousness, later referred to as ASC, a person experiences disturbances:

  • in the sense of time and chronology of events

He simply loses orientation in space, when a minute can seem like an hour, and an hour flies by like a second. For example, many people who became participants in a disaster, being in shock, cannot even approximately indicate how much time they spent at the scene of the incident. Or during the process of childbirth, a woman loses count of the hours spent in contractions and pushing.

  • in thinking

The archaic thinking that was characteristic of our ancestors becomes the leader. It lacks specificity and the ability to adequately perceive reality, sometimes confusing it with one’s own images and ideas.

  • in the ability to control oneself and one’s behavior

There is a fear of powerlessness and helplessness. A person feels that he is no longer subject to his own will, he is weak and vulnerable. Some people experience the opposite sensation of loss of control.

  • in body image

Depersonalization can make itself felt, that is, the loss of one’s own “I”; the personality seems to merge with space, being in a single process. Sometimes there is a separation of soul and body, or it seems that, say, arms or legs have increased in size, separated, etc.

  • in feelings

They experience feelings that cannot be expressed or designated in words. They are so subjective and unique that they have no name.

  • in perception

Hallucinations appear, and sometimes synesthesia is observed, that is, changes in sensory sensations when a person not only sees a color, but also hears it and tastes it. There are also such powerful changes in information processing that it seems as if one has learned the meaning of life or has been born again.


A classic of immersion in altered states. For some, this may seem like a naive activity that will only lead to swelling of the lower half of the body. Indeed, real “nirvana” or at least some result is not easy to achieve. When I tried to meditate, it all ended with my nose itching, some annoying fly appearing, my leg going numb, and now I’m off to the store for beer.

Despite the apparent simplicity of this method, it is very difficult to achieve the desired result. This is largely due to the frivolous approach: it is not enough to just sit in the lotus position, close your eyes and hum to yourself. This is not meditation - this is procrastination.

There are various meditation techniques, the names of which contain such terrible words: vipassana, sahaj marg and kundalini. But most of them involve focusing your attention on your breathing, on each inhalation and exhalation, on the flutter of your nostrils and the air that touches your lips. This helps you break away from reality, your attention will be focused on one simple action (a similar scheme, as you understand, is present in many techniques for inducing an altered state).

Achieving something higher, transcendental enlightenment or something like that is given to few, and those who have achieved this can lie or convince themselves of something that did not happen. But meditation is a good way to relax and pacify your inner demons if they decide to ruin your hot afternoon.

Medical classification

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Disorientation is classified into radiation, occupational, spatial and social symptoms. Psychiatry identifies the term “autopsychic disorientation” - the lack of perception of personal factors (the inability to reproduce the last name, first name, patronymic, date of birth, that is, identification data). With this phenomenon, the individual’s surrounding world changes, and orientation in it is completely absent. A double perception of the world is noted, a real and imaginary environment is created, alternately visited by the psychological inner world. The full picture emerges after a proper examination by a doctor.

Preparation for practice

You can enter the alpha state while sitting or lying down, whichever is more comfortable for you. If you fall asleep quickly in a relaxed state, this technique is best done while sitting. During your first training, before entering altered states of consciousness, you do not need to set any goals. To begin with, you just need to get good at walking into this state. Before class, we remove all irritating factors: turn off the phone, intercom, close the doors so that relatives do not disturb. Clothes should be loose. If extraneous sounds are still present, wear headphones.

A good time to do this technique is before bed, when everyone in the house is calm. The position should be comfortable; arms and legs should not be crossed.

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