A book of experiments to astonish yourself

I came across Roger-Pol Droit's Astonish Yourself at the Califonia Science Center museum shop about 10 years ago. I was attracted to its bright red and yellow cover. When I flipped through it, I was even more intrigued. It had 101 simple self-experiments designed to change your consciousness and to better understand yourself.

One of the experiments in the book challenges you to prolong the "Where am I?" experience people sometimes have when they wake up and it is still dark. Yesterday I woke up in a motel room and I didn't know where I was, who I was, how old I was, what kind of work I did, or where I lived. I felt the opposite of fear. I liked the experience of my life being an utter mystery to me. I knew that this was one of the experiments in Astonish Yourself, and I tried to prolong this mental state for as long as possible by not probing my mind. I was able to maintain the state for about 3o wonder-filled seconds before the facts fell into place.

Here is a list of the first 3o experiments in Droit's book:

1. Call yourself
2. Empty a word of its meaning
3. Look in vain for “I”
4. Make the world last twenty minutes
5. See the stars below you
6. See a landscape as a stretched canvas
7. Lose something and not know what
8. Recall where you were this morning
9. Hurt yourself briefly
10. Feel eternal
11. Telephone at random
12. Rediscover your room after a journey
13. Drink while urinating
14. Make a wall between your hands
15. Walk in the dark
16. Dream of all the places in the world
17. Peel an apple in your head
18. Visualize a pile of human organs
19. Imagine yourself high up
20. Imagine your imminent death
21. Try to measure existence
22. Count to a thousand
23. Dread the arrival of the bus
24. Run in a graveyard
25. Play the fool
26. Watch a woman at her window
27. Invent lives for yourself
28. Look at people from a moving car
29. Follow the movement of ants
30. Eat a nameless substance

In 2004, Droit wrote an article with instructions on how to conduct 10 self-experiments.

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