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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Better Than Christmas

Although this post starts as tragic story, it doesn't end that way. It's about how to shift consciousness.

My interest in consciousness began as a means to deal with grief from a parent death as a teen. Coming out of a lonely two years when I had assumed that denial was my only option, (grief counseling did not yet exist) I happened to make friends with a girl who lived just a few doors away in my neighborhood. She and I were merely circumstantial loners craving friendly companionship.
Summer vacation of 1967 started, and we were free to do anything we wanted - such as camp in her back yard where we could talk and giggle all night. At dawn, my best friend had gone into the house to dry her dew-covered socks she'd left outside the tent, and I dozed briefly. When she returned, I awoke...but I awoke in a very different and more complete way than I'd ever felt before.
Even though I had never done mind-altering drugs, I was in a state that was aptly described by the songs of the late 1960s – a psychedelic, mind-altered state. Yes, it was a bit like being in love, even though there was no lover in the picture.
The state seemed to be contagious as I described what I was seeing to my best friend. We walked around looking at everything. The intensity of all colors and sounds were magnified in the overcast morning light and silence. It was a “state of grace.” One thing that was affected is that I could run for as long as I wanted merely for the joy of moving without getting tired or winded. But there were many other strange effects that we noticed, (probably because we were paying attention.)
This state really got my attention, even though it only lasted for an hour or so the first time. It ended up happening again and again in a sustained way over fifty times over a period of the next three years. I made many observations about its nature as a state of mind, what evoked it into happening and what made it end. At one point, I stayed in this expanded consciousness state for four solid days. (No, I'd never done psychedelics, I'd only heard Beatle songs about it.) The two of us seemed to “catch” this “flow-state” from each other when one of us would shift into it.

I'm telling you this story for a reason. Strangely enough, we devised a curious way to circumstantially evoke this “inspirational state” that I'd like to share with you. 

We would choose an exciting event that usually involved travel, such as a concert or a road trip or visiting an out-of-town friend. While doing the practical planning for being able to attend, (since we were broke teens, it usually involved the work of returning recycling to get the seed money) we would entertain each other by discussing at length "what might happen.” The more specific we could be about this blow-by-blow fantasy of ours, the better the later effect. We imagined who would say what to whom in exhausting detail as if we were novelists writing dialog. Everything was productive at this stage to exercise our imagination with free rein. It was better than anticipating Christmas day as a kid!

Then eventually the day of the event would arrive. But we did not merely try to fulfill our expectations. We suspended them! Meaning, we completely surrendered all the investment we put into spelling out what might happen. We had learned that what was going to happen would never be the same as what we had imagined. In a sense, we knew our experience was going to be better because it would be real.
The important point is the suspending and surrendering left us able to pay attention to what was really happening. The advantage of paying attention meant to us at that time that our recall of the specifics of replay would give us endless value. Talking about what had happened was just as much of a fun thing to re-experience as the experience itself.

But the strange by-product of suspension was its effect on our consciousness. By giving us a huge motivation to pay attention, we got a bonus. Our attention and the ability we had to influence it became magnified. In a sense, we practiced using our attention by being able to suspend it deliberately. The curious thing was that it worked in spite of the fact that we did it as an exciting pleasure. The curious part was our actions really had all of the characteristics of a religious discipline such as a Koan. In a way, we had created a Koan that had the ability to catapult us into another state of being.

You might want to try it to see if this means to raise your consciousness works this way for you, even though it requires having a companion. For me, writing or talking to myself about the intricate details of specific fantasies anticipating what "might happen" just doesn't work the same way.

Get back to me about this - I'm curious if this process will work for others!