Every now and then while flipping around YouTube I’ve seen links to videos for these whacky things called binaural beats, which claim an ability to induce lucid dreams, bodily healing, out of body experiences, and all sorts of magic. A few weeks ago I finally decided to give them a try, starting with a lucid dreaming track.
Binaural beats apparently work by sending two different sounds into your earholes, and what you hear is a new, third sound produced by your brain. Somehow this creates feelings of relaxation, general positivity, and some whacky experiences.
I have yet to become lucid- I know it’s a skill that typically takes time to get a grasp on- but my dreams have been very interesting, vivid, and easier to remember than usual. Sometimes I feel a sense of warmth and love thinking about them—even the ones that don’t explicitly have those themes (like the dream where I was part of some war game, toting a gun around a muddy field).
My first dream with binaural beats was the most interesting. I was in my bed listening to a binaural beats recording, just as I was in the physical world. The recording said to me, “Wake up…” I tried to move, but I was paralyzed- just as my actual body was (your physical body isn’t supposed to move during REM sleep: ever wake up with “pins and needles” in your limbs, or even your whole body? When this mechanism fails, sleepwalking occurs). Oh crap! Now the recording alarmed me, “Don’t move!” Then I think things got colorful and wild after that.
This is probably the closest I’ve gotten to lucid dreaming. I’ve had several “semi-lucid” dreams, as I’ve called them, in the last year. There were two times that I went fell asleep eliminating beliefs (I hope, at least) using the Lefkoe method, and it continued during my dream! There was also one dream where, at one point, I was sitting next to my friend in a car. I realized that she was not the specific person that I wanted nor expected to be with: I thought, “Hey, something isn’t right here!” and I immediately woke up.
I had one dream on the beats where I was hooked up to an IV filled with “happy” powders from little packets that look like the wrappers bath salts came (probably come) in. Yes, I was shooting up happiness. Suffice to say, I still felt a bit sad after taking them. Don’t tell the pharmaceutical industry about that one.
Sometimes I listen to the beats while half-awake and meditating, which entails my mind floating adrift quite a bit (though in certain types of meditation, this is perfectly acceptable- even the point. But maybe those distinctions don’t matter. Watever). Still, for the most part I can’t say I’ve felt too negatively at all when these sounds are in my ears.
For about the last month (up until a week ago) I’ve been defined, for the most part, by anxiety, depression, and fatigue, but all this goes away when I listen to the beats. Instead I feel loved by the universe (at least mildly) and able to take on life with a curious, open mind.
Sometimes I even feel like my body is getting stronger as I lay there. This has been helpful to me getting off to a strong start in the morning and relaxing before falling asleep at night, so the beats are beneficial even if they don’t last through the night (not totally sure why they stop- maybe I lose Internet connection sometimes). It might just be a placebo effect, but I haven’t read anything about how binaural beats improve health and I didn’t start listening to them with that expectation, so who knows.
Some Sort of Other Dimension
Two times, I’ve gone to the edge (ooh!) and tried an out of
body experience/astral projection track (both of those are in the title). It
may not sound too crazy to put headphones in and chill out, but at the end of
the day, when it’s dark and I’m alone, I do get a bit scared to do this. I have
no idea what’s going to happen. What if ghosts show up in my room to melt the
walls and get drunk on my tears and they tell me they're about to ship me to Hell?
So, I’ve opted to try this in the morning after a night of sleep. Both times when using the binaural beats intended for out of body experiences, I went in with the request, “Reveal me to myself,” and sometimes added, “What is the darkness within me?”
Before my first time I listened to an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast in which Joe and Amber Lyon discussed psychedelic drugs. Joe said (roughly) that if you take these drugs with the intention of asserting the idea of who you think you are, you will have a bad trip. Instead, you must recognize that the drug will reveal who you are—it knows better than you do.
I figured that an out of body experience- or whatever actually happens- would operate basically the same way. It makes sense that it would: I’ve written various times about how forcing yourself into some distorted image of how you think you are or how you want to be will only bring you suffering.
In my second OBE I actually heard (in one of the other dimensions) Joe’s voice trying to guide me through leaving my body: he said something like, “Just fucking stop telling yourself all the stories.” As long as you’re doing that, you ain’t goin’ anywhere. This also reflects how much I listen to the Joe Rogan Experience. :P
It’s tough to say whether I’ve actually left my body. The first time I could feel my body stretch and float out of my toes (toward my head), but there certainly has been no cartoon-like scene of me turning into an angel and looking at my body from the ceiling. I’ve heard of other people doing that: perhaps that takes some different sort of initiation process, or maybe it just happens at random. But I don’t think exactly what happens or whether it actually does are the most important things: it’s your experience that counts.
I like to think that when you dream you enter a different phase of reality, where the laws of physics are different. Time goes by much faster there, you can roughly teleport from one “scene” to the next, and you tend to feel lighter (gravity has less of a hold). Creatures and events you’d never see “out here” are taken for granted “in there,” and the societal rules we know are far less relevant.
From one phase of reality or existence to the next, it’s tough to hold on to memories from previous realities. But, as lucid dreamers (and anyone who remembers parts of dreams) know, it isn’t impossible. To be lucid, I suppose, is to be aware that reality is far broader than what you immediately observe around you.
The OBEs I’ve experienced could be akin to dreams, but they seem different somehow. They certainly are more vivid and easier to remember, though I might feel differently about that if I had a lucid dream. I’ve never been lucid in any other phase of reality—and I probably haven’t been in this one, either (whoopsie!).
Perhaps I’ve been semi-lucid in the OBEs. Both times I’ve been aware of my body being “somewhere else.” In my first experience, while I was in happy-land I remotely viewed my body in my bed, asleep but moving around crazily. I didn’t float above or below my body- rather, you could say the scene cut to the view of my body a few times, and then my first-person experience continued.
In my second experience, after entering another dimension, my body moved even more crazily all over my room while I was trying to leave it. This was a first-person experience, and it was a tad unsettling. I’m curious as to why I didn’t open my eyes, even if those eyes were in another phase of reality. :P
My second experience was also a dream-within-a-dream (possibly within another dream) set up, in which I was listening to the binaural beats in my bed both in this reality (where we are right now) and another one. At some point I mistakenly opened my eyes in that other reality and I broke the darn thing: I heard glass shatter and the world malfunctioned like a computer. Steadily I was able to keep my eyes open longer and move my body parts, and then I “woke up” into another layer of dream. This one didn’t last too long, and I believe this is the one I actually woke up from.
I should have known better that I didn’t actually wake up the first time, because my friend who currently lives in another state greeted me there (and happily so, which hasn’t happened in a while). She was hanging around one of my dreams on a different binaural beats track, too. Maybe she moved not to another state of the U.S., but instead to another state of consciousness.
But more potent than this semi-lucidity—the OBEs definitely seem more relevant to my life than the typical dream. Yes, I’ve had meaningful dreams, and most of what happens in the OBEs probably wouldn’t and/or couldn’t happen “out here.” But the OBEs more powerfully reveal me and the true nature of reality to myself.
Briefly stated, in both experiences I saw that love is not a
thing to be feared. In my second experience, I also saw that I’m not as good of
a person as I’d like to think I am. I learned that if I was perceivably forced
to kill the people I love, I would do so without much resistance beyond a
couple questions. I subsequently witnessed that if these same people and I were
placed into a free-for-all battle with strangers, I would make like a
non-player character (NPC) and run like hell, not doing harm to others but also
not helping them at all. That hurts to know (though I suppose psychology
studies support that truth). Clearly I'm due for some personal change.
I also had a sort of pre-experience shortly before my second OBE. It’s easy to call it a regular ol’ dream, but the process of falling asleep and the experience itself were different. I think it was halfway between my supposed OBEs and typical dreams. This experience struck right at my most frequent failure: not doing the things I want to, even though I can. I sat in the snow and thought, “Why do I always talk myself out of these things? My life is so short… I’ll never understand.” That one hurt like hell, but I’m glad this silliness of mine has been highlighted somewhere.
Bringing the truth out into the light can be painful, but it is with this understanding that I can reduce the far worse pain of daily, avoidable failure.
On a lighter note, the people I care about most have appeared in all of my experiences. That’s always a nice, comforting touch.
Love and Altered Consciousness
What compelled me to try this in the first place was Amber’s statement that ayahuasca removes the fear (meaning) you attach to your experience. It is the fear-based meaning, rather than the experience itself, which allows that experience to torment you until the end of time.
Ayahuasca is meant to heal you. I figured I could do with some healing, and just how different could astral projection or an out of body experience or whatever this stuff is be from psychedelics anyway? Provided I won’t die, it’s worth a try.
The most profound moment I’ve had of these experiences so far happened when I “woke up” from my first OBE. Almost immediately I started milling over how I would tell other people about this. More broadly, I started telling myself mind-wasting stories.
There was none of that in the OBE: the whole time my mind was “off,” to state it roughly, and I was focused on the events as they unfolded. I didn’t need to imagine myself telling other people all my silly stories. Then it hit me: Holy shit, this is an average state of consciousness.
To state it more properly, this is a compromised or low state of consciousness. When you cease constantly telling yourself stories that try to connect present to past or present to future and instead seek to explore your existence in the present, you can begin to heal.
It’s one thing to know this logically. It’s quite another entirely to actually experience the contrast. Certainly there are times in physical reality where the junk-mill of my mind stops, but it hardly has allowed me to experience the unabashed love that I have in other realities. There are just plain fewer boundaries there.
When we get scared, we tear ourselves apart. That includes each other. When we are filled with love, it is a challenge to harm another creature- the self included.
Telling another person that you love him or her can seem like a massive task, one which is threatening to your well-being. For me, working up the courage and understanding that allows me to do it has always been an intense and usually excessively lengthy process. I basically have to get sick, feeling my body fill up with pain, anxiety, confusion, and depression. Finally at some point it hurts so bad that I do it just to make it stop hurting.
I know, that sounds ridiculous. It doesn’t sound like love at all. Usually all that fear messes with my ability to communicate, making it difficult to convey how I feel and what I believe about how I feel. I do get better as I get older and my understanding of love and fear improves, but I may not be at the level of elegant romantic poetry yet (though is anyone? I don’t know).
It’s interesting that I become so consumed by fear in regards to expressing love. If you’ve read Enemies of Consciousness, you know (I think!) that fear and love cannot exist in the same space. I suppose for me fear takes the form of believing that other people won’t understand and will thus reject me, or simply that love is bad and weird. The pain and general anxiety, then, are the result of that fear. To remove the products of fear, I must defy my fear by instead choosing to express and live with love.
As I stated before, the products of fear help in this process, in that once they have consumed enough of me they practically betray their creator by forcing me to finally share love (again, I know that sounds like some shitty kind of love). This displays how fear tends to be, ultimately, self-destructive (and thus futile to achieving its own ends).
If you have any self-destructive habits, for instance, try to observe how you feel just before you take action on them. My guess is that the habit is prompted by fear; I know this to be the case for me.
Likewise, we know that if we continue to live greedily by relentlessly robbing and destroying natural resources, the Earth will no longer be able to support many (or all) of us. We do this because we fear dying, and we fear dying because we believe this physical, societally-enclosed life is all we have. The product of fear, then, is greed. Greed, in time, betrays fear by producing what fear resists: death. Then there is no more fear, no more greed, nor anymore robbery, because we are dead (well, presumably).
What I’d really like you to know is that love is not inherently confusing or painful. Remember: these negative feelings are the product of fear. Your mind and body only start running wild by the suppression of love, not by love in itself. Love doesn’t suck: it’s the rules and restrictions we attach to love that suck.
We all express and experience love in different ways. Even in one individual, the way he feels about different people cannot be exactly the same. This is just as no two experiences can be the same.
In our average everyday state of consciousness, it is not possible to attain pure, unconditional love. If it was, we wouldn’t need to be here- at least, not for long. No absolutes can exist in the physical realm. Anything pure and absolute must be either theoretical or metaphysical. There is no 100% darkness or light to be experienced, except by other-than-typical means.
This means that no loving relationship will be without its disagreements and difficulties. However, I suspect many people accept these to be “natural” to an extent that is far beyond necessary, both in their relationships to other people as well as that to life. Maybe you’ll never hit a perfect 10 out of 10 for very long, but can’t you get past that 7 you’ve been stuck at for years? Or at least that 3, which may be disguised as a 7?
Loving another person should feel wonderful. I mean, isn’t that what people want when they choose to deepen a relationship (e.g. emotionally)- to feel good? We should know that this feeling will not arise merely out of some good intention to love. No- love requires action.
To truly love, we must express. We must make the people we care about aware of our thoughts, feelings, and actions (especially in regards to them), and do so continually. This progression of self-disclosure reduces uncertainty and fear, and simultaneously builds trust. By way of honesty we will relate to one another- and likely to life- with broader openness, and probably will enjoy each other’s company more also.
Generally speaking, we’re supposed to form strong connections with other people. If you hold in something that is important to you and try to convince yourself, through stories, that it doesn’t really matter that much, you will experience pain- both physical and emotional. Once you choose to move beyond the doom-predicting stories and instead express yourself as you are now you will heal, and life will become more beautiful.
When you downplay what is important to you, life inevitably becomes difficult. Your desires are unlikely to be wicked: rather, it is the beliefs you have attached to them that make them so.
But can you really know 100% what you want before it’s actually in your face? How can you know that you want to run an ultramarathon before you’re aware that such events exist?
There’s probably a lot about yourself as well as the universe that you don’t know, perhaps more than you can imagine.
When you are attracted to someone who defies your ideal it’s easy to worry that you’re dropping your standards, but that might not even matter here. For one thing, if you only want to connect with this person in certain ways (e.g. emotionally but not physically) and you acknowledge that, that can get you off the hook a bit.
But more importantly may be that such a person can teach or give you something that Mr(s). Right just couldn’t deliver. Again, how can you be totally certain of what you really want or need before you have it, or at least see it?
On top of that, relationships aren’t static: you don’t have to stay with this person forever. Maybe you just need each other for a few months or years, and in time you grow apart (of course, if you know this will be the case then keep your pants on). Perhaps then you will be ready for the “right” person, though if you really have grown your idea of “right” has likely changed. Also, again, you don’t have to limit yourself to one emotionally intimate relationship for eternity. But I will leave that for you to decide on (But not anything else. For all other decisions, I am your commander).
It is these same beliefs and stories which may also blur our awareness of our desires. When you put so much mental energy into suppressing desire, can you expect much to be left for desire itself? Of course, since fear has a way of collapsing on itself, desire may eventually come out one way or another.
The suppression of thought and feeling, unfortunately, can twist desire, and cause dangerous or at least incongruent actions to come out. Heart-warming love gets thrown into the factory system of convoluting contraptions to come out the other side as a deranged, perhaps fatal, obsession. You may think you’re doing the world a favor by shutting up, but really you’re only kidding yourself. You’re probably preventing others from experiencing what may have been a nice gift from you, too.
Surely there is no good reason to shame yourself for loving. When you can allow yourself to love, you better allow yourself to live. Trying hard to keep yourself in line will more likely, in the end, throw you off the path of so-called righteousness and into the horror of suffering.
Stories and Physical Reality
I’ve been aware of the story teller for some time now, but having metaphysical and deeply introspective experiences leads me to question it even more. It is the hypnotist which keeps us moving in everyday patterns. Maybe we need it to stay grounded in this physical reality. Certainly the idea that I am writing words to be entered into a database which can be accessed by anyone with the tools for reaching that database (computers, cellphones, or tablets with Internet connection) is a story.
Physical reality, as we see it, isn’t really real, but it is a wonderful medium for interacting with what is real: consciousness. I suspect that if you spend all your time trippin’ and in deep introspection, you won’t get to experience consciousness as fully as you could have. Not at all.
We aren’t brought into this particular existence merely for shits and giggles, though there certainly are plenty of those to be had. But if you let go of what we can call the objective world, where your body and other life forms exist, can you really call yourself loving? Doesn’t a chronic evasion of the world “out there” reflect a fear of it?
But, of course, having hallucinatory and deeply introspective experiences can indeed enhance our connection to the physical world. Neither needs to be invalidated. At heart, they aren’t even separate. What we know as “out there” is but one form of what exists “in here”: that is all.
I don’t think we really possess deep spiritual knowledge, but instead it comes through us. To say that anyone owns truth… Well, I don’t know- can you say that? Or does truth actually own us? Don’t we exist within truth’s structures? Doesn’t truth make up the basic building blocks of the universe?
If someone were to own truth, who would they be- God? But can’t we say that we’re all God, or the universe, or life- whatever broader entity that may guide our existence? Or am I just tangling myself up in semantics?
What’s most important about these experiences is how they have influenced my actions in physical reality. I’m going to draw this story out a bit longer than I need to, but I think doing this will better demonstrate what I’ve learned.
A few hours after my first OBE I told one of my friends that I love her (in a beyond-friends way, I suppose). I had been considering doing this for almost a month, but was just too darned scared.
For about two months up to this point I had been feeling generally depressed and lonely. I hardly spoke to anyone. Ultramarathon training was nowhere near as enjoyable as it had been in the Summer, and my attempt to run 100 miles (about a month ago), though fondly remembered, was a wreck. I dropped out near the 100K mark (62.1 miles- I ran 62.5), and it took me 8 hours longer to do than I had just 5 months before. Though I’ve never taken psychedelic drugs I kept thinking about how this must be just like a bad trip: wrought with torture and suffering, marked by a sense of loneliness and endlessness.
But the race didn’t really stop there. To a milder extent, I basically relived this experience almost everyday for the next three weeks. I was incredibly sensitive to the tiniest unfavorable things that happened. It was hard to not cry every day, usually several times per day. A sense of anxiety was subtly ever-present. Every now and then it would explode. Sometimes, I felt like I was dangling over a torture chamber.
I ate like crazy- even though I didn’t want to sometimes- and I sometimes felt cold afterward (which usually only happens when I’m unhealthy or compromised, like during the race). The thoughts of going outside and exercising were dreadful, but staying in and not moving depressed me. I was exhausted. My body was in pain all over, and it wouldn’t let up. Whenever I stood up I worried about passing out. What little running I did do was pitiful.
I felt hopelessly lonely and trapped. School just made me angry: I felt like it isolated me from people even more. And all these things got worse as time went on- not better, as is usually the case when you recover from strenuous activity (or injury).
For a while I was convinced that my suffering, both psychological and physiological, came mostly from a problem with my body. Either my body was not receiving something that it needed, or it was receiving something that is harmful to it. I thought I probably had hormonal issues, in the form of testosterone deficiency, estrogen deficiency, and/or adrenal fatigue.
I figured the first thing I should do would be to make changes to my diet, so I stopped eating gluten and upped my fat intake. I also considered giving supplements a try but I’ve more or less shied away from them (I tried Amazing Grass Green Superfood- at best it seems to give me a day of GI distress). I’ve reflected on supplements, fat intake, and metaphysical physical health in several articles (which I'll post at the bottom).
But the whole time I knew this wasn’t all that was going on. I thought about her almost constantly, and occurrences of anxiety seemed closely linked to being around her and/or failing to talk to her. Whenever I asked myself what I needed most to feel better, the answer was the same: I had to tell her. But do I really have to?, I would respond. Of course, it was just another instance of me talking myself out of something I wanted to do.
So yeah, yeah- it might just be some silly new-agey teenage drama, whereby correlation has been mistaken for causation. How typical that is of you unlearn-ed folks. You don’t control the universe, you silly.
But couldn’t it be that? In the last week I’ve felt very little sadness or anxiety. It’s much harder to unsettle me now. Where I previously would have suffered, I now feel (to some extent) the love of a challenge. My previously-shallow heartbeat has become more solid. I haven’t worried about passing out. I still have pain, but it’s certainly milder. I definitely have more energy and strength. I don’t need to eat quite as ravenously. I’ve actually been running (and farther, also), and I have more fun than fear while doing it.
Socially, I feel freer. I’m more able to say the things I want to. Talking to other people isn’t as scary. I don’t have the sense of carrying around an unshoulderable burden.
I’m by no means perfect (which doesn’t really exist anyway), and I still have a lot of things to do and figure out, but damn do I feel better.
It’s possible that whatever was wrong with my body basically corrected itself. Maybe gluten was eating my soul: I don’t know. Perhaps the paradigm of separation was eating up my lonely body as well.
Whatever the case, I hope that my most recent experience likewise influences me to act differently, specifically by heeding my desires more often and being less harmfully-selfish. Few lessons are considered learned after they have been applied only once, but there’s probably something I could act on very, very soon which relates to the experience.
How the Hell is this Relevant to Your Life?
So if you’ve been feeling wild and crazy and tired lately, it may be that your diet sucks. There’s a chance that the way you’re living life does also. Maybe you need to admit to yourself that you’re wasting your time and constantly dodging your desires, and doing so for not really any good reason. Perhaps you’ve been viewing yourself in the lens of a purely physical object for too long.
Whatever the reality may be, the best way to understand it is not solely by reading it in the form of words, but actually experiencing it. Let my words encourage you to go really learn about yourself. Binaural beats may help you to do so, but there undoubtedly are other ways. It might be psychedelics, it might be an isolation tank, it might be a loving relationship, it might be some activity you’re crazy about: it could be all of those things and more.
For a moment, drop your fears and presumptions of what is “right” and “wrong” and go towards whatever you are inclined to. How “wrong” could you really be?
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