Citation: Lungfish. "Navigating Through K-Space: An Experience with Ketamine (exp55701)". Erowid.org. Sep 8, 2006. erowid.org/exp/55701
Almost four years has gone by since my last experience with Ketamine. I have since moved on in significant ways - intellectually, psychologically and spiritually. My experimentation with psychedelics has reduced a great deal now that I have decided to focus primarily on spiritual means, philosophy and meditation to understanding consciousness and the universe I inhabit. I still think psychedelics and dissociatives are extremely useful tools, not for their own sakes but as way-pointers and catalysts. It seems to me that their use needs to be tempered with respect for their potential. A non-using period of patient appraisal must be a necessary component of psychedelic use for the purpose of exploring consciousness. I realise now that I had in many ways debased the Ketamine experience and reduced its salience by overuse. Insights and possibilities fell by the wayside, obscured by an indulgence in the masturbatory kaleidoscopic thrill of it all. Not that there was anything wrong with indulgence in absolute terms. Only that a higher purpose is lost.
My martial arts instructor reminded me once when I was punching furiously during a friendly sparring exercise, saying 'Fighting is like a symphony. You can't just lash out with all you've got, every chance you get. There must be a rhythm and the pauses are just as important as the punches.' I take this analogy to be applicable to all psychedelics in general and Ketamine in particular. Why Ketamine in particular? Because K-space is more difficult to recall and integrate than are experiences with other psychedelics. LSD strikes an emotional chord which cements its relevance in the mind and is therefore more impressionable. K-spaces, like dreams are more ephemeral. My advice to those who find this so is: Space out your trips as much as possible. Write down your experiences, narrate them to friends or post them online. During the latter phase of the trip make mental notes of the most significant images/concepts that have come up and tell yourself that you will remember them. Between trips, attempt to 'work' on the material that has come up. Ketamine is a pointer to what might be. You can integrate its message only by giving it structure.
Some say eschew structure for the purity of the experience -- but this is preposterous because in the aftermath of a profound mystical experience, attributing meaning is inevitable. Whether you use pop-cultural idioms or alchemical treatises is the question. Gnosticism, Advaita, systems theory and the works of Carl Jung were my tools for giving K-space meaning and certainly many will find these sources useful.
I recently visited my home because my brother's infant daughter was gravely ill and not expected to make it. The atmosphere was gloomy, but the solidarity and warmth of family was a refreshing change from the emotional sterility of the city. On the night before I was due to leave I decided to use Ketamine again. What would be revealed I wondered? What changes in the psychic and cosmic singularity of K-space would be evident now in light of this recent turn of events and my growth over recent years. As usual, at midnight, I turned off the lights and injected Ketamine 125mg intramuscularly. I kept another 50mg as reserve by the side of my bed, deciding that I would inject it later should I fell the need. I closed my eyes and awaited the carrier wave. It came later than expected -- preceded as always by the sound of a roaring motorcyle in the distance. I thought to myself 'a going within, to attain a reaching without' or some crap like that, no seriously, Jung was right. My psychological type meant that my quest for meaning was always inclined introvertedly -- within myself. In this age where extroversion has been deified, I had actually become ashamed of this and tried to deny it, suppress it. He affirmed the primacy of psychic symbols, believing that in absolute terms that humans can only know of this universe only psychically and this is the only thing that we can be certain of.
So I thought as the room swirled around me turning, quite literally into afterdark fairground. The familiar patterns, themes and bodily feelings were there. The intial phase of movement, which this time took the form of a roller coaster in which I was the front carriage! I roared down the rails at breakneck speed. Within I felt myself to be either the rollercoaster carriage or myself depending on how I shifted my awareness. Then I looked at a stationary wall that I was trundling past and instantly I was the wall, as the train swept past. Yes the old technique of focussing attention on an image could alter this world, although not in a completely predictable way. The world was also altered by thought suggestions. I thought of my grandmother and a second later saw her walking towards me -- she looked like she was made of stone. I think this was suggested by the wall I had become. As before the predominant textures were flesh, stone and cloth. My identity shifted both conceptually in my mind and in my physical experience of it. I could focus on my breath and move within to feel the boundaries of my egoic self or expand infinitely to become the universe. My body became one with the bed or a quite resolutely separate from it. The fluidity was probably aided by the fact that there was no real bodily feeling.
Some say that thought perpetuates the ego by its movement. But I know that identification with the ego is coded at a deeper level. With this now dissolved I could identify myself with anything within my field of consciousness -- or all of it.
As before there was a gory and macabre display of death and destruction, severed heads and mangled bodies paraded in front of me. I tightened for a second before embracing it. As predictably as ever both the horrific and the conventionally beautiful were united in the transcendence of K-space. Magnificent in their horrific splendour, these images called to mind Shiva's dance of destruction and the fearsome forms of Mother Kali celebrated in Hinduism as the inescapable and natural order of the universe. I saw my brother's sick child being dashed to the ground, its brains splattered on a sidewalk and felt beautiful sorrow. The dead baby took its place among millions of beings in various states of life, sickness, death and decomposition. 'Opposites united', I thought! I felt incredible bliss and joy. The unending spectre of life and death revealed itself to me in a breathtaking and endless panorama. I saw the universe and I saw that it was me. I understood the meaning of the world 'microcosm' for the first time: The universe within. The vast and inexhaustible depths of the human psyche can only be mirrored by the magnificence of the universe without.
Again similar images -- from the past. I formed the facade of a colossal building looking down at passers by walking in the dark of the night. There were periods of motion and then suddenly all would crystallise and harden. My consciousness along with it. This crystallising has been a consistent feature through all my trips. I felt some feeling return to my arms and gave myself the second gluteal injection of 50mg. Awash with imagery and once again the movement phase intensified. I thought of a past relationship that had brought me a lot of pain. I had previously thought of that woman only in terms of bitterness, anger and sexual jealousy, but now I saw her incredible beauty -- the beauty of her soul. How long I have lived within my ego I thought, with regret transacting with the world only within the limits of its narrow confines, mistaking it to be my entire being, when in reality it is just a fragment of the self. I felt awash with sentiment and decided that I would contact her soon to achieve some closure in this area.
Towards the end the expanded consciousness constricted and I began to have more 'egoic' feeling. I went into a long reverie of images, many of which I have forgotten. This I take it is the aspect of the K-hole that many people find distressing. Seemingly condemned to this whimsical and prolonged purgatory that one cannot come out of. I just give myself to it, stop clinging and let yourself go. For me, there is no anguish but maybe mild annoyance. Towards the end I made an effort and visualised myself being purified and ritually cleansed by the drug coursing in my body.
I experienced nausea the following day, sitting down in the garden and having a cup of coffee, but realised that it took 4 years for me to achieve this level of experiential integration. Previous experience with the drug, awareness of my own conscious processes through meditation and increased familiarity with mystical literature were the main reasons for this. I made a silent vow to go beyond my egoic self and make efforts to cultivate those aspects of the self that existed beyond this, not only in meditation, but in life, in art and in the social sphere.
PS: Interestingly enough I develop a distaste for cigarettes for several months following a Ketamine trip.
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