Mind Machine Experiments and Lucid Dreaming

4 Mar

Photo by Colleen Vasu

Photo by Colleen Vasu


I’ve been testing out a a lucid dreaming training technique with my Sirius Sound and Light Machine, and so far, the results are fascinating me.

If you’re unfamiliar with a Sound and Light Machine – also informally called a Mind Machine – it’s a device that combines binaural beats & brainwave entrainment, pumped into your ears via headphones, and pulsating colorful, psychedelic lights, shadowed over your closed eyelids with a pair of glasses containing multiple LED on each lense.

The idea behind Mind Machines is to induce a certain brainwave state associated with a desired goal.

For instance:

  • Beta – associated with awareness, an engaged and alert mind
  • Alpha – associated with a non-drowsy but relaxed, tranquil state of mind
  • Theta – associated with creative states of mind – imagery, visualization. This state is present during dreams and REM state.
  • Delta – associated with deep, dreamless sleep.

I’ve been using Session 8 on my Sirius mind machine, which lasts 25 minutes and goes from Beta, Alpha, Theta, in that order, as I fall asleep.

This is one of my favorite sessions to use because the visuals are just totally captivating.

Update: check out my extensive Sirius Mind Machine Review.

Occasionally, with and without the addition of smoking marijuana with the mind machine, this session has induced the feeling coming out of my body and merging with the “scene” the pulsating light show has created in my entire field of vision, which can become like a very deep bubble in which I feel myself coming into. (It’s hard to explain. :))

I noticed recently how there is a mental trick involved in allowing myself to see or experience the visuals of the lights merging together into spirals and tunnels in which I feel myself coming towards and moving through. It involves letting go in a normal sense of viewing, and watching what’s happening in a more participatory manner, as if I weren’t just watching the scene but merging with the scene. It’s a strange combination of detachment combined with becoming.

I suspect this could also be described as viewing something with your “third eye”, if you want to put it in those terms. It also reminds me of how adventurous psychonaut Dan Carpenter recounts successfully moving into a high dose DXM trip in his book A Psychonaut’s Guide to the Invisible Landscape

Last week, I put on my Sirius and prepared to fall asleep, with the intention of retaining an inner awareness as I fell into the dream world.

My dream experiences that followed are really interesting.  Here’s an excerpt from my dream journal, where I divided the following experience into 3 different dream sequences:

I’m reading a book.  The words are clear as day. I am conscious enough to know I am dreaming. It’s almost like I’m awake but in a sort of dream trance. It’s shocking to me how clearly I can go from one word, one sentence and one paragraph to the next, and yet the words themselves lack any meaning as a whole.  Some of the words are made up, and all sentences in their entirety are nonsense. I had the thought that I could read this out loud in waking reality since I was conscious enough to know what my situation was.

And then:

Still in a similar trance state….

Looking at a scene of trees, sidewalks, park, people – it’s very 3d. If I can lose myself in things I will be able to merge into the scene.


spider hyper realism —
I see a spider and the detail is enormous. My vision lunges at it, and everything changes, like it was the entry point to moving into the dream.

This is what I think happened:

I was put into a sort of  dreaming, semi-lucid trance state by my mind machine. I was certainly conscious while reading the book in the beginning of this dream sequence. By the time the images had moved to a more involved, three dimensional scene, I was more on the sidelines watching it. Then, I see a spider and in the process of looking at the hyper detail of this insect, I finally joined the dream fully, yet lose conscious awareness of what was happening.

My thinking here is that using the Sound and Light Machine as a way to train myself to watch a developing visual scene, created by the pulsating lights, and merge with it, is very similar to the lucid dream induction technique where you remain aware of the hypnagogic imagery that slowly sneaks up on you, and continue to retain conscious awareness of the dream state, as those images blend into all out dream sequences.

The idea then is that a mind machine can help train you to do such a thing by allowing you to practice watching and then merging with the trippy visual scenes it creates, while you fall asleep.

I should confess, that I am quite skeptical of the straight forward claims put out by people selling sound and light machines and binaural beats.  There is no magic device to give you lucid dreams (not yet anyway.)

I think the truth is much closer to what I’ve experienced here – using a product or a technology definitely won’t guarantee or specifically cause anything to happen, but can be used as a training ground to leverage your skills and work with other lucid dream induction methods, with success.

In the meantime, I am curious to test this out further with my sound and light machine. Personally, as far as my own lucid dream skills come, I feel like I am onto something with using a mind machine to practice this strange experience of detaching yet simultaneously becoming or merging with my surroundings.

Your thoughts?

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Photo by Colleen Vasu

8 Responses to “Mind Machine Experiments and Lucid Dreaming”

  1. Zataod March 17, 2009 at 7:40 pm #

    Despite all my attempts to become one with the machine, I never had much luck with my mind machine. I still think the best method I’ve had for inducing lucid dreams is to get up around 4 AM do something active for at least 15 minutes, then go back to sleep.

    I’m glad you are still diligent in your experimentation.

  2. Ben March 18, 2009 at 5:33 am #

    Yea, that seems to be the consensus. As much as the topic comes up in relation to lucid dreaming, I’ve met only a few lucid dreamers who even own a sound and light machine/mind machine, and no one I know really reports any consistent success in using them to induce lucid dreams.

    But I still love playing with my Sirius mind machine. I think it’s those psychedelic-esque experiences it gives me that has me hooked, and the occasional weird OBE-type feelings I get sometimes. I’m so fascinated with that!!

    What kind of mind machine do you have? I have a Sirius and a PRX-200, I believe it is (an older model, and now it’s broken.)

    PS Good to hear from you Zataod!

  3. Zataod March 25, 2009 at 1:26 pm #


    I’ve found for some reason that mind machines work a lot better for me if I haven’t used them for a long stretch. But if I try it on successive days, I find that the effect wears off.

  4. Rob Goerss June 10, 2010 at 4:57 am #

    Ben, fascinating stuff.

    I particularly find your first dream that you recounted interesting. To my mind, the fact that you were aware that you were dreaming and were reading a book in which the words were clear as day but had absolutely no true meaning, including some words being completely made up, is in and of itself a metaphor for what you are undertaking in analyzing your dreams.

    I theorize, after much conscious experience, that our entire physical existence that we experience is made up of our expectations. Think hard about this. Expectations are what cause us to subconsciously jump to conclusions as we process the great probability field that is the Universe. So consciously we experience something that may appear to be detached, or independent of us, or originate for an unexpected reason, but subconsciously we chose that experience because we expected it for whatever reason. These reasons for expectation can be memory/experience, or doubt, or any multitude of things.

    The five aggregates of Buddhism are a classic example of things that impose certain subconscious expectations upon us.

    What this means is that all of your lucid dreams are the product of your expectations, and that they are really all delusions in the face of ultimate truth. That is why the words are clear as day, but make no sense, and some of them are not even words at all.

    Do not get me wrong, I have read many of your accounts of dreams and I find that they contain much conventional truth and wisdom, but in the face of unconventional truth and wisdom all of existence, everything we experience, everything we are becomes illusory, deluded and false.

    I call it all the lie, to put it in very blatant terms. My own existence is the lie. All my thoughts are the lie. All my philosophy about existence is the lie. All my great conventional wisdom is the lie. The only real truth is the void.

  5. Ben July 4, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    Rob I love your input into things. You’re jumping right in and getting deep real quick, my friend. 🙂 Thanks for leaving me so much to think about.

    I certainly think that to an extent expectation/intent effects reality, in both a quasi-mystical way (for instance, those experiments with random number generators where the results were influenced by human intention to change the results from being not so random) and straight forward, common sense ways (for instance, doing affirmations on my goals helps keep me aligned with them, thus influencing my actions, thus helping manifesting my goals.) Beyond this, I absolutely love to speculate on how our thoughts and expectations influence reality, but I personally reserve holding firm opinions on affirming that thought *create* reality in a literal, black and white sense.

    I’m having a hard time expressing the fine line in between these two things though… I’m not entirely comfortable with what I wrote, but I can’t seem to find the words I’m looking for.

  6. Iggy January 10, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    I have Procyon Mind Machine, never had lucid dreams with using it so far, but today, for example today i had the most psychedelic trip i’v ever experienced with this machine, although i remember only sequences, it was similar like some of my Ketamine trips, it was so powerfull and yet without any chemical add. The session was for Theta Waves.

  7. hypnic jerk February 7, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    i’ve heard of these mind machines before but never did any real research/had a clear understanding until just now. these devices seem pretty fascinating and i’d love to try it out some time. i have listened to binaural beats before (i-dosers) but i did not have success.

    anyway i have had much experience with vivd dream recall and too have read nonsense words/sentences in my dreams. many times i am reading a text message from my phone within a dream and suddenly i begin to realize that i am reading complete nonsense and then it dawns on my that i am literally making up what i am reading as i go! quite a strange phenomenon.

    i agree with rob on the expectations bit with dreaming but i have always been on the fence when it comes to the belief that life is the very same way. i have had many instances (every other day it seems, sometimes multiple times a day) since i was very young that i feel totally demonstrates my expectations forming my reality as if i am in a dream.

  8. hubere July 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    You said, “I absolutely love to speculate on how our thoughts and expectations influence reality.” There is a great book about this, called The Intention Experiment. You should check it out.

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