June 20, 2010

Altered State of Mind

When I was aged about 9 or 10, I discovered I could do something that I later realised changed not only my perception of the world outside and inside me, it also altered my state of mind in the moment of it happening. Or was it me altering my state of mind that changed my perception of the world at that moment?

It was also something I brought with me when the family moved when I was 101/2. It was a familiar comfort amongst new and strange surroundings.

I would lie in bed staring at the closed curtains aglow with the last light of day or the light of the night-time world outside. I suppose it all started by going into a day-dream (a trance-like state in itself) and I realised the window seemed to be going further away from me and becoming smaller as it became more distant. At the same time I felt a sensation in my back teeth as though they had swelled like balloons and were now too big for my head but they were still inside my mouth. The sensation spread through my head to the rest of my body. My whole body began to feel larger as if I were growing or expanding.

So now I felt as though I was very large and the window was very far away. I knew it was an illusion and eventually I could switch quite quickly between seeing it 'normally' and seeing it in that strange circumstance again. I wasn't doing this consciously at first, it just started to happen. It was shortly after that I learnt I could induce the state of mind consciously.

Over time I learned that I could also bring about a 'double' state of seeing the window small and distant and feeling very large and of feeling that I was very, very, small and the window was very large, both at the same time.

I now realise that one of the first things I had to do to produce this effect was to still my mind. It was what had happened as a result of going into a day-dream state and now I found I could do it at will. I could fade out the chatter in my head as though I had walked into a large, quiet room and left all my thoughts outside with the door open. I was aware of things going through my head but could keep them at a distance. It was like reaching a point where everything stilled itself. I felt as though I was floating and had almost no feeling of lying in a bed. My whole being was poised on a pin-point. A breath either way and the experience would start to crumble. Sometimes I could get it back, sometimes I couldn’t.

In later life, when I investigated the delights and tortures of visualisation and meditation, I used similar techniques to the small boy in me to bring about the right state of mind.  It enabled me to gain the mental and physical poise required for the exercise in hand.

June 08, 2010

Life’s Truth?

"Everything is both simpler than we can imagine and more entangled than we can conceive."

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE (1749-1832)