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Sensory deprivation

Category: Actions

Type

Involuntary and voluntary

Introduction and description

The 5 senses are the senses of hearing, touch, smell, sight and taste.  They are part of the overall nervous system but unlike the internal nervous system, the 5 senses are totally dedicated to finding out what is happening in our external environment - stimuli.

They do not give us a picture of Reality. The 5 senses are there to give us a permanent hallucination that enables us to work together as a species.  Sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell are functions of the software of our mind.

If you look at the Model of spiritual experience, you will be able to see that there are only two main ‘external’ inputs  - those from the 5 senses and those from the nervous system and autonomic system [which go together].

The vast majority of Perceptions come via the 5 senses.  Whereas  objectives are created by us, threats and our perception of opportunities and obligations come from ‘outside’ us, when we use our eyes and ears, nose and mouth and sense of touch. 

So the source of threats, the source of obligations, the source of opportunities is the 5 senses.  By stilling this system, we go a long long way towards helping ourselves remove threats, opportunities and obligations.

Let us suppose we are presented by our sense of smell and sight by a large fillet steak, lightly cooked to perfection, with a large plate of chips done in dripping, a light salad with a balsamic vinegar dressing and a bottle of some pleasant dark thick red wine, warmed to room temperature. 

How would one classify such an event? – it is an opportunity, because we are always on the lookout for the chance to give ourselves pleasure – one of our primary activities is pleasure seeking and we should not feel guilty about this [as long as it doesn’t hurt others].  But – once we are off thinking about and anticipating the pleasure it is going to give us – we have ‘lost it’ spiritually, because the Reasoning function is working overtime anticipating what it will taste like and hoping it is as good as it looks.  And it blocks any Composer input completely.

So our various sensory systems are constantly ‘betraying us’ spiritually, by sending us all sorts of temptations designed to make us reason and think.

I have tackled the input from the nervous system separately, but here we have a look at ways in which we can suppress the input from our 5 senses.  So what we are covering in this section is 

  • Visual deprivation
  • Auditory deprivation
  • Deprivation of smell
  • Deprivation of taste
  • Deprivation of touch

You will notice that this can happen voluntarily and involuntarily.  Some of the involuntary methods are illnesses and disabilities like blindness, anosmia, deafness and tinnitus, macular degeneration and amputation!  But because these are big subjects in their own right I have described them under ‘illnesses and disabilities’ but have referred in their description to this more generic description, as the mechanism by which they work is the same.

The techniques cover the benign to the frankly ghastly, and the ghastly techniques have the real disadvantage that fairly high Emotion may be generated as a result – and overload.  But this will be explained in the descriptions for each technique.

Background

 

In the human body stimuli are detected by either nerve cells [neurons]  in which the nerve ending itself detects the stimulus or special sensory cells that detect the stimulus and then pass the information to a nerve cell.  Both of these are usually sensitive to only one particular type of stimulus. 

So we can get some cells that detect chemical stimuli that are found in the nose and the tongue that enable us to taste and smell.

Then there are some cells that can detect mechanical changes such as movement, pressure and tension, all of which help our sense of touch.  There are also some sensory cells that can sense  sound waves, so we can hear.

We have thermosensory cells that can detect change in temperature, and photosensory cells that can detect light and other electromagnetic radiation and thus help us to see.

All these sensory cells pass information on what they have seen to the nerves, which are part of the physical nervous system.  The signal then gets sent to the brain which acts as a central processor for interpreting, processing and then acting on the signals.

All our sensory cells  are adapted to look for changes in the environment.  When given an unchanging stimulus, the sensory cells stop sending messages, so that the nervous system and the brain is not bombarded with unnecessary or irrelevant information it has no need to act on.

Technically speaking this is called ‘sensory adaptation’.  It means that if we are in a warm room for example with a constant temperature, once the body has adjusted its metabolic rate, we no longer notice the temperature. 

The key to sensory deprivation, therefore, is not to deny all sensory stimulus but to ensure there is no change

For example, if we lie completely still on a bed in a room of constant temperature; staring at the ceiling which might be completely white and with no pattern; with only one sound – say a constant humming in our ears of single tone; and with one and only one smell – say the smell of violets; we have as effectively stilled the 5 senses, as if we had shut our eyes, made sure there were no smells, worn ear muffs to eliminate sounds and tried to float in blood heat water to eliminate the sense of touch.  All these latter techniques work, but so do the former ones.

Method

With this background information in mind, let me now turn to just some of the large number of ways both voluntary and involuntary that sensory deprivation has been and can be achieved, here we have some examples that have produced very effective spiritual experiences.  The experiences are shown below in the observation section

There are vast numbers of purpose made equipment that exist to help deprive the senses.  There are ear muffs, blindfolds, hoods and helmets to deprive us of vision and hearing.  And there are also special beds designed to minimise the sense of touch.  As this is a commercial market, I obviously cannot cover all the options because there are just too many, but I will simply show you some examples.  I have picked some out for their interest value: 

There is a group of techniques well known in many Yoga, Buddhist, and ‘New Age’ type practises which concentrates on the sense of sight and combines sensory deprivation of the eyes with an attempt to stop learning, [suppression of learning] by restricting the thoughts about what you are ‘seeing’ if anything.  The techniques work however, principally via sensory deprivation and the unchanging nature of the sensory input. 

How it works

It may help here to have open the Model of the Mind and to have read the generic description of How spiritual experience works.

If the 5 senses are sending signals to the Will that there is a Threat facing it, or that some wonderful Opportunity has arisen to satisfy one of its Desires, or that a list of Obligations as long as your arm is waiting for it, then this will inhibit spiritual experience, because the decision making function will be busying itself trying to think of ways to deal with all these.  So, if we look at this diagrammatically the normal situation is as below, the sensory systems overwhelm whatever input may be being received from the Composer.

In this case all we are ever likely to get is Invisible input – wisdom, healing, inspiration, conscience pricks and love and bliss.   This may be exactly what we want.  We may have need of a sense of peace, for example, or perhaps are in need of inspiration and no more. But if we are in need of images, sounds  and so on, we will need to suppress whatever sensory input corresponds to the input we require.  So a musical composer may choose to eliminate all sounds in order to see if he can receive some musical inspiration – a sound in other words.  A painter may choose to eliminate all images, with the objective of receiving images he can use as source material for his paintings.  Dali closed his eyes, Beethoven closed his ears [actually he went deaf eventually too]!

So here we have what happens if the musician seeks musical inspiration. He deprives his hearing and the composer provides sounds.

By contrast, a novelist or film writer might choose to eliminate all sensory input in the hope of being given a realistic ‘scene’ they can incorporate in their novel or film.

But you will see in the observations, that some of the images the people saw were ones never before experienced – quite new and never before perceived, so in these circumstances the Composer has used imagery from the spiritual world at large to make up a jolly composite picture.   If the person is totally blind, there are no images being received from  the ‘seeing’ system, so instead the Composer provides images either from Perceptions or from the ‘images’ Database

If the person is partially blind then the Composer provides a set of partial images which are combined during Perception into one composite image and an hallucination results……..

So you get what you deprive your senses of.  And this is what a hallucination or vision actually is, if you give your Composer a chance, it will provide you with whatever it thinks you need at the time.  It may not be what you want, but it will be what you need…. 

Advantages

  • Potentially benign
  • Free and legal
  • You can do any of these methods by yourself, so risk no subliminal messages or brain washing
  • Proven

Disadvantages

  • It can take ages and ages and ages to get it ‘right.

References and further reading

Observations

I was I will confess somewhat amazed at just how very effective this activity is. 

There were loads of observations all proving it worked and sometimes the deprivation was of only one sense – sight.  Rather amusingly it seemed to work better when the person was not someone deeply religious desperate to get an experience.  Many of the really interesting experiences were from people who were actually ‘playing’ but not realising what they were playing at, or people who had been forced into circumstances not of their own volition, which ensured sensory deprivation.

When the condition is forced on someone and they can neither escape but have to endure it for very long periods, it causes permanent psychoses – the person goes mad  - unhinged – sick.  So bear this in mind all you who ‘meditate’ for hours on end, you are damaging your learning and reasoning functions on a permanent basis from atrophy.

Of all the one-off techniques in this suppression category, it seems to be the most used, because it is the most effective. 

But as you will see from the observations, it can also have its nasty side.  You can be very open to subliminal messages and brain washing using these techniques, so do not try this within a religious group, cult or other dubious group of people.  Better use it by yourself or with a trusted friend or helper – someone to wake you up with a cup of tea after an hour or so.

Related observations