The sound artist Kim Cascone passed along a great link for making DIY Ganzfeld goggles. When I was at the Rhine Research Center we were able to see their Ganzfeld rooms, and I’ve been interested in experimenting with the technique once I get more time. These kind of ‘hacks’ are a great way to work with some of the consciousness studies research without having the benefits of grant funding or donors!
“The Ganzfeld effect is a form of visual sensory deprivation. The idea is to give the open eyes a blank visual field of uniform color. Since there is nothing for the eyes to see, the brain cuts off the unchanging input, and often manufactures its own images – these may be thought of as mild hallucinations. Personally, I haven’t experienced any vivid hallucinations via a Ganzfield, but I find the effect to be rather relaxing. I’ve found that a Ganzfeld is very good for helping to eliminate excess chatter in the mind, especially when practicing meditation.
One common meditation technique involves cracking the eyes just barely open, so that even though your eyes are open, you can’t really see anything. There are two purposes for this technique: 1) it’s easier to stay awake with the eyes open and 2) when the eyes are closed, the brain goes into the idling alpha wave rhythm. When you meditate, one aim is to generate alpha with the eyes open; this isn’t easy, because in typical settings, there are too many distracting things for your eyes to see. I find it easier to stay awake when I use Ganzfeld goggles than when I meditate with my eyes barely cracked open.
A common technique for creating a “Ganzfeld goggles” is to cut a ping pong ball in half, and then place one half over each eye. While this technique is cheap, and relatively easy, it’s not particular comfortable, as the edges of the cut halves tend to be sharp. Also, they’re easily damaged. I’ve devised alternate cheap and easy method of building Ganzfeld goggles, which is more comfortable and durable, and better than an expensive commercial alternative.”