Tom Kenyon
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The Power of Nothing

The Power of Nothing, the Relativity of Perception and the Exquisite and Precarious Acquisition of Knowledge During Altered States of Consciousness

Tom Kenyon, M.A.


Back in the early 1980’s I facilitated a psychological intensive that was designed to help clients break through psychological defenses.

Each participant received a cassette tape of a recording that I had composed using numerous psychoacoustic sound patterns. To this mix I added specific brain entrainment frequencies and subliminal messages having to do with change.

A few weeks after mailing everyone their tapes, a participant called me and said that she was having miraculous changes and healings as a result of listening to the tape as directed. She had even called an estranged sister and started to heal that relationship. She thanked me profusely.

Then a week or so later, she called again. She said that she had had lunch with some fellow participants for the upcoming intensive. They were discussing the music and the odd sounds in the background. Perplexed, she went home and turned up the volume on her stereo as she had never heard anything on her tape. Cranked all the way up, the only thing she could hear was the hiss that was characteristic of analog cassette tapes.

I had inadvertently sent her a blank tape!

She had created all of that transformation through nothing…nothing but the belief that the tape had some type of power and the intense desire that personal change take place.

I am reminded in this by something the imminent psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, once said…” When a change occurs, all we can say is that something moved inside the person.”

My sophisticated psychoacoustic technology was eclipsed by the mysterious power of the human mind.

In some fields this ability to create change out of nothing is called the placebo effect. In pharmacology for example, tests of a new drug have to be done with both the drug itself and a sugar pill that looks like the drug but is, in fact, nothing. It is a mirage that the mind interprets as the real deal. And odd as it may seem, a certain number of subjects (sometimes quite a large number) will have the same result as the new drug being tested even though they received NOTHING.

Since I began working in the field of psychoneuroimmunology under the auspices of Acoustic Brain Research back in the early 1980’s, I have been fascinated by the power of the placebo effect and how expectation and belief can create outcomes regarding the immune system.

By the late 1980’s I was well ensconced in research around altered states of consciousness. And it became clear to me that expectation and belief also played a huge role in people’s experiences during altered states.

Not only this, but one’s personal history as well as the mythic structures of one’s culture were also significant factors in what people experienced when their attention turned to their inner worlds.

The Relativity of Perception

There are tremendous Mind Treasures that can arise during altered states of consciousness. And these treasures can have a powerful effect on a person mentally/emotionally and even physically.

I recall a woman client years ago that I happened to mentioned in my book, Brain States (New Leaf Publishing). She had advanced bone cancer and was in a tremendous amount of pain.

I decided to take her on an inner journey to find one of her Mind Treasures that could help her cope with pain. But first I needed a bit of information. I asked her to imagine a place, real or imagined, with healing powers. She quipped…” That’s easy. Sedona.” She had been to Sedona many years before and had explored the canyons finding them deeply healing and nourishing.

I asked her to close her eyes.

I played a psychoacoustic composition I had created called Wave Form, which generates a lot of theta activity (a known generator of altered states). As she listened to the music, I began to speak to her in a slow rhythmic pattern to reinforce the calming and hypnotic effects of the music. My voice guided her to find a boulder with potent healing energies, guided her to sit on it and just feel the energy.

After a few minutes of this, a beatific smile appeared on her face. She opened her eyes, reached for her purse, pulled out a tissue and dabbed her cheeks.

“It’s gone,” she said.

“What’s gone,” I asked.

“The pain…it’s gone!”

Her journey into her deeper mind took maybe 10 minutes of clock time, but in the inner realms of her imagination time had been suspended. She was in a parallel universe outside of time and space altogether.

If someone had come into the room during her inner journey they would have seen a woman sitting in a chair with her eyes closed listening to some music while some dude, off to the side, was speaking in a slow cadence describing something that didn’t actually exist.

Ah…but what we often see is only at the surface of things.

In the deeper strata of her mind, my client had entered an alternate reality that she was experiencing as vividly real. The boulder she chose to sit on was tactilely real. It did not exist in the room where we sat, but it was real in the imaginal realm of her mind. She could feel the rock. And she could feel the healing energies coming from it as they spiraled up from the earth into her spine and into her bones.

And while the source of this healing energy was ephemeral and a-nothing, it had the very real ability to affect “real” biochemicals in her brain and alter the firing of neurons inside her decidedly “real” nervous system.

As an observer who facilitated this body/mind transformation, all I could say from my perspective was that her breathing had slowed down and her facial features had relaxed. There was also a feeling that she had entered something profound, but this was not an observation; it was more of a hunch, I would say.

When the smile appeared on her face, I knew that something good had transpired. But when she said “it’s gone,” for a moment I didn’t know what the word “it” referred to. Only when she said the pain was gone, did I know that the intervention had been successful and that she had found one of her Mind


I wish that I could report that the pain never returned to her, but it did. Eventually the cancer killed her, however, she had learned how to shift her own brain state, and manage her pain without the need for drugs.

The Exquisite and Precarious Acquisition of Knowledge During Altered States of Consciousness

Mind Treasures are real although ephemeral.

While they reside in a realm outside of this world, Mind Treasures can create real physical changes, like the woman client who learned how to stop her pain by going into an alternate reality that some would describe as imaginary, but which I prefer to call the imaginal realm where things are true but of a different order of reality than our day-to-day existence.

There are breathtakingly beautiful vistas that can open before us when we open the doors of perception. And there are innumerable imaginal beings that reside there and even magic places of power. All of these can “talk”to us, interact with us and such interactions can be decidedly beneficial.

But I would be amiss if I did not also mention some precarious aspects to altered states of consciousness. And one of these has to do with objective reality vs subjective reality.

A few years ago, I conducted a sound intensive called The Luminous Ones. It primarily consisted of sound channelings from the spirit worlds, with several different traditions being represented. From my perspective, it was one of the most potent and transformational group of sound meditations that I had ever channeled.

The entire event was recorded and participants could order a copy of the CDs. One of the participants told me that one of the sound sessions was an extremely powerful experience for him. In fact, if I remember his comments correctly, he said it was the most powerful experience of his life. But when he got the recordings, he said he felt that the sound session had been truncated and shorter in duration than the real-time event he had experienced at the Intensive.

I explained that this could have been due to the long observed feature of altered states…mainly the alteration of perceived time.

He insisted, however, that the recording of that session had to have been edited. I said that I would check the recording logs and time codes.

When recording an event, we use digital recorders that use digital counters, which are very precise. And when I consulted the recording logs, the time codes matched the length of the final mastered recording. They were identical. In other words, the objective reality is that the length of the live sound session was the same as the recording that had been released.

When I told him this, he insisted that I was wrong. He then, according to him, went to three Remote Viewers who all said that the recordings had been shortened.

It is here that we get to the crux of what I referred to as “the precarious acquisition of knowledge during altered states of consciousness.”

As far as determining the length of a recorded sound session goes, I will always side with objective measurements vs subjective impressions.

While information gained in altered states can enhance many aspects of our lives, they are not, in my opinion, a replacement for objective reality. They are, after all, subject to the mercurial nature of the human psyche.

The issue of reality is a big one, as any explorer of alternate realities can attest to. But unfortunately, due to the length constraints on this article, I will have to bring this discussion to a close pretty soon.

So, here’s the scuttlebutt, the Reader’s Digest version, if you will:

When exploring altered states, enjoy the vistas, but don’t lose touch with objective reality. Be cautious and practical about what advice you may have received from beings in your imaginal realm. Avoid the temptation to believe that every denizen of the other worlds is wise or even benevolent…until they have proven themselves to be so. And if you encounter a being bigger-than-life think twice about stepping on board that being’s agenda. You might just lose yourself.

I think some of the first words from my Taoist teacher, Master Wu, who appeared to me from the Land of the Immortals (aka an imaginal realm) are most apt here: “Before stepping into Heaven, step onto Earth.” In other words, ground yourself and be practical.

One final point…altered states of consciousness are heavily affected by context and intent.

It is both my experience and belief that to have the most uplifting experience possible, a simple statement of positive intent can be of immense benefit. These types of intentions can, and do, reverberate through your inner worlds shaping the subtle energies of your imaginal realm.

To see what I mean, try this little experiment:

Before starting an inner exploration, regardless of the means used to attain it, including meditation, contemplation, or any other method (or substance), quietly speak this intent to yourself:

May the benefits of this inner journey extend to all sentient beings.

And to you, the reader of these words, I would like to offer this intent.

May the majestic dazzling display of your own Luminous Mind illuminate your inner worlds and reveal to you many, many Mind Treasures. And may these gifts from the higher vibrational worlds bring to you and to those you love great happiness.

Tom Kenyon

Published by Evolve Magazine, Spring 2022