Image via Lumenate
There’s no other moment in the digital era where meditation makes as much sense as now. With the coronavirus still lingering, people are finding this time to slow down and reconnect with themselves through guided and suggestive procedures.
But one app claims to not only take you to a meditative state—it also believes it can help you attain a “semi-psychedelic” high without drugs. In fact, Lumenate says you can alter your brain’s rhythms with just your smartphone’s flashlight.
The new and free app closely follows the workings of a device called the ‘Dreamachine’, developed by artist Brion Gysin and Cambridge scientist Ian Sommerville in the early 1960s. The apparatus included a cylinder, with slits at the sides, and a suspended lightbulb in the middle which spun 78 times a minute. Users would sit around the Dreamachine with their eyes shut, and the illumination would cast hallucinatory images behind their eyelids, and apparently put them in a trance-like state.
The Dreamachine’s effects have been touted by well-known figures like Margaret Atwood, Kurt Cobain, and Iggy Pop. Atwood, who wrote The Handmaid’s Tale, described that a session with the Dreamachine turned out to be “very relaxing and aids lateral think-jumps.”
According to VICE, the use of flickering light to shift the consciousness isn’t a new concept. Nostradamus purportedly got his prophetic visions from staring at the sun, and Czech physiologist Jan Purkinje related in 1819 that he had experienced visual phenomena by waving a hand in front of a gaslight.
Lumenate aims to make the Dreamachine’s functionality more portable. The creators of the app, Bristol-based Tom Galea and Jay Conlon, wanted to “make subconscious exploration more accessible than ever before.” Since the app’s launch on March 2, it had apparently been downloaded over 25,000 times.
To “get high,” users should get into a dark room and put on headphones. They’d then have to hold their phone’s torchlight an arm’s length away from eye level and relax their eyes. Images seemingly shone from the flashing light are uniquely theirs; the illumination simply alerts the brain that “something’s changing.” After which, “that synchronisation with the light spreads through the brain and allows you to send it into the desired state,” Galea explained.
In order to create this experience, Galea and Conlon purchased an EEG machine to track electrical activity in the brain, and then conducted hundreds of hours of self-experiments.
While a scarce amount of research has been conducted to back Lumenate’s effects up, VICE’s David Hillier gave it a go. He would describe the experience as “interesting rather than useful,” and while he was initially skeptical, “my feeling now is that most people could find a use for Lumenate’s unique brand of solo tripping.”
Lumenate is available on the App Store and Play Store. To find out more about the app, head here.