Altered States of Consciousness and Psychic Self-Defense

One of the most interesting aspects of the human experience is our ability to interpret our environment and its stimuli through the lens of a variety of mental states. Known as altered states of consciousness, these states of mind are like reference points that allow us to shift our perspective and change the way we see, feel and interact with our outer and inner worlds. Thanks to the interest modern science and psychology have taken on this phenomenon, our understanding of these states has greatly increased in the past few decades, yet their existence is nothing new.

Humans have been entering and utilizing altered states for at least 30,000 years, if not more. Many of the original human spiritual practices, such as shamanism, are centred around entering these states to perform healing rituals, communicate with spiritual guides and bring back crucial information for the survival of the tribe. Today, countless individuals, from spiritual seekers to transpersonal psychologists, are learning to utilize altered mental states to overcome mental obstacles and progress on their spiritual journey.

However, working with altered mental states can open your mind to external spiritual forces, bringing with them their own sets of dangers and challenges. This is why it’s crucial for any individual who is interested in learning how to access and use these states of consciousness to also understand the principles of psychic self-defense. This will allow them to effectively protect their body, mind and spirit from dark entities who may want to attack or negatively influence them. 

In this article, we’ll be going over the basics of altered states of consciousness. We’ll review the different states and what can be done with each mental state. We’ll also go over the fundamentals of psychic self-defense that will help you safeguard your physical and energetic bodies and keeping your mind free from external influences while in an altered state. This article will provide everything you need to know to get started with the transformational practice of working with these states.

What Are the Altered States of Consciousness

Many people think of consciousness in simple black and white terms: awake or asleep, conscious or unconscious. Consciousness, however, should be thought of more like a spectrum of varying levels and types of awareness. Add to that the fact that we all experience reality in our own unique way and you’ll realize that there is probably an infinite number of unique states of consciousness out there. These endless number of altered mind states can be classified into broader categories of states of consciousness that we all experience or have the potential to experience, making it easy for us all to relate and understand. These various mental states can also be recognized by the differing electrical patterns they produce, known as brain waves, and many of these states have been studied extensively by cognitive psychologists. Below we’ll go over some of these mental states.

Waking Consciousness

Our waking consciousness may not seem like an altered state at first glance, but in truth, even this “normal” mental state contains a varied spectrum of awareness. For example, think back to a time when your mind went on autopilot while driving. 

Waking Consciousness

Your conscious mind may have become engaged in distracting stream of thoughts, but before you knew it you had arrived at your intended destination or perhaps driven to somewhere you didn’t mean to go at all! Even though you were awake and experiencing “normal” consciousness, you still entered into a light level of trance during which your conscious mind disengaged and allowed your subconscious mind to take over. Our waking consciousness is really just a patchwork of lightly-varying mental states that we consider to be our baseline. It is usually characterized by Beta brain waves.

Regular Sleeping Awareness

You may not think of sleep as an altered state of consciousness, but it is definitely a mental state that’s different from normal waking awareness and allows for our minds to process information in a very distinct way.

Regular Sleeping Awareness

Sleep is actually our body’s natural mechanism for ensuring we experience an altered state each and every night; that’s how important altered states are for our mental health! In sleep, our minds can creatively think about problems and come up with solutions in ways that our logical waking mind wouldn’t allow. It also gives our subconscious mind the space it needs to classify and store all the sensory input from each day. Even sleep is a spectrum, and our regular sleeping awareness ranges from a deep, dreamless sleep, usually characterized by Delta brain waves, to REM (dream) sleep and light sleep, characterized by Theta brain waves. 


A deep state of trance, hypnosis, is a profoundly altered state in which the conscious mind steps aside, leaving the unconscious mindfully exposed and open to accepting suggestions and commands.


Hypnosis is usually achieved with the direction of a hypnotist and is often used to address deep-seated mental and behavioral issues. Depending on the depth of the hypnotic trance, brain waves can range from Alpha down to Theta.

Lucid Dreaming

As we go up on the spectrum of awareness, we encounter the incredible state of lucid dreaming. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, lucid dreaming might sound unreal, but it’s been studied in-depth by scientists and even induced by zapping non-lucid dreamers’ brains with the correct electrical frequency.

Lucid Dreaming

Lucid dreaming is a sleeping state in which dreamers recognize they are dreaming and can learn to control their dream environment. Think of it as the most realistic virtual reality experience possible. Experienced dreamers can also use the lucid state to reach out to spirit guides and as a springboard for deeper trance states or astral projection. Research has shown that this state of dream lucidity is characterized by bursts of Gamma waves, especially in the 30-40 Hz range.

Hypnagogia and Hypnopompia

These are the states of consciousness in-between sleeping and waking. Hypnagogia refers to the mental state right before falling asleep, while hypnopompia is the state right before waking up.

Hypnagogia and Hypnopompia

These states are characterized by a light trance, and individuals will often experience pre- and post-dream hallucinations. This is one of the easiest altered states for most people to experience and can be a source of creative inspiration.

Many artists and writers have used these states, specifically hypnagogia, to draw inspiration from. Surrealist painter Salvador Dali even developed a technique which he called “Slumber With a Key” to allow him to consciously enter the hypnagogic state and extract abstract visuals for his art.

This in-between state of consciousness is perfect for performing visualizations and working with mantras. The mind is highly receptive in this state, but since individuals are still conscious and in control of their minds it is a great time for performing self-hypnosis. The brain waves that dominate this state are known as the Alpha-Theta border.

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis occurs either a few seconds before a person falls asleep and called hypnagogic sleep paralysis or just before awakening and called hypnopompic sleep paralysis. In both cases, it happens when individual transits between wakefulness and sleep. 

Sleep Paralysis

This state can occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep which is associated with increased brain activity, and vivid dreams. During sleep paralysis, the body feels paralyzed and the overwhelming fear or hallucinations may transpire and last from a few seconds to a few minutes. When sleep paralysis accompanied by hypnagogic hallucinations it usually includes a supernatural malevolent being. People report feeling the presence of the sleep demon who suffocates them, sitting on their chest or the foot of the bed. Inability to move, fear and possible hallucinations make these episodes unwelcome and unpleasant experiences.


Sleepwalking (somnambulism or noctambulism) is a state of combined sleep and wakefulness that occurs during a low state of consciousness when a person walks, talks, eats or performs any other tasks usually carried out during a state of full conscientious. 


Sleepwalking can last up to 30-40 minutes, but sleepwalkers rarely have any memory of what transpired during that state. 

Flow State

The state of flow is the modern name given to a state of hyper-awareness and engagement with the activity. It’s equivalent to what’s called “being in the zone” and usually involves a heightened level of concentration, full immersion, and enjoyment of the task at hand.

Flow State

It has been compared to the Taoist concept/mental state of wu Wei, or effortless action.

The flow requires individuals to become so absorbed in what they’re doing that the barriers of self begin to dissolve and their actions occur almost at an instinctual level. Artists can be said to be in flow when their “muse comes to them” and athletes often enter “the zone” to heighten their athletic skills. Anyone can learn to enter this state of flow, however. Flow has been associated with the brain waves that occur at the Alpha-Theta border. 

Light Trance

This mental state is the result of allowing your mind and body to relax. This can be accomplished through meditative practices, but non-intentional trances can occur as well, such as when watching TV for extended periods. 

Light Trance

Light levels of trance, dominated by Alpha waves, can enhance creativity, imagination, visualization, and concentration. This state is considered the gateway to the subconscious mind and is a good mental state for practicing visualizations and mantras. It can be reached through meditation, self-hypnosis and meditative exercises such as yoga and tai-chi.

Deep Trance

With practice, light trance can progress to deeper levels of trance, dominated by Theta waves. Usually reached through intense meditation, this deep state of trance is the realm of the subconscious and a gate to the spiritual worlds.

Deep Trance

It is in this state that a deep connection to the universe, vivid visualizations, and communication with spiritual beings can be experienced. Mental reprogramming is also possible at this state, but entering this state unprotected can also leave the mind susceptible to influences from external forces. 

Transcendental States

This higher level of altered states is where individuals often experience a dissolution of the self, often called ego-death, and a state of oneness with All-That-Is. 

Transcendental States

It is the place of profound mystical experiences and mental, emotional and spiritual transformation. The highest level of the transcendental states is synonymous with enlightenment or the Buddhist concept of Nirvana. Transcendental states are usually associated with Delta brain waves, although more research is needed.

What Is Psychic Self-Defense

As you can see, we travel through altered states of consciousness each and every day of our lives. Why then do we need to worry about psychic self-defense? Well, although some altered states, like sleep, occur naturally, others require us to use parts of ourselves we are not accustomed to using. Journeying to these places opens certain spiritual doors that remain closed for most people, attracting and putting us face-to-face with energetic entities that most people never interact with. While there are beneficial beings out there, like our spirit guides and guardians, there also exists a whole host of negative and parasitic beings who enjoy feeding off our life-force energy and negative emotions.

The following practices will lay a foundation for effective psychic self-defense and should be implemented whenever you plan on accessing deep levels of trance. To be safe, you can also practice them before any trance-work and even before bedtime if you plan on meditating or using mantras before falling asleep. Although this list is by no means exhaustive, it will allow you to get started with trance-work without fear of attracting the attention of negative influences.

Burn Sage & Incense

One of the easiest ways to clear a space of negative entities and protect your physical and energetic bodies while entering deep altered states of consciousness is to burn incense. This reduces the ability of energetic entities to enter and establish themselves in an area by quickly affecting the atmosphere and energy flow of a space. 

Sage & Incense

Any incense will work, but certain ones are known to have potent energy-clearing abilities. White sage leaves and smudge sticks are very effective at clearing a space of negative energies and entities, although most sage varieties have powerful spiritual properties. Dragon’s blood, frankincense, sandalwood, and lavender are also very effective. Make sure to use a smell that you enjoy, as your mood is an important factor when it comes to deterring negative influences.

Use Essential Oils

Essential oils have a similar effect to incense and can effectively disrupt negative entities, as well as strengthen your own energy field. Apply diluted oils to the feet and major chakra points to create a protective barrier around your body.

essential oils

A small amount of essential oils on the third-eye chakra will help prevent psychic attacks as well as keeping your own psychic senses sharpened. Take care to not get essential oils in your eyes, however. 

Keep Your Room Bright

Negative entities do not like the light and often will do their best to stay away from brightly-lit areas. In fact, they’re often not as strong in the light, especially sunlight, and won’t be able to attach themselves to your physical or energetic bodies if exposed to too much light. 

Bright Room

You can use this to your advantage by ensuring that you keep your meditative practice area brightly lit, or even practice your trance-work outside under the sunlight.

Prayers and Affirmations

Regardless of your religious affiliation, praying to the higher power and asking your higher self, guardians, angels and spirit helpers to protect and assist you while you perform any kind of trance-work can be a very powerful way to keep yourself safe from the influence of negative entities.


The Power of Running Water

One of the best psychic self-defense techniques is to take advantage of the powerful effect running water has on the flow of energy, both our own and that of external entities. Running water, even the running water that comes from our shower, can disrupt negative energy patterns and ground our own energetic field.

Running Water

Taking a nice, long shower after a deep meditative session can be a great habit to get into. If you feel like you did encounter a dark entity during your trance experience, definitely take a long shower, reciting a prayer to the higher power to clear you of any negative influences. 

These foundational practices offer a great start to anyone trying to explore these states of consciousness. If you would like to learn more about negative energetic entities and to how you can keep yourself safe during trance-work, download our eBook guide “Avoiding Negative Energetic Influences During Altered States of Consciousness” below to learn more.