An altered state of consciousness is a state of mind that differs from everyday conscious awareness, when one's attention is partially or completely withdrawn from the immediate environment. This can happen during periods of relaxation, daydreaming, drowsiness, sleep, elevated moods, trance states, drug induced states and spurts of creativity. Its during these altered states that psychic experiences are most common because the rational mind is blocked off to the subliminal or subconscious mind. Psychic experiences are most likely to break through in the transition from one state of mind to another. An example of this is when a sleeper is getting drowsy and beginning to fall asleep, moving from deep sleep to a lighter, dreaming sleep or waking up. It often comes when a person is concentrating on a task and allows his or her mind to wander, in other words, when their every day rational state of mind momentarily shifts into a daydream or fantasy state.
The characteristics of this trance or "relaxed" mind is the absence of bodily tension and a minimum of physical activity. During periods of recovery from illness and similar conditions there is a state of passivity in which psi events often occur. This state is in which the alpha brain wave pattern or an even deeper state can be traced and measured on the electroencephalograph (EEG). During this daydreaming altered state, rapidly occurring thoughts unrelated to the external environment occur. Children are largely noted for this daydreamy creative state and usually accept their psychic experiences without question.
Other ways to induce this altered brain wave state are sensory deprivation, fasting, physical environments such as driving for long periods, hypnosis and even music are effective in producing a change in brain wave pattern. Researcher J.B. Rhine discovered a connection between creativity and psychic ability amongst many of his test subjects. The basic difference between the creative mind state and the fantasy mind states is that the creative state presents a frame work upon which the creative conscious mind can express ideas. Music brings on psychic expericenes by stimulating the emotions which can result in removing one from their immediate reality and stirring up the psychic sense. Thelma Moss used music as a part of her "sensory bombardment" experiments at the University of California in Los Angeles in which the music was used to provoke an emotional response from a participant. That response was then to be telepathically sent to a receiver in another room.
Dreams along with the transition periods when one is falling asleep called hypnagogic or just waking up, called hypnopompic, are probably the best states for psychic experiences because at this time, the mental censor or what ever blocks psychic impressions from crossing over into the consciousness is almost completely off guard. Louisa Rhine found that 65% of the over 700 cases of spontaneous psychic phenomena she investigates came in dreams. It was thought at one time that the mind was completely nonfunctioning during deep sleep but experiments over the last few decades indicate that there is some kind of mental activity all night long and that psychic impressions may come in both dreaming and nondreaming state.
If deep sleep represents the most unaware states of consciousness, at the other end of the spectrum is what is referred to as the "floodlight" or "superconscious" state, one of extreme hyperawareness. It has been experienced by many mystics and others who practice religious disciplines. Sometimes coming without preparation to both psychics and ordinary people alike. In its purest form it is called "cosmic consciousness". The floodlight state may be induced through hypnosis, hallucinogenic drugs, meditation and the exercise of creativity. During a floodlight experience, a lessening of ego, a sense of unity with others and sometimes "oceanic feelings" that extend to a connectedness of being one with the universe are felt. There is no division in the mind between subject and object, they are one and the same. Logic and thinking are abandoned and time and space are all but blurred. This experience is called different names in different religions: "transcendence" by the christians, "satori" by the Zen Buddhists and "samadhi" is the Hindi equilivant. Many dreamers that have out of body experiences also report feelings of ecstasy and expanded awareness.
For over 3000 years or more, hypnotic trance has been used to trigger psychic experiences. The Egyptian priests began to heal through hypnosis thus the hypnotic trance has given rise to psychic "powers". After Mesmer's experiments in the 18th century, there was an increasing interest in ESP during hypnotic trance and the first controlled experiments in ESP were done using hypnosis. Many parapsychologists today frequently use hypnosis in their experiments. Hindu yogis use a self induced hypnotic trance to bring on extra sensory input as well as the famous Edgar Cayce who would go into a deep hypnotic trance to visualize the anatomy and diagnose medical conditions of people often hundreds and thousands of miles away and make predictions.
The practice of meditation is used by nearly every psychic and those interested in sharpening their psychic senses. The American Society for Psychical Research even holds periods of silent meditation before testing groups in their ESP experiments. The ultimate goal of meditation is to become egoless and to experience a sense of oneness with others regardless of the meditation technique. The practices of meditation vary greatly from one school of thought to the next but what is important is the total relaxation of the body and shifting awareness as well as brain wave to achieve the best frame of mind possible.
Anyone can now learn to control their brain wave activity. Machines are being used to signal when a subject is in the alpha brain wave state, a state of relaxed alertness in which mind and body are quiet and free of tension. These biofeedback machines work in several different ways but all have the same result, alerting the recipient that they are in alpha brain wave so that the state can be noted and continued and therefore training one to be aware of the state over and over to anchor and be able to go back to it. In addition to machines, there are many other training tools available. Binaural beat sound is just another method of changing brain waves and is linked to some incredible improvements not just in the psychic area including increased intuition, improved reliability in remote viewing, telepathy, and out-of-body experience but also all over improvement in relaxation, meditation, stress reduction, pain management, sleep, health care, enriched learning environments, enhanced memory and improved creativity.
Conclusive evidence from a variety of reputable sources show a definite connection between psi and the subconscious brain. It would seem that science has found the key to unlocking the mechanism to allow humans to achieve what was just a century ago called magick.