Updated: Aug 5, 2020
Getting high, without drugs
Increasingly, we hear stories about innovators tapping into altered states for creative inspiration and relaxation. Micro-dosing substances like LSD is a thinly veiled secret in Silicon Valley. Steve Jobs’ formative experiences with mind-altering are the stuff of legend. However, such substances could have unpredictable effects, at least in some cases. They are neither a desirable nor viable option for many, such as utilities and construction personnel. Instead, there is a rising trend of creatives turning to mindful techniques and even technology to facilitate altered states.
Lucid dreams happen when we realize that we are dreaming while still dreaming and allow us to simulate real-life situations and to let our mind run wild in a sort of internally-generated virtual reality. In a sense, our own mind is a type of Internal Reality (IR) tech that can complement other types of Extended Reality (XR) like Augmented Reality (AR). Research suggests that lucid dreamers tend to score better in creative problem-solving tasks, demonstrating greater predisposition for insight.
Research suggests that people who practice mindfulness have more cognitive flexibility, are able to see beyond what they’ve already done, and are better at solving problems requiring insight.
Hence, it is clear how altered and mindful states can be helpful for the incubation and insight stages of the creative process: they help develop non-conceptual awareness, going beyond the autopilot, observing things as if seeing them for the first time.
Research indicates that people are open to original ideas after a brief meditation practice. The emotional resilience benefits of mindfulness can help us advocate for change, as well. Mindfulness can facilitate more balanced decisions, moderating fight-or-flight reactions, making us less reactive to potential change. Teams can amplify the effect.
Numerous inventions, discoveries and works of art have sprung out altered states. For example, the periodic table of elements, Google, Tesla’s A/C motor, Ramanujan’s theta math functions, some of Salvador Dali’s paintings, and H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon have been credited in part to dreams.
Both natural techniques and designed technologies promote the type of “body-mostly-asleep, mind-somewhat-awake” state that tends to accompany these curious states of mind. We should not be surprised to find more and more companies training their employees to have lucid dreams, hypnagogia, and out-of-body experiences, an altered state that has been correlated with lower pain levels.
Manori Sumanasinghe, a lifelong meditation and lucid sleep practitioner and architecture graduate, has made a bet in this space with the Neuma Mind Spa & Showroom, in L.A.’s Chinatown. The Sri Lankan-American’s startup features workshops and technologies like the Cymatix recliner, which uses sound and vibration oscillatory patterns that mimic ancient practices. The Cymatix aims to facilitate deep relaxation with partial wakefulness in as little as 25 minutes.
The Neuma Mind Spa also features technologies like the Muse brain-sensing headband, one of several “transformative technologies” emerging to facilitate mindfulness, well-being and creativity. Manori aims to design well-being tech spaces like this one in companies, co-working spaces, airports, spas, hospitals, malls, and more.
At the Neuma Mind Spa, you can enjoy 25 or 50 minutes of quiet stillness and tech and techniques to reach heightened restful states: by yourself or with a partner. Gift certificates are available and sessions will resume when local authorities determine it is safer. Don’t live near one? Access resources online with the Neuma Being membership program.
Adapted from article by Nelson Abreu on Zpryme, an energy industry media and event agency.