I was recently introduced to a new smartphone app (launched March 2nd, 2021) called Lumenate . The app claims to induce altered states of consciousness using just light and sound produced from your phone. Measurably changing the brain’s rhythms to produce an experience that the app creators claim ‘guide your brain into a unique and powerful altered state of consciousness between that of deep meditation and classic psychedelics.’
The apps premise is not necessarily a new concept, the measurable effects of stroboscopic light flashes have been studied since at least the 1940s. That said, the devices that have been available to produce these effects, commonly known as Mind Machines, have been limited to boutique clinics and spendy consciousness exploring enthusiasts.
Having this technology freely available and accessible to everyone who owns a smartphone is a first. Inducing a psychedelic-like state and being able to end it almost immediately with just a swipe is in some way revolutionary. I’m pretty excited to share my experience with it because believe it or not I found that this app actually works!
How the Lumenate App Works
At a basic level the app produces a form of sensory entrainment using the flash torch that stimulates neurons in the brain. This concept is further explained on the Lumenate website as follows:
The go on to explain how this app takes advantage of this concept using a smartphone flash torch:
They then rigorously tested this concept in conjunction with an EEG Brain scanner and subjective response tests of volunteers in order to refine the concept for maximum efficacy.
The flashing patterns they developed are then paired and synchronized with various guided meditations within the app in order to complement the mind-altering experience.
Claimed Measurable Effects of Using the Lumenate App:
The creators of the lumenate claim the app helps to achieve the 4 following changes to brain behavior. These measurable changes correspond with states achieved with experienced meditation practitioners and psychedelic users:
- Reduced default mode network activity
The default mode network is a part of the brain that is seen as responsible for sense of self. It’s reduction in activity is strongly correlated with ego dissolution in both psychedelic and deep meditative experiences.
- Increased functional connectivity
Functional connectivity is the measure the synchrony or correlation of brain activity between different regions of the brain. Increased functional connectivity is often associated with synesthesia (seeing sounds, tasting color, etc.) in psychedelic and deep meditative states.
- Reduction of peak alpha brainwave activity
The reduction of peak alpha brainwave activity is correlated with increased visual, emotional, and metacognitive dimensions of the classic psychedelic experience.
- Increased signal complexity
Considered by some to be a measure of the level of consciousness of an individual. This sign complexity increases during ‘explorative’ altered states of consciousness. This includes classic psychedelic and deep meditative states. In contrast, the level of signal complexity decreases when an individual is sleeping or under a general anesthetic reflecting a lower state of awareness.
In my own subjective experience, I found all of these claims to be true. More on that when I get to describing my experience.
Using the Lumenate App
The app itself is quite simple to use and offers a short instructional guided session to get started. I was able to enter my first semi-psychedelic state within 5 minutes of downloading the app.
To begin an experience the user simply needs to find a dark space in order to create a contrast effect between the flashes of light and a good pair of headphones to enhance the audio experience. Then simply hold the phone so the camera flash is facing their face with their eyes closed. This can be anywhere from 18 to 6 inches (or less) to achieve the desired intensity of the experience. The app’s recommendation was to start at a longer distance and move closer to what feels most comfortable.
After the initial instructional session, the app offers a number of guided meditations within it. Each with a specific opportunity to set intention and journal on the experience. That said, the premium version of the app is required to access most of the currently available meditations. The premium version of the app also allows for syncing with your own music. Which I was too excited to try out and hence immediately purchased a year-long membership.
Pricing for the premium version was $6.99 a month or $40 for a year-long membership. At just $3.33 a month for the yearly subscription, it seemed like a no-brainer to me. Especially considering it offers a cheaper, quicker, and legal alternative to other methods of achieving altered states of awareness.
My Experience With Lumenate
Well in short, I’m impressed, by my own experience it actually does what it claims.
It’s certainly not as intense as a heroic dose of classic psychedelics but it did produce a number of familiar visual effects and a sense of heightened and altered awareness.
My first guided session was called “Achieving Your Goals”. It started off with some guided intention-setting exercises and a few deep breaths. Then the pulsating flashing began. At first, sensing the flashing white light was not particularly special. It simply resembled a strobe-like effect that produced a bright white light even with my eyes closed.
However, after about a minute, a number of interesting geometric and rotating patterns emerged from the single point of pulsating light hitting my closed eyes. Then a number of colors began to emerge from what was once just white light. These patterns morphed and transformed with the background music and narration of the guided meditation within the app producing a fully immersive experience.
As I found myself engorged in the experience I also began to recognize the heightened state of awareness that I have only rarely achieved in deeply intentional breathwork-focused meditation sessions. I also recognized a dissociative effect that somewhat resembled those achieved in other mind-opening experiences such as in a shamanic breathwork practice or a lower-level dose of ketamine. I was really getting into it!
Besides the fascinating nature of the visual and spatial effects of the session, I found it much easier to tap into deep reflective thought and explore some of the space usually occupied by my subconscious mind. This was beautifully navigated by the calming voice of the session guide and the well-timed atmospheric music of the session. Which allowed me to ponder my goals for this article in a very profound way. I knew I needed to share this experience with others.
When the session came to an end and the pulsating light ceased I returned to a normal baseline level of consciousness within a seconds. Very much unlike the sometimes long-lasting lingering effects of classic psychedelics. The app then prompted for a quick journal entry for integration and reflection upon exiting the session.
Additional Thoughts On, Insights, and Experiences with Lumenate:
My only complaint with my initial experience was having to continually and steadily hold my phone up in front of my face the entire time. In some way, it took away from the experience of having to direct some attention towards that task. I was able to quickly solve this issue in the following sessions by placing my phone on a tripod. I highly recommend a setup like this.
I’ve just started to explore the “Choose Your Own Soundtrack” session within the app. I’ve found it pairs nicely with binaural beats and other guided meditations I have saved on my phone. Producing a dramatically enhanced experience for these practices I already undertake regularly. This feature alone made the premium subscription to that app worth it.
The Lumenate App also boasts a very active Facebook group where users can share their experiences, feedback, and suggestions. The App makers are quite responsive in it which gives me hope that the best features are yet to come. In the meantime, I’ve found lots of good soundtracks to try out from what others have shared.
Lastly, if you’re curious about whether this app might enhance experiences of altered states produced by other means. The answer is a definite yes. So far, I’ve only tried shamanic style of breathwork and the consciousness-altering effects were more than noticeably amplified. What resulted was as best I can describe as a full-on psychedelic spiritual experience. I’m certainly excited to explore this rabbit hole more.
Lumenate is legit, and I’m excited to see the library of available guided sessions within it continue to grow. I think it is already far more than just a quick gimmick. As a self-proclaimed Biohacker, this kind of technology is what gets me really excited. If nothing else, it will help to continue to bring more research and interest into tools that can help deliver us to heightened states of consciousness. Spurning new, better, and more widely available specialty devices. Bringing these experiences to more people without the need for potentially illegal exogenous compounds.
With all that said, If you are looking to take your meditation practice to another level or just want to experience seeing some cool visuals I highly recommend giving this app a try!
Check them out at: https://lumenategrowth.com/ or find them on the Apple or Google App stores.
Note: I am not affiliated or partnered with Lumenate Growth Ltd. in any way. I just found this app to be super cool and felt compelled to share my experience.
Have you tried Lumenate? How was your experience? Have a favorite soundtrack to journey with? Let me know in the comments below!