Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST): Hallucinations &’Mystical Experiences’

Restricted Environmental Stimulation

A deep state of relaxation that goes beyond a simple bubble bath or meditation session… Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST).

REST involves reducing sensory input to promote profound relaxation and there are a huge range of benefits associated with it.

We’ve all experienced a dream so vivid it seems real… and dreams can be really trippy too! Well REST can create that same kind of experience while you’re awake!

Visual and Auditory Hallucinations during Restricted Environmental Stimulation

During REST the brain has no external sensory input, but rather than going quiet and still, the brain oftentimes creates lots of internal visual and auditory hallucinations… akin to the vividness and realness of a sleeping dream state.

There are a variety of different methods for creating these Restricted Environmental Stimulation environments, some key ones being:

1. Flotation Tanks

Perhaps the most well-known method utilizes flotation tanks, enclosed pods filled with saltwater saturated with Epsom Salts. The water’s temperature is close to skin temperature, creating a feeling of weightlessness and the pods are sealed, eliminating external stimuli like sound and light.

Neuroscientist Christof Koch (specializing in consciousness) says he had “what some people call a mystical experiencein a flotation tank.

2. Reduced Sensory Environments

Other approaches involve creating environments with minimal sensory input… These could include simply lying in a darkened room with soothing music or wearing an eye mask and noise-canceling headphones.

3. Darkness Retreats

These intensive programs involve spending extended periods (often several days) in complete darkness… Participants typically have minimal social interaction and engage in activities like meditation and yoga.

The complete absence of light is designed to push the body’s natural rhythms and potentially lead to profound experiences of introspection and relaxation.

4. White Noise Environments

This method involves creating a constant, ambient sound that masks external noises and provides a neutral auditory backdrop… White noise machines or apps that generate white noise can be used to create this environment.

White noise can be particularly helpful for those who struggle to relax in complete silence or conversely, find external noises distracting.

Restricted Environmental Stimulation & Increases in the Default Mode Network (DMN) Activity

The DMN is associated with introspection and daydreaming… the Default Mode Network increases its activity during REST.

The DMN is a network of interconnected brain areas that become much more active when a person is not engaged in focused tasks… these are the brain regions that ‘light-up’ more when your mind is wandering or daydreaming.

When external sensory inputs are reduced during a Restricted Environmental Stimulation session, less energy is required for processing the reduced stimuli. This means the DMN becomes activated.

DMN is linked to creative thinking and the generation of new ideas…

DMN, REST & Memory Consolidation

Memory Consolidation is the process of converting ‘short-term’ memories into ‘long-term’ memories. As you relax the DMN becomes busy solidifying your memories, making them more accessible for future recall.

When the DMN is activated, you become better at understanding other peoples beliefs, desires and emotions. This is called ‘Theory of Mind‘, the ability to understand the mental states of others.

REST increases this and gives you so many benefits.

Restricted Environmental Stimulation & Waking Dreams

Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) creates space to experience waking dreamscapes… complete with hallucinations and even mystical experiences… a feeling of oneness with the universe… a deep connection to a higher power… and feelings of detachment from the physical.

These experiences can be incredibly meaningful and life-changing… and you get started by simply lying in a darkened room with soothing music or nature sounds…

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