The Altered States of Consciousness: Telltale Signs You Experienced One 

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Have you ever had a strange experience that altered your reality? Think of the times you were transfixed to the screen on your phone, daydreaming, or when asleep. The experience can be blissful and ecstatic, especially when undergoing a spiritual awakening. Still, it can be bizarre, frightening, or a mix of joy and pain when undergoing an out-of-body experience, hallucination, or alien abduction. Whatever the circumstances, these are altered states of consciousness. So, how can you know you are in an altered state of consciousness? 

Let’s explore below:

Understanding Consciousness and its Altered States

Consciousness is when we are aware of ourselves and the environment surrounding us. Usually, we describe ourselves as conscious when awake. In contrast, an altered state of consciousness occurs when our minds disassociate from our bodies. Here, we are fully mindful in a clinical sense but not in what you would consider a normal waking state. 

Types of the Altered States of Consciousness

Unlike popular belief, altered states of consciousness are not exclusive to persons using psychedelics or under hypnosis. Moreover, we can enter into this state during the following instances: 

  • Hypnotic states (Focused attention/glazed staring eyes, vivid fantasies, heightened suggestibility)
  • Hallucinations (Hear sounds & voices, see visions that nobody else sees or hears)
  • Meditative states (Heightened awareness, focused attention, dreamless sleep, daydreaming)
  • Yogic states (abstinences, observances, yoga postures, breath control, withdrawal of senses, concentration, meditation, absorption)
  • Out-of-body experiences (OBE) (Astral projection, sleep paralysis)
  • Psychotic episodes (Delusions, hallucinations, agitation, incoherent behavior)
  • Mystical revelations (Timelessness, ego death, objective reality, gratitude, mind-blowing realizations)
  • Alien abductions (Extraterrestrial intrusions, UFO abductions)
  • Lucid dreaming (Conscious awareness of ongoing dreams)
  • Shamanic drums, chants, & trances

The Triggers

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An altered state of consciousness can happen randomly or be deliberately induced through such activities as hypnosis or taking psychedelics. Here are examples of the most common triggers: 

  • Traumatic experience – Illness, childhood abuse, loss of a loved one
  • Near-death experiences
  • Prayer & fasting (Intercessory prayer, fasting, intense meditation on spiritual texts)
  • Astral Projection
  • Terminal illness
  • Deep Meditation
  • Spiritual Healing
  • Kundalini Awakening
  • Sleep impairment
  • Breathing exercises
  • Hypnosis
  • Trances
  • Use of entheogenic drugs
  • Ego death
  • Sensory deprivation

The Relevance

All the types of altered states of consciousness share the following qualities: –

#1: Selflessness

When parts of the brain turn off or completely light up, they knock out our everyday sense of self-consciousness and self-awareness. We end up momentarily losing our inner voice or critique. In turn, we are in a state of not thinking about our thought processes. 

#2: Timelessness

Like selflessness, timelessness happens when those parts of our brains responsible for an altered state of consciousness light up or switch off. They also turn off our ability to calculate time. Estimating time is a collaborative process from various parts of our brains. Hence, knocking out some brain networks also distorts our time perception.

#3: Effortlessness

Altered states of consciousness feel like being swept along by events. It is an extraordinary self-propelled experience, especially during a spiritual awakening. In addition, it can be a terrifying experience (hallucinations, psychotic episodes, or alien abductions) where you are not in control. Either way, you are no longer the one plotting one foot after another to get to a particular goal you’ve decided. It is no longer about what you are trying to do or exerting willpower.

#4: Richness

Finally, richness is the culmination of selflessness, timelessness, and effortlessness. See, when the parts of the brain are knocked out or heightened, there is no inner voice for second-guessing or filtering. And, as the brain focuses on the presence or lack of time, you propel effortlessly.

The next consistent step is access to far more information than you do in your normal conscious state. It is a shift from our narrow conscious processing to fast and vast unconscious processing. The altered states of consciousness produce results that feel almost supernatural. And many individuals assign these states to the Gods, angels, or any other higher power.

10 Signs of the Altered States of Consciousness 

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#1: A Distorted Sense of Time

Events that overstimulate brain cells can distort your sense of time. In turn, you view time to be moving too fast (time compression), too slow (time dilation), playing backward (time reversal), or time is inherently meaningless (temporality). Fear, stress, high doses of stimulating, hallucinogenic, or psychedelic compounds can trigger time distortion. It often coincides with feelings of spiritual enhancement, time loops, déjà vu, visual hallucinations, and thought loops. 

#2: Having a Disconnect from Body

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after prolonged distress or psychological trauma can alter our sense of body ownership. Here, the individual feels that parts of the entire body are detached or out of control. Psychologists attribute this behavior to the body’s avoidance strategy when dealing with overwhelming and prolonged stress. 

#3: Hyper Awareness of Specific Experiences

Some individuals struggle with extreme stress reactions, obsessive fears of harming themselves or others, and having a narrowed perception or a heightened focus on a specific experience or reality. 

#4: Visionary Experiences

You may see images and symbols of an archetypal form as you shift from your ordinary consciousness to an altered one.

#5: Reduced Internal Dialogue

Due to the changing brain mechanisms, it tends to diminish if you have a prominent inner voice. 

#6: Big Picture Perspective

An altered state of consciousness can open your mind to notice new connections and see complex situations from a broader and higher angle. 

#7: Amnesia or Hypermnesia

You may wake up from an altered state of consciousness with a temporary memory loss or a detailed recollection of past events, going far back to your childhood. 

#8: Suggestibility

Persons undergoing hypnotic states are more open to suggestions.

#9: Catalepsy

Catalepsy relates to muscle stiffness and weakness or fixated posture due to the terror or excitement associated with the altered consciousness. 

#10: Access to Deeper Insight

An altered state of consciousness gives us access to more profound insight. Hence, you may have a revelation or an epiphany that feels supernatural. 


Can you relate to one or more of the signs of altered states of consciousness? If so, know that it is a much more common occurrence than we think. Check for the four common traits that confirm that you might have experienced an elevated state of consciousness