What happens when we blink?

At the moment the eyes close there is a short but intense burst of alpha, approximately 10Hz. This is referred to as the blink frequency and is usually the individual’s dominant alpha frequency – a useful way to fine tune mid alpha sessions. If the eyes are kept closed the initial 10Hz is easily maintained and is the gateway to lower frequencies. The blink frequency can be considered something of a consciousness threshold – above is suitable for alert, focused attention and thought, while below is suitable for more ethereal mind modes. It’s not so hard to generate beta with eyes closed, just think, but to generate theta with eyes open is difficult, an ability that comes with some contemplative or meditative practices. This sums up in my view that open-eye sessions below 10Hz are more entertaining than entraining. That said, often a session achieves its results just by virtue of the time taken out of the mundane world. Although alpha is considered optimal for simple relaxation, pretty much any session can be enjoyed and lead to a relaxed state. There’s a bit of a chicken/egg scenario here – AVS works best if you are relaxed, relaxation can be difficult in a busy life without AVS.

Holding the eyes closed hard ruins any useful measurement or perception of a state – an EEG shows heaps of movement (usually low delta) and high alpha/beta (that’s what you get when you do anything under will). The experience will be one of holding the eyes closed while lights flash in front of them – suited for looking at the patterns, which, with eye closed tight, will be less bright and more red.

A primary function of the blink is to keep the eyes wet. Beyond that we get into more interesting effects. These I have noted in my examination of my own processes.

I have noticed that even with eyes closed blinking happens. With AVS it can be the result of excessive brightness or volume. For therapeutic application this is a problem – lower the brightness/volume. For other applications it’s just another experience.

AVS aside, the blink seems to function as a “screen refresh”. As we look around most of what we see is created from memory, deduction or imagination. Only if we look straight at a thing does the high resolution part of the eye, a small part of the retina called the fovea, start providing up-to-the-second, full color hi-res data. When looking, the eyes dart around picking up bits and pieces and assembling them like a jigsaw. I have found this effect useful for capturing memories and finding specific things in a bunch of others – in each case, looking directly at the thing(s), I deliberately blink.

A long blink is useful for recovering memories. You will notice that a lot of people close there eyes when thinking, remembering, considering a response or when detail is required from another sense. When working with fiddly things in confined spaces, where I can’t really see what I’m doing, I often find my eyes have closed without me having to think about it. As can be deduced by the huge area of dedicated cortex, vision is an extremely processor intensive function. The imagery seen via AVS is a mix of real projection onto the retina and the mind’s futile pattern matching efforts, the hallucinatory component.

I have found that there is a relationship between the size of the light source, the size of the pupil and the imagery perceived. This means that ambient lighting and device brightness can result in conspicuously different visuals, opening up a multitude of possibilities for open or closed eyes, dark or light environment and glasses with different LED layouts or colors. The visuals are also affected by sound. In a silent situation, with no “A” in the AVS while the “V” is constant, patterns will be more stable. Any sound, be it part of the session or external, will result in changes in the pattern or perceived brightness. Sometimes bright flashes of light can also be heard – synesthesia. Of course, if you’re paying this much attention to the sound and light, you’re using beta thought modes. As long as you are looking hard, you might like to try a little game I have found – you will have probably noticed that the patterns tend to rotate, oscillating between clockwise and anticlockwise motion. This rotation can be stopped and the imagery leveled under will. I don’t know if this is of any practical value but it is fun and it does demonstrate that the imagery is more than just pretty patterns.

The impact of AVS on the brain/mind has many aspects. Unless a particular therapeutic protocol is indicated, much fun can be had just seeing how the body/mind behaves with different stimuli. Most of us have no specific need for AVS. I had a friend a while back who had a great little saying, “Work is Work and Schnapps is Schnapps”. So it is to me with AVS. Occasionally I’ll use a depression or anxiety session, and I usually enjoy some benefit, but mostly I enjoy creating new AV experiences.

Here I will repeat something I have said many times. AVS is safe. It is a subtle influence that is unlikely to over ride, to any significant degree, a deliberate mental function (don’t test this too far – AVS while driving is a risk I wouldn’t be prepared to take). The cautions provided in the manuals are primarily to address legal liability. I am aware of no case of long-term adverse effects. Headache, dry or itchy eyes and disrupted sleep patterns are common, but will pass soon after ending the session. You can run any mix or quantity of sessions you want. If your aim is therapeutic then the relevant session type should be the core of your regime, but other sessions can be used at appropriate times during the day. For experimentation and recreation, go hard – your body will soon enough tell you if you’re overdoing it or a particular frequency does or doesn’t do it for you (where “it” is whatever goal you have set for the session). It’s helpful to keep a record of sessions and responses at the beginning but it doesn’t take too long to be able to predict fairly accurately what will happen if a certain session is used in any particular environment.

For recreational or experimental purposes you can do whatever you want with your brain and body during the session. Mental arithmetic alongside a deep theta beat will provide a different experience to meditating with the same beat. Adding your own mantra and/or use of mala or rosary beads will change the overall effect. Posture (asana) and breathing (pranayama) are highly influential.

I hope you will try some of these things for yourself. Blink, don’t blink, blink with eyes closed. Set the device brightness to the max, dim it to almost imperceptible, try the audio loud and soft. Add some loud impulses to the session – sharp drum beats work well. Calculate the Fibonacci sequence during delta stimulation. The brain is a fun toy!

To use a session targeting less than 10Hz for its intended purpose it is usually best to be in a quiet location with subdued light, to minimize the likelihood of interruption and to be comfortable. Above 10Hz it depends on what you are aiming to achieve – study can be assisted with simultaneous beta, for example. The general state I recommend is one of hearing without listening, seeing without looking.

Have fun!



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