Getting high is hard.
We live in Singapore after all where almost every high-inducing, mind-altering substance (from marijuana to MDMA and even booze) is either regulated, banned, or carries with it the death penalty.
But what if you could do it legally and responsibly?
Thanks to advancements in technology and neuroscience, the Internet claims that you no longer need drugs or substance stimulants to alter the state of your brain.
Given that even picking up a cigarette (much less rolling a blunt) in Singapore is seen as the equivalent of destroying one’s guai image and bringing shame and dishonour upon one’s ancestors, this appears to be the perfect solution for all those afraid of rocking the boat.
Held in high esteem within the “Get-stoned-naturally” Internet community are binaural beats: precisely designed audio tracks that claim to affect our brainwaves and alter our mood, behaviour, and consciousness.
Best heard through earphones, binaural beats work by emitting two tones of specific frequencies. This confuses our brain, causing it to produce its own imagined tone—a three-dimensional audio hallucination.
Besides meditation and deep sleep, binaural beats are favoured for inducing brain waves associated with controlled substances.
YouTube led me to the first audio tune, meant to replicate the feeling of having smoked Opium. The video description said it would enable me to “sit down, chill and mellow myself out.”
Within 5 minutes of putting on the mix, I started to ‘mellow out’, and by that I mean drained of energy.
Gradually, my head and arms started to droop. I felt increasingly lethargic and heavy hearted, as if a weight had lodged itself into my chest and was pinning me down to my chair. I could still move if I wanted to, only I didn’t feel motivated to do anything except continue to sit there and feel tired. It wasn’t ‘chill’.
When the music finally stopped, the side effects didn’t. I spent the rest of my day feeling weary and disoriented.
The follow day, I tried beats meant to replicate the feeling of being on Acid/LSD.
The effect was instantaneous. Within 30 seconds, my heart rate started to increase and I felt a surge of adrenaline course through my chest. However, that adrenaline soon turned to mild anxiety—the kind you get while awaiting your turn for Chinese Oral, what I assume to be the equivalent of a ‘bad trip’.
That was the most that I got out of it. Users of actual LSD report feeling intense emotions and gaining new insights, but I got neither.
Like the Opium beat before it, this too had lasting effects. Several hours after I had turned off the music, I still didn’t feel ‘normal’. It was like I had been pulled out of my body and stuffed back in, though not very well.
Trigger warning: If you are sensitive to flashing lights or suffer from photosensitive epilepsy, you should avoid this.
Perhaps the oldest but most effective trick in the book. These patterns—found everywhere from Facebook to TV programs—involve tunnel-like perceptions designed to disorient your visual cortex and induce temporary hallucinations.
For best results, I’m told to full-screen the video, move my face close to the screen and concentrate on the center without blinking or looking away.
As I stare intensely at the moving black and white lines, I can’t help but wonder what this is doing to my already terrible eyesight. It doesn’t take long before I’m lost in a maze of swirling patterns.
Once the video ends, I glance up at a colleague only to be met by a troll-looking 3D version of his usual self.
The effect didn’t last long, barely a minute and said colleague was back to looking like a regular human.
But I didn’t feel high, yet.
Later that night, I watch 3 such videos back to back. Halfway through my third video, it hits. My eyes start to get unfocused and my brain goes fuzzy, much like when you’ve had what you tell yourself will be your last drink, and then four gin and tonics after that.
Upon pressing pause, I stare blankly into space for several seconds before keeling over to one side. There I stayed, not unable but unwilling to move. My head and arms are heavy (I was starting to see a trend here).
I can’t fully recall what else happened while in that semi-collapsed position. Perhaps my brain had gotten stuck.
Eventually, I managed to regain control over my limbs, along with the willpower to get up. But that’s also when the grogginess and disorientation hit.
Suddenly, I felt just I’d emerged from a sweaty, 3-hour long nap, only without the rest.
Instead of the promised high, I found myself at an all time low.
The bizarre practice of Beezin’ gets its name from the Burt’s Bees products that people use to get “a tingly high”. According to online instructions, you simply have to apply the company’s lip balm to your eyelids, sit back, and let the peppermint oil do the trick.
“What a waste,” I think to myself, while generously slathering chapstick over my eyelids.
For the first twenty seconds, I sat there with my eyes closed, questioning every life choice that had led up to the exact moment when I felt it.
Finally, a tingle! It was working. It was similar to the feeling you get in at back of your throat when you crunch a mint and take a swig of water after—except on my eyelids.
And what about the high?
Two minutes into Beezin’ and I felt a drop of water running across my eyelid and off my face. Over the next few minutes, several more droplets like it occured. However when I finally raised a finger to catch them, I realised that there was in fact nothing there.
Was I hallucinating it?
Before I could give it much thought however, the burn started. I had been too distracted by the imaginary droplets to realise that the gentle tingle had morphed into a full-on burning sensation.
For the next 5 minutes I camped under the sink, face and hair sopping wet, eyes red and nose runny, desperately scrubbing off the last trace of lip balm from my lids.
The things we do for science.
This technique involves keeping the brain awake while minimising sensory input. As our brain is addicted to sensation, a lack of it supposedly causes our brain to invent its own.
I couldn’t bother paying for a proper sensory deprivation tank like this one, so I settled for relaxing in bed whilst attaching a homemade paper mask to my eyes and turning on static noise.
For the first ten minutes or so, I struggled. Half of my brain—immensely bored of being forced to stare at a piece of white paper—couldn’t decide between falling asleep or daydreaming whilst the other half was determined to stay awake for the sake of the experiment.
Once those excruciating ten minutes were up, I began to be able to look into the paper, not just at it. I also started seeing things.
People who’ve conducted the Ganzfeld experiment have reportedly been able to see horses prancing and hear the voices of dead relatives. My own encounter wasn’t so dramatic.
In the distance, I saw 4 dark blurry figures emerge. There was no fixed shape to them. Sometimes they were in humanoid form, other times a blurry mass and other times on all fours. Sometimes they were large, and other times small.
It was like watching an old black and white television programme. Everything was silent except the static. Over the course of the next few minutes they disappeared and reappeared repeatedly.
That’s as far as my ‘visions’ went.
It was disconcerting, knowing that this was what my brain conjured up when it had nothing, but it wasn’t very high-inducing.
Forty minutes in and I stopped the experiment.