In episode forty-two of Thoughts, I expand on my previous episode: Reality, by going over the many forms our mind can take in regard to painting our reality. Enjoy!
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.
In episode twenty-eight of Thoughts, I talk about the follies of consciousness and what we do with our understanding of them. Enjoy!
There will be people that can argue to a good point that human consciousness is a part of evolution, but my intuition says it just ain’t! Hence my title: The Follies of Consciousness. First, what is consciousness? Consciousness is the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world. In shorter words; self-awareness. I am of the strong belief that human consciousness happened by mistake.
I think evolution, as a process barreling forward with whatever it got, sharpened our ancestors social game and mathematical problem solving to a point where we started knowing it was us in a river’s reflection. I think it happened as a side effect of making us so smart. What started with cognitive growth for survival’s sake, like the ability to plan for the future, morphed into contemplation about why we’re even here.
Here are some examples of follies of consciousness. 1) Suicide. Suicide does not help our survival, so clearly that wasn’t programmed into us by evolution. It’s a disorder of the mind when looking inward and forward, and not wanting to live anymore. 2) Obsession. Wouldn’t it be easier to distribute our DNA if we didn’t care about which mate we did it with? What about workaholics that literally work themselves to death from a lack of sleep and nutrition? Jealousy and fixation are another example of defects of consciousness that holds no survival advantage. Paying attention does but not at such high levels. And lastly 3) Religiosity. Fanatics do wacky shit. They’ll dance like they’re being possessed by the holy spirit just because some dude with a microphone is swinging his arms. Old people will stop taking their medication because some fraud said Jesus is with them and will heal them. Young virgin boys with rage issues get sucked into believing the end of the world is coming and join ISIS to partake in a holy war.
In general, depression and anxiety are like really crappy side effects of being smart. You get the best brains on Earth but it comes with this baggage. We can let it tear us down, or we can use these faults to excel us forward. That’s the great thing about where we’re at as a society now. 100 years ago if you wanted to talk about your anxiety you’d just be called weak. Now, we’ve done the research and realize it’s something we’re all going through and ought to help each other out with it to be our best selves. Being self-aware of the follies of being self-aware is a step in the right direction. It allows one to course correct whenever finding oneself descending into despair. It can be the thing we use as motivation to keep working, keep striving, and vent about on the weekends.
I’ve always been a palm-sweater, prone to silence in frantic situations. I clam up. But instead of me accepting or being owned by these defects, I learn what causes them and work on either avoiding those situations or teaching myself to lessen the impact it has on me. The fact that we are self-aware is the luckiest luck a living creature could hope to have on this planet, but it doesn’t come without cost. We must all learn to cope with our defects and continue to help each other out when needed. Thank you for reading dear viewers. I love you, and I’ll you next time.