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Neurospeak, Mind Games, Holotropic Breathwork: three LSD substitutes from the 1990s (about Robert Masters)

In the 1990s, long before I took training in hypnosis and then later met the psychedelic substance Ayahuasca, I often browsed through a new-age bookshop in Camden Market in London. I spent many lunch breaks there, having travelled by Tube from the European Bank for Reconstruction to this alternative world.

There, I once spontaneously bought a book with an alluring subtitle: "Transform the body while you read". As an avid and somewhat sofa-loving reader, that idea appealed to me.

At home, I noticed that it wasn´t only about "transforming the body". In fact, the title was perhaps just a sneaky way to hide the true purpose. It was about altered states.

So, this book was my intro to altered states, trance, or "expanded states of consciousness", and it the root cause why I write this article 30 years after buying it. Thank you Robert Masters!

Cover of Neurospeak
Neurospeak by Robert Masters, 1994

About Neurospeak, LSD and Robert Masters

The history of the book "Neurospeak" , and of the book "Mind Games", written by Robert Masters and his wife, is related to psychedelics. When in the nineties LSD was banned from research and private use, many people searched for non-drug substitutes to guide into altered states. For example, Robert Masters used text, and Stanislav Grof used breath.

Robert Masters was the husband of Jean Houston, who later got some dubious fame. Jean Houston advised Hillary Clinton on spiritual matters, getting her into hot water, as reported by Bob Woodward. He was the Watergate reporter.

Jean Houston, again sadly, had zero long-term effect on Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton eventually became one of the worst war hawks in US foreign policy, responsible for death and destruction. So much for spiritual advice to politicians, and for the political wisdom of spiritual teachers:

Houston felt at one point that being Hillary was like being Mozart with his hands cut off, unable to play.

A Mozart made for machine guns.

Therefore, I was somewhat sceptical when - after my first experience of Ayahuasca in a ceremony - several people suggested that Donald Trump might be "cured" by Ayahuasca.

I feared, in contrast, that such an experience might rather lead him to the idea that he really is a god. Why? Even I nearly succumbed to this god-idea for an hour or so, where at a point of maximum effect of Ayahuasca I marvelled at "my universe" during a ceremony, overlooking it from a very strange perspective, somehow folded into the outer limits of the universe. This was a lesson on grandiosity.

Thanks to god, in the next ceremony I was brought harshly back to earth. , I experienced myself as hacking away at people with a sword in a medieval scene (not uncommon - Ayahuasca can very graphically depict all your "parts"). Someone suggested a past life experience, but "Ancestry" gave me no clue yet. Actually it was a lesson on my most destructive parts that I had to look at: no way to close my eyes. And it was not the only lesson.

Here are three books, aiming at altered states without using a substance like LSD or Ayahuasca. The first is to be used solo, the two other ones happen in groups.

click on any book (I will come back to "Mind Games" in another post)

So what is Neurospeak (1964) ?

"Neurospeak emerges at a confluence of psychophysical re-education and some other kinds of communication speaking to deeper levels of the person than reached by language as ordinarily used. Psychophysical re-education and such subcortical linguistics are natural allies".

The book referenced the father of modern hypnosis, Milton Erickson, Mosge Feldenkrais and others. The purpose of the book was to initiate, just by slow reading,

a complex process by which words are introduced into the central nervous system of the reader in such as manner that very specific and predictable changes occur in the muscoskeletal system, such as the lengthening of particular muscles, in order that certain skeletal joints may more more freely.

In addition, the book guides the listened into fundamentally altered states.

And, it worked!

For me, the breathing exercises were most impressive. The most impressive exercise resulted in a total immobilisation of the body. I suddenly, out of the blue when reading in the prescribed manner, felt as if I were a solid immovable block of rock, while my head felt like being extended left and right by ca 50 cm on each side.

Whole body breathing as a means to "crowd out" thoughts

This was a version of whole-body breathing, inspired by hypnosis, having a long tradition in meditation. For example, Culadasa in "The Mind Illuminated" (TMI) uses it also for concentration training. The general idea is that through the intense visualisation and imagined sensing of the breath streaming through the body, there is no opportunity for thoughts to come in edge-wise.

Below are two illustrations from TMI how the meditator visualises breath streams through the body. The first is practice for individual body parts, the second is a rather advanced consolidated visualisation.

It convinced me of the effect of hypnosis (where I later took a 12 month training), and it prepared me for the fundamentally altered states through Ayahuasca.

So, to give an impression of "Neurospeak", I will read two parts of it in the "hypnotic" style.

The first part consists of the instructions on whole body breathing that I found so effective. They are not particularly special, except perhaps in the hypnotic style formulations.

Therefore I will add another one for a body part when I come round to it.


A thought on...

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