You can experience an altered state of mind and hallucination without drugs by simply depriving your body of sensory input. This technique is completely safe and reversible. It has been used by seekers of enlightenment as far as the ancient Greeks.
The adepts of Pythagoras lived in pitch black caves to receive wisdom through their visions. Miners trapped by accidents in mines, frequently reported hallucinations, visions and seeing ghosts when they were in the pitch dark for days.
Arctic explorers seeing nothing but featureless landscape of white snow for a long time also reported hallucinations and an altered state of mind.
In the 1930's, research by psychologist Wolfgang Metzger established that when people gazed into a featureless field of vision* they consistently hallucinated and their electroencephalograms changed. This was called the Ganzfeld effect. Ganzfeld in German means "total field" referring to the total field of vision being featureless in Metzger's experiment.
*Wearing a sleeping mask or sitting in a dark room puts the brain to sleep. The brain needs to stay awake and with minimal sensory input to induce hallucination. Looking at a featureless white field with no cues for depth, shape or distance keeps the brain alert and looking for information. When no information is present, the brain start amplifying the senses, until the neural noise is confused as real sensory information. Dreams are produced in a similar manner.
Total sensory deprivation tanks as seen on TV shows like Fringe cost in the thousands of dollar. But it is easier to produce visual sensory deprivation by putting on this Ganzfeld paper mask and relaxing in a comfortable recliner.
Visual Ganzfeld have been used in the following ways:
Easy and safe hallucination
Out of Body Experience
ESP (big trials made by Charles Honorton) http://skepticwiki.org/index.php/Ganzfeld_experiments
Remote Viewing (tried by the government) http://skepticwiki.org/index.php/Remote_Viewing
The video below is explained in step 6
Step 1: Print the Paper Mask and Cut
1. Save the picture below to your desktop.
2. Open it.
3. Print as "portrait" and "fit to page", but maintain proportions (you find these in the print setting). Use normal white printer paper.
4. Cut out the mask.
4. Reinforce the sides or the whole mask with clear scotch tape.
Step 2: Glue Cotton
Glue cotton along the bottom gray line. This produces a tight fit under the eyes and over the nose. Use white paper glue.
Step 3: Fasten Headband
I used a rubber head band from an airline sleep mask and fastened it with staples and scotch tape.
Step 4: Auditory Deprivation, White Noise and Binaural Beats
In addition to visual deprivation you can achieve auditory deprivation as well.
Use noise canceling headphones or plugs if you go them.
If not you can listen to white noise or binaural beats.
Or you can use a combination of all.
BWgen (brainwave generator) is a very nice and free program that produce binaural beats as well as white noise. Link for the program is found in the Binaural beat article at
For tactile sensory reduction wear gloves.
Step 5: What to Expect and Other Brain Hacks
Effects of Ganzfeld are not immediate. It can take time to get anything but everyone is bound to experience something special. With practice this improves.
When someone wears a Ganzfeld mask, the progression of effects that can be described as follows:
All color drains from the field of vision
The size of the field of vision oscillates
Swirling kaleidoscope of colors appear
Images suddenly pop in the visual field
In a recent neuroscience article, a researcher described his first experience with Ganzfeld as follows:
For quite a long time, there was nothing except a green-greyish fog. It was really boring, I thought, ah, what a non-sense experiment! Then, for an indefinite period of time, I was off, like completely absent-minded. Then, all of sudden, I saw a hand holding a piece of chalk and writing on a black-board something like a mathematical formula. The vision was very clear, but it stayed only for few seconds and disappeared again. The image did not fill up the entire visual field, it was just like a window into that foggy stuff....
...an urban scenery, like an empty avenue after a rain, large areas covered with water, and the city sky-line reflected in the water surface like in a mirror...
....suddenly, a young woman passed by on a bicycle, very fast, she crossed the visual field from the right to the left, with her blond long hair waving in the air. The image of the entire scene was very clear, with many details, and yes, the colours were very vivid....
....A friend of mine and I, we were inside a cave. We made a fire. There was a creek flowing under our feet, and we were on a stone. She had fallen into the creek, and she had to wait to have her things dried. Then she said to me: Hey, move on, we should go now....
-Ganzfeld-induced hallucinatory experience, its phenomenology and cerebral electrophysiology
Cortex, Volume 44, Issue 10, Pages 1364-1378
J. Wackermann, P. Putz, C. Allefeld
Other brain hacks appear in the Boston Globe
Step 6: Total Immersive Brain Entrainment
Binaural beats tune the brain to different levels of awareness. Tuning the brain is called entrainment. Binaural beat entrainment is verifiable by electroencephalograph (eeg) and is a real neurophysiologic phenomena.
Furthermore, by synchronizing the beats to a visual strobe (flash), entrainment is potentiated.
The free BrainWave Generator program (BWgen) generates binaural beats and has the capability to strobe special LED glasses which produces total visual immersion.
BWgen can also strobe the computer monitor. Unlike the immersive strobe LED glasses, one has to keep looking at the monitor which only fill a small portion of the visual field.
To get a feel of total immersive brain entrainment just put on the mask, sit close to the monitor, relax and watch the movie below.
For the full experience download BWgen linked in the binaural beat article at
Step 7: My Original Attempt at Making a Ganzfeld Mask
I did an elaborate mask using an airline sleeping mask and two halves of a ping pong. I wanted something better than the classic ping pong balls taped over the eyes.
Taped ping pong balls don't fit well, requires tape every time they are removed and might cut into the skin if the edges are serrated.
I also could not find white ping pong balls because the new ping pong official rules specify orange balls.
The result was something that looked like sunny side up eggs.
In my second attempt, I assembled the ping pongs to look like speedo swimming goggles. They were uncomfortable and leaked light.
The paper mask is better in every way.