A summary of much of what I learned while writing and researching The Head Trip. Via expectations, suggestion and possibly even intention, we can remix our experience of consciousness. This is what the cumulative story of hypnosis, neurofeedback, meditation, lucid dreaming, psychosomatic medicine and others all point to. We can – in theory – learn to control levels of alertness, sensory resolution, lucidity in dreams – it goes on and on. What’s more, we can actually remix domains of consciousness previously thought to be discrete – fire up dream imagery in waking, introduce waking lucidity into dreams and more.
These aren’t just vague “mental” phenomena. They are driven by real changes in the brain. The mind-body connection is a two-way street. The implications of this are kind of thrilling. We could teach applied meditation in schools, forty-five minutes a day of systematic compassion. This week’s homework: improving your reflective pause. In health care, meditation, neurofeedback, and hypnosis have all shown results in treating disorders as varied as depression, epilepsy, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, OCD, and addiction. And then there are the applications for life in general: the potential to shape everything from our sleep to our dreams to our many reflexive habits and responses that define how we relate to the world. There is a level of human agency and autonomy here that is thrilling. As one man whose life was transformed by neurofeedback put it: “It allows you to get your hands on the steering wheel and steer, instead of just being along for the ride.”
I love the idea that consciousness can be remixed, but I never thought anyone would actually build an invention that could help do this. No, I’m not talking about a new pill. I’m talking about the Dream Director, a device inspired, in part, by The Head Trip. You can read about it here.