In the beginning the voice guidance guides you into setting up your space, settling in comfortably, letting go of tension, and generally feeling grounded and relaxed. I find that a good way for me to go to that place, is to do a breath hold, and letting that go with a somewhat explosive pfffffffff via the mouth.
Then the tree launch sequence starts, where you set and SoundSelf learns the base rhythm for the later session. So I set the base rhythm there with an unhurried but deliberate, deep full-belly nose inhale (my natural rhythm seems ±5s, yours may differ) and long deep resonating ohhhmm tone out via the mouth (±30s).
This will be the rhythm I fall back to in the later process, the metronome that SoundSelf will also be repeating to you in your own voice.
Power (breathing) up
The basis of supercharging the experience, is first some over-ventilation: forced quick in- and exhales for a short period.
Although the details of the technique (in/out via nose or mouth) do not matter that much for this purpose, I suggest that you focus on the exhale via your mouth, and inhale 80% in via your nose. This matches the rest of the breathing patterns, activates your system but does not panic it, and it is generally a good idea to prefer nose inhales.
Do these quick breaths to taste: to the moment where you feel more energised/tingling, a bit or even a lot further than that if you are more experienced with breathwork. I end up doing 10-40 breaths usually.
Everyones’ mileage can vary, but the big trick with this experience seems to be what you do right after this power up breathing. Think of going right back into toning (you may notice that you can exhale and thus tone longer because you have exhaled a lot of CO2).
But you can also immediately fully exhale, hold empty until you feel the clear urge to breathe in, nose inhale and go back to breathing. This one is my current favourite.
This looks like this:
Bringing it to a grounding close
At the end, give yourself some time to get back to grounding. Lay down and let your body integrate, then take some grounding breaths like so.
I like anchoring this experience to a trigger, so that I can come back to the sensation with that word/gesture.
Future things to try
There are of course many further things to try, like making different sounds (I’ve started experimented with mantras), exogenous chemical influence, and tactile experiences like the SubPac/TacSuit (going towards EMDR?).
Doing SoundSelf with psylocibin (“magic mushrooms”), LSD or other ‘real’ psychedelics… I doubt will be that interesting or smart at a dose that gives an internal psychedelic experience. Robin has tried that experiment and sweetly came to the conclusion that the internal experience from the psychedelics is more interesting. And that the magic goes away if you know how SoundSelf works like he does. I’d also think that it is probably not a good idea to have a VR headset strapped to your head with a full psychedelic (not a great setting), and the visuals might be a bit extreme on a screen. To be clear: not advised.
Micro-dosing… maybe. Let me know? Alcohol… pretty sure not.
SoundSelf play is both a very relaxing zone-out self-care moment for me, as well as a deepening tune-up of meditation and breath work. I’ve been starting my day with a cup of coffee and a 15-20 minute SoundSelf session, and often end the day with 40 minute one.
I feel relaxed and clear for the whole day from this, and it is nurturing something deep in me.
SoundSelf is labelling itself as “a technodelic” and that seems like the best way to describe this unique new experience (in the VR domain): somewhere between an old-school Winamp-like sound visualisation and a psychedelic experience.
I highly advised you try it, not in the least as it gives a taste of meditation and/or psychedelics, while keeping legal wherever you are ;-).
A long history with SoundSelf
I’m a huge, long-time fan of SoundSelf: when way back in 2016 I heard about this VR-generated almost-psychedelic software being in its alpha stages, I bought a Kickstarter Oculus Rift CV1 setup just to experience this myself.
From that moment on I’ve been ‘playing’ SoundSelf from that “I’ve got something cool” demo phase, through the kickstarter phase in 2017, to a chance meeting with Robin in 2019 where I got to tell him I bought the Oculus for the experience and he told me he wrote it, to investing in Andromeda Entertainment to bring this to the world, to now the big launch into the wide world in April 2020. So you could say I’m quite invested and experienced in SoundSelf.
‘Play’ is simple: start SoundSelf, sit or lay back, and tone (drone ‘ooooohhhhhmmmm’).
A SoundSelf session is both a very relaxing zone-out self-care moment for me, as well as a deepening tune-up of meditation and breath work. I’ve been starting my day with a cup of coffee and a 15-20 minute SoundSelf session, and often end the day with 40+ minute one. I feel relaxed and clear for the whole day from this, and it is nurturing something deep in me.
There is research showing SoundSelf helps go into medium altered states . My experience is not a full blown psychedelic experience, but there is definitely a losing my default mode network/ego, and relaxing into the quieting down from the toning and breathing (vagal nerve stimulation). It definitely is also a good breath exercise.
I’ve been making recordings using the Muse as brainwave measurement device, but it is quite a bit of data so I’ll analyse them later. Quick and dirty measurement using the Muse in normal meditation mode does show way more neutral and calm then in normal state, and obviously more activation than in the Zen no-mind meditation that Muse aims you towards.
Practicalities: VR headset not needed
A frequent question I get from people wanting to experience SoundSelf, is whether you need to have VR goggles? The answer is simply: no.
But… the more immersive you can make it, the better. So ideally you set yourself up such that:
The visuals take up as much as possible of your visual field: use a big screen or projector, sit close to it, have the surrounding visual side be dark and non-distracting.
You can relax into the sensation, ideally recline back a bit or completely.
You can feel the base. The audio needs to play on a headset, but a body-shaking subwoofer is a great addition. I have a SubPac that works great for it, but I guess that if you keep it to the low tones, an external subwoofer will work too.
If you consider getting a VR headset for this (like I did), consider the HTC Vive (or presumably even better because of the bigger field ov view: the Steam Index), over the Oculus Rift, as the newer headsets have less screen door effect and more pixels.
Practicalities: Running on MacBook
The visualisations are fairly CPU and GPU intensive, so even though it works on MacBook, it really needs a recent high-end one. Currently there is a strange quirk with the microphone and the access control on it by MacOS. This means that if SoundSelf does not ‘hear’ your microphone, try not starting it via Steam but directly start the application. You can tell you are starting it the right application if you see SoundSelf green eye icon, not the blue Steam gear. On the MacBook you’ll want to disable the ‘strobing’ feature, as the lower frame rate makes it look bad.
I travel quite a bit for work and pleasure, and have for a few decades. Here are some practical tips I have for you.
Preparation (weeks-days before travel)
Invest in the best active noise cancelling earphones you can afford and that fit you best. I love my Bose 20i. I prefer in-ear earplugs, but the over-ear Bose 35i and Sony WH1000XM3 work really well too (they are a bit hot to wear, and the Sony one’s Bluetooth handling is less elegant as it will not easily switch between two users. The reduction of the onslaught on your ears and the resulting stress on your system is worth more than any class upgrade if you are in a bind. I can’t emphasis this enough: invest in a good noise cancelling headphone.
Consider buying passive earplugs for sleeping: if you cover the microphones of the active noise cancellers they will typically give you a high screeching tone. Plus I don’t like having wires around my throat when I’m sleeping: I prefer not to garrotte myself. I like 3M’s 1100 Orange rounded earplugs or more recently my custom made earplugs from Alpine.nl.
Go into the travel with enough sleep. Going in with a sleep-debt will make the effects of jetlag much worse, and it will take longer to recover from it. Plus with low sleep you’ll be more tempted to eat crap food.
Preparation (just before the trip)
I have a check-in/carry-on suitcase (currently Samsonite B-Light 3 with 2 wheels) ready for travel nearly all the time. The week before a trip I have it open in my bedroom and fill it with the specific items I need for an upcoming trip as I bump into them (Getting Things Done style inbox filing ;-)).
I also have my daily-carry/designated carry-on backpack (currently North Face Kaban (older model)) which is always ready for day to day meetings and for air travel (fluids only in an external pouch, no sharps, etc).
That carry-on backpack also contains a change of clothes, just in case my check-in goes missing for a few days (rare) or I get caught in rain/manage to dirty my clothes (less rare). I’ve packed, in waterproof ziplock bags, wrinkle-free business casual clothes:
1 Mizzen and Main shirt (doesn’t wrinkle, looks professional, does not sweat, does however love to absorb coloured liquids spectacularly).
1 Nike Golf pants (looks like formal pants, stretches and dries like sport clothes, hard to get dirty and easy to clean)
2 changes of underwear
2 pairs of socks (with my Vibram 5fingers I get wet feet easily)
Take a biggish (1 or 3 liter) ziplock bag, and put the items you need available at your seat in there. This allows you to quickly and without fuss settle into your seat. If you practice putting your stuff back in after using, you also won’t lose items as you leave again. As an added bonus, that bag probably is also exactly the electronics that you have to pull out at the security screening anyway, making that process much less stressful (and more efficient for other travellers like me too ;-)).
Apple travel Adapter Kit (or equivalent), with the plugs of all your stops on the way. Consider to add the UK one too: I’ve found that the power plugs often don’t hold power supplies with US prongs at all, and poorly with the European ones. This is the one place where I really like the massive UK power prongs: they keep the power supply nice and snug even in turbulence.
Short USB charge cables for your phone, tablet and noise cancelling headset.
A good eye mask.
A small pen, and if you like that, a note pad.
Pack any item that is a liquid/gel in a good ziplock back of max 1l. Not only will that allow you to efficiently pull it out if it is in your carry-on luggage, but it will also save you much grief should it accidentally open/leak in your check-in luggage.
During the trip
Drink plenty of water: Simply accept every offer of water.
Stay away from alcohol: Alcohol dehydrates you, and degrades the sleep quality significantly. You might feel a bit better dulling yourself from the travel stress with the alcohol, but you are paying a heavy price for this after the flight. I advise meditation and binaural beats as an alternative for handling the stress of the travel.
Consider putting a 3M privacy shield on your laptop. It severely reduces how much your neighbours can see and how much they are disturbed by your laptop’s light. (Disadvantage: it is glossy, especially the gold side, so it makes the screen a bit less clear. A privacy shield also interferes with a blue-filtering screen. Do install F.lux.)
Consider the environment and prefer seats with no people behind you. People do look on your screen. I know I can’t help but notice that presentation or business plan…
As usual, always lock your computer when you are away from it. Don’t leave it unattended in waiting rooms and such of course.
Put some TSA approved locks on the zippers of your backpack, and connect them together.
Lately, I’m getting questions on “how to invest” income beyond direct living costs.
Just like with GTD systems, I find it very important to have a financial system that one can relax into fully. Not having concerns about money frees up a lot of mental and emotional energy, and can shift one from a scarcity to abundance mindset.
My advice and practice is go implement this once the daily living costs have been covered, in the below stated order:
Put an amount of at least 6 months of living costs + one big unforeseen cost (e.g. suddenly needing a new car due to an accident) aside in a savings account as buffer for hard times.
Taking out a loan is very expensive, both in money (interest) and in energy (loss of abundance mindset).
Invest at least 15% in a financial freedom fund, some form of savings that does not easily lose value but is accessible if you need it within half a year, relative to the way you live.
In my case it is my own house and office, as I don’t likely need to move anytime soon. If you are like a lot of my friends and you want to stay more mobile for a while, consider an investment fund that has the same distribution as the Dow Jones, but mind the costs and risks!! I highly advise reading Tony Robbins’ “Money, master the game” on this topic. Management costs above 0.5% annually of your investment will kill any value accrued.
Invest 10-30% in development of skills and contacts that make you more valuable, more productive and widely skilled, so that you upgrade your market value by at least one order every two years. Examples include workshops that really stretch you beyond what you think you could do or mastermind groups at a level you think is beyond your stature.
After the above, you can put the remainder into further tweaking of your financial growth and stability, with your choice of:
Reducing any costs you have (e.g. paying off outstanding credit card, loan or mortgage costs)
Investing in quality products and services that require reduced upkeep costs and make you much more productive
More investment in financial freedom capital
More investment in totally different skills and contacts
And whatever you have left and are entirely ok with losing completely, gamble that by:
Paying it forward to a personally worthwhile social goal. Ideally, this could be bootstrapping someone you personally care about towards their self independence, their growth, while expecting nothing in return (and probably getting a lot from that in feeling good).
Trying an investment in a start-up you believe in will work financially (with a return of at least 10x) and do your kind of good in the world. Then don’t touch or even look at that investment for at least 5, preferably 10+ years. Don’t expect it to return anything, be positively surprised when it does.
If you really must learn that lesson yourself: lose it by gambling on the stock market, stepping into or out of the latest crypto coin hype too late, or other such “I can beat the system” delusions.
I hope this view helps you decide wisely where to put your money.
One of those small hacks that I enjoy a lot, is to set the playback speed of podcasts or audiobooks to 1.5-2x the normal speed. Modern players such as the iOS podcastOvercast app and Audible app will keep the pitch normal.
So the effect is similar to giving the speaker a cup of coffee, not a hit of helium and making him one of the chipmunks. Especially with speakers … who … speak … with … … profound … … silences … like Osho, this speed up saves me a lot of will power to keep listening.
The Overcast app has a more granular setting for the speedups. Not only can you select speedups in 0.25 granularity, you can also vary the speedup per podcast (so usually slow speakers can get even higher speedups). In the speedup it also removes the pauses, which gives another 0.25-1.50x speedup without any loss of information.
The Overcast app has a few other features that make life easier: downloading of new episodes is reliable (iOS app is crap at this), skip forward button step is configurable, it automatically plays the next priority episode (iOS app stopped doing this for unknown reasons). And they are very well aware of the impact on our mental well being:
For iOS podcast app
Podcast speed is to the left of the play buttons:
For the Audible app
I like Audible for audiobooks, and quite a few of the speakers have this profound … silence … speaking style that I’m not really interested in anymore, so this works well for me. Tapping on the lower left corner brings up the Narration Speed menu.
Even more ideal would be removing the silences automatically, similar to how my videos are edited, but I’m not aware of something that does that.
Hoping I saved a few hours of your life with this,