Altered States that Unveil the Hidden Layers of our Psyche


Two kinds of reality exist in our world – sensory reality and clairvoyant (spiritual) reality. Both are equally real and shade into one another like the colours of the rainbow. Most of us conduct our lives at the sensory end of the spectrum while mystics, poets and the like move easily to the other. They seem able to acquire that elusive ‘altered state,’ which can be a powerful tool for personal growth and transformation.

So how can we achieve this mental transcendence in a busy life with so many demands on our attention? I’ve listed some techniques below but one is of particular note: It’s called Holotropic Breathwork which doesn’t involve ingesting exotic substances but, rather, relies on adapting what we all have to do – breathe – to attain deep and profound insights.

altered states reveal our psyche

The protocol was developed by Stanislav Grof, a psychiatrist with over 60 years of experience in research of non-ordinary states of consciousness. Dr Grof, now aged 92, initially explored the effects of psychedelic drugs, like LSD, and observed the mystical states experienced by patients. He was astonished that some seemed to enter other dimensions, meeting a host of discarnate entities including celebrities from history like Anne Boleyn and Elvis Presley.

However, recognizing the risks associated with these drugs, Grof sought to create a natural method to induce something akin to a trance. The end result was his special ‘invention’ – Holotropic Breathwork. During a session participants would pair up and alternate between being a ‘patient’ and a ‘sitter’ (who provides emotional support). With a background of evocative music the breathwork facilitator would guide each patient through a breathing exercise, intensifying the rhythm as the session progressed changing the balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen in the body.

Course members claimed relief from depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the elimination of physical and emotional pain, an improvement in interpersonal relationships, and increased self-esteem. Those more interested in exploring spirituality claimed the technique enhances self-awareness, an expansion of intuition, and even the recall of suppressed memories and past-life events.

Participants in Grof’s workshops noticed that in a mystical kind of way the treatment seemed to home in on the most relevant deep seated problem of each individual taking part. Grof called this the ‘radar function’. In one of his talks Grof explained to his audience, “The radar function is like a highly sophisticated diagnostic tool that instantly pinpoints the problem that is most charged emotionally and is the most significant. Like a form of internal triage, holotropic breathwork sorts out what is the most urgent.”

Here’s a couple of examples he gave:

A client believed that he needed to express anger toward his mother, and had been talking about this for years in therapy. But during his holotropic session, he re-experienced a car accident he had many years ago. Revisiting the moment of impact, the sudden fright, the need to scream, and the way he froze in terror, he was able to release his scream from a ‘frozen’ state unlocking his anger.

In another workshop a participant who was being flooded with mystical images and subtle energies, triggered by recreational drug use, was desperately trying to avoid psychiatric admittance. During his holotropic session, he re-lived a near-death experience in childhood in which he had ‘left’ his body. Working through this trauma helped to ‘ground’ him back in his body and back into day to day reality.

Grof’s work emphasizes the belief that non-ordinary states of consciousness can unveil the hidden layers of the psyche and offer profound insights into the nature of human existence. If you Google holotropic breathwork you will find a plethora of courses and retreats currently available.

Other methods of inducing an altered state which have proved effective down through the centuries include:

Psychedelics (not recommended without professional supervision)
From the mind-expanding properties of LSD to the ancient entheogens like ayahuasca, these substances have been used for centuries to unlock the doors of perception. Despite legal restrictions, scientific research is increasingly uncovering the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, offering hope for mental health treatments and spiritual exploration.

With its mysterious and oft-misunderstood reputation, hypnosis has fascinated minds for generations. Through the power of suggestion, a skilled practitioner can guide individuals into a heightened state of suggestibility, where subconscious patterns and beliefs can be explored and altered. From overcoming phobias to addressing trauma, hypnosis offers a unique pathway to altered perceptions.

In the hamster-wheel existence of the 21st Century world, many seek solace in the practice of meditation. By stilling the mind and focusing on the present moment, meditation cultivates a state of heightened awareness and inner calm. From Zen Buddhism to Transcendental Meditation, this ancient art offers a doorway to self-discovery.

Ecstatic Dances
Through free-form movement, rhythmic beats, and communal energy, participants immerse themselves in a trance-like state. Whether it’s the Dervish whirling or the ecstatic dance movements of strobe-lit nightclubs, these rituals offer a gateway to the self and the collective consciousness.

Shamanic Journeys
Drawing from indigenous wisdom and practices, shamanic rituals offer a portal to altered states through drumming, chanting, and plant medicines. Shamans, as intermediaries between the physical and spiritual realms, guide participants on transformative journeys, unveiling hidden aspects of the self and connecting with the Cosmic Consciousness.

Lucid Dreaming
Dreams have forever held a fascination for humankind, and lucid dreaming provides a means actively to engage in altered states within the realm of sleep. By cultivating awareness and control in dreams, individuals can shape their experiences, unlock creativity, and access deeper layers of the subconscious mind.


Anthony Talmage is author of four books in his Psychic Mind series, Dowse Your Way To Psychic Power, In Tune With The Infinite Mind, Unlock The Psychic Powers Of Your Unconscious Mind and the just-published Crack the Cosmic Code (and write your own tomorrow) all available in Kindle, printed and audio versions from Amazon. Anthony also covers more of the above themes in his popular podcast, available for free to listen or download here. It’s had over 18,000 downloads so far!


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Anthony Talmage
Anthony Talmage, through his many years of researching the metaphysical, esoteric, mystical, occult and paranormal, came to the conclusion that human consciousness has the ability to harness the power of the Universe. He puts his theories into practice as President of the Guernsey Society of Dowsers, specializing in healing detrimental energies.


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