The Lumenate app claims to bring you enlightenment by invoking a state that mimics your brain on psychedelics. The app uses a combination of stroboscopic light, soundtracks and voice guiding to carry users into an altered state of consciousness and exploration of subconscious thoughts. Within seconds you can enter a semi-psychedelic state and, with a simple turn of your phone, control the intensity of your trip.
Founders Jay Conlon and Tom Galea, “far future” concept engineers based in the United Kingdom, started Lumenate with the mission to help people. Before any products or services, they were driven to encourage people to live more fulfilling lives. How so? The answer lay in “inspiring people through giving them access to their subconscious.” Galea, in speaking with Honeysuckle, assured that the entire Lumenate team is driven by this vision. So much so that when a recurring group experience of these subconscious explorations was shut down because of Covid restrictions, Conlon and Galea learned music production and app coding to develop and launch the mobile version.
“The group experience is nice to not be holding a phone,” Galea said. “The actual intensity of the experience is generally quite a lot higher. We’re able to modulate things like smell and able to really control the setting that people are in. Also, just the aspect of having a group there and being able to open discussions, and talk about how people felt during the experience, and having people communicate straight after and unpack their experience together is really powerful and exciting.”
Galea hopes to bring this sense of community to the app “with potential forums and comments.” There is already a Lumenate Community Facebook group. App users can also embark on these trips together to create their own group experience.
Digital Psychedelic Therapy: The Path to Freedom and Fulfillment?
This trip is guided by scripts designed by psychologists, a tool that aids Lumenate to be a means for digital psychedelic therapy—a virtual meditation tool equipped to maximize fulfillment.
“We researched on different types of philosophy and we interviewed loads of people as we went, about what freedom and fulfillment meant to them,” Galea said. “We had weekly meetings, discussed notes and discussed ideas and narrowed it down to this idea: fulfillment being driven by the achievement of success in personal growth cycles. So continually stepping outside your comfort zone and achieving something new. And then reflecting.” He shares “all these personal growth cycles started by gaining a new perspective on something within your life whether it was a problem or ambition.”
Lumenate hopes to help unlock those perspectives in order to spark a journey of personal growth.
How Lumenate Interacts with the Brain
But what is the app actually doing to your brain? Lumenate breaks it down to these four things: functional connectivity, decrease in peak alpha neural rhythms, decrease default mode network activity and increased signal complexity.
Functional connectivity is essentially how many different parts of your brain are talking to each other. For example, Galea says in using the app, “your visual cortex might communicate with the emotional center of your brain a bit more. Allowing you to perhaps feel an emotion and see it as a color.”
A decrease in peak alpha neural rhythms is a signifier within psychedelic experiences that the drugs are working, or in this case, that the app is doing its job. It is a good indication of its intensity and visual effects.
Decreased default mode network activity signals a decrease in your sense of body, time and ego. It is the part of the brain that is activated while you daydream. Galea claims it allows you “to project forwards and look backward.” The fluidity enables one to focus on the present moment. He best describes it with a quote from author and psychedelics journalist Michael Pollan, “Fire the conductor and let the orchestra play.”
Lastly, increased signal complexity is a measure of a heightened state of consciousness. When we sleep, signal complexity decreases; using psychedelics or Lumenate increases it, while your brain is feeling its effect.
Lumenate as a Tool for Anxiety and PTSD
Is it safe? Galeas warns the app is “not suitable for people with photosensitive conditions such as epilepsy.” Despite Lumenate working closely with the Epilepsy Society in the UK and experts in the space to make it as safe as possible, there is still a risk for people with photosensitive conditions. The app warns of possible migraines, headaches and motion sickness. A reminder you can stop the experience at any point by turning away from your device. It is not recommended to use Lumenate if you are pregnant, under the age of 18, have recently suffered a stroke or are under the influence of certain stimulants and depressants. Lumenate will walk you through these guidelines before any tripping begins.
Galea uses the app himself up to three times a week. When anxiety strikes, he uses Lumenate to explore where this anxiety is coming from and what to do next. Another believer? His mom. Lumenate has even changed Mama Galea’s view on psychedelics, dismantling her belief that it is merely a party drug. The testimonials Galea shared range from people with PTSD finally getting their first 8-hour sleep in years, to users igniting epiphanies of business ideas.
Lumenate’s spark of growth within individuals has the potential to improve our society into a freer, more fulfilling one. Each personal goal geared toward freedom and fulfillment allows for improvement upon the best version of ourselves. With everyone’s individual contribution greater than once before, the contribution to our world community at large will be shaped by this positive inspiration and drive for rewarding work.
Does the app really feel like a trip? Nothing is quite like the original but Galea believes it’s a close second. No, however, you won’t see people sneaking Lumenate trips in the bathroom. The aim is to use the app for deeper meditation, but Galea says there are a lot of users who indulge recreationally. Many use it for relaxation, taking advantage of the ability to customize your experience. Not quite exploring your subconscious but taking that much needed break. For a quick digital relax or a psychedelic trip into your psyche, find the darkest room you can (the darker the better), get comfortable and let the app do the rest.