- Crank up monitor's brightness
- Turn off room lights
- Pick a color
- Choose a frequency
- Sit & close your eyes
- Enjoy Your Journey
Q & A
What is the Dreamachine app?
The Dreamachine app is a meditative device that induces color patterns by modulating brain rhythms through light stimulation.
How do I used this application?
In order to best experience the Dreamachine, sit close to your monitor with your eyes shut. After several minutes the Dreamachine app will create ornamental patterns akin to a liquid Persian rug. These visions are referred to as the hypnagogic state. This hypnagogic state is where the mind travels between sleeping and ordinary consciousness.
Who has utilized Dreamachine like effects?
Artists believe that the Dreamachine rearranges patterns of the unconscious mind and brings the viewer to a state between memory and pure consciousness.
-Roman mathematician and astronomer Ptolemy
- The French visionary Nostradamus
- Czech physician and physiologist, Jan E. Purkinje
- Neurophysiologist Dr. W. Grey Walter
- Notable artists Brian Jones, Paul McCartney, Kurt Cobain, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs
Who invented the physical Dreamachine?
Brion Gysin worked in collaboration with Ian Somerville, a Cambridge University mathematics student. A combination of artistic ingenuity, minimal resources and fierce intellect coalesced into the invention of the Dreamachine. The Dreamachine’s components consist of a cylinder with mathematically designed slots based upon Sufic geometry, a hanging light bulb, and 78-rpm turntable. The turntable and the cylinder are adhered together and the light bulb was suspended from the ceiling into the center of the cylinder. When the turntable begins to rotate at 78 rpm, pulses of light flash in the frequencies of 8 to 13 pulses per second.
How does the Dreamachine work?
Pulsing light alters our brain’s natural electrical frequencies and our brain begins to mimic this frequency (Landgraf, 2003). This is called brain entrainment. The entrainment principal is the tendency for any two oscillating bodies to synchronize. When our closed eyes receive 10 flickers per second the optic nerve triggers signals in the cortical region to induce alpha waves.
What are brain waves?
Brain waves are the observable electric, neural activity that we refer to as “thinking”. When we ‘hear’, ‘see’, ‘touch’, and ‘taste’, our neural waves change frequencies. Every second of every day, our brains are filled with this bustling electrical activity. Brain waves can also be understood as the on and off firings of billions of neurons. Brain waves are alert whether we are sleeping or resting, moving or thinking. Frequencies are the brain waves’ speed and are measured in hertz (Hz). As we engage with the environment, our senses transmit data through electrical signals to our brains. We understand these signals as information. In our daily lives (99% of awake activity) our brain stays within the beta and gamma bands. Before we slip into sleep, there is a brief moment in time when we relax and enter alpha wave activity. Researchers utilize EEGs (electroencephalography) to record brain waves. In order to produce a “brain print”, or EEG reading, electrodes are placed on a special hat that measures wave frequencies.
What are the different types of brain waves?
The five frequencies that are most understood.
Delta- (0-4 Hz) This frequency is associated with deep sleep. This wavelength occur s in the frontal brain region. Some believe that the human growth hormone is released during this frequency and often healing occurs.
Theta- (4-7 Hz) This wavelength has been connected to dreaming, stress reduction, creativity, meditation and consciousness. Sometimes we experience this frequency when we are awake in a dream (lucid dream). This is the range where learning and memory occurs. Extended periods of Theta waves strengthen pre-frontal cortex fibers.
Alpha- (8-12 Hz) This frequency is associated with conscious awareness, meditation, deep relaxation, and is a doorway towards deeper states of consciousness. It also corresponds with the same resonant frequency of our planet’s electromagnetic field.
Beta- (13-40 Hz) Beta waves are connected to our task oriented concentration. They also correlate to intense concentration, alertness, and optic clarity. Nobel prizewinner Sir Francis Crick believed that this frequency corresponds to the act of cognition.
Gamma- (40-100) Gamma waves are hypothesized to be important in uniting our conscious perception. It has been thought that these waves begin in the thalamus and jumps between various neural circuits. There is no definitive scientific consensus on these brain frequencies at present (Lieberman, 2009).
What is mindfulness meditation?
Mindful meditation is the conscious practice of attending to our breath. The mind during mindfulness meditation is aware of it’s flashing thought process; whether we notice our waves of breath, the space between sound and silence or the distinction between sensation and numbness.
These mental aggregates or mind manifestations are all composed of an action or non-action, an on and an off switch, an inhalation and an exhalation, a stimulus and response.
How is mindfulness meditation similar to the Dreamachine?
Meditation and the Dreamachine are both practices that promote brain entrainment. The practice of mindful meditation and the Dreamachine are not goal oriented. Brain entrainment practices create different neural pathways and strengthen our cortex fibers.
Can I practice mindfulness in combination with Dreamachine?
Of course. Rather than replacing your meditation practice, the Dreamachine can enhance your practice. The pulsing light will sharpen your attention and relieve overcrowding thoughts. Please check out our guide on how to maximize the dream machine and your current meditative practice.
How does meditation change brainwaves?
In a recent meditation study, electrical brain waves were measured using an EEG. This study at Sydney University in Australia compared meditative practice to relaxation (only eyes closed). Brainwave activity was monitored in the delta, theta, alpha, and beta bands. During meditation it was determined that alpha and theta waves were active in the frontal and middle parts of brain. Alpha waves are elicited in the posterior of the brain during meditation. Increased alpha wave bands led to a relaxed brain state. It has been found that people who practice meditation demonstrate increased frequency of these particular brain waves (The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 2010).
Dartmouth researchers suggest after reviewing neuro-imaging studies that our brains are constantly searching for patterns. The default brain activity of the brain is spontaneous wandering. It is thought that this mental processing helps us to reframe memory, add emotional color and search for order. As previously mentioned, we activate beta waves when we begin to think of our to-do list, plan an action, create a goal or look back upon a pertinent event or topic. It has been shown that very few beta waves are generated during meditation. This is because non-directive meditation helps the brain relax by letting thoughts, to-do lists, emotions pass without direct attachment (The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 2010).
Increased activation of alpha and theta waves has been found in people who have strong meditative practices. It has been implied that meditation changes the way our brain allocates attention. Cahn and Polich (2006) compared neural electric results with neuroimaging binding images. They determined that meditation has an effect within the alpha band as both a state and a trait effect. A state change refers to an alteration of self-referential, cognitive, and sensory awareness that arises during meditative practice, whereas dimensions that persist after practice is referred to as trait (Cahn & Polich, 2006). This means that alpha band frequencies are increased during and after meditation.
Clinical application of meditation in conjunction with other forms of therapy could have a strong collaborative effect. Meditation clearly affects CNS functioning, however the exact neural changes and differences from various practices are far from understood (Cahn & Polich, 2006). Other measures that have not been determined are how individuals differ in neural electric changes; various individuals could have different degrees of constitutional practice.
Could the Dreamachine Promote Neural Plasticity?
New experiences promote the formation of new neural pathways otherwise known as neuroplasticity. In essence as we stretch our comfort zones, explore new experiences, delve into virgin territory, and try new things our brains expand and develop and are pruned much like an ornamental shrub. While this is purely conjecture, increased alpha wave bands incited by the Dreamachine could lead to a thicker cortex. Alpha bands may promote neuro-plasticity because we are engaging an electric response that is creating a new experience.
In a recent study Dr. Marion Diamond conducted an experiment in which she exposed different groups of rats to different environments. In one environment, a group of rats were exposed to different settings and increased variables. The other group of rats had only one experience and only one environment. After technical analysis it was found that the rats that were exposed to different environments had increased learning ability, brain mass, and dendrite growth than the control group. In addition, Dr. Diamond found a correlation between the cohort of rats that were stimulated by different environments and an increased immune response (Budzynski, 2010).
The use of flickering light can be traced back to ancient civilizations when humans would congregate around fires and peer into the shimmers. Shamans and mystics often used images provoked from fire to strengthen visionary power. Many believed the flickering light to be paths or doorways to God.
In 200 A.D. the Roman mathematician and astronomer Ptolemy spun a fanned wheel between the sun and his observers. Ptolemy sketched the patterns that emerged from eyelids and noted that his subjects reported a state of peace and euphoria.
The French visionary Nostradamus also utilized flickering light to induce his psychic powers. There are legends that describe Nostradamus sitting inside a tower gazing directly into the sun while moving his fingers quickly over his eyelids. Czech physician and physiologist, Jan E. Purkinje conducted one of the first scientific investigations into the phenomenon.
In the 19th century Purkinje opened the world’s first physiology laboratory and is known for his vast contributions to neuroscience and physical health. Purkinje discovered the basic knowledge of optics. Purkinje also coined the term ’plasma’ and ‘protoplasm’ and discovered that fingerprints are unique. In a similar experiment as Ptolemy, Purkinje observed photic stimulation when he sat in front of a spinning wheel positioned between himself and the sun. He noticed with his eyes closed that his focus concentrated and then recorded the patterns and structures that appeared behind his eyelids (Geiger, 2003).
Following in the footsteps of Purkinje was the neurophysiologist Dr. W. Grey Walter. Dr. Walter was a fierce explorer of the mind and in the 1930s was a pioneer in the use of EEG (electroencephalograph) machine. Walter is also known as the father of artificial intelligence. Walter published many of his findings and brought his thoughts to mainstream audiences through the publication of the book “The Living Brain”.
In this book, Walter proposed that photic stimulation could modulate brain waves and produce geometric images consistent with Jungian archetypes behind a person’s eyelids. These moving geometric patterns were similar to watching a film passing. After an extensive study, he noted that brain frequencies were of important investigation.
Walter concluded that flickering light could induce alpha brain wave activity. He observed that the brain frequencies within the alpha band dissipated when our brain was involved in purposeful activities and to do lists. Walter suggested that frequencies within the alpha frequency could dissolve physiological barriers between brain regions. According to Walter (1953), “The flash rate could be changed quickly by turning a knob and at certain frequencies the rhythmic series of flashes appear to be breaking down some of the physiological barriers between different regions of the brain. This meant that stimulus of the flicker received in the visual projection area of the cortex was breaking balance; its ripples were overflowing into other areas”.
Art- The Evolution From Science into Art
One day artist Brion Gysin was traveling on a bus with his eyes closed and he noticed flickering sunlight dancing within a grove of trees. He was overcome by beautiful visions and sensations. In 1960s, Walter’s book “The Living Brain” was passing between scholars, artists and writers. Brion Gysin, an artist, poet and writer, was inspired after reading Walter’s findings. This experience combined with Walter’s findings fueled his desire to replicate the experience.
Gysin began working in collaboration with Ian Somerville, a Cambridge University mathematics student. A combination of artistic ingenuity, minimal resources and fierce intellect coalesced in the invention of the Dreamachine. The Dreamachine’s components consisted of a cylinder with mathematically designed slots based upon Sufic geometry, a hanging light bulb, and 78-rpm turntable.
The turntable and the cylinder were adhered together, while a light bulb was suspended from the ceiling and placed into the center of the cylinder. When the turntable begins to rotate at 78 rpm, pulses of light flash in the frequencies of 8 to 13 pulses per second. Gysin’s life’s work with Dreamachine is noted as assisting in his development of literary devices such as the cut-up technique, writing poetry and extending the limits of calligraphy.
The word spread about the invention of this machine within the worldwide artistic community and many have described it as a mental television. The use of this machine caught on within the circuit of musicians and many artists. Notable artists Brian Jones, Paul McCartney, Kurt Cobain, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs utilized the machine to accelerate their creative potential (Geiger, 2003).
Although this area is still fledgling, there is still a growing body of research into therapeutic benefits of flickering light. In one pilot study, researchers used pulsating light to reduce the symptoms of migraine headaches. Anderson (1989) identified a small cohort of patients, who had previously had unsatisfactory control of their pain with traditional pain medication.
The subjects were long-term patients who presented chronic symptoms. Pulsing light goggles were administered during the initial onset of a headache. The subjects were instructed to close their eyes in order to diffuse the light. Patients reported that the goggles helped 49 out of 50 migraines and that 36 migraines completely stopped. Researchers found that most patients operated the goggles in frequencies slightly higher than 13 Hz. Subjects reported that the higher the frequency range, the more rapid the release. Patients also reported that the goggles were found to be both calming and relaxing (Anderson, 1989). It was concluded that pulsating light could be a beneficial therapy for chronic migraine sufferers. Since the study was a pilot study, further research was encouraged.
Enhance Academic Performance?
Photic stimulation (flickering light) has also been identified as a way to enhance academic performance. In one study out of Western Washington University, students who were seeking counseling were divided into two groups: a control group and a group that received photic stimulation. Each participant received pre-and post-psychometric testing and physiological stress tests. A device similar to the light goggles called Biolight was utilized. It was ascertained that the subjects who were able to receive alpha band frequencies had increased memory and performance. This was determined by pre and post results derived from IQ tests. The researchers identified the weaknesses in the sample cohort as relatively small, and predominantly female. It was surmised that photic stimulation had therapeutic components, but that the results could not be generalized to a large population (Budzynski et al., 1999).
Relieve Premenstrual Symptoms?
In another study, EEG and photic stimulation was used as a treatment for premenstrual syndrome. The subjects receiving the flashing light device utilized it for 15 to 20 minutes per day. The patients receiving light stimulation found a significant reduction in their symptoms. It was concluded that it was effective treatment for PMS. Noton (1997) suggested that it is possible that the light stimulation increases cerebral blood flow that is associated with increased neuronal activity. Noton (1997) suggests that neuro-training using a flicking light may be another modality for those who do not respond well to traditional meditative practices because of lack of motivation or ADHD.
Mindfulness & Dreamachine Guide
- 1. Darken the room, engage the Dreamachine and close your eyes.
- 2. Watch your field of vision.
- 3. Focus attention on the mindÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eye otherwise known as the third eye chakra.
- 4. Observe the color and light patterns.
- 5. Observe the visual patterns in relationship to sound, breath, thought, and bodily sensations.
- 6. Watch the geometric shapes as if you were watching a movie.
- 7. Do not attach yourself to any particular shape.
- 8. Watch the shapes as you would watch a flame, shadows from trembling leaves, or scintillations bouncing from the face of waves.
- 9. Find flexibility with your attention. Flickering patterns are manifestations of the mind. Where is your breath? Where are your thoughts?
- 10. Know that perceptions, thoughts, and emotions are just created by the mind and are filtered through perception.
- 11. Perceptions are the patterns of our brains like the patterns of the recurring shapes.
- 12.Â Identify the smallest point within your vision. Dwell there
- 13. Surrender to the flow.
- 14.Â Where attention is focused, the emotions will dwell.
- 15. After 20 minutes, return to the breath and disengage machine.
- 16. Sit quietly for five minutes; follow your breath, thoughts, emotions, and mind flickers.
Credits & Legal
Dreamachine.co and it's creator/author Chaz Southard is not responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage caused by the use of this free experience made available on or through this website. By using this website, you agree that the website and its creators are not liable for any adverse effects incurred.
People with a history of photosensitive epilepsy should not use the Dreamachine. It is a rare condition, however it is something that has potential for danger and alarm. Danger and risk should be always avoided. Watching video games and intense television can also exacerbate photosensitive epilepsy.
Any comments or questions, please contact chazsouthard at gmail.
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