What fascinates me about addiction and obsessive behavior is that people would choose an altered state of consciousness that's toxic and ostensibly destroys most aspects of your normal life, because for a brief moment you feel okay.
The desire to live life to its fullest, to acquire more knowledge, to abandon the economic treadmill, are all typical reactions to these experiences in altered states of consciousness. The previous fear of death is typically quelled. If the individual generally remains thereafter in the existential state of awareness, the deep internal feeling of eternity is quite profound and unshakable.
Obviously there is pain in childbirth. But giving birth is also a moment of awe and wonder, a moment when the true miracle of aliveness, and of a woman's amazing part in that miracle, is suddenly experienced in every cell of one's body. It is in that sense truly an altered state of consciousness.
Drugs took me to places; they were like portals. It's kind of a cliché, but they were like portals to altered states of consciousness into ways of imagining the world, or seeing a world beyond this world, or seeing a world beyond this world that I might not have gotten to unless I discovered meditation and a very deep, intense spiritual path based on contemplation and meditation.
The keys are, or were, the training methods used by the ancient mystery schools. We've got hints and tips, we've got little bits on the papyri, but we don't have, in our hands, a complete curriculum of the ways in which they induced altered states of consciousness and the projection of the mind.
It is not advisable for persons who are in the early stages of meditation to mediate on the two lower chakras. You will unleash powers and forces that will throw you into very powerful altered state of consciousness that might not be pleasant at all.
As a longtime practitioner of yoga and a person who's been involved in physical fitness my whole life, I can tell you, yoga helps you achieve altered states of consciousness. It is not just stretching. The only way you can say that it's stretching is if you haven't done it, or that you haven't done it rigorously for a long period of time.
Though we [Humanists] take a strict position on what constitutes knowledge, we are not critical of the source of ideas. Often intuitive feelings, hunches, speculation, and flashes of inspiration prove to be excellent sources of novel approaches, new ways of looking at things, new discoveries, and new information. We do not disparage those ideas derived from religious experience, altered states of consciousness, or the emotions; we merely declare that testing these ideas against reality is the only way to determine their validity as knowledge.
You don't meditate to experiment with altered states of consciousness or whatever else. You meditate only to perceive by yourself that everything is within us, every atom of the universe, and that we already possess everything we would wish to find outside of ourselves.