The word psychonautics comes from the Greek word meaning (a) psyche: "Spirit' or 'Mind' and (b) nautes: 'sailor' 'navigator'. Psychonautics deals with altered states of consciousness, particularly holotropic states. A psychonaut is a person who wishes to explore altered states of consciousness through various techniques discussed below. Psychonautics covers various activities used to obtain altered states of consciousness including meditation, lucid dreaming, brainwave entrainment, pranayama and breathwork, biofeedback (including neurofeedback), sensory deprivation, and even various plant medicines used by shamans.
Psychonautic exploration was very popular in the 40s and 50s with the discovery by a scientist who accidentally ingested LSD in 1943 that it could create very intense changes in consciousness. In 1947 it was approved for psychiatric use and was show to be highly effective in addiction (particularly alcoholism) as well as anxiety. The problem was that due to the positive side effects many psychiatrists, medical professionals and academics started using it themselves which then spread to the general population. There was a backlash in the 60s and eventually the 'medication' turned into a 'drug' and became illegal in 1966. Currently is is becoming more and more popular for people to travel to Peru and the amazonian jungle to experience the plant medicine 'Ayahuasca' to have similar changes in consciousness and loss of ego.
Of course we are all about trying to experience changes in consciousness without having to ingest illegal drugs! Long-term exploration of altered states on consciousness can be done through natural means, and whilst they may not be as mind-blowing as taking drugs, they can certainly achieve similar states at more stable levels without the side effects.
At our centres we offer the following 'psychonautic' experiences:
Find out more about:
Pranayama and breathwork