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    Thread: Phosphenes & Hypnagogic Imagery

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      Phosphenes & Hypnagogic Imagery

      "A phosphene is an entoptic phenomenon characterized by the experience of seeing light without light actually entering the eye. The word phosphene comes from the Greek words phos (light) and phainein (to show).] Phosphenes can be directly induced by mechanical, electrical, or magnetic stimulation of the retina or visual cortex as well as by random firing of cells in the visual system. Phosphenes have also been reported by meditators, people who go for long periods without visual stimulation (also known as the prisoner's cinema) or who are under the influence of drugs, especially a hallucinogen."
      Phosphenes and hypnagogic imagery



      The artist Aaron Ross has a great definition of phosphenes: "phantom images seen only in the mind's eye."

      Phosphenes (literally "light that shines forth") are luminous, ephemeral signposts marking the landscape of inner space. Several scientists have found that phosphenes have common features across cultural boundaries. Such findings point to a universal library of symbols.

      A phosphene is a multicolored shape or pattern seen in the darkness, without external visual stimulation. Phosphenes can be seen with closed eyes or in a completely dark room with open eyes. Phosphenes may appear as:

      * spirals
      * exploding stars
      * wispy clouds
      * wheels
      * tunnels
      * parallel lines
      * wavy lines
      * dotted lines
      * zigzags
      * checkerboards
      * honeycombs
      * spider webs
      * dot patterns
      * circles within circles
      * crosses
      * thin meandering lines, like lightning
      * geometric shapes, like triangles, squares, pentagons
      * and so on.

      They may swirl, pulse, superimpose, fragment, or morph into other images.

      If you have ever bumped your head and seen stars, those were phosphenes. You can, however, stimulate the appearance of phosphenes without hurting your head in the process. Hold your fingers over your closed eyelids and make very slow and gentle circular motions or apply very gentle pressure. When images begin appearing, remove your fingers, keep your eyes closed, and watch the visions. Having a tape recorder handy will allow you to describe out loud the colors, shapes, and other phenomena you witness. This information will be helpful later as you study the symbolic meaning of your visions.

      Why does pressure on the eyeballs create phosphenes? Mathematician G. Bard Ermentrout explains that the pressure inhibits signals from the retina, thereby encouraging the brain's cortex to fill the void. The brain begins firing spontaneously and creates hallucinatory patterns.

      Phosphenes can also be seen under such conditions as:

      * hypnosis
      * reverie
      * fever delirium
      * fatigue
      * sensory deprivation
      * sweat lodges
      * profound concentration
      * hyperventilation
      * medicinal herbs
      * psychoactive drugs (such as LSD)
      * food and water deprivation
      * electrical and magnetic stimulation of the visual cortex
      * strobe lights
      * rhythmic movement
      * migraine headaches
      * meditation
      * trance states
      * intense emotion
      * stress
      * crystal gazing

      The behaviour of phosphenes seems to be uncontrollable by scientists. In 1994, vision researcher William H. Dobelle discovered that the phosphene lights flicker at a rate which seems unrelated to the cardiac pulse, breathing rate, or other physiologic functions.

      Phosphene researcher and artist Lorena Babcock Moore says that under the influence of drugs and other intense forms of stimulation, phosphenes become "more pronounced and the patterns (called entoptics) increase in complexity and may include flashes, spirals, circles, or zigzags that move in concentric circling, horizontal streaking, vertical falling, or scattering fragments. Motifs may overlap and transform into one another." However, Moore does not use intense methods for her own phosphene work. She prefers outdoor solitary drumming.

      Distinct shapes are commonly seen in phosphenes. Phosphenes are said to be generated by the nervous system's intrinsic geometry.

      Vivid, morphing colors are typical. Phosphenes typically change color in phases:

      1. Yellow
      2. Bright green with a red halo expanding toward the center
      3. Red with a blue halo expanding toward the center
      4. Blue
      5. Grey, faint afterimage

      These inner visions have inspired artistic works throughout human history. In 1989, researcher Richard Bradley applied the concept of phosphenes to European megalithic art. He attributed many mysterious cave drawings with the phosphene visions of the ancient artists. Art historian A. E. Iribas has traced the influence of phosphenes on such art as:

      * the "childlike" art of Miro
      * the psychedelic art of Michaux
      * the surrealist art of Dali
      * the mandalas of Tibetan Buddhism
      * the architecture of temples
      * alchemical imagery
      * Hildegard von Bingen's illuminations
      * the work of contemporary painters such as Onslow-Ford, Kupka, Kandinsky, av Klint, and others

      In 1983, Qabala expert Philo Stone suggested that phosphenes are actually "sparks of pure energy, light perceived at the moment of its conversion into nervous-system information between the cornea and the brain. Thus, phosphenes may be the behavior of atomic particles as observed by the naked eye: the interface of two worlds, the normal and the nuclear -- the fourth dimension."

      The French physician Francis Lefebure (1916-1988) experimented with a technique of combining a thought with a phosphene in order to transform the energy of light into mental energy. He believed that conscious phosphene work would stimulate memory, attention, intelligence, imagination, intuition, creativity, decision making, patience, perseverance, self confidence, dreaming, and the discovery of new dimensions. His technique involved stimulating phosphenes with a light source:

      1. Sit in a darkened room.
      2. Look at the bulb of a small pocket flashlight (non-halogen) for thirty seconds.
      3. Turn off the light and, with open eyes, see the phosphene.
      4. Place a thought inside the phosphene: "A thought of love, goodness, peace, wisdom, a thought dedicated to unhappy and unlucky people of the planet."
      5. Keep both the phosphene and the thought for at least one minute, smiling throughout.

      The phosphene generators are the stars above our heads, which ones were YOU born under, that is the first question.

      Phosphenism : The Genesis of the Method
      Phosphenic Mixing Applied to Education

      Everyone practice this exercise: Phosphenism: ocular convergence.
      ebullere likes this.

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      As you don't exactly propose some sort of experiment that would be more fit for another Section but I'm quite happy to see it here, that's a pretty interesting topic which I never knew anything about though, thanks for sharing that.
      My question and suggested experiment would be if that can be used for dreaming and lucidity in some way?
      Personal Records so far: Max lucids per day: 2 | Max lucids per week: 4 | Max lucids per month: 8 | Max dreams recalled in one night: 17
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      Interested to know how I got 17 dreams in one single night? And how I think I still could Improve? Check out my new and improved Dream Recall Compendium: The Dream Recall Compendium

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