Overload

Sensory overload

Category: Actions

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

Sensory overload means to overload the 5 senses – taste, hearing, touch, sight and smell.  In general we have excluded the idea of overloading sensory input from the body, as this is deliberately making yourself unwell – which is not a good idea!!

Background

The main blocks to spiritual experience are the Will and the Ego.  In order for us to get an experience we have to transfer control from the Will – the decision making function in us –  to the Higher spirit and the composer – the composer of spiritual experiences.  We also have to squash the Ego – the ‘big I am’ - to stop it dragging control back again and asserting its authority.  In effect, we have to give in to a higher power than we are.

 

The Will only executes when it has input.

 The main inputs to the Will are our perceptions and our memories.  Our perceptions are built up from the input from the 5 senses, the input from our internal sensory systems and the function of emotion.  The function of emotion tends to feed off our memories, and our sensory systems, so if we are in control of memories, the 5 senses input and the other sensations we are in control of the emotions. [see the Model]

In the suppression section we have concentrated on ways of stopping the Will from working by starving the Will of input.  In other words, the opposite of overload.  Thus:

  • Sensory input from the body - So we have numerous ways in which you can prevent sensory input from coming from your own body, by Healing yourself, by Dietary moderation, Sleeping and by Exercising and keeping fit – keeping well in other words.  A well body does not complain.
  • Sensory input from the 5 senses - Another way we have proposed is via Sensory deprivation – finding ways of denying the 5 senses of any input.  So in the sensory deprivation section we suggest things like blindfolds or float chambers or ear muffs!  We have also proposed ways of Reducing threats, as even if we have used sensory deprivation, if the environment we are in is a threatening one, our memory will still be aware of the threats and feed them in to us, defeating the whole object of the exercise. 
  • Cutting off memories – this is helped by a general clearing out of the rubbish in our minds – Suppressing memory – but overall it has to be – strange and contradictory as it sounds – an act of Will in that we have to stop pulling in memories, make our minds a blank.  This is best demonstrated by what happens when you go to sleep.  Many of the senses are being deprived just before we go to sleep, the lights are out, the eyes are closed, hopefully it is very quiet and the bed is warm and comfy, with no threats.  But if our mind churns over and over again bringing up memories and problems then it takes ages for us to go to sleep.  If we deliberately make it a blank, we are asleep in no time.  The two activities Suppressing Obligations and Reducing Desires help in this because then they are not driving the memory to produce more reminders of what you have to do or want to do.  Home schooling ensures we don't fill it full of rubbish in the first place.
... circus and fairgrounds ......... noise and smells and lights ....

But the alternative strategy is to so overload the Will with input, it gives up!  One way which has been seen to work and which we have described is ‘Befuddling’, bombard the reasoning system with incomprehensible and nonsensical input, or confusing signals.  Worn out with the complexity of trying to make sense of apparent rubbish, the Will goes on strike and the composer takes over.

But another way is this way, sensory overload, which is not to bombard it with rubbish, but bombard it with so much input to every sense – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch -  that it just sits back and says – ‘Crikey, I give in’!!

A silly example.  Whilst eating a plate of red hot chillies and watching a truly spectacular sunset, you listen on a portable music system to Stockhausen, and wear a hair shirt and two bulldog clips attached to your nipples.  That is sensory overload.  Incidentally I have not tried this, nor do I necessarily recommend it, but let me know if you want to have a go, as I’d like to be there to watch.

Method

The activity in the Suppression section Enacting Ritual and Ceremony incorporates a considerable amount of sensory overload.  If you think about the old Catholic ceremonies with their incense, reverberating cathedral organs, the flickering candles, the chanting, the light flickering through the stained glass windows, the overload of the senses could not have been better achieved and it was all benign in that it did not make you ill.  Circus and fairgrounds were also at one time real assaults on the senses and with the revival of circus by the Cirque de Soleil, some of that magic has returned. 

an example of 'feathering'

There are three activities in the suppression section which actually use sensory overload as part of the process – Making Love, Sex Magick and Sexual stimulation.  They may provide just the sort of activity you seek, otherwise take each sense in turn and decide how you are going to overload each one. 

The following common steps or activities may help to give you some ideas:

  • Rave dancing – without the drugs.  The combination of lights, sounds, smells and up to a point touch sensations is sufficient to achieve some level of sensory overload.  Drugs are not needed and it is a sad reflection of our culture that drugs have crept in.  Where there is a market, the exploitative will follow
  • Hearing large scale sub-woofer speakers - A subwoofer is a loudspeaker capable of reproducing low pitched audio frequencies.  The typical frequency range for a subwoofer is about 20–200 Hz for consumer products.  They were originally designed to augment woofers that only covered audible and higher frequency ranges, but have taken on a life of their own, because the very very deep bass notes they produce are loved by concert goers and home audio system listeners alike -  people love the ‘effects’ they produce!  They can have an effect via Resonance, but they also classify as sensory overload
  • Renee Magritte
    Listening to beating sounds - this activity can be both a suppression and an overload method.  The sound of eighty large drums all beating out the same rhythm would be classified as sensory overload.  The gentle tick of a clock would be counted as suppression, but both would work.
  •  Listening to Cathedral organs - this has to be done on site as it were, in the cathedral, a recording doesn't work, because although you may get the sound effect, you don't get the tactile effects.  Organ pipes, particularly the very low bass toned organs in Cathedrals are very effective at promoting spiritual experience. 
  • Listening to didgeridoos - in person and close to.  The more didgeridoos the better
  • Listening to drones and bagpipes  - in person and close to.  The more bagpipes the better
  • Feathering - especially if someone else does it to you
  • Massage - massage of any sort, not just of trigger points can be effective if done well

The observations at the moment have an unfortunate skew towards the use of chilis as the means of overload, however, people who like chili seem thick on the ground and these observations were fun, but in time we hope to add a more representative sample.

 

How it works

The description of how it works is largely provided in the background section.  We won't repeat it again.

 

References and further reading

.. and yet you incessantly stand on your head, do you think at your age it is right

One of the fascinating aspects about this area is that there have been numerous studies on the psychological effects [hallucinations, out of body, visions etc] of sensory overload on people who have not done this deliberately – thus an event and not an action, - but there are very few papers on deliberate use of the approach. 

Thus the approach is proven, but the observations of deliberate use as opposed to accidental effect are a bit thin on the ground!

  • CCQ. 1984 Mar;6(4):66-80.  Sensory overload and noise in the ICU: sources of environmental stress.  Baker CF.  PMID:  10264984.  There are other papers like this which show that the appalling conditions in many Intensive care units has contributed greatly to th incidences of hallucinations and out of body experiences
  • Compr Psychiatry. 1975 May-Jun;16(3):199-221.  Sensory and information inputs overload: behavioral effects.  Lipowski ZJ.  PMID:  1139919
  • Psychiatr Pol. 1994 Mar-Apr;28(2):171-82.  [Sensory overload and schizophrenia: sensory gating as a measure of dysfunction of stimuli filtration].  [Article in Polish] Basińska A1. 1II Kliniki Psychiatrii Akademii Medycznej, Warszawie. The author of this paper hypothesises that schizophrenia with all its voices and hallucinations is, in some cases, due to a defective filtering mechanism, which results in sensory overload.  PMID:  7911584
  • Aerosp Med. 1967 Feb;38(2):164-8.  Performance of civil aviation pilots under conditions of sensory input overload.  Drinkwater BL.  PMID:  6032000
  • Dis Nerv Syst. 1975 Jul;36(7):357-60.  Sensory overload and psychopathology. Ludwig AM. PMID: 1149596
  • Am J Psychiatry. 1972 Apr;128(10):1294-7.  "Psychedelic" effects produced by sensory overload.  Ludwig AM.  PMID:  5013749

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