My Gateway Tapes experience (so far)

Initial thoughts on a foray into doing the Gateway tapes.

a halftone illustration of a vintage tape deck with the repeating words "the gateway tapes" surrounding it

For the last few weeks, I've been trying out the Monroe Institute's Gateway tapes.[^1] The Gateway Experience has earned a lot of buzz online over the last few years (apparently it went viral on TikTok in 2021), but it's basically a meditation program from the 1980s which helps listeners reach expanded states of awareness.

There's a lot more to say here about the history of the tapes, the declassified CIA report, and its connection to remote viewing. So, rather than an explainer about the Gateway Experience, this post is just a dump of my initial thoughts as I've dipped a toe into this weirdness. (Like the rest of my blog, this is me learning in public.)

As I write this, I'm listening Witch Prophet's GATEWAY EXPERIENCE, a neo-soul/alternative R&B/trip hop album inspired by the artist's experiences with focal aware seizures, which can cause lucid dreams, déjà vu, déjà rêvé, and out-of-body experiences. It's also "an ode to the released CIA report where they studied the use of sound tapes [the Gateway Tapes] to manipulate brainwaves with a goal of creating altered states."

A couple weeks ago, when I opened up the Bandcamp app on the most recent Bandcamp Friday and saw that the day's featured album was GATEWAY EXPERIENCE, that seemed like a significant enough synchronicity that I gave it a listen and (because it's great!) then bought it.[^2]

In addition to starting to listen to the Gateway tapes, I've also been reading up a bit on the related topic of remote viewing, including Russell Targ's book Limitless Mind and Third Eye Spies. And then that led to a second synchronicity: an episode of the Haunted Objects podcast about remote viewing dropped while I was listening to Targ's book, on the same way that the album GATEWAY EXPERIENCE came out, May 1. Oh, and also Targ's latest book about remote viewing, Third Eye Spies, also came out that day. (A weird number of remote-viewing-related episodes of various podcasts have come out since then, so maybe it's just in the zeitgeist. Though it's strange that I'm stumbling across all of this now versus in 2021, when the Gateway tapes went viral.)

Typically, when I start to run into synchronicities, I take it as a sign that I should keep going along whatever path led me to 'em.

So, while my first few weeks of digging into the Gateway Tapes has left me a little hesitant, I'm going to keep going for now. I'll plan to share some notes and impressions about my experience as I go along.

A bit more about the Gateway tapes

Robert Monroe, the voice heard on the earlier waves of the Gateway tapes, popularized the term "out-of-body experience" through his 1971 book Journeys Out of the Body and founded the Monroe Institute (which teaches people about expanded consciousness and which would later have connections to the government's remote viewing program).

The Gateway tapes are an adaptation (as far as I can tell) of the Monroe Institute's residential Gateway program, and pioneered a form of binaural beats, which the tapes call "Hemi-Sync."

The tapes are available on YouTube, but folks on the subreddit say that the video versions contain compressed audio, so aren't ideal to use. I've been working from .flac versions that are archived online. Most people who attempt the tapes also read the detailed declassified CIA report about them.

My relationship with guided meditations

I live in New York City, a place known for being loud. Because of that, for the past decade and a half or so, I've listened to guided meditations or hypnosis audio/videos before bed. It started as something to help me fall asleep while living in noisy college dorms in a lively part of the Bronx, and I've continued just because it turns out that I enjoy a nice guided meditation.

I haven't listened to meditations every night, and there were a few years when I lived in louder neighborhoods that sometimes needed to be drowned out by electronic music instead. But it's fair to say that I've consistently gone to sleep listening to guided meditation or hypnosis audio for almost half my life. (In fact, the very first podcast I listened to, back in the 2000s, was a guided meditation podcast.)

So I'd consider myself pretty used to guided mediations (including ones with binaural beats).

With that being said, let me tell you: these tapes are intense. It caught me off guard, though maybe it shouldn't have.

After I downloaded the audio, I started listening to the first tape on a whim while sitting in the living room. I didn't tell my wife I was doing a meditation, because I just wanted to get a sense of the tapes' vibe and didn't feel like I was "seriously" doing the meditation. My wife came in partway through and tried to talk to me, which . . . did not go well. I was in a fairly deep trance and she was (reasonably) weirded out.

So I'd say that 1) to me, these tapes feel closer to hypnosis than a guided meditation, and 2) it's probably best to ensure that you do this where you won't be disturbed, and perhaps to give family members and/or roommates a heads up that you're going under for a bit.

My experience with Wave I, Discovery 1: Orientation

I ended up doing this one four or five times because I kept falling asleep while doing it. During those instances when I fell asleep, I didn't feel like I got fully out of the meditation, and then I felt extremely groggy the next day.

Eventually, I managed to do this one without falling asleep. I really liked the experience of doing the meditation, but I definitely felt weird the next day. (This has become a theme with these.)

My experience with Wave I, Discovery 2: Introduction to Focus 10

When I did this one, I once again really liked the experience of the mediation. It's hard to explain, but I feel like it was doing something. I did it before bed, but didn't fall asleep during the actual meditation. I felt great right after I'd finished. Super alert, chatty, and refreshed.

However, the next morning, I woke up and felt . . . kinda like shit? Sometimes, when I take melatonin (or too much CBD) before bed, I wake up feeling really dull, groggy, and slow the next day. I also get a weird sensation that's not quite a headache, but which feels almost like sinus congestion (but without the actual congestion). At any rate, because of that, I avoid melatonin. Luckily, after getting used to CBD, I now usually feel fine when I wake up.

Anyway, that's how I felt waking up the day after the Discovery 2: sluggish and weird, with a definite sense of pressure in my temples. The sensation lasted well into midday the next day.

So . . . I'm not totally sure what to think about that. The thing is, I really like the meditations while they're happening, and I think that if I keep with 'em, they'll be really helpful for my psychic development. (Something I've been wanting to improve for years, but haven't found a program or method that really suited me.)

Right now, I hope that I'll get used to the tapes the same way I got used to CBD, and that they'll stop causing me that gross "hangover" the next day. (Someone on reddit suggested doing grounding exercises afterwards, so maybe I'll try that?)

My experience with Wave I, Discovery 3: Advanced Focus 10

I've only done this one once, and I got a pretty strong sense that I wasn't quite ready for it. My plan is to go back to Intro to Focus 10 and do it a few more times.

But, yep, I felt groggy and off the next day.

Any benefits so far?

So far, here are the benefits I've seen since I started:

  1. LOTS of synchronicities. Maybe I shouldn't count synchronicities as a benefit, but I do, because I both enjoy synchronicities and tend to think they're a pat on the head saying "good job, you're going in the right direction." Though your mileage may vary.
  2. I've had more vivid dreams, and it's been much easier to remember my dreams. I suppose I should clarify that I already tend to have striking, extremely complex dreams. But I've remembered them in much more detail since starting these meditations. Several days, I waited hours to write them down, but still remembered them so well that I got tired of writing them down (after 4+ pages) and I left out some information, just to make taking notes more feasible.
  3. I've had a dream predict something that happened the following day. It wasn't a direct 1:1; the dream didn't tell me exactly what would happen. But a relative who I almost never dream about showed up in the dream. The next day, I wrote it down and thought it was strange. A few hours later, that relative was hospitalized. (Though they're doing a lot better now, thankfully!)


Those are my initial thoughts. Because of the "hangovers" I've been experiencing, I've pulled back slightly and haven't even attempted to do these daily. I'm aiming for a couple times per week right now.

So . . . we'll see what happens.

[^1]Which I learned about on some episodes of the Nonsense Bazaar podcast about remote viewing

[^2]I've only listened to it a few times, but so far, my favorite songs are "Lucid," "Memory" (ft. Begonia), and "Energy Vampire" (ft. DillanPonders).