Technology

Psychonetics

a nerd’s toolset to work with mind and perception


by Igor Kusakov, (igor@kusakov.com), 2016

http://deconcentration-of-attention.com/psychonetics.html

ISBN: 978-0-9952238-0-6

Published: 2016-05-09

Revision: 2017-01-03

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This book describes psychonetics
as “an aggregate of psychotechnologies, based on the unified
methodological foundation, directed towards resolving tasks defined in a
constructive manner, using exclusive properties of mind”
. [3]

In the author’s opinion, psychonetics
appears to be a well-turned nerd’s
toolset to access mental and perceptual resources in their basic forms independently
of any particular application and in an ideologically unbiased manner.

Psychonetics can potentially be used to create new types of
technologies that work with complex systems in their totality as
organisms as opposed to using a mechanical approach in which a complex system
is perceived as a mechanism that can be assembled or disassembled.

CAUTION:

Any practice that has noticeable effects on a practitioner’s mind poses risks of
misuse, excesses and undesirable side effects. Such practices are not
recommended for individuals with mental issues or individuals prone to
irresponsible behavior.

Readers of this book must be fully aware that the practices, guidelines and safety
norms in this book are provided as-is and without a warranty of any kind.

The author of this book assumes no liability for unwise or unsafe actions by
readers of this book.


Table of Contents


Tateisi Kazuma

Tateisi Kazuma

The term “psychonetics
was introduced by the Japanese businessman, innovator and futurologist Tateisi
Kazuma, who originally mentioned this term at the international futurologist
conference in Kyoto in 1970 [1].

Tateisi Kazuma suggested that
information technology (“cybernetics“) would eventually be
replaced by biotechnology (“bionetics“) and that the latter would
eventually be replaced by “psychonetics“, which is a technology that
relies on the exclusive properties of the human mind in addressing
technological goals [25].

In the late 1990s, the term
psychonetics” was selected [1] by Oleg Bakhtiyarov, an
ex-USSR scientist, as the best term to name the terminology, methodology and
group of practices of the research in which he was involved.

Oleg Bakhtiyarov wrote several
books on the subject [1, 2, 3] and created several organizations
(such as the University of Efficient Development) [9, 10, 11] to provide training in psychonetics to the
public.

Despite these activities,
however, the openly available publications on psychonetics are surprisingly
sparse, particularly with respect to introductory and beginner’s material.

This book attempts to address
some of this gap by providing a simplified overview of the history, concepts,
practices, educational process and applications of psychonetics.


Kiev Institute of Psychology and its 1980s research

The terminology, practices
and methodology of Bakhtiyarov’s psychonetics originated from the research
conducted at the Kiev Institute of Psychology, USSR, in the 1980s [1, 17, 16, 19].

Oleg Bakhtiyarov, Russia, 2012

Oleg Bakhtiyarov, Russia, 2012

Oleg Bakhtiyarov was part of
the original team of researchers of this institute. He was involved in
developing the majority of the techniques discussed in this book. For
example, Bakhtiyarov originally presented the concepts that were later
summarized as the “deconcentration of attention” at the 6th All-Soviet
Union Congress of Psychologists Society of the USSR in 1983 in his thesis
titled “On methods of regulation of an operator’s psycho-physiologic
condition”
.

One group of tasks that the Kiev
Institute of Psychology was addressing was enabling the human mind to efficiently
address the challenges of operating new technological equipment.

A Nuclear Power Plant Control Panel

A Nuclear Power Plant Control Panel

An example of such a
challenge was the task to enable nuclear power plant operators to monitor many
indicators simultaneously in an efficient manner [2].

There was also a task to
resolve the problem of monitoring radar screens for a long time. Most
individuals monitoring a radar screen continuously for more than 30 minutes start
to see things that are not there or start to ignore real targets. There was a
requirement to develop techniques to monitor a radar screen for hours without
undesirable side effects [2].

According to Bakhtiyarov, the
greatest and also the last achievement of the mentioned research team as a
government organization was developing “the methods of retaining
self-control and performance in altered states of consciousness caused by an
unknown factor”.
[19]

The “unknown factor
in their research was a hypothetical mind-affecting weapon.
The idea for such a weapon was based on an assumption that the human part is
the weakest component of any complex system. Therefore, both the USSR
and the USA invested resources in developing a weapon that would affect the
human mind while having little to no effect on equipment. Although there is
currently no proof of whether such a weapon was successfully developed, the
task was set to preemptively develop psychological techniques that would enable
an individual to resist such a weapon [19].

USSR cosmonauts on the 1978 postage stamp

USSR cosmonauts on the
1978 postage stamp

Another exotic example in
which such “methods of retaining self-control” were supposedly
applied is situations in which Soviet cosmonauts experienced occasional
hallucinations during early space flights.

According to Tatiyana
Kovalyova, a lecturer from the University of Efficient Development [9], there
were incidents in which cosmonauts reported seeing their relatives visiting
them on the space station or a dog running around. Such hallucinations were
attributed to the new and unknown factors associated with space travel such as
extreme accelerations and zero gravity.

The task of the Kiev
Institute of Psychology team was to develop psychological techniques to enable
cosmonauts to remain calm and continue to perform their duties regardless of
any hallucinations they might be experiencing.


Separating technology from ideology

According to the information
provided by Bakhtiyarov [1, 16, 17] and the lecturers of the University of
Efficient Development [9], the team in which Bakhtiyarov worked studied any
technique or area that appeared to be mind-affecting in an attempt to
accomplish their tasks. Studied subjects included hypnosis and self-hypnosis,
the use of biofeedback devices, traditional Buddhist and yogic texts and
practices as well as books of mystic writers (such as Carlos Castaneda).

An important factor that
influenced the research was the competition caused by the Cold War. This
competition was strong and thus allowed the removal of all artificial barriers,
including social, ideological and even traditional science barriers [19]. The
only factor that mattered was the results. This period was likely the most
notable historical period in which the question of psychological human
possibilities was addressed with such energy, resources and dedication by the
strongest governments in the world.

Admiral cap, USSR

Admiral cap, USSR

“All ideological
barriers were removed for us,”

Oleg Bakhtiyarov says [16] concerning his time as a researcher at the Kiev
Institute of Psychology in the 1980s. “When we once had an ideological
conflict with the management of our institute, a military admiral arrived from
the Section of Practical Problems, Academy of Science, who was supervising our
research and forced the director to sign the required papers.”

Although the researchers
themselves were shielded from the USSR’s official ideology, the resulting
practices were not. These practices were supposed to be delivered to the
end-users, including cosmonauts, military special forces and operators of
important equipment. Therefore, all potential ideological conflicts had to be
avoided.

The philosophical part of the USSR’s official ideology was dialectical materialism [37], which
claimed the primacy of matter over consciousness and generally denied religious
and mystical subjects as being “opium for the people”.

The problem that the
researchers faced was that most of the original practices that they studied
were ideologically biased; in many cases, they were based on a religious or
mystic ideology. According to Bakhtiyarov, the main part of their work was to separate
working technology from an ideology
to which it was connected [19].

Although the task of
extracting unbiased technology from ideologically biased practices was
difficult, the resulting techniques gained unmatched flexibility and their area
of applicability significantly increased.


Psychonetics as a technological approach in psychology

An individual under the influence of nitrous oxide

An individual under the influence of nitrous oxide

“We developed
practices that enabled individuals to act under the model of some unwanted
influence,”
Bakhtiyarov says
about his work on “the methods of retaining self-control and
performance in altered states of consciousness caused by an unknown factor

[19].

“The model was simple.
An individual performs some arithmetic calculation, such as subtracting 17 from
10000. Then, 17 again from the result and again.”

“At some point, he is
administered nitrous oxide and sees a hallucinatory image. His task is to
continue the calculation. However, he does not have means to continue the
calculation because there is no logic anymore; thinking does not work.”

Although the individual loses
regular consciousness, special training enables him or her to continue the
original task regardless of the altered mental state.

“The individual
leaves this state [of mind] after 3-4 minutes. During this period, he performs
2-3 calculations. The speed clearly drops, but it still fits in the proper
sequence.”

It might not be easy to explain
how it is possible for a mind to continue consciously performing arithmetic
tasks when it is officially unconscious. However, that team of researchers was
seeking solutions to their tasks rather than explanations concerning the
observed phenomena. The researchers’ approach could be called “technological“.

A technological
approach differs from a scientific approach in the sense that the former
does not claim to develop explanations as long as there are reproducible steps
that can be followed to reach a predictable result.

In the case of psychological
and cognitive research, the technological approach has its benefits
because a human mind seems to be capable of producing many more experiences
than it is capable of explaining.

Explanations tend to assume
the role of a censor, thus preventing experiencing phenomena that do not fit these
particular explanations. Explanations could also conflict with existing
ideologies such as governmental, cultural, individual or religious ideologies
as well as with dominating scientific theories. Strict avoidance of unnecessary
ideological (or rather, ontological) constructs allows such conflicts to be
avoided.

***

The collapse of the USSR
in 1991 caused the described research (and many others) to stop because of a nearly
four-fold drop in scientific funding in the region [35].

After the USSR collapse, psychonetics was developed, maintained and popularized by enthusiasts
such as Oleg Bakhtiyarov outside of a strict academic environment and apparent
government interests (at least until recently [24]).


An illustration of psychonetical techniques

A good illustration of psychonetical techniques is an exercise from a combat shooting course, which is
related to confronting a group of armed individuals.

Originally, this exercise was used to train advanced military personnel of the GRU (the foreign military
intelligence directorate of the USSR). Currently, it is available as part of
sportive and recreational courses (the exercise was demonstrated by a retired
GRU officer Arthur Mitiniani [26]).

Deconcentration of attention exercise in combat shooting

Deconcentration of attention exercise
in combat shooting

One man stands in the center, and others form a half circle that is approximately 3 meters in radius and
covers the whole field of vision of the individual in the center. Each
individual in the half circle has an unloaded handgun in a holster and is
capable of quickly drawing it to simulate two shots toward the individual in
the center. A trained individual can draw a handgun from a holster, unlock the
safety lock, pull the slide, aim the handgun at a target and begin firing it in
one movement taking less than one second. Therefore, this movement is dangerous
and must be recognized as quickly as possible.

In this basic exercise, the task of the individual in the center is to point toward the individual who is
firing with an index finger. The task of the individuals forming the half
circle is to distract the individual in the center by various means, such as by
making random moves and sounds. Simultaneously, only one of them makes a firing
move toward the individual in the center, followed by another one, and then
another one. The individual in the center must identify and point toward these
moves as quickly as possible.

This exercise is impossible to perform if someone attempts to identify the threat by concentrating
attention on separate individuals facing him or her. Although the number of
individuals to monitor remains relatively tolerable for normal perception to
handle (5-9 individuals), most of these individuals are located in the area of
peripheral vision, thus giving the peripheral area the same significance as the
central visual area.

The technique that enables efficient performance of this exercise is to look in the direction of the
middle area of the half circle without focusing on anything in particular and
then to spread attention equally among all the individuals in the field of
view. Although this is not a traditional
method of using attention, such an approach makes this exercise easy to
perform.

This exercise demonstrates
the following key concepts:

  • Deconcentration of attention is a technique opposed to concentration, during which
    attention covers the entire visual perceptual area. Either forming figures is
    stopped completely, or figures continue to be formed but are perceived all at
    the same time without any individual figure getting special attention.

  • Working with distractions is a technique to continue performing the original
    task regardless of external or internal distractions.

  • Pure meanings: In a combat situation, the mind can operate in a manner that might appear unusual
    to some people. This experience can be perceived as the “normal” mind turning
    off and another mind awakening. This “other mind” does not think serially with
    words. Instead, it thinks dimensionally, with mental sensations of pure
    meanings
    . In this altered mental state, complex solutions are discovered in
    one single step (in a manner in which a quantum computer is supposed to
    operate) and not in multiple steps by following a serial algorithm.

  • Extreme situations: Certain perceptual phenomena, such as the deconcentration
    of attention
    or the experience of pure meanings, although less
    common or seemingly non-existent in regular life, could manifest themselves
    spontaneously in extreme situations such as facing a mortal threat.

  • Gaining access to such unusual perceptual and mental capabilities might be the factor
    affecting war veterans, who long for these sensations and thus seek
    life-threatening situations deliberately.


    It also appears that this factor has fueled martial arts for centuries.


The sensations provided by this exercise can be familiar to individuals who have experienced them
elsewhere.

In my case, I have noticed a
similarity with the sensations that the mind produces when it resolves complex
tasks in software engineering. Similar to how a military specialist
deconcentrates attention in sensory space to notice subtle traces of a
potential threat, a software specialist deconcentrates attention in mental
space to discover subtle traces of a potential solution.


Basic principles of psychonetics

Psychonetics originated from academic research[1] and appears to employ scientific
criteria and methodology (such as [27, 28]) in many aspects.

Psychonetics, like science, is agnostic. This implies that there is no ultimate truth to believe in.
Each new practitioner must validate all psychonetical statements experimentally
and personally, without the need to conform to anyone else’s opinion, including
opinions of Bakhtiyarov or the author of this book.

Psychonetics makes a few assumptions, such as assuming the existence (or at least subjective existence) of a
practitioner, of perceptual modalities (visual, auditory and somatic) and the
ability of a practitioner to command his or her perception in mentioned
modalities.

Based on its assumptions,
psychonetics provides unbiased descriptions of various perceptual
phenomena together with practices to experience them. Although some phenomena
are relatively easy to experience and thus validate their existence, other
phenomena might take time and effort to achieve and thus validate.

Here are the basic principles
that define psychonetics:

  • Perception-driven:
    psychonetics operates with phenomena that are perceived directly,
    such as “concentrated attention”, “visual modality” and “imaginary space”.
    With practice, the list of such directly perceived phenomena increases.

    All subjects that cannot be perceived directly (initially or through practice) are
    avoided in psychonetics.



  • Empirical (practice-driven): psychonetics is studied through practice and
    not through abstract thinking.

    The reason for this approach is
    that abstract thinking cannot substitute for the personal experience of
    perceptual phenomena that psychonetical practices provide.


    Abstract thinking typically operates through verbal interpretations; in
    the case of new experiences, it can assume the role of a censor, thus limiting
    perceptual capabilities.


    However, abstract thinking can be a good tool to store, summarize and communicate
    the acquired knowledge.


  • Technological
    (practice-oriented)
    : psychonetics seeks reproducible practical
    results
    and not verbal explanations or interpretations of why
    these results occur.


    The reason for this approach
    is that the human mind appears to be capable of producing many more experiences
    than it is capable of explaining.


    Psychonetics suggests that a verbal
    explanation of a perceptual phenomenon is not required for its
    practical usage. In some cases a verbally inexplicable phenomenon can be used
    practically through pure meanings (see below).


    However, pure meanings
    appear improper for the tasks of storing and communicating knowledge, in which
    a verbal description is a better tool.


  • Unbiased:
    strict avoidance of unnecessary or one-sided interpretations makes
    psychonetics ideologically (ontologically) unbiased.



    Psychonetics does not deny or
    confront ideologies, interpretations or explanations, which many people consider important in their lives.
    However, ideologies, interpretations or explanations are
    either considered a personal choice of a practitioner that is outside of the
    scope of psychonetics or their role is reduced.



    “Psychonetics is an engineering discipline and therefore it is not tied to paradigms (that is the lot of science) or ontologies.
    All psychonetical ontologies are operational ontologies
    [suited to resolve particular tasks].
    Psychonetics is well aware that any ontology (including its own) is always partial.” [48]



  • Sober and
    discreet
    : psychonetics promotes a sober, non-emotional, discreet and (in
    a certain way) humble attitude toward itself and toward the experiences
    that psychonetics produce.


    This attitude comes from the
    deliberate avoidance of “the ultimate interpretation” of what
    psychonetical experiences truly are. There is also no ultimate interpretation
    of what is the true purpose of psychonetics.


    Such an attitude helps to
    avoid certain misuses of psychonetics, such as overrating one-sided
    interpretations and overrating alternative aspects of the world.


  • A phrase in Ithkuil

    A phrase in Ithkuil


  • Precise:
    psychonetics struggles to be as precise in its statements as
    possible. For this reason, Bakhtiyarov promoted the use of an artificial
    language Ithkuil [33, 34], which appears to be potentially superior to a
    regular language in both expressive capabilities and precision.

  • Extensible:
    psychonetical practices are customizable and extensible,
    which enables creating new practices and/or adapting existing practices
    for different purposes.

Concepts

The core psychonetical
concepts include

  • Will
  • Perceptual modalities
  • Attention
  • Pure meanings (pure semantics)

Psychonetical concept: Will

Psychonetics relies on an
assumption that an individual has the ability to command his or her perception.
This ability is proposed to be named “will“.

A broader definition of will
is “a goal-oriented activity unrelated to any motivation or external
stimuli”
[3, 15]. Although an individual can perceive will as his or her
“self”, it stands completely independent from both physiological and
psychological bodies and their manifestations.

Psychonetics assumes that
true will is independent from seemingly everything, which makes will an ideal
monitoring and controlling authority of mind. In Russian, the word
“will” (“воля”) is a synonym of “freedom”, which
makes it an accurate term for describing the underlying experience.

It appears that the concept
of will occasionally became discredited through history, apparently in cases
when some individuals associated will with a physiological or a psychological
function. For example, the Nietzschean “will to power” [38]
concept is often confused by its followers with the animal instinct to
dominate.

Will need not be associated
with such things. More appropriate subjects that can be associated with will include
personal freedom and creativity.

Psychonetical concept: Perceptual modalities

Modality
in psychonetics is a space in which each of the human senses operates. Basic
psychonetics operates with 3 modalities: visual, auditory and somatic.

Visual modality determines the perception of a 3D space. It is typically the most practically used modality.

Auditory modality provides perception of sounds and can contribute to perceiving
3D space, but its most distinguishing quality is the perception of time.

Somatic modality provides perception of body sensations. Psychonetics
picked the “somatic” term over “tactile/kinesthetic
because the former addresses both body surface sensations together with body
internal sensations.

There are also imaginary modalities – simulations that a mind can produce for each of its senses.

Psychonetical concept: Attention

Attention
in psychonetics is a perceptual resource which has functional and substantial
aspects.

The functional aspect of attention includes such functions as forming figures,
concentration
and deconcentration of attention.

The substantial aspect of attention manifests in practices in which attention fills a
volume, such as local volume of attention exercises or volumetric
deconcentration
.

Psychonetical concept: Pure meanings (pure semantics)

Pure meanings
is a mental area that contains knowledge without words, symbols or any
sensorial simulation (imagination). The pure meanings area has its
specific mental sensations, but they are unrelated to any sensorial sensations
and are typically ignored by normal attention.

Pure meanings
(“чистые смыслы”, Russian) appears a better term than does “pure
semantics
“, which I used in my earlier article [15], because it
reduces the tendency to overcomplicate a subject that is not that complex.

The concept of “pure meanings
and “pure meanings theory of consciousness” was developed by
several Russian scientists, such as Vasiliy Nalimov [4], Andrew Agafonov [6] and
Andrew Smirnov [8].

It appears that most
individuals have experienced pure meanings sensations – that is, when
they have a feeling of knowing something, but the words do not appear for some
reason. This experience could occur in situations of being very tired, situations
of being sick or in extreme situations. This experience also occurs when a
person tries to use a language with which he or she is not comfortable
(“code switching problem” [45]).

Another area in which pure
meanings
are easier to track is art. Music, for example, enables some
individuals to experience diverse pure meanings, which are not easy (or not
even possible) to transform into words. In the case of art, however, it is
important to be able to isolate pure meanings from emotions.

Yet another hint concerning where
to seek pure meanings sensations is childhood. These sensations are
obvious for children, but the same sensations are typically ignored in
adulthood.

Approaching the pure
meanings
mental area consciously via practices reveals that it contains not
only meanings of anything an individual knows but also a multitude of unknown
meanings for which there are no words or descriptions.

Although it is difficult to
understand and explain what pure meanings really are, using them for
practical purposes appears much easier.

Pure meanings enable practical usage of some perceptual phenomena that
are either difficult or impossible to explain verbally.


Practices

Psychonetics
includes the following groups of practices:

  • Will meditation
  • Working with perceptual uncertainties
  • Working with attention in visual, auditory and somatic modalities
  • Working with pure meanings

Group of practices (WM): Will meditation

(WM.1) Will meditation

The practice of associating
the sensation of self with the mental position of will is called “will
meditation
“. This practice is of the utmost importance to approaching all of
the other practices for the following two reasons:

  1. Conscious control of attention in
    any non-traditional manner (essentially, any operation with attention besides
    concentration) is initially difficult for most individuals. Will meditation
    seems to facilitate the process by serving as an “operation position
    from which to approach all other practices.

  2. Will meditation provides a “ground state calibration
    for the psychophysiological state of a practitioner thus serving as the main
    protection from any undesirable side effects of other techniques. Any practice
    that has noticeable effects on a practitioner’s mind poses a risk of excess and
    undesirable side effects. Will meditation provides the ability to
    normalize mental state in many situations.

Here is a simplified
description of this practice [3]:

Will meditation is performed in a relaxed seated position with a
straight back. The eyes are closed. The practitioner repeats two statements to
himself or herself in his or her mind. The first statement is, “I am
(in the sense of “I exist“; “Я есмь”“, Russian). The
second statement is, “I am will” (“Я есть воля“,
Russian). The basic will meditation consists of three phases that are
used in turn as the practitioner considers necessary.

During the first phase
of will meditation, a practitioner can feel the vocal muscles moving,
hear the imaginary sound of the words and try to experience the meaning
of each statement.

During the second phase
of will meditation, the vocal muscle movements are suppressed and the
practitioner only hears the imaginary sound of the words and tries to catch the
purely mental, non-verbal sensation of the meaning of each statement.

During the third phase
of will meditation, the imaginary sound of the words is also suppressed
and the practitioner only experiences the pure mental sensations, the pure
meanings
of the two statements without verbalizing or imagining them in any
manner.

The third phase can be a
challenge for beginners. With practice, however, experiencing pure meanings
becomes easier and more natural.

When performing will
meditation
, a practitioner cultivates a feeling that nothing is an
excuse to stop will meditation
. For example, a phone rings, someone
knocks on the door, the house ignites on fire, aliens arrive, the apocalypse
begins, or the sun becomes a supernova. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is an
excuse to stop will meditation.

External distractions, such
as sharp noises, are welcomed in will meditation. A practitioner notices
how his or her attention extends toward that source of distraction, “grabs”
that attention and pulls it back into the process of performing will
meditation
. The same technique applies to internal distractions caused by
psychological mental processes.

When performing will
meditation
, various body sensations and various psychological body
structures tend to replace the proper experience of will. Thus, a practitioner
always verifies the following two criteria on any incoming sensation:

  1. “Could this sensation be treated
    as a physiological body sensation (for example a sensation of feeling strong, energetic,
    relaxed or powerful) or associated with any particular body part?”
  2. “Could this sensation be treated as a psychological body sensation
    (for example, a sensation of being tough, cool or unbreakable)?”

If either of the above criteria is true, the experience is yet another distraction that must be addressed
in the same manner as other distractions – that is, by pulling associated
attention (associated energy) from them and placing this attention back into will
meditation
.

During will meditation,
all body sensations are treated as distractions, with the exception of
pronouncing the will meditation phrases (in phases one and two) and
keeping the back straight (which is required to maintain a sitting position).

A practitioner can keep the will
meditation
sitting position for most of the other practices, which are
described below.


Group of practices (PU): Working with perceptual uncertainties

Figure PU.NC.1: The Necker cube

Figure PU.NC.1: The Necker cube

One of the goals of
psychonetics is to attain conscious control of perceptual habits.

An example of such a
perceptual habit is how perception reacts when there are two or more equally
valid ways to perceive something. This situation is called a perceptual
uncertainty.

In the case of a perceptual
uncertainty, the typical perceptual habit is to switch between available
options spontaneously after some time. “Individual rhythm of switching alternative
images vary within wide limits – from several dozens to 1-2 times per minute

[1].

Figure PU.NC.2: Two ways to see the Necker cube

Figure PU.NC.2: Two ways to see the Necker cube

Psychonetics converts
perceptual uncertainty phenomena into exercises and focuses primarily on two
particular cases because of their versatility: a 2D image of a 3D cube (also
called a Necker cube) and two colored circles.

Necker cube: a Necker cube can be viewed as having either the
left-bottom side in front or the right-top side in front. When normally
observed, a cube flips spontaneously every once in a while; one side comes in
front, and then the other side becomes the front.

Figure PU.CC.1: Red- and blue-colored circles

Figure PU.CC.1: Red- and blue-colored circles

Two colored circles: the circles include one red and one blue circle. A
practitioner shifts eyes focus (by focusing either before the surface or behind
the surface on which the circles are displayed) until 3 circles appear with the
central circle combining both red and blue circles. In this case, the central
circle starts changing colors spontaneously (from red to blue and then back
from blue to red).

(PU.NC) Necker Cube

(PU.NC.1) Holding one option of a perceptual uncertainty (Necker Cube)

A practitioner volitionally
holds one side of the Necker cube in front for 1-2 minutes without letting it
switch to another one. Then, a practitioner relaxes for some time and attempts
the exercise again and repeats such a cycle until the total exercise time is over.

(PU.NC.2.ADV) (Advanced) Holding multiple perceptual uncertainties (Necker Cube)

A practitioner observes two or more Necker cubes and volitionally prevents them from flipping
spontaneously. The cubes could have the same or opposite sides in front.

(PU.NC.3.ADV) (Advanced) Speeding up switching between perceptual options (Necker Cube)

A practitioner attempts to increase the speed of switching between perceptual options to be as fast as
possible.

(PU.NC.4.ADV) (Advanced) Attempt to see both perceptual options at the same time (Necker
Cube)

Both sides of a Necker cube are perceived as either front
sides or back sides.

This practice produces a
perception of an “impossible” object that cannot exist in the regular
world.

(PU.NC.5) Perceive Necker cube as a flat 2D figure

A practitioner volitionally
perceives the Necker cube as a flat (2D) figure without depth.

(PU.CC) Colored circles

(PU.CC.1) Holding one option of a perceptual uncertainty (Colored circles)

Similarly to the Necker cube exercise, a practitioner volitionally perceives the central circle as either
blue or red for 1-2 minutes. Then, a practitioner relaxes for some time and attempts
the exercise again and repeats such a cycle until the total exercise time is over.

(PU.CC.2.ADV) (Advanced) Holding multiple perceptual uncertainties (Colored circles)

A practitioner observes two or more pairs of colored circles (or other shapes, potentially with other color
combinations) and holds their perceptual options either in the same or in
opposite states.

(PU.CC.3.ADV) (Advanced) Speeding up switching between perceptual options (Colored circles)

A practitioner attempts to increase the speed of switching between perceptual options to be as fast as
possible.

(PU.CC.4.ADV) (Advanced) Attempt to see both perceptual options at the same time (Colored circles)

In the case of the colored circles, visual perception splits into two perceptions and the central circle
is perceived as both red and blue at the same time.

(PU.CC.5.ADV) (Advanced) Splitting colors in a perceptual uncertainty

A practitioner forces the perception to see half of the circle as red and half as blue. Once this perception
is achieved, a practitioner splits the circle into four slices of varying
red/blue, and then into potentially even more slices.

(PU.CC.6.ADV) (Advanced) Creating a figure in a perceptual uncertainty

A practitioner forces the perception to see any arbitrary red figure appear on the blue surface (or blue
figure on the red surface).

***

 

Exercises to control
perceptual uncertainties
lead to better and more conscious control over
perception in general.

These exercises can be viewed as “perceptual weight lifting”, because performing them properly may require significant increase in attention intensity.

Bakhtiyarov mentioned in a seminar that “exercises on controlling perceptual uncertainties lead to a
glance that has the abilities of a hand
“. Although this statement can be
interpreted in different ways, these practices indeed produce a specific type
of visual perception with a subjective sensation as though a glance
“grabs” an object while providing some type of tactile input.

Controlling perceptual
uncertainties
practices open a large
area of creativity. A practitioner can review optical illusion images available
on the internet (such as [47]), select any one that appears interesting, notice
a perceptual habit that this particular optical illusion invokes and then try
to control it.

There are also perceptual
uncertainties in auditory and somatic modalities that can be explored and practiced.


Group of practices (VM): Working with attention in visual modality

Figure VM.1: Psychonetical practices in visual modality

Figure VM.1: Psychonetical practices in visual modality

(VM.AA) Becoming aware of attention

Initially, it is important
for a practitioner to become aware of attention. In other words, to pay
attention to attention itself.

For example, in visual space,
the focus of eyesight and the locus of attention are typically tied together by
a perceptual habit. Here is the simplest exercise to make these factors
independent.

(VM.AA.1.INT) (Introductory) Separate the focus of eyesight and the locus of attention

A practitioner keeps the attention on some
object within peripheral vision without watching it directly. A practitioner can
then start moving the focus of eyesight in different directions or turning the head
while still keeping attention on the selected object and without watching it
directly.

Figure VM.CA.1: A black circle

Figure VM.CA.1: A black circle

(VM.CA) Concentration of attention (CA)

(VM.CA.1.INT) (Introductory) Concentration

A practitioner watches a
single black circle and focuses all attention on it.

(VM.CA.2) Deep concentration

Figure VM.CA.2: Two black circles for deep concentration

Figure VM.CA.2: Two black circles
for deep concentration

A deeper concentration can be achieved by using 2 black circles. A practitioner shifts eyes focus (by
focusing either before the surface or behind the surface on which the circles are
displayed) until 3 circles appear then concentrates attention on the central
circle. A criterion indicating that concentration still occurs is that the central
circle remains solid and does not split into 2 original circles.

(VM.PDA) Planar Deconcentration of Attention (PDA)



Figure VM.PDA.1: Concentration of attention

Figure VM.PDA.1: Concentration of
attention

Figure VM.PDA.2: Deconcentration of attention

Figure VM.PDA.2: Deconcentration of attention

Deconcentration of
attention is opposite to concentration and can be interpreted as a process of
dismantling of the figures in the field of perception and transformation of the
perceptual field into a uniform (in the sense that no individual elements could
be construed as a perceptual figure) background
” [1, 2, 15].

With planar
deconcentration
of attention, the visual world is perceived as an indivisible,
flat background with the figure-forming function of attention stopped.

***

While deconcentration can be used to address some tasks in an efficient manner, Bakhtiyarov considers that this technique has a deeper value.
He thinks that deconcentration is one of the key elements of attaining true existential freedom.

Normally, various objects of the environment force human perception to form them.
This process of forming objects is usually predetermined and uncontrollable.
Deconcentration, however, gives an individual the ability to control this process consciously.

“After all, deconcentration is not only about the fact that attention is extended, expanded, the desired picture is achieved and then some perception happens.
Deconcentration is a rejection of controlling influences from the organized factors of the environment.”
[49]

(VM.PDA.1) Planar deconcentration of attention(from [15])

  1. The eyes look forward
    without focusing on anything. The eyes stay this way throughout the entire
    exercise.
  2. Attention
    locates the left-most object in the peripheral field of view. If there is
    no object there, then the attention covers only the left-most spot. An
    individual can trick attention to go to this direction by imagining that something
    important is occurring there.
  3. The right-most
    peripheral spot is added in the same way. Now, attention is tracking two
    areas, which is already a form of deconcentration.
  4. The top-most
    and bottom-most spots are added so that the attention is tracking four
    points.
  5. The entire
    peripheral borderline becomes covered with attention. The attention now
    forms an ellipse.
  6. The attention
    spreads over the entire field of view, moving from the edges to the
    center. This direction – from the periphery to the center – ensures that
    peripheral visual areas have the same significance as the central visual
    area.

It can take time to achieve and deepen the deconcentration state. At the beginning,
attention will keep creating individual objects, which is normal. A practitioner
must keep trying to stop attention from creating objects and deconcentrate it volitionally for at
least 10 minutes.

Once the deconcentration
state is achieved, a group of specific phenomena can be experienced. Various
visual effects might occur, such as seeing the world as a chaotic set of
colors, or the whole visual field might become covered in white or gray fog.
These phenomena are normal because there should be no perception of any
objects; what is perceived is rather the overall “state” of the visual field.

(VM.PDA.2) Finding numbers with planar deconcentration(from [15])

Figure VM.PDA.2: Schulte table

Figure VM.PDA.2: Schulte table

Psychonetics proposes an exercise with the Schulte table [39] as a means of experiencing how to
apply deconcentration to a practical task.

  1. A practitioner
    looks at the area in the center of the table without focusing on anything
    in particular. The eyes might even become unfocused, looking nowhere but
    in the general direction of the table.
  2. While looking as
    described, a practitioner focuses the attention on the top-left corner of
    the table. The attention is separated from where the eyes look. The eyes
    should keep looking in the direction of the table center in a relaxed and
    unfocused way during the entire exercise.
  3. While keeping
    attention on the top-left corner of the table, a practitioner adds
    attention to the top-right corner, bottom-left and bottom-right corners of
    the table. Now, the attention highlights the 4 corners of the table.
  4. A practitioner
    spreads attention over the outermost row of the table. Now, the attention
    forms a frame of a square.
  5. A practitioner
    covers the entire table area with attention, starting from the outside
    frame and going toward the center.
  6. When the
    entire table area is covered with attention, a practitioner maintains this
    state for some time. The eyes remain unfocused on anything and are looking
    somewhere in the direction of the center of the table. At this time, the
    table might look blurry or even visually disappear, and various visual
    effects can occur.
  7. Next, a
    practitioner tries to search for a colored number, without moving eyes to
    look for it. A practitioner just makes himself or herself very interested
    and very concerned with finding, say, 24 red. Deconcentrated attention can
    pinpoint the number instantaneously – it pops up immediately from the
    table.
  8. When the
    number pops up, a practitioner does not move eyes to see it. A
    practitioner just notices it with peripheral vision. Then, a practitioner
    relaxes for a moment and looks for the next number in the same way.
  9. For example, a practitioner can find all numbers in ascending sort order:
    1 black, 1 red, 2 black, 2 red, 3 black, 3 red, etc.
  10. Another way to do this exercise is to find all cases of the same number in different colors at the same time.
    For example, attention highlights all cases of 1, then all cases of 2, then all cases of 3, etc.

(VM.PDA.CE.1) Planar deconcentration with closed eyes

Planar deconcentration with
closed eyes is performed in the same way as with opened eyes and requires a similar
amount of time to achieve the proper experience (at least 10 minutes).

***

One group of practices that starts from deconcentration with closed eyes is to fill some area (or all visual area)
with attention and volitionally see imaginary colors (and then imaginary objects) in such areas.
Attention acts like a canvas for such practices.

Also, it appears that there are several different planes that can be perceived through deconcentration with closed eyes,
such as planes that render dreaming images or memories.

The dreaming plane can be difficult to perceive normally
because concentrated attention typically destroys its perception. Maintaining deconcentration allows retaining the perception
of the dreaming images plane without destroying the plane, potentially enabling
entrance into a lucid dream consciously.

In a similar manner some events from a practitioner’s memory can be “relived” in a more realistic way.

(VM.PDA.OI.ADV) (Advanced) Using planar deconcentration to control optical illusions

Planar deconcentration can
be combined with controlling perceptual uncertainties practices (which
were described earlier) to attain conscious control of yet another group of
optical illusions. In this type of deconcentration, objects are
selectively created (for example lines continue to be perceived in the images
below, all at the same time). The deconcentration over an optical
illusion image can be achieved in the same manner as in the previous practice
with the Schulte table.

In the case
of the Scintillating grid (figure VM.PDA.OI.1), deconcentration together
with volitional effort (similar to the effort to control perception of the Necker cube
or colored circles) allows perceiving the image in its true form – that is, with
gray lines and white circles (and not with white circles changing colors
spontaneously). An easier task is to see all lines together with circles in a stable
gray color. (A similar effect can be achieved by keeping the image in
the area of peripheral vision, but the perception of the image is less sharp
there.)

In the Cafe Wall Illusion (figure VM.PDA.OI.2), deconcentration combined with
the controlling perceptual uncertainties technique allows keeping all of
the horizontal lines straight and parallel.

(VM.VDA) Volumetric deconcentration of attention (VDA)

(VM.VDA.1) Volumetric deconcentration of attention

A practitioner starts with planar deconcentration and then expands it
forward, adding the perception of the 3D volume to the deconcentration
experience (adding perception of distances to visible surfaces).

Volumetric deconcentration can still perceive objects. However, all objects are
perceived at the same time and without attention switching from one object to
another.

While planar deconcentration can be interpreted as a “passive” version of
visual deconcentration (which detaches a practitioner from the regular world), volumetric
deconcentration
is an “active” version of visual deconcentration that
allows participating in regular world activities.

***

Volumetric deconcentration is practically applicable in activities that require
extra perceptual abilities, tracing weak perceptual signals and/or extra speed
in decision making (finding hidden objects, combat, car racing and martial
arts).

Perceiving normal and familiar things through volumetric deconcentration can produce strong
and unusual experiences.

For example, observing a large
mountain canyon through volumetric deconcentration can become an
overwhelming experience, as can observing an open field with grass or bushes
while trying to notice the movements of the wind with volumetric perception; or
observing rain, snow or autumn leaves falling. A powerful sensation can be
achieved by making a fire in the night, which produces many sparks flying up,
and then observing these sparks with volumetric deconcentration.

(VM.VDA.IS) (Advanced) Volumetric deconcentration of attention in an illusory space

A peculiar property of volumetric deconcentration is
that it can be expanded into an illusory 3D space. The general effect of this
technique is that it makes the subjective perception of an illusory space
more realistic. In some cases, this technique can produce a sensation of
attention creating a 3D space.

(VM.VDA.IS.1.ADV) (Advanced) Volumetric deconcentration in a 2D image

Figure VM.VDA.IS.1: Inside torus

Figure VM.VDA.IS.1: Inside torus

Volumetric deconcentration can be practiced with certain types of optical illusions
(such as figure VM.VDA.IS.1) in which attention can create a 3D space within the
space of a 2D image

A more advanced version of this exercise is to use it with a
photograph or a picture that has noticeable depth indications.

(VM.VDA.IS.2.ADV) (Advanced) Volumetric deconcentration with reflective surfaces

Volumetric deconcentration can be practiced in a 3D space reflected in a mirror
or a water surface. A practitioner starts with planar deconcentration
over the reflective surface and then alternates it with volumetric
deconcentration
in the reflected 3D space.

When a practitioner looks straight at a mirror, deconcentration
can be difficult to achieve because the practitioner’s personal reflection can
attract all of his or her attention. This situation is one of the most
difficult conditions under which to practice deconcentration; thus, the
exercise is very useful. The process of breaking the perceptual habit of
concentrating on a personal reflection develops a stronger deconcentration
skill.

Practices with mirrors open an area for creativity, such as
combining multiple mirrors and maintaining perception of several overlapping
but independent 3D spaces at the same time.

Although practical applications of such techniques might not
be obvious, they at least demonstrate unusual capabilities of the human mind.

(VM.VDA.IS.3.ADV) (Advanced) Volumetric deconcentration with closed eyes

Volumetric deconcentration can be practiced from planar deconcentration
with closed eyes when perceiving the dreaming images plane (see VM.PDA.CE.1 exercise)
as a technique to enter lucid dreaming consciously or to relive a memory.

(VM.VDA.IS.4.ADV) (Advanced) Volumetric deconcentration in a VR world

Oculus Rift, DK2

Oculus Rift, DK2

Volumetric deconcentration can be practiced when visually experiencing a VR world
created with the Oculus Rift or a similar device.

Volumetric deconcentration fills the entire virtual
visual space with the individual’s attention, thus making this space more alive
and realistic
.

The local volume of attention technique (described
below) can be used to increase the subjective realism of any particular object
(or multiple objects) in the virtual 3D space.

(VM.LVA) Local volume of attention (LVA)

A local volume of
attention
can form naturally once the focus of the eyesight and the locus
of attention become separated, such as through the VM.AA.1: Becoming
aware of attention exercise.

Once attention becomes
detached from where the eyes are looking, it normally forms a volume.

For example, it could form
the volume of a cloud or a sphere of a different size, depending upon the
distance from a practitioner.

The difference between
Concentration of Attention (CA) and LVA is that whereas visual CA perceives a
surface of an object, LVA perceives a volume – all at the same time. This
perception is different from visual observation of surfaces (from outside or
inside). Ideally, LVA becomes a special sensation of perceiving volume at the
same time from all sides, both inside and outside.

When a complex object rotates
and is observed through regular visual perception, its immediate visual shape
changes. With LVA, the shape of an object is unaffected by rotation.

Psychonetics works with attached and unattached LVA.

Attached LVA fills the volume
of an object. Unattached LVA is not attached to any particular object.

(VM.LVA.1.INT) (Introductory) Creating an LVA

A practitioner places attention anywhere in the room, such as in a room corner (which is visible by peripheral vision)
without watching it directly and commands attention to
form a ball or a cloud. A practitioner attempts to isolate and intensify the
specific perceptual sensations of an LVA that this exercise produces.

(VM.LVA.2) Moving an LVA

A practitioner forms a
ping-pong-ball-sized LVA an arm’s length in front of the practitioner’s head
and then starts rotating it around the head in a horizontal plane in a clockwise or counterclockwise
direction.

The practitioner notices the
difference in perception of the LVA when the LVA leaves the visible area and
goes in the area of visual non-perception (see below) behind the head
and then when the LVA comes back from the other side of the head into the
visible area.

To increase the complexity of
this exercise, a practitioner can add multiple LVA balls – 2 and then 4 balls –
and rotate them all at the same time. These balls can be rotated in the
horizontal/vertical planes or in any orbit around the head and in any
direction.

(VM.LVA.3) Sensing with LVA

A practitioner forms a ping-pong-size-ball
of LVA and passes it through different objects. A practitioner tries to notice
the perceptual differences when the ball passes through an object and remember these differences.

(VM.LVA.4) Attached LVA

A practitioner creates an LVA that fills the volume of an existing object. The LVA takes the selected object
shape.

It is easier to start with simple and small objects – such as a water
bottle or a coffee can – and then try to do this technique with larger and more
complex objects.

(VM.LVA.5.ADV) (Advanced) Rotating an LVA

A practitioner rotates an LVA ball. This action might be difficult to perform but it seriously intensifies the LVA-specific perceptual sensations [3].

This practice is useful to suppress any visual imagination, because visual imagination cannot keep up with the perceived phenomenon. Somatic imagination should also be suppressed.

A more complex version of this practice is to rotate two halves of the ball in opposite directions.

Yet another way to make this practice harder is to rotate the ball in two or more directions at the same time.

(VM.LVA.6.ADV) (Advanced) Creating an unattached LVA of a specific form

A practitioner starts with creating simple and smaller forms with unattached LVA. A practitioner works on improving the quality and precision of the created form.

For example, the first step is to transform a ball of LVA into a torus.
This may become a difficult task, because attention should not fill the empty space inside the torus [3].

Then, the practitioner can increase the complexity and size of the LVA form.

(VM.LVA.7.ADV) (Advanced) Creating a moving unattached LVA of a specific form

Once a practitioner gets good experience with creating and controlling LVA, a practitioner attempts to create moving forms, starting from the smaller and simpler objects.

For example, it is possible to create a realistic shape of a bird with LVA and make it fly.

A more complex exercise is to
create an exact copy of an individual’s body with LVA and make it walk around
the room.

(VM.APV) Abstract plain of vision (APV)

An abstract plane of
vision
(APV) is a mental area in which visual images convert into pure
meanings
, the “pure visuality” area.

Figure VM.APV: A metaphorical explanation of the Abstract Plane of Vision

Figure VM.APV: A metaphorical explanation of
the Abstract Plane of Vision

Imagine a person playing a
computer game for so long that this person forgets about the existence of the
monitor that displays the game images. An APV is this “monitor” in a
human mind.

Psychonetics places APV in the
perceptual category of “non-forms“.

Experiencing APV is the most
difficult of the visual practices. It is advisable to attempt this practice once
a practitioner is skilled with planar deconcentration.

APV practices include the following:

(VM.APV.1.ADV) (Advanced) Accessing abstract plane of vision

An APV is accessed from a planar deconcentration of attention by pulling the conventional observer
a little bit back from the deconcentration plane.

Conventional observer is an area that many individuals subjectively treat
as their visual perceptual self. This area is typically located in or behind
the eyes or in the center of the head.

(VM.APV.2.ADV) (Advanced) Rotation of abstract plane of vision

A practitioner volitionally rotates the APV, thus achieving an “angled” view on the visual
perception, which eventually leads to liberation from one of the most powerful perceptual habits.

This practice leads to a clear separation of the space of attention from the
visual modality (both real and imaginary) [3], which opens the possibility to work with the space of attention directly.

(VM.APV.3.ADV) (Advanced) Pushing conventional observer through the abstract plane of vision

Pushing the conventional observer volitionally to the front through the APV can lead to loosing
perception of the regular world and perceiving something else, which is
not 2D or 3D and which does not have clear separation of modalities (however, pure meanings still work well there).

(VM.AVNP) Area of visual non-perception (AVNP)

Area of visual non-perception is the area
inaccessible by visual perception (for example behind the practitioner’s head).

Psychonetics places AVNP in the
perceptual category of “non-perceptions“.

(VM.AVNP.1) Area of visual
non-perception

Starting with planar deconcentration (or abstract plain on vision), a practitioner pushes attention back in the
area behind the head.

When placing visual attention
behind the head, it is important to avoid visualizing anything in the
imaginary visual space. Area of visual non-perception has its own
special sensations, which a practitioner learns to recognize.


Group of practices (AM): Working with attention in auditory modality

Auditory modality practices are conceptually similar to visual modality practices.

When doing exercises in auditory modality, it is critical to learn to isolate auditory perceptual sensations.

In many cases, a perceptual
habit automatically makes visual imagination follow auditory perception. For
example, an individual might automatically imagine 3D space with a direction
from where a sound came (which is a useful skill that could later be evolved into
echolocation techniques). However, psychonetics struggles to place perceptual
habits under conscious control. Thus, for educational purposes, it is important
to learn to perceive sounds on their own.

Isolated perception makes
auditory perception sharper and more detailed and allows noticing weaker
signals that were initially beyond the perceptual boundaries.

Another reason to isolate
auditory perception is that doing so eventually leads to discovering its
background – the abstract flow of time, which opens possibilities for
practices with time.

Here are the auditory
modality
practices:

(AM.ACA.1.INT) (Introductory) Auditory concentration of attention

With eyes closed, a
practitioner concentrates on any particular sound. A practitioner notices how a sound is
recognized as a figure in time and how a direction is associated with this
particular sound.

(AM.ADA.1) Auditory deconcentration of attention

With eyes closed, a practitioner starts by selecting the loudest and the quietest sounds and then
spreads attention equally on all sounds in between.

With auditory deconcentration,
no auditory figures are formed in time. In other words, all recognizable sounds
(such as music, people talking or birds singing) are deconstructed and perceived
simultaneously without any notion of what these sounds are, where they come
from or selecting any individual sound with attention.

The sounds are grouped by the
moment in time when they occur, not by their sources, figures or directions. To
achieve this grouping, the perception of duration of any individual sound is
reduced to the length of 0.5-1.5 seconds.

One trick that helps reaching
auditory deconcentration is to place attention on the eardrum and notice
all sounds the moment they come while at the same time suppressing the creation
of sound figures in time.

(AM.AFT.1.ADV) (Advanced) Abstract flow of time

When doing the auditory deconcentration, a practitioner focuses attention on the gaps between sounds in which
no sounds exist.

Starting with the perception
of gaps between sounds, a practitioner switches to perceiving duration in its
pure abstract form, which is the perception of the abstract flow of time
(This type of perception belongs to a “non-form” perceptual
category in psychonetics.)

***

Experiencing the abstract flow of time leads to multiple exercises with time. For example, a
practitioner can hold short and long time durations in mind at the same time,
eventually creating perception of a 2D time.

It is also possible for a
practitioner to combine various pure meanings with the flow of time and
study how they affect one another.

Reversed flow of time.

Reversed flow of time

Yet another practice is to stop
volitionally the subjective flow of time. It is also possible to roll the
subjective flow of time in the direction that is opposite to its normal
flow.

The subjective sensation of a reversed time flow (in a practitioner’s mind only) is relatively simple to achieve
with training. Bakhtiyarov expressed great enthusiasm [1, 16, 17] about a
theoretical possibility to unfold somehow the sensation of a reversed time flow
in a human body or in a society, thus preventing it (at least theoretically)
from aging and dying. However, thus far, there are no reports or observable
evidence that anyone has achieved any progress in such tasks.

Bakhtiyarov has also
mentioned [3] that deconcentration over periods of time and events
enable tracking synchronicities [40]. A synchronicity is an
alternative type of events relationship wherein similar events are synchronized
by the time when they occur, without having normal cause/effect relationships
between them.

There were also unconfirmed
experiments on provoking synchronicities [3] by “freezing” an event
in the abstract flow of time and then creating a special
“tension”/”subtle anticipation” sensation that a
synchronicity will occur.


Group of practices (SM): Working with attention in somatic modality

Somatic (tactile, kinesthetic) modality practices are conceptually similar to practices in visual
and auditory modalities.

As with auditory modality,
it is important to learn to isolate tactile and somatic sensations while
suppressing any habitual visualizations in imaginary space.

(SM.TCA.1.INT) (Introductory) Tactile concentration of attention

Eyes closed, a practitioner concentrates on any tactile sensation for a few minutes.

One trick to intensify the tactile concentration is to attempt to feel the heartbeat pulse in the concentration point.

A practitioner tries to isolate only the tactile sensation and suppress any visual imagination, such as
imagining a 3D space or direction in which the perception occurs.

(SM.SCA.1.INT) (Introductory) Somatic concentration of attention

Eyes closed, a practitioner places
attention into internal parts of his or her body, trying to recognize internal
body sensations. A practitioner might try to fill areas of different body
organs with attention and notice what type of somatic sensations they produce.

A practitioner tries to
isolate only the somatic sensations and suppress any visual imagination.

Somatic concentration is actively used in many traditional practices (such as yogic and qi gong practices)
because of the assumption that concentration of attention in different body areas leads to predictable changes
in personal psychophysiological state (for example, somatic concentration in the center of a chest leads to
stabilization of the practitioner’s emotional level).

Basic psychonetics does not accentuate practices that work with these effects. However,
a practitioner is free to explore this direction personally.

(SM.TDA.1.INT) (Introductory) Tactile deconcentration of attention

Eyes closed, a practitioner
starts with the tactile sensations on the top of the head and on the bottom of
the feet and then spreads attention equally over all tactile sensations,
including those coming from the body touching the clothes and sitting surface.

A practitioner tries to
isolate only the tactile sensations and suppress any visual imagination.

(SM.SDA.1) Somatic deconcentration of attention

Eyes closed, a practitioner
starts with the tactile sensations on the top of the head and on the bottom of
the feet and then spreads attention over all tactile and internal body area
sensations. A practitioner perceives them all at the same time without specifically
focusing on any particular sensation.

(SM.SB.1.ADV) (Advanced) Somatic background

A practitioner starts with regular somatic deconcentration.

To notice the background of somatic sensations,
it is helpful to use sounds or visual objects.

In the case of sounds, the practitioner’s
eyes are closed, and the practitioner notices how the somatic background
reacts to incoming sounds and how incoming sounds change its state.

In the case of visual
objects, practitioner’s eyes are opened. A practitioner looks at different
objects and notices how they affect the state of somatic background.

Somatic background is
subjectively perceived as a body tonus or body energy level that is
characterized by quality (which can be affected by perceived sounds or visual
objects) and by quantity (intensity).

Somatic background belongs to a “non-form” perceptual category in
psychonetics.

***

Once somatic deconcentration is experienced by a practitioner, a mild form of somatic
deconcentration
can be added to the will meditation to help working
with auditory distractions. Somatic deconcentration absorbs the energy
of these distractions (or rather it re-absorbs the attention that was
dispatched to analyze the incoming sounds).

Somatic deconcentration is also used together with pure meaning practices
(see below) to control various aspects of the personal psychophysiological
state.

Somatic background technique is used together with volumetric
deconcentration for tasks that require tracing weak perceptual signals such
as finding hidden objects. Somatic background technique can be interpreted
as a conscious version of a “gut feeling”.


Group of practices (PM): Working with pure meanings

Psychonetics defines two
operations with pure meanings: folding and unfolding a pure
meaning.



Figure PM.1: Folding a pure meaning

Figure PM.1: Folding a pure meaning

Figure PM.2: Unfolding a pure meaning

Figure PM.2: Unfolding a pure meaning

Folding an entity (a text, a quality, an object, a system or
a situation) into a pure meaning is to perceive the pure meaning
sensation of this entity directly, isolated from any sensorial perception,
imagination, symbols or words.

Unfolding a pure meaning is a process of materialization
of a pure meaning sensation into a text, symbols, an action or an area
selected with attention.

For example, the process of folding
a text into a pure meaning can be called “understanding“,
or “de-verbalization“. Unfolding a pure meaning
into a text can be called “explanation” or “verbalization“.

Folding and experiencing pure
meanings
sensations is part of the will meditation, that is, when a
practitioner attempts to sense the pure meanings of the meditation
phrases (“I am“, “I am will“).

(PM.F.1) Folding pure meanings

A simple practice to start
with is to use colored 2D geometric figures, such as a green triangle, red
circle and blue square (any color with any figure).

With eyes closed, a practitioner
imagines a selected figure in imaginary space, pronounces its textual name and
tries to catch a sensation of the meaning, of the underlying sense, semantics that the figure produces. This sensation of meaning is easier to
catch when a figure changes, so the associated pure meaning sensation
also changes in mental space.

Figure PM.3: Colored figures

Figure PM.3: Colored figures

Initially, drawing the actual
colored figures and watching them can also help. A practitioner watches colored
figures consecutively while trying to notice the subtle difference in mental sensations
that these figures produce.

Once the pure meanings
sensations are noticed, a practitioner tries to isolate and maintain only these
sensations while cleaning the mind of any visual imagination and without
pronouncing words.

Colored figures might not be
the best choice to start with for everyone. A practitioner could start
experimenting with anything that appears more natural to him or her, such as
sounds, tactile sensations or written words/symbols/concepts.

For example, for a software
engineer, it could be simpler to notice the pure meaning of a “Web
Server” in comparison with the pure meaning of a “Database
Server”, rather than comparing colored figures.

However, after pure meaning sensations are reached in one area, they become easier to notice in
other areas.

After learning to sense pure
meanings
of colored figures (or any other practice entities), a
practitioner tries to learn to select a colored figure through its pure
meaning
, without naming or imagining it. After selection, a practitioner unfolds
the pure meaning either to the visual imagination space or by naming the
colored figure verbally.

(PM.F.2) Folding abstract qualities

Starting with the previous
exercise, a practitioner extracts the pure meaning of any particular
color (for example a red color) and holds it in mind without naming it or
imagining an object or a surface painted with this particular color. Then, a
practitioner does the same with other colors.

In the same manner, abstract
shapes can be extracted – a triangle, a square or a circle. The perception of a
shape as a pure meaning happens without imagining it being painted in
any color and without verbally naming it.

In the same manner, any
abstract quality can be extracted. For example, Bakhtiyarov emphasized
practices that use “abstract fluidity” and “abstract
luminosity
” qualities.

Any area can be used to
extract abstract qualities. For example, they can be extracted from the basic
elements, such as fire or water. Fire contains the abstract qualities of
luminosity and heat. Water contains the abstract qualities
of fluidity and wetness. All of these qualities can be
experienced as pure meanings and potentially applied for some practical
tasks.

(PM.CUQ.1.ADV) (Advanced) Creating unreal qualities

Experiencing pure meanings
of abstract qualities opens the possibility of creating pure meaning
sensations of qualities that do not normally exist.

Bakhtiyarov proposed two ways
to create unreal qualities: through addition and through subtraction
of qualities [3].

For example, adding abstract luminosity
with abstract fluidity results in experiencing a luminous fluidity
quality. Such a quality might not exist in the regular world but can still be
experienced as a pure meaning.

Subtraction of qualities lead
to experiencing pure meanings of a black light, loud silence, a 3D space
with fewer than 6 regular directions, a 3D space with two right sides and no
left side and so on.

(PM.DA.1.ADV) (Advanced) Deconcentration in pure meanings mental space

This technique is used for resolving complex intellectual tasks, such as software engineering tasks [15].

In the case of colors, to deconcentrate over all available
visible colors in pure meanings mental space is to perceive a pure
meaning
of a rainbow (without imagining it or naming it).

A more complex task is to deconcentrate over pure
meanings
of all available geometric figures.

For individuals with professional experience, it can be
simpler and more interesting to deconcentrate over entities in their
professional domain area (which most likely already has strong pure meanings
to deconcentrate).

Perception of some area through deconcentration is
not as sharp and clear as through concentration. In contrast, the sensation can
be blurry and uncertain. However, there is a clear and relaxing sensation of knowing
this area, knowing what it contains and being able to work with it in an
efficient manner.

Arbor Scientie

A semantic tree

Deconcentration in a sensory modality typically
starts from perceptual boundaries and then goes toward the center. When
deconcentrating in pure meanings mental area, the boundaries are quite
arbitrary, and the entire pure meanings space can be structured in many
different ways [15].

One approach recently mentioned by Elon Musk [36] is to structure the knowledge of a domain
or a project as a semantic tree. This structure is convenient for deconcentration
and allows viewing a domain or a project as a dynamic and growing organism that
has its roots, trunk, branches and leaves. Such an approach allows better
understanding of why things are how they are, in which directions the tree is
growing and how to guide its growing process consciously and in a healthy
manner.

(PM.UF.VDA.1.ADV) (Advanced) Unfolding a pure meaning into volumetric deconcentration

This practice enables efficient solution for various real-world tasks.

Generally, the state of deconcentration
produces a certain indifference to whatever occurs in the world. Thus, a pure
meaning
is used to set a specific goal together with anticipation
that this goal will be achieved.

In the example of the combat
shooting exercise described above, the pure meaning of the phrase, “the
shooting move needs to be recognized as early as possible because it is
critical for survival,
” is unfolded into the volumetric
deconcentration
to push the task-resolution process.

Volumetric deconcentration is also used for tasks that require identification of
weak signals (for example, searching for difficult-to-notice or hidden objects).
Such tasks require unfolding a pure meaning of what must be found
into volumetric deconcentration. The pure meaning of a task goal must
be accompanied with a sensation that this goal is very important, with a strong
anticipation
that this goal is going to be achieved no matter what.

(PM.UF.LVA.1.ADV) (Advanced) Unfolding a pure meaning into a local volume of attention

This practice demonstrates an interesting perceptual phenomenon.

For example, unfolding the pure
meaning
of fire into an LVA attached to an object makes this object
subjectively hot (although a thermometer does not show any difference). The
object can retain this subjective perceptual quality for a long time.

(PM.UF.SDA.1.ADV) (Advanced) Unfolding a pure meaning into somatic deconcentration

This practice allows affecting a practitioner’s physiological body (or at least its subjective
sensations).

A practitioner starts with somatic
deconcentration
and then unfolds a pure meaning into it. For
example, a practitioner can unfold the pure meaning of heat into somatic
deconcentration
space to feel warmer in cold weather – or unfold the pure
meaning
of cold to cool down in warm weather.

It is important to remember, that these kind of practices affect subjective body sensations and
not necessarily the physiological capacity to withstand cold or heat. There were incidents of individuals
getting pneumonia or getting overheated because of excessive reliance on mentioned practices.

As long as the limitations of these practices are taken into account, they can still be employed.

(PM.UF.PMDA.1.ADV) (Advanced) Unfolding a pure meaning into a pure meanings mental space

This technique is used for resolving complex intellectual tasks, such as software engineering tasks [15].

As with previously described
techniques, a pure meaning here is used to set the goal that must
be achieved.

First, the working area is
perceived in a pure meanings mental area all at once through a deconcentration
technique (exercise PM.DA.1.ADV).

Then, the pure meaning
of a task goal is unfolded in this area, together with anticipation
that this task is going to be resolved. When this technique is performed properly,
attention either highlights a potential solution almost instantaneously or
identifies areas that require gathering more information.

(PM.SYN.1.ADV) (Advanced) Experimenting with synesthesia

Synesthesia refers to the abnormal perception of modalities, such as “hearing a color” or
“touching a sound” [41].

Psychonetics allows
experiencing this phenomenon consciously by folding a pure meaning
from one modality and then unfolding it into another modality (or
folding a pure meaning of one quality type and then unfolding it into
another quality type). For example, a practitioner can try to fold a pure meaning
of a color and then attempt to unfold it into a sound or into a geometric
shape.

Group of practices (CP): Combined practices

These practices combine several types of perceptual practices in either serial or parallel manner.

(CP.PL.ADV) Perceptual loops

Perceptual loops practices combine different types of perception in series.

Once a practitioner learns
several types of perception, it is advisable to practice them in loops in which
each type of perception transforms naturally into another type.

Here are several examples of perceptual loops:

  1. Local volume of attention
    → Volumetric deconcentration → Planar deconcentration → Volumetric
    deconcentration → Local volume of attention

  2. Local volume of attention
    → Planar deconcentration → Area of visual non-perception → Planar
    deconcentration → Local volume of attention

  3. Planar deconcentration
    → Planar deconcentration (eyes closed) → Planar deconcentration

  4. Local volume of attention →
    Volumetric deconcentration → Planar deconcentration → Abstract plane of
    vision → Area of visual non-perception → Abstract plane of vision →
    Planar deconcentration → Volumetric deconcentration → Local volume of
    attention

  5. Planar deconcentration (eyes closed) → Auditory deconcentration →
    Somatic deconcentration → Planar deconcentration (eyes closed)

  6. Auditory concentration → Auditory deconcentration →
    Abstract flow of time → Auditory deconcentration → Auditory concentration

Each type of perception in a
loop is maintained for no more than 5 minutes.
The overall perceptual loop practice duration may exceed the typical 15 minutes practice limit.

There are several modes of
switching perception type, which define different training goals:

  • Perceptual depth training:
    a switch occurs when the current type of perception is the deepest.
  • Perceptual strength training:
    a switch occurs when a practitioner starts to feel tired with current type
    of perception.
  • Perceptual speed training:
    a switch occurs as quickly as possible, while still maintaining the
    quality of each type of perception.

(CP.TP.ADV) Total perception

Total perception practices combine several different types of perception to be performed at the same time.

(CP.TP.VM.1.ADV) (Advanced) Total visual perception

Total visual perception is achieved by performing
volumetric deconcentration, planar deconcentration, abstract
plane of vision
(non-form) and the area of visual non-perception
(non-perception) all at the same time.

(CP.TP.DA.1.ADV) (Advanced) Total deconcentration of attention

Total deconcentration is achieved by performing volumetric deconcentration, auditory deconcentration
and somatic deconcentration all at the same time.

(CP.TP.1.ADV) (Advanced) Total perception

Once a practitioner learns deconcentration,
non-form and non-perception practices in all 3 modalities (visual, auditory
and somatic), it is possible to attempt to combine them all at the same time,
thus achieving total perception.

According to Bakhtiyarov [3],
total perception leads to the “stopping the world” phenomenon
(when regular perception of the world stops completely) and then to the ability
to maintain a certain degree of consciousness continuously – even during the
deep sleep (non-REM) phase.

Obtaining more practices

Bakhtiyarov has provided an
exhaustive list of psychonetical practices in his “Active
Consciousness” book, which is available online [3]. There are sufficient
ideas in this book for many years of practice.

Another means of obtaining
further practices is to create them yourself. It appears that psychonetical
practices follow the same logic and principles. Thus, an individual might be
able to rediscover many of the known practices and potentially discover
practices that are not described anywhere.


Guidelines on planning individual study

A good model for the individual study of psychonetics is a
model of doing a research on personal mind and perception.

It is useful to borrow some methodological elements and criteria
of a scientific research [27, 28, 29] (particularly logical, empirical
and sociological criteria). Following scientific criteria entirely appears problematic because of several restrictions
that psychonetics currently has (such as avoidance of explanations, subjective
nature of psychonetical experiences and problems with peer reviews).

When doing a research in personal and independent manner, any
direction that appears interesting (within healthy limitations) can be explored
and any idea can be verified in practice. A practitioner can continue the
research as far as his or her curiosity, interests and abilities extend.

Studying through agile methodology

Studying psychonetics
individually is convenient through agile methodology [43] such as Scrum
[44].

The agile concept of an “Iterative
and incremental development” [42] can be transformed into an Iterative
and incremental study
. Such a study is a combination of a study through
repeated iterations (“sprints” in Scrum) and in smaller
portions at a time (incremental).

Sprint duration for the study of psychonetics may vary between 1
and 4 weeks
, with 2 weeks sprints being a common first choice.

Incremental management of
psychonetical exercises (practices) is convenient with the use of an
issue-tracking system
(such as Jira). A simplified approach is to
maintain a text/Excel file containing the list of exercises with a status
beside each exercise.

Initially all exercises receive [To Learn] status:


[To Learn]     (PU.NC.1) Holding one option of a perceptual uncertainty (Necke...
[To Learn]     (PU.CC.1) Holding one option of a perceptual uncertainty (Color...
[To Learn]     (PU.CC.5.ADV) (Advanced) Splitting colors in a perceptual uncer...
[To Learn]     (VM.AA.1.INT) (Introductory) Separate the focus of eyesight and...
[To Learn]     (VM.CA.1.INT) (Introductory) Concentration
[To Learn]     (VM.CA.2) Deep concentration
[To Learn]     (VM.PDA.1) Planar deconcentration of attention
[To Learn]     (VM.VDA.1) Volumetric deconcentration of attention
[To Learn]     (VM.LVA.1.INT) (Introductory) Creating an LVA
[To Learn]     (VM.LVA.2) Moving an LVA 
...

Based on individual
preferences, a practitioner selects a list of 5-10 exercises, starting
with the exercises that appear the simplest, assigns [In Progress]
status to them and practices them for the sprint duration.


[In Progress]     (PU.NC.1) Holding one option of a perceptual uncertainty ...
[In Progress]     (PU.CC.1) Holding one option of a perceptual uncertainty ...
[In Progress]     (PU.CC.5.ADV) (Advanced) Splitting colors in a perceptual...
[In Progress]     (VM.AA.1.INT) (Introductory) Separate the focus of eyesig...
[In Progress]     (VM.CA.1.INT) (Introductory) Concentration
[In Progress]     (VM.CA.2) Deep concentration
[In Progress]     (VM.PDA.1) Planar deconcentration of attention
[To Learn]        (VM.VDA.1) Volumetric deconcentration of attention
[To Learn]        (VM.LVA.1.INT) (Introductory) Creating an LVA
[To Learn]        (VM.LVA.2) Moving an LVA 
...

After the sprint, a
practitioner re-evaluates his or her progress and updates the status of each
exercise from the finished sprint as follows:

  • [Done]: the exercise has
    been learned sufficiently well (at least according to the practitioner’s
    current judgment) that it need not be practiced at this point. (Later,
    through practice, a practitioner can decide to do it more.)
  • [In Progress]: the
    exercise requires more time, so it is repeated in the next sprint.
  • [Try Later]: a
    practitioner decides to defer the exercise for a later time, for example,
    because the exercise is too complicated and must be addressed when a
    practitioner becomes more skillful.

Based on the amount of done/deferred
exercises, a practitioner assigns [In Progress] status to more exercises
and starts the next sprint.


[In Progress]     (PU.NC.1) Holding one option of a perceptual uncertainty ...
[In Progress]     (PU.CC.1) Holding one option of a perceptual uncertainty ...
[Try Later]       (PU.CC.5.ADV) (Advanced) Splitting colors in a perceptual...
[Done]            (VM.AA.1.INT) (Introductory) Separate the focus of eyesig...
[Done]            (VM.CA.1.INT) (Introductory) Concentration
[In Progress]     (VM.CA.2) Deep concentration
[In Progress]     (VM.PDA.1) Planar deconcentration of attention
[In Progress]     (VM.VDA.1) Volumetric deconcentration of attention
[In Progress]     (VM.LVA.1.INT) (Introductory) Creating an LVA
[In Progress]     (VM.LVA.2) Moving an LVA 
...

It is possible to switch between exercises every other day
to provide diversity for training. However, this approach might reduce training
efficiency; therefore, it is better used with optional exercises.

Another means of providing diversity for training is to
dedicate time to free experimentation, such as 15 minutes at the end of the
daily practice, or to dedicate one practice day per week to free
experimentation with any practice.

Later, a practitioner can discover more exercises and
techniques that appear interesting to try. Such new techniques can be added to
the same list of exercises and processed through the same iterative workflow.

Using a personal wiki

Studying psychonetics in a form of doing a research can
benefit from having a central knowledgebase in which ideas and
discoveries can be recorded and summarized. A good format for such a
knowledgebase is a personal wiki (such as TiddlyWiki [32]).

A personal wiki can also be used as an issue-tracking
system
for sprint planning.

Yet another use for a personal wiki is to keep a practice
journal
. Bakhtiyarov recommended maintaining
such a journal in a scientific style, recording which practices were attempted
on which day, their durations and effects. Such a journal enables better and
more objective monitoring of a practitioner’s progress.

Duration of practice

Daily practice limits

Psychonetics is practiced once a day, 4-6 days a week.

A typical daily practice starts with the will meditation
exercise for 20 minutes, which serves as a warm-up. Will meditation
is also practiced for 2-5 minutes at the end of the practice as a cool down.

The time limit for each exercise is 3-15 minutes. Therefore,
if a practitioner selects 7 exercises for a sprint, the overall daily practice
duration will take 1-2 hours (including warm up and cool down). Spending
more than 2 hours per day on psychonetical training is not recommended.

How long an exercise must be practiced

There are several exercises (marked as “Introductory”) that do
not require more than a few days of practice. However, most of the other
exercises can require 15-40 days of practice to achieve a solid
experience of the described phenomenon, and then even more days to deepen that
experience.

Many exercises might not work at the beginning, which is normal.
It is important to keep trying to do them for at least 15-40 days before
judging whether they really work.

A practitioner’s effort to reach a described phenomenon is the main factor of efficient psychonetical training.
Initially, it does not matter that much if a phenomenon is achieved during the practice or not.
A practitioner’s effort, which is applied regularly, eventually makes the phenomenon to occur and then increases its quality.

It is also preferable not to rush an exercise because, although
a practitioner might feel that the proper experience is already achieved,
continuing to do the exercise occasionally uncovers even deeper and more
interesting experiences. For this reason, it is occasionally useful to revisit
old exercises.

How long does it take to study psychonetics

According to Bakhtiyarov, a
mind needs time to adjust to the unusual mental techniques (such as those that
psychonetics provides) in a healthy way. Thus, he recommends spending at least 1.5-2
years
to learn psychonetics. Speeding up the process is strongly
discouraged because of the risk of undesirable side effects.


Safety norms

Progressing in psychonetics
has similarities with progressing in sports.

Figure SN.1 Thresholds of balanced training over time

Figure SN.1 Thresholds of balanced training over time

Making too little efforts
causes no progress at all (but also no problems), and making too much efforts can
cause traumas, which in the case of psychonetics appear as various mental
disorders
such as psychosis.

Training perception is
similar to training muscles. It must be performed regularly without under-doing
or over-doing it.

With time, the abilities of a
practitioner increase. Therefore, more-intense training and exercises can be
tolerated with less risk.

Here are the psychonetical safety norms:

  • Mental health: an
    individual must be mentally healthy to practice psychonetics.

    Bakhtiyarov’s organizations require a certificate of being mentally healthy provided by a legal
    psychiatrist from all students attending seminars.
  • Personal responsibility:
    psychonetics is mostly practiced individually and can have strong effects
    on a practitioner’s mind.
    To address
    adequately the changes that psychonetics can introduce, a practitioner should
    be capable to assume full responsibility for what occurs with his or her life
    and to be able to act accordingly.
  • Will meditation is the
    warm-up and the cool-down for training. It must be practiced as
    recommended (20 minute warm-up, 2-5 minute cool-down). Will meditation
    can also be practiced any time during or outside training if a need
    appears to stabilize personal psychophysiological state.
  • Time limits: the
    recommended time limits have to be respected. These limits are as follows:
    no more than 15 minutes on any individual exercise (except will
    meditation
    and perceptual loops) and no more than 2 hours for the overall daily practice.
  • Controllable: all effects
    induced on a practitioner by psychonetical practices must occur in a
    controllable manner.

    If a practitioner starts experiencing any uncontrollable effects (even when these
    effects are subjectively perceived as “good”), the practice must be
    paused.
  • Ideological safety: it is
    advisable for a practitioner to avoid unnecessary explanations and
    one-sided interpretations, particularly ideologically/ontologically biased ones, as much
    as possible.

    It is also preferable to avoid quick conclusions and keep healthy doubts of what
    psychonetical experiences truly are while removing doubts about doing
    practices to progress further.

    This attitude is particularly
    important when approaching the phenomena of will and pure meanings.
    Bakhtiyarov mentioned that these two subjects are most commonly confused by
    beginners with other physiological or psychological sensations. He also
    mentioned that some students tend to simulate psychonetical experiences by
    their descriptions without actually reaching them [16]. Retaining
    doubts and avoiding quick conclusions helps to prevent these problems.

It is very important to
follow practice guidelines and safety norms to reduce the risk of excesses and
undesirable side effects.

Among others, Bakhtiyarov
mentions the following risk areas when practicing psychonetics [3]:

  • Activation of personal
    problems:
    while providing a better
    access to personal subconscious mental structures, psychonetics can uncover
    past traumatic experiences and memories that an individual had forgotten or
    somehow compensated for. Such discoveries can be difficult to address.
    If an individual continues the practice, personal problems typically clear up
    and psychonetical practices become easier to do.

  • Overrating alternative aspects
    of the world:
    psychonetics provides
    numerous experiences of alternative aspects of the world, which can be new to a
    practitioner. There is a risk of overrating these alternative aspects over the
    normal, familiar aspects of the world. There is also a risk of one-sided
    interpretations of such aspects, for example through a mystic or religious
    ideology.

  • Combining psychonetics with
    some other types of practices:
    psychonetics
    is not compatible with practices and training that include an excessive rise in
    emotional level, suggestive techniques, sleep deprivation or long fasting.

  • Overdoing the practices:
    overdoing the practices can lead to a psychosis.
    It is important to maintain subjective body tonus (energy level) under
    conscious control and pause practices if this level becomes too high (thus
    preventing an energy burst).

In seminars, Bakhtiyarov
warned about the following symptoms of an approaching psychosis:

  • A practitioner’s body feels
    overloaded with energy after practices, occasionally even trembling with
    energy
  • A practitioner’s body feels total
    loss of energy after practices
  • A practitioner’s body feels
    rotation from inside after practices
  • A practitioner hears voices in
    his or her head and/or feels otherworldly presence
  • A practitioner feels he or she is
    gaining “magical powers”

“At some point through your practices,” Bakhtiyarov
said in a seminar, “you might have an experience as if God is talking to you
and asks you to bring His message to the world. This is normal, just stay calm,
avoid quick conclusions and continue your practice. Treat this experience as
yet another distraction.”

Psychonetics does not deny
religious or mystic interpretations. Such interpretations are considered a
personal choice of a practitioner and are outside of the scope of psychonetics.

However, psychonetics
suggests maintaining a cautious and discreet attitude toward phenomena that are
considered mental disorders in psychiatry (such as hearing voices in the head),
and avoid these phenomena if they occur in an uncontrollable or overrated
manner.

If the symptoms cannot be
treated with a sober attitude, a cold shower and a good sleep, the practice must
be paused. Practice-induced symptoms typically do not last long when the
practice is stopped [3].

In more-serious cases, a practitioner must seek the help of a professional psychiatrist.

***

The risk of mental disorders is not unique to psychonetics.
Any activity that has noticeable effects on a practitioner’s mind poses such risks, including many spiritual, religious and psychological practices (those practices that actually work).
The risk of mental disorders associated with such practices might not be well known to the public, but it is well known in psychiatry [46].

The difference that psychonetics introduces is that it openly admits such a risk and proposes safety norms.


Once an individual learns psychonetical techniques, there are various areas to explore.

Pursuing supernatural phenomena

Many people are immediately attracted to the pursuit of
various exotic phenomena, some of which might be considered supernatural,
with varying and unconfirmed results.

When approaching supernatural subjects through psychonetics,
it is worth remembering that the researchers of Kiev Institute of Psychology expend
great effort to separate psychonetics from religious, esoteric and mystic
ideologies, thus making possible the adaptation of this discipline by
ideologically diverse societies and using it as part of a technological
process.

It would be a huge waste to reduce psychonetics to a yet
another esoteric or mystic doctrine practiced in a sociopathic manner.

Psychonetics can be easily misused to boost the sensation of
personal exclusivity and being misunderstood by “other people” who
are considered less advanced. For some individuals, such an effect can
have its own value, and it could eventually become the only practical
application of psychonetics that they employ.

In contrast, pursuing supernatural phenomena for real can be
a very challenging and tiring activity, which can easily lead to excesses and
undesirable side effects as described earlier. There are most likely reasons
why supernatural things do not happen often (if they happen at all for some
people). Approaching such phenomena requires caution, sobriety and humbleness no
less than determination.

A wiser choice is to keep supernatural subjects for personal
amusement without giving them too much credit until they can be reproduced in a
stable, healthy way and preferably applied for some pragmatic purpose in which their
existence could be independently validated.


Applying psychonetics in a professional area

Another way to use psychonetics is to attempt to boost
professional performance in a practical area or develop completely new
approaches in such an area.

This way might initially appear boring compared with
supernatural subjects, but it has several key benefits that can be crucial in
the long term for a practitioner’s progress and overall well-being.

Professional application of psychonetics provides the
following:

  • Sobriety: typically, there are clear and objective
    criteria concerning whether psychonetical practices have improved
    professional performance or not.
  • Regularity: psychonetics becomes a part of a
    practitioner’s life and not some foreign thing which is practiced an hour
    per day.
  • Testing ground: there is typically a practical area
    with which to experiment.
  • Creativity: a practitioner can constantly improve
    psychonetical techniques that are in use and discover new ones.
  • Social acceptance: providing higher quality
    services to a society can enable higher support from that society,
    including a higher level of tolerance toward the “weirdness” that a
    discipline such as psychonetics can introduce in its practitioners.

Technological application of psychonetics

According to Bakhtiyarov, the technological potential of
psychonetics, which qualifies it as a “post-information technology”,
is the development of essentially new types of technologies that enable working
with complex systems in their totality as organisms as opposed to using a
mechanical approach in which a complex system is perceived as a mechanism that
can be assembled or disassembled.

Examples of such complex systems are complex industrial, business
or software systems, the human physiological body, the human psychological
body, a society, a culture or a biosphere.

“When we talk about the pressure of global demands, we
usually refer to problems that appeared due to a lack of conceptual and technological
means to work with organismic objects. This class of problems includes the
development of an ecological strategy, which is currently a set of means to
slow down the degradation process of the environment but not to organize the
recovery processes” [1].

Technological application of psychonetics is achieved
through the following key elements:

  • Total system perception: deconcentration of
    attention
    enables perception of a complex system in its totality as an
    organism. A complex system may be perceived in a perceptual modality (visual,
    auditory or somatic), in an imaginary modality, and in a pure
    meanings
    mental area or in their combinations.
  • Pure meanings: pure meanings act as a
    knowledgebase for any domain and as a proper tool for effective thinking, in
    which a solution to a complex task can potentially be achieved in one
    single step as long as sufficient input data are accumulated. Pure
    meanings
    also enable practical usage of verbally inexplicable
    perceptual and mental phenomena.
  • Will: a monitoring and controlling authority of
    mind that pushes the goal achievement process and prevents overloads.

Existing applications of psychonetics

Freediving

Freediving

Freediving

Based on public sources [12, 13, 14], the first individual
to report the successful practical application of psychonetical practices in
their modern form was Natalia Molchanova, a 16-time world champion in
freediving.

The Deepest Dive” article published in the
New Yorker magazine in 2009 mentions: “Molchanova uses a technique that
she refers to as “attention deconcentration.” (“They get it from
the military,” Ericson said.) Molchanova told me, “It means
distribution to the whole field of attention – you try to feel everything
simultaneously.”
[12]

In 2011 Natalia Molchanova wrote [14], “The combination of aural,
visual and somatic AD [deconcentration of attention] gives integral perception
of the world, harmonizes interaction with the environment, and allows noticing
minute changes in the organism. At the same time, it accelerates decision
making…”

As an extreme sport, freediving is a natural area in which
to apply psychonetical techniques because these techniques were originally
developed for other extreme activities, such as those in which cosmonauts and
military forces participate.

Brain-computer interface

An operator controlling a robotic arm

An operator controlling a robotic arm

at the “Global Future – 2045”

International Congress, 2012

At the “Global Future – 2045” International Congress in Russia
in 2012 [20, 21], Bakhtiyarov reported that a team of researchers developed a
brain-computer interface to control a robotic arm based on changes in
encephalogram parameters. The technology itself was demonstrated live at the
congress.

A portable electroencephalograph reads brain activity as
alpha, beta, delta and theta rhythms and then interprets the parameters of
these rhythms, which an operator consciously controls to create commands to the
robotic arm.

Although the idea itself dates back to the 1970s [30, 31],
its practical utilization has been problematic thus far, partially because of
the inability of a normal individual to control his or her brain rhythms with
the required diversity and stability.

“Any person can produce 2-3 states of mind, but in
our case, we need to create dozens of different states”,
Bakhtiyarov
says [20]. “Each of these states has to be reflected in some parameter
of the encephalogram or in their combination. This is not a trivial task, and it
takes a long time to master because the selected parameter has to quickly
replace the previous one or it has to be maintained for a prolonged period of
time. Reaching this result without special training is practically impossible,
and if we try to train an operator in 10-15 days, we would most likely have to
send him to a psychiatric clinic afterwards because intensive work with a mind
without safety norms inevitably leads to certain mental breakdowns.”

Concerning the robotic arm control interface that was
demonstrated at the congress, Bakhtiyarov commented:

“To be able to control this robotic arm, an operator
needs to create up to 30 different states [of mind]”.

“Existing [psychonetical] practices allow an
operator to produce this amount of states. For example, the deconcentration of
attention state shifts the brain activity into the alpha-theta range. More
subtle states produce other effects.”

An operator controlling a quadcopter drone, 2015

An operator controlling a
quadcopter drone, 2015

At the end of 2015, the same team demonstrated a
mind-controlled quadcopter drone that accepted not only 6-directional commands
but also scenario commands (such as a command to fly to a given point). The
commands to a quadcopter were provided in a background mode – an operator was
moving and doing other tasks at the same time [22, 23].

In this particular case, psychonetics appears to be returning
to its origins by becoming a government-sponsored, military-related research project
(the project is currently funded by “The Fund for Perspective Research”
[24], which is a Russian version of the USA
DARPA).

Software engineering

Symbolic illustration of deconcentration of attention in mental space

Symbolic illustration of deconcentration

of attention in mental space

Another report that identifies a potential area of
applicability for psychonetics is my earlier article on using psychonetical
techniques to address complex problems in software engineering (2012) [15].

For some time, I was looking for a good foundation to
describe various mental techniques related to resolving complex tasks in
software engineering. I was already using these techniques spontaneously before
learning psychonetics, but with psychonetics, I actually understood what I was
doing.

Understanding brought confidence in these techniques and
significantly improved the way I worked. I learned to invoke these techniques
consciously, their efficiency kept increasing, I kept discovering new
techniques, and what I enjoyed most was that I could precisely monitor my
personal psychophysiological state, thereby I could maintain peak performance
without burning out.

However, after a few years, I have realized that, although psychonetics
can provide a serious performance boost with regular tasks, there is a limit to
this boost. The reason is that regular software engineering tasks and tools are
not always structured well for use with psychonetical mental techniques.

Arithmetica instructing an algorist and an abacist

Arithmetica instructing
an algorist and an abacist

To demonstrate what these techniques are really capable of
would require a quantum computer and some dimensional (non-serial) programming
language together with a dimensional input control that (ideally) could
translate a subset of pure meanings directly into code.

Such a system would be a true extension of a brain, not only with an increased ability to resolve real-world tasks,
but also with an ability to directly increase and scale the human mind capabilities.
The human mind could seamlessly delegate some tasks to a distributed computer system, thus achieving unmatched mental performance.

If such a computer system were ever developed, the gap
between it and a modern computer could be similar to the gap between a modern
computer and an abacus.

 

 


Psychonetics for computer nerds

A 1920s nerd

A 1920s nerd


“Ah! Now I’ve done Philosophy,

I’ve finished Law and Medicine,

And sadly even Theology:

Taken fierce pains, from end to end.

Now here I am, a fool for sure!

No wiser than I was before”

An XVIII century nerd,

“Faust”, Goethe

 

It appears that a few
individuals who have reported that they applied psychonetics with some success
tend to perceive people which identity they share as the best social group that could
understand and use psychonetics.

In my case, this applies to computer nerds.

A psychonetical approach is essentially nerdish:
intellectual, non-conformist, unbiased, practical, individual, and, above all, enabling
creative low-level access to its subjects: mind and perception. This approach is
how nerds prefer to perceive the world and interact with it. This approach is how
nerds interact with their computers.

Computers gave many nerds not only competitive salaries and a
decent social place. More importantly, nerds obtained an unmatched space for experimentation
and creativity
, subjects that have their own pure meanings (unrelated
to any reasonable explanation about why doing these things).

For a nerd, a computer is essentially a way to create and
explore new worlds (regardless that these worlds are virtual).

A computer can be viewed as a mind (an artificial mind) that
creates worlds. The human mind can be interpreted in a similar way. Thus, interaction
with a computer has its philosophical value and can contribute to a better
understanding of the human mind and perception.

The individual-oriented nature of psychonetics can be
attractive to nerds, who often have problems fitting into a group. Although
such an approach could contribute to making nerds even less social,
psychonetics appears to have a capacity to improve social skills in quite an
unexpected manner.

Deconcentration of attention can be a technique that
benefits nerds most. Nerds’ concentration skills are typically
unmatched. However, their skills of sensing a context are often as poor. This
limitation leads to inefficiency with tasks that require working with a context,
such as social interactions, combat situations or even driving a car.

Deconcentration enables conscious operations with a
context, which makes such operations potentially more efficient than the “instinctive”
approach that is more commonly used.

A nerd who has developed deconcentration skills as
strong as concentration skills becomes a more balanced individual and can realize
his or her true potential.

From the industry perspective, adaptation of psychonetics or
a similar discipline on a noticeable scale might cause information technology
to transform into a “post-information technology,” as described by
Kazuma and Bakhtiyarov. Such a technology would rely on the exclusive properties
of the mind in addressing technological goals.


Open psychonetics

In case psychonetics gains popularity within the internet
community, a good model for its development would be an open-source project.
Such a model would keep psychonetics in a transparent public space (not as
classified government or private research) and would provide anyone who is
interested in the subject a chance to try these techniques.

Ideally, a structure for such a project must account for multiple
interpretations
of what psychonetics is and what its true purpose is.

One approach to achieve this requirement within one project
is to use branches in a version-control system, such as git.
The personal wiki data format (which was described earlier) is convenient for
use with multiple branches.

A new practitioner selects a branch that appears best for
him or her. Then, the practitioner creates his or her own version of
psychonetics in another branch or participates in a community branch, which may
have restrictions.

An open and creative approach
would enable people with an attitude similar to mine to experiment with
psychonetics and see what might come out of it.



Psychonetics-related works (Russian)

[1] Бахтияров,
Олег Георгиевич. 1997.
Постинформационные
технологии – введение
в психонетику.
ISBN 966-543-031-9

[2] Бахтияров, Олег
Георгиевич. 2002. Деконцентрация.
ISBN 9665211641

(read online)

[3] Бахтияров, Олег
Георгиевич. 2011. Активное сознание. ISBN 9785914780088

(read online)

[4] Налимов, Василий
Васильевич. 1989. Спонтанность сознания. Вероятностная теория смыслов и
смысловая архитектоника личности. ISBN 978-5-9796-0104-5

[5] Шевченко, Владимир
Александрович. 1992. Универсальный природный цикл: Общая
информационно-энтропийная концепция развивающихся систем. ISBN 5-11-003959-3

[6] Агафонов, Андрей
Юрьевич. 2003. Основы смысловой теории сознания. ISBN
592680145

[7] Кизима, Владимир
Викторович. 2005. Тоталлогия (философия обновления). ISBN
966-8210-03-4

[8] Смирнов, Андрей Вадимович. 2015. Сознание.
Логика. Язык. Культура. Смысл. ISBN 978-5-94457-235-6

Psychonetics, educational establishments (Russian)

[9] http://www.university.kiev.ua/

[10] http://www.ipir.ru/

[11] http://www.psychotechnology.ru/

Nataliya Molchanova about deconcentration of
attention in freediving (English)

[12]
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/08/24/the-deepest-dive

[13]
http://www.newyorker.com/news/sporting-scene/the-disappearance-of-the-worlds-greatest-free-diver

[14]
http://molchanova.ru/en/article/attention-deconcentration-freediving

Igor Kusakov about deconcentration of attention
in software engineering (English)

[15]
http://deconcentration-of-attention.com/deconcentration-software.html

Oleg Bakhtiyarov, interviews (Russian)

[16]
http://stoyankacheloveka.ru/indexbakh.html

[17]
http://zavtra.ru/content/view/2006-11-2241/

[18] http://ezotera.ariom.ru/2006/10/18/bahtiarov.html

[19] Oleg Bakhtiyarov lectures (audio) about the history of modern psychotechnologies:


http://muzofon.com/search/Бахтияров%20История

Oleg Bakhtiyarov at the “Global Future -
2045” international congress (Russian)

[20] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4GZhg2bIKA

[21] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0J6Miv8liGk

About the mind-controlled quadcopter drone (Russian)

[22] http://izvestia.ru/news/599886

[23] http://ipir.ru/news.php?ID=135

[24]
http://fpi.gov.ru/press/announcements/gotovitsya_demonstratsiya_realizatsii_
interfeysa_mozg_kompyyuter

Other

[25] Kazuma Tateisi. The Eternal Venture Spirit: An Executive’s Practical Philosophy. 1989. ISBN-13: 978-0915299553

[26] http://geescr.com/combat-shooting-instructors/

[27]
http://atheism.about.com/od/philosophyofscience/tp/CriteriaScientificTheory.htm

[28] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

[29] https://explorable.com/research-methodology

[30] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain%E2%80%93computer_interface

[31]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_consumer_brain-computer_interface_devices

[32] http://tiddlywiki.com

[33] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ithkuil

[34] http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/12/24/utopian-for-beginners

[35] http://www.nature.com/news/go-west-young-russian-1.10633

[36] http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-how-to-learn-quickly-2015-1

[37] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_materialism

[38] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_to_power

[39] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schulte_table

[40] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity

[41] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia

[42] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iterative_and_incremental_development

[43] http://agilemethodology.org/

[44] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrum_(software_development)

[45] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code-switching

[46] Religion, spirituality and psychotic disorders

[47] https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=optical%20illusions

[48]
http://mirvoli.com/заметки-об-онтологических-основания

[49]
http://free-diving.ru/ru/Психотехнолог_Олег_Бахтияров_о_сотрудничестве_с_Натальей_Молчановой_-_интервью_Светланы_Щебетюк

  1. “Human brain on a blue background” image is made
    by Freepik from http://www.freepik.com/
  2. “Tateisi Kazuma” picture, (c) http://www.omron.com
  3. “A Nuclear Power Plant Control Panel” image, (c)
    Patrick Landmann, http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/photo/chernobyl-reactor-3-control-panel-high-res-stock-photography/556461691

    Editorial use license
  4. “Admiral cap, USSR” image, (c) http://shapki-furagki.ru/admiral.html
  5. “An individual under nitrous oxide” image, (c) http://www.general-anaesthesia.com/people/wells-nitrous.html
  6. “An operator controlling a robotic arm at the
    “Global Future – 2045” International Congress, 2012″
    picture, (c) http://www.ipir.ru/
  7. “An operator controlling a quadcopter drone, 2015″
    picture, (c) http://izvestia.ru/news/599886
  8. “A
    1920s nerd” picture, (c) http://greatdisorder.blogspot.ca/2010/03/focus-focus.html
  9. “Nerd happy smiling face”
    icon is made by Freepik from http://www.flaticon.com/
  10. “Brain in bald male head”
    icon (page favicon) is made by Freepik from http://www.flaticon.com/
  11. Most of the other images for this book were created with Dia: https://sourceforge.net/projects/dia-installer/

2016-10-16

  • Spelling;
  • Section updated: Practices -> Group of practices (PU): Working with perceptual uncertainties

    Added a paragraph about “perceptual weight lifting” in the afterword to the practice;

2017-01-03

  • Spelling;
  • Section updated: Basic principles -> Unbiased

    Better description of the role of ideologies/ontologies in psychonetics + citation;
  • Section updated: Practices -> Planar deconcentration

    Added Bakhtiyarov’s description of the true purpose of deconcentration + citation;
  • Section updated: Guidelines on planning individual study -> Duration of practice -> How long an exercise must be practiced

    Added a paragraph about the role of practitioner’s efforts when approaching psychonetical practices;

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