Thoughts

States of Consciousness

When I put together my visualized Thoughts piece: Reality, (that you may or may not have seen yet depending on when you’re reading this,) I used psychedelic visuals to start the video, yet at no point did I talk about the mind in that altered state, only that hallucinations are to be taken with care… and I feel like I left a hole in the subject of reality un-talked about. As we all know, whether we’ve had a psychedelic experience or not, it makes you think differently about the world. I continued pondering upon this until I got to a place where it just felt necessary to cover different states of consciousness entirely in their own piece! Hence, we are here.

We all know there are different states of experience. You could be sleepy, or fully awake! These fields of sensation aren’t just feelings, they are lenses with which our minds filter reality. Think of a glass slide in your brain switching every so often, unbeknownst to you. A bowl of tomato soup is just a bowl of tomato soup, but to one person it could be seen as something delicious, and to another something disgusting. A baby could find a car ride the most exciting thing in the world, and the parent could be in a state of frantic impatience.

These different states, to me, give us a proper look into our own mind. Whether these states change over time is irrelevant, what matters is our understanding of them in us. We have the above mentioned: sleepy, awake, delicious, disgusted, excited, and impatient; but what other states can we be in as humans? We can be happy, sad, angry, lethargic, twitchy, depressed, manic, hysteric, calm, confident, anxious, curious, lucid, livid, distracted, melancholic, tempered, or alarmed.

I know a lot of you might be thinking, ‘feelings aren’t states of consciousness,’ but I would say that feelings are what we experience the most, regardless of whether we’re aware of their colouring effect over our perception or not, and that makes them valid as states. Now, with all that said, this assessment is just my personal take on the topic. When I googled ‘States of Consciousness’ I got many different responses.

It seems a large number of new parents wondered why their babies smiled in their sleep, before showing any other forms of self-awareness, and WebMD’s response was this: “Often newborns will smile in their sleep. Sometimes a smile in the early weeks of life is simply a sign that your little bundle is passing gas. But starting between 6 and 8 weeks of life, babies develop a “social smile” — an intentional gesture of warmth meant just for you.” Ain’t that sweet? 🙂

Most other responses to the general query of ‘States of Consciousness’ gave me two, three, four, or six stages of consciousness revolving around wakefulness to a deep, dreamless sleep. While this field of scientific study is entirely valid in its own right, it wasn’t what I was looking for. The word conscious clearly has two meanings; there is the prior ‘wakefulness’, then there is having ‘perception’. So with that in mind, the final general response I got was what I was really looking for: higher consciousness, found through mindfulness. So now what is the state of higher consciousness? Plainly, it is the momentary state of being conscious you are conscious, and being entirely dispelled of the illusion of separation from yourself and the world.

This place of enlightenment or higher consciousness is very temporary. If one trains through meditation to reach it, it can take months or even years to get to a place where you reach the state of ‘oneness’ for more than a few seconds. Other methods of reaching this state are by consuming a combination of chemicals that change your neurological system. Some notable chemicals are DMT, LSD, ketamine, psilocybin, and mescaline. Once consumed, these drugs alter your brain chemistry and, with variation, rip away your sense of time, your labeling of objects, give you unbounded love to anyone in your vicinity, hallucinate objects or your entire environment, alter your thought process to give your a different understanding of prior beliefs, and so on.

This higher state of consciousness is not our default by any means, and one can argue that many people go their whole life without reaching it. Though it can be thrust upon someone without any drugs, meditation, or warning, like in the middle of a hike, it can also never happen at all. That can seem like a tragedy to those that have reached a higher state and understand its importance of impact on perspective, but each person must live their own life, however bounded by their own limitations in this regard. We all go through different states, whether we are aware of it or not. It is always happening multiple times a day, and it is up to us to recognize that and do our best to direct ourselves to the best possible state we can be in for both ourselves and others (Through patience, communication, and love.)

Thank you again as always for reading. I love you all and appreciate your time, and remember, to keep on thinking. Goodbye.

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