Joe C
by on August 23, 2019

In the silence, in the darkness, swept away by these alien alkaloids and the plant-mind behind them, you find out a truth that can barely be told. And most of it can't be told. -Terrence McKenna

The topic of psychedelic sensory deprivation is an important subfield of psychedelic studies. Many people take psychedelics at music festivals. This is probably the utmost opposite of silent darkness: there is a level of stimulation not achieved in ordinary life. Sensory deprivation is not just a method to potentiate the psychedelic experience; it is an effective psychedelic method in and of itself.

I have been doing some intermittent dry fasting lately, and the experience is unmistakably psychedelic. If anything comes close to psychedelic substances in the ability to produce a psychedelic result, it may be dry fasting. Of course a variety of religious traditions believe fasting is a religious experience that puts them in a better position to know God. The idea that fasting is a religious experience is not new and the idea of psychedelics causing a religious experience is not new either. Furthermore, fasting is a type of sensory deprivation. You are depriving your taste sense of external stimulation. I have even heard vaguely of people fasting while taking psychedelics to make their trip stronger.

There is something profound about having a designated period of time where you don’t put anything in your mouth. I realized that I have never taken a break from oral consumption. This is what fundamentally differentiates dry fasting from water fasting. The level of abstinence is of a higher order. Dry fasting runs counter to the mainstream 6 meals per day narrative. But then again, so do psychedelics. The mainstream medical community does not promote fasting or psychedelics. The mainstream medical community has also been completely unable to solve the obesity crisis or help most people who suffer from depression. We need to look outside the mainstream for healing because the mainstream has completely failed to deliver.

I find benefit from dry fasting for only a few hours after waking. So if I sleep 8 hours and don’t eat or drink until 3 hours after waking up, this is an 11 hour dry fast. When I break the fast I feel fantastic and I have more energy throughout the day.

Sensory Deprivation / float tanks take the concept to a whole new level. While the topic of Psychedelic Sensory Deprivation using a float tank is mostly unchartered, this is a match made in heaven. 5 grams in a sensory deprivation tank is the new 5 grams in silent darkness.

Sensory deprivation is also an integral part of creative expression. Anyone who is creative and produces art, music, etc. knows that creativity does not arise when it is drowned out by outside stimulation. You don’t write a book while blasting music or listing to YouTube videos mindlessly. As psychedelics are known to enhance creativity, so is sensory deprivation. I consider “conducive to creative expression” an alternative definition of the word psychedelic. This is another sense in which fasting and sensory deprivation generally are worthy of being described by the term psychedelic.

One could argue that there are two ways to take psychedelics: in an environment of stimulation or in an environment of deprivation. There are also two ways to live generally. You can overstimulate yourself with external situation, or you can withdraw and create an internal environment where creativity can flow. There is a time and a place for both ways of living, but it is possible to be out of balance.

In a sense there are two types of people in the world: creators and consumers. Our society is characterized by rampant overconsumption, but behind every act of consumption is an act of creation. For you to consume, someone has to create. For you to create, there must be someone to consume. There is a balance and many people are out of balance. This is not about distinguishing between "good consumption" and "bad consumption". Even the most intelligent consumption is still consumption. The video game addict and the reader of classic novels are the same in this respect: both are engaged in consumption. No amount of consumption automatically turns into creating.

I try to be conscious about my consumption and leave space for creativity to arise. This is a zero sum game: the more time you spend consuming, the less you spend creating. Creative death is not caused by a lack of ideas. Creative death is caused by creative energy being drowned out by constant overtimulation and entertainment. There are a lot of people who could be creative geniuses, but they engage in consuming all day long and there is never space for creativity to arise.

Aldous Huxley thought the mind was fundamentally restrictive and psychedelics work by reducing the minds ability to effectively filter out unnecessary information. Consuming similarly restricts consciousness. Creativity flows when consciousness is expanded. Psychedelics and sensory deprivation expand consciousness. Of course this is an oversimplification; there are details that must be worked out. We must be careful and intelligent in using these tools effectively.