Citation: Spiraline. "Very Interesting Tool: An Experience with Mind Machine (ID 42391)". Erowid.org. Aug 20, 2007. erowid.org/exp/42391
I had been doing research into bio-feedback, especially in regard to its use in processing and controlling music, when I learned of mind machines. Machines for flashing light have been around since William Burroughs and Brion Gysin experimented with lightbulbs and record turntables (the 'Dream Machine'). Though I have never seen this, someone tells me that there is also a particular “trip toy” consisting of colored sunglasses, a pinwheel and a straw. One faces the sun with eyelids closed, blows through the straw, and the pinwheel flashes the sun on one’s closed eyelids.
Mind machines as they exist today have been around for some fifteen years, though they have only recently dipped below the $200 mark. I became so interested in them through my limited reading on the Internet that I made a rare impulse buy. I have the Proteus machine, which includes both red and green LED’s under the glasses, about fifty pre-programmed “sessions,” and software for designing one’s own programs.
Mind machines work by inducing frequencies in the brain. An EEG machine can read Alpha, Gamma, Delta, and Theta waves. These frequencies represent waking consciousness through deep sleep. Aurally, different wave states can be induced by playing slightly different audio frequencies into either ear. The brain, in its attempt to reconcile these frequencies, creates a third – a “beat” – and this third frequency seems to be able to induce states of consciousness. The same is true for the glasses – the lights flashing on either eye in stereo.
I remember quite vividly my first experience with the Proteus machine, after excitedly tearing it from the box. I was most interested in reports that it could produce visual hallucinations, so I went with one of the “playtime” settings called “Fireworks.” This was a mishmash of different frequencies juxtaposed to create the most cerebral noise, I suppose, but it did manage to create some interesting visuals. For me, these were mostly phosphene patterns, orbs, spiral swirls, and the sense that the vision field was advancing, receding, and rushing by. The red and green flashing LED lights produced the entire spectrum of color – yellows, blues, deep purples, etc. Color theory explains quite a bit of the motion (warm colors near, cools far), but there were elements that I could not explain.
I found the first experience so overwhelming that I forgot to breath. The light and sound combination becomes an environment itself, and it seems total. It didn’t take long for me to release myself into it. In a certain sense, I became the light and sound itself. During one of these sessions, my body was flooded with warmth and energy. It is often quite pleasurable, like the pleasurable beginning stages of a psychedelic trip. The machine facilitates a kind of “ego death” as well, and for a while the weight of memory is lifted.
I remember taking a drive afterwards. The aftereffects were quite pronounced and blissful. I felt that my senses were heightened – taste and smell, especially – though there was a distinct post-coital high, like a shot of endorphins after a good run. Other times I come out of it feeling like I’m in the middle of the best nap I’ve ever taken, and I don’t want to get up.
I was using the mind machine every day for a few months. Instead of gradually losing its appeal, I found it continually opened up new avenues for exploration. There was a process of learning how to “be” in the light-sound environment, where to focus my eyes and mind. I have also since introduced it to various friends in the past two years. Reactions vary. Some people see abstract shapes like I do; others see an extremely lucid progression of precise images. Some people find it energizing; others find it so overwhelming and exhausting that it puts them to sleep. Some people have reported being “creeped out” by the stroboscopic effect. This is difficult for me to understand as it is quite pleasant. Some people are quite mesmerized by it; others find it quite unremarkable. On balance, most people are pleasantly surprised by the machine.
For me, naturally further experimentation was required. Having recently been introduced to LSD-25, I thought it might be interesting to combine the experience with the mind machine. The results were rather explosive. It seems that the higher frequency settings worked the best. On the Proteus machine, this was setting #2 (Physical Warm-up). I thank the Proteus folks for doing their research on this one. After the experience, it is clear to me that various frequencies do indeed have their correspondences with regions of the body. As the frequencies climbed, I could feel an orgasmic wave of energy moving deliberately up through each chakra energy center. Corresponding sex, solar, heart, voice, and intellect centers were opened and explored.
The visual element seemed to multiply in intensity and dimension, and it verged on the intensity of staring into the sun or watching an atomic blast (not that I’ve ever done that). My body was convulsing in mad bouts of bliss. The experience was so intense and total that when I took off the glasses and headphones, I had to take a moment to figure out who and where I was. I felt like my skin must be flaming red, my eyes popping out of the skull, and my hair standing on end. I thought, “Surely this time I have done it, and there is no coming back.” I was wrong for the most part. In a sense, I’m still there because I feel compelled to write about it.
I would only recommend the combination of psychedelics and mind machines to the most experienced. Having experimented with a number of plants and compounds, it seems to me that LSD is the most appropriate for entering the cyberfusion of the mind machine. Some mescaline cousins work well, too – such as 2CT-7 and 2C-E (perhaps my choice of the Shulgin discoveries). AMT works well. Mushrooms and many other tryptamines do not seem to mix as they seem to require an organic setting (i.e. getting as far away from technology as possible). In short, the mind machine is a VERY interesting tool by which to explore psychedelia and self. And, vice versa, this is a good combination to explore the implications of human psychic mergence with the machine.
Experience Reports are the writings and opinions of the individual authors who submit them.
Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.