Overstimulation and Sensory Deprivation

By Nobleman Nash Hollowhill - June 1, 2010 


A broad term I like to use when describing hallucinogens, LSD in particular, is overstimulation. This is a very simple concept, but it can be difficult to convey exactly what the experience is like using only these terms, to someone who only has waking life and dreaming as states of consciousness to use as reference points. Simply saying that LSD makes everything seem like “more” than it ever was before fails to encompass the inherent “otherness” about it, as well as the complexity and richness of it.

Overstimulation, depending on the mindset, dose, and level of stimulation, can seem like Heaven or Hell. I find that on high doses focusing on something simple is the only thing I can do to prevent myself from descending into the depths of my own unconscious primal terror. However on low doses, it is very enjoyable to consciously decide to listen to 2 songs at once while reading a book, for instance. Taken to the extremes, high doses may cause ordinary minimal sensory input to seem agitating and unbearable. Under these conditions, at which time I am usually uncomfortably sensitive to light, sound, physical pain, extreme heat or cold, tastes and smells which are unpleasant, or thoughts triggered by these experiences which I might judge negatively, I engage in an experiment with sensory deprivation. Turning off the lights, wearing a blindfold, putting in earplugs or wearing over-ear, noise-cancellation headphones, putting on a fan, or listening to Sunn O))), as well as wearing loose, fuzzy, seamless clothing, are all techniques I have used to lessen the impact of LSD. In addition to these lying in bed with blankets over you or in a sleeping bag are good ways to cut down on confusion related to bodily discomfort. Overstimulation in and of itself, if taken to the extreme, resembles a rave.

When in the Corpse Yoga Position, I usually use the previously described sensory deprivation techniques to lower my heartrate by slipping into a trance state of consciousness that is nearly devoid of distractions. However, when I am in an awkward pose or balancing on one leg, the effect is the opposite. There are any number of standing positions and movements in Yoga and Tai Chi that involve slowly shifting all parts of the body into their most unnatural positions, and then slowly allowing the body to stretch outward and find the most comfortable resolution. In order to do this, it is often necessary to maintain the balance for an extended period of movement. This in turn requires a high level of concentration on the present moment and steadiness of the breath.

For this reason, I often use Throat Singing or Overtone Singing to steady my breath while concentrating on something bright and flashing. I put the television on in front of me, mute it, and look for a children’s program like ZOOM! I become increasingly able to perceive of every detail on the screen as it changes frequently in order to allow my body to do what it needs to do. Working on my balance in the dark or while looking up at an empty sky is almost impossible and causes my heart to race because I have no reference point to relate to the levelness of the ground.