States of Mind

July 13, 2012

I was high once–actually I was high several times; that’s not the point–on this occasion I was considering consciousness preference. Just as an individual prefers certain emotions, he prefers certain states of mind. Some people like the surreal, time-distorted, dissociative experience of being high, while others prefer clear-minded thinking, crisp rationality and cold showers. There are advantages to both. Clear minded thinking is clearly advantageous to avoiding wasting time, developing acuity of perception, staying strong, coping with reality, being alert and engaged in experience. I won’t do anything to dull my mind. However, the latter state of mind brings an opportunity for coping under different conditions. I don’t necessarily mean drugs. The strung-out feeling after a night without rest, writing a paper, is a thing of its own. The light buzz and unoiled bones. The lack of mental agility replaced with an awareness of the coldness of morning air, absorbing the present with a relaxed mind sensing something concrete but difficult to define. Perhaps that doesn’t fit into either category. Nonetheless, it’s a different state of being and thinking. And different states offer different benefits.

My experiences with certain drugs have invited self progression because of the states they put the brain in.  The surrealistic feeling is enjoyable the way exploring the woods is. But it also brings you to confront your own slowed down or dissociated, fragmented mind. It removes you from the familiar and comfortable; your thought process is temporarily changed. You perceive differently. A defining distinction between sobriety and a trip is the loss of control. Control is critical but dealing with the loss of control paradoxically develops greater control over emotion. The more I’ve thought about the experiences and researched their effects I’ve become convinced psychedelics and marijuana are potentially invaluable in moderation. Moreover, some drugs can pacify or suspend mental conditioning. This isn’t from mental damage, it’s from changing the wiring of your brain so you think in a way you wouldn’t sober, and later question why you thought as you did high and why you do as you do sober. More on that later.

I’ve also been considering the difference between a person lost in thought, “off somewhere else”, and a person highly conscious of his surroundings, observing and perceiving. You can look see the difference in their current dispositions. The one lost in thought usually stares at a point, not intently, but as though she were looking through it at something else. If another speaks to her, it’s as if she’s being shaken out of something and readjusting her mind to the outside world in that brief moment she transitions from thought to the person talking to her. The other one is observing people, the environment; he investigates the things they notice and the things they don’t.

I’m thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of these different modes of consciousness. Sometimes, around other people absorbed in the moment of their present experience or alone, I think of all the world’s other people absorbed in their own lives and perceiving so little.  It not only brings a sense of being lost in the crowd but reminds me how unaware people are, what a thin sliver of space and time they can handle thinking about at one time. Lost in thought or observing–however long the distinction between the two can last–any individual knows only a foam bubble in an Atlantic of knowledge. I wonder if God studies men like people try to dissect the minds of other people. Maybe he finds it fascinating how much I don’t know and how unaware I am of how much that is. I can only work with what I have. To learn by analyzing requires becoming immersed in thought but to be aware means to learn by observing. Both are necessary.

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