In modern culture, we do not regularly access what has been traditionally known as altered states of awareness. Most people associate this with recreational substances and the hippy movement, but altered states have been used for wellbeing, spirituality, and health purposes for millennia in many cultures.

Holotropic Breathwork

Over 50 years ago, Stanislov Groff developed Holotropic breathwork to achieve different states of awareness without using LSD. Long before this, breathwork was used for this purpose under other names, and many more similar methods exist today.


Brain guided deep state training using EEG biofeedback or neurofeedback using a protocol called ‘alpha theta’ neurofeedback training is another way to access this state without using substances but requires high tech equipment.

Altered States via Plant Medicines and Psychoactive Compounds

There are multiple plant medicines and psychoactive compounds which are now being used in a psychedelic therapy guided safe setting, including:

  • Psilocybin
  • Ketamine
  • MDMA
  • Ayahuasca and other traditional plant medicines containing DMT or similar compounds used in some countries where legal
  • LSD-in research phase for guided use after many decades of prohibition

The emerging research on psychedelic medicines is promising new therapies. Via multiple brain mechanisms that enhance novel thinking and brain flexibility, these therapies help people to recover from trauma and addiction. They can also help heal treatment-resistant depression and provide hope for people with terminal cancer, allowing them to improve their quality of life and mental wellbeing in ways traditional drugs cannot. There is also emerging evidence that psychedelic medicines may work on the brain’s immune system and reduce neuroinflammation.

These biological effects can help explain the science behind the many anecdotal reports of dramatic healing experiences people experience after using these substances in a therapeutic setting, often after years of suffering from hard to treat chronic conditions.

“Many patients told me about their healing and transformative experiences with psychedelic plants and of going to South America and other countries with a long tradition of plant medicine, such as Ayahuasca. My patients shared how this experience helped them heal from conditions such as chronic fatigue, depression, and addiction when other more mainstream methods had failed them. 

My patients would tell me about their experiments because they felt, unlike all other doctors they had met, that I would not judge them because I was also trained in integrative and botanical medicine and Western medicine. I cared about what made them better, no matter if it came from a lab or a plant.”

Dr Dani Gordon, Founder of Resilience Medicine