The best part of a session

It has taken me a while to realise that it’s important to allow an extra 5-10 minutes after a session ends to really make the most of what has just happened.

Usually I enjoy AVS lying down in a dimly lit room. Often I lay a sleep mask over the glasses to minimise ambient light. Darkness hugely improves the brilliance of the lightshow, and makes the greens and blues much more intense. The mask also eliminates distracting peripheral details – equipment LEDs, monitors, stray light, etc. This matters with eyes closed? Yes – the eyes closed state that I usually adopt is a very fragile thing, and my eyelids frequently flutter just open enough for the outside world to make itself known, yet not enough to make the LEDs directly visible, or to even significantly affect the brightness of the lightshow.

Set up like this I find it very easy to shift my thinking into the pattern suggested by the session. A good proportion of the sessions I use include an exit ramp to bring brain activity back to a range suitable for getting up and on with ordinary things. Such sessions don’t really benefit much from post-session stillness, but there is one thing that does make it worthwhile anyway – I have found that maybe 30 seconds after a session ends, if I keep my eyes closed and remain still, a wonderful series of visual images, in colors complimentary to the last seen, will begin to form. Quite beautiful, usually intense violets after a predominantly red lightshow.

It is sessions that end at frequencies other than high alpha/low beta that really benefit from the quiet period. While the session is playing, the brain has a constant reminder of what it’s meant to be doing. When the session stops, and you leap straight into taking headphones and glasses off and leaping up to get on with things, brain activity is instantly switched into alpha/beta. By remaining still for a while, you can enjoy feeling and using your brain while it is in the less usual states of conscious activity. You’ll get the inverse lightshow too.

A lot of emphasis is placed on AVS as a shortcut to advanced mental states. It isn’t. AVS/entrainment can provide a taste of mental states that are rarely accessible to the typical Westerner. Confusing a state of mental activity with a state of mind, however, can be misleading. There’s a lot of ways to nudge the brain into certain types of activity – practice, ritual, psychoactive substances, AVS. Of these, AVS is the quickest and safest, however its accessibility can diminish the recognition and value of what is experienced under its influence.

To a huge extent it is only by cross-referencing my experiences between techniques that I have made real headway. AVS has a bling factor that can mask its real value. Every approach has its pitfalls. Balance and discipline maintain progress while diminishing the risk of self-deception. Many of the things that happen with AVS are nothing more than phenomena – fascinating on many levels, but quite distinct from mental state.

10 minutes of quiet time before moving onto the next thing can provide an invaluable period of assimilation and integration without the immediate distraction of the stimulus. Highly recommended!


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  • Planeswalker  On November 15, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Hey Craig, found my way onto your blog from MP forums :).

    I think that this technique is useful after any kind of active meditation/ learning activity actually, to allow new experience to settle into subcounciousness. I.e. when studying martial arts, it could be quite beneficial after a sparring to quiet breathing down, sit for a while with eyes closed and let the experience settle. That improves learning quality quite a bit!

  • CraigT  On November 16, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Thanks for stopping by!
    Absolutely – a few more quiet pauses every day would probably do wonders for most people and pursuits.

  • robert Austin  On November 17, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Hi, Craig–interesting observation! When Tom Budzynski was running our old research department, he noticed that it took around 15 minutes for the EEG to return to baseline following a session’s end–Harold Russell noticed this as well–and his suggestion was to bring one’s mind back to focus following that period.

    Keep up the good work with your fascinating blog!


    • CraigT  On November 17, 2009 at 5:04 pm

      Thanks Robert,
      It’s always comforting to hear that what’s happening for me has been observed elsewhere on the planet.

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