The term psychonaut at the same time has something poetic and revealing , which tells us a lot about the contents and intentions of this discipline: just as the navigator knows the waves of the sea and its currents, so the psychonaut knows and navigates the different waves of the consciousness, or the so-called states of consciousness, without simply undergoing them.
The psychonaut plows the waves like a cork without trying to impose the superficial waking consciousness by force , considering it the basis of true personality and considering all the other states of consciousness, “altered” versions of waking.
These different states of consciousness are numerous, although not all people commonly have access to all of these states: some, such as dreaming and sleeping , are common to all (although some people believe and say not to dream), while other states they need special conditions to be achieved and experienced.
In this article we will discuss two particular states of consciousness from the point of view of psychonautics: trance and flow, for millennia the inner goal of many researchers of the psyche, from hermits to samurai, from yogis to alchemists, from prophets to shamanic vision hunters .
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2 of the states that psychonauts aim to experience, provoke and control are known as trance and flow
1. The trance
The trance , spontaneous or induced, is a state of deep internalization and detachment from external stimuli . The term “trance” derives from “transire”, or to cross, one is in fact in another continent of consciousness.
Here, in addition to a sort of insensitivity to stimuli, a kind of immunity is experienced, thanks to which fatigue and pain seem to vanish .
During the trance the waking consciousness is no longer in full possession of the individual and other states emerge making objective what is generally considered subjective. This can happen spontaneously in certain individuals predisposed or trained to do this, or due to trauma or accidents, or due to intoxication or other.
Indicatively, what happens during the dream happens: paraesthesia, hypnagogic visions and auditions, but all during action and movement. Generally psychonauts induce the state of trance through meditation techniques , breathing techniques , use of entheogens, hypnosis, binaural music and more.
2. The Flow
The state defined as ” flow ” or, less frequently, “zone”, is generally known to sportsmen and those who do physically extreme activities.
Much like the hyperfocus state , the flow has the following characteristics:
> All consciousness is fully focused on the present action . The rest of the world does not exist
> Action and awareness merge
> Cancellation of all physical and psychological needs not related to action
> Suspension of reflective mental activities
> A sort of amplified awareness of one’s abilities and a refined self-confidence
> An enlarged sense of control over the whole situation in which the action takes place
> Able to read external stimuli immediately and to anticipate them
> An intense sense of slowing down external time
What is interesting in the state of flow and which pushes athletes and athletes to challenge their limits in order to experience it is the intrinsic pleasure without a specific object that one feels in this state of consciousness , a sort of expanded satisfaction and self-gratification. .
All psychoemotional energies converge during the flow towards a single goal. According to psychologists, luxury is the exact opposite of apathy, it is the most positive state of consciousness that can be experienced while awake , and somehow transcends two states in which people generally get trapped in the pursuit of happiness and pleasure: excitement. on the one hand, control on the other.
To experience the Flow one must know how to give up control of the reasoning mind, but one must also avoid that pleasure without an object turns into nervous excitement with an object. Generally the Flow tends to decay into one of these states and these in turn can further decay: the excitement of anxiety and control into boredom.
The flow forges people to be autotelic , that is, based on a solid state of well-being that pushes them to carry out actions that have their purpose and satisfaction in the carrying out itself, and have no ulterior motives (money, reputation, family).