Section: Participating in the honors community
Disclaimer – While I would love to relay all possible information to you lovely individuals and will do the best I can without “spoiling” anything for future participants, this is exactly why some details regarding this event must stay under wraps. It will prevent self-fulfilling prophecy on the part of the next individuals to take part, and will keep intact the aspect of curiosity that makes anticipating the event so much more interesting.
Originally, I felt a little guilty signing up for this event, seeing as we (PDP -goers) were warned that it would be more beneficial for people who didn’t have experience with meditation. Especially since I’ve been taking to meditation more and more lately as a way to relieve stress and get back to the “now,” I didn’t know if I was going to get as much out of the experience as I did when I originally got the event approved by my T.A. (hi, Sarah). I couldn’t have been more wrong. I think that’s part of the ‘personal development’ that the project is trying to evoke.
The goal of the two-hour-long period in the NIRSA Room at the Student Activities Center on November 11 was to “alter one’s consciousness” by all “healthy, legal, and safe” means. In all honesty, if we can get the sort of results I’ll be describing without any sort of mind-altering intoxicant, I don’t see why more individuals aren’t hooked on well-organized meditation. I’ve come to the conclusion (and I have confirmed the perspective with other people) that my comfort zone is outside my comfort zone, and I was hoping that this activity would further my exploration of that un-comfort zone; in this endeavor, I was successful.
Okay, folks. Buckle up. This is where it gets freaky. Freaky-deaky. Fast forward from arriving at the NIRSA room (it was just a room labeled NIRSA – nothing special in it, save for a projector and lots of chairs taking up half of it) to yours truly lying on the ground and experiencing the Northern Lights with the most vibrant colors possible floating in front of her eyes. I saw wisps of smoke float to and fro in front of my corneas, and at one point, the smoke turned into a hawk and disappeared. I’m convinced that if I was in the Harry Potter universe, it would have counted as me discovering my Patronus.
During my time, well, altered, I also was convinced there was a man in the room chanting for a period of time, that there were birds chirping at points, and that sometime near the end of my ‘journey’ (as we called it) someone was jumping up and down on the floor because I swear my body jumped off the ground four times. As everyone had individual experiences based on a variety of personal factors, I can’t tell you what happened for all participants, but beaches were a common experience, as were the colors. I’m pretty sure another participant went into sleep paralysis after they described that they wanted to move their head but were physically unable to, while other people reported an inability to feel where their hands were or that their heads were being drawn to one side unconsciously.
I definitely gained an even broader appreciation for what both the conscious and subconscious mind is capable of through whatever the heck happened Thursday night. I found myself in a limbo between both most of the time, but I feel quite cautious of the phrase ‘altered consciousness’ because we’re always conscious at some level. While that’s a pretty sweeping statement with absolutely no explanation of what I mean, especially regarding situations with grey areas, I feel as though naturally controlling your own mind is something completely different than adding a foreign substance in order to introduce an altered state.
I’ll be exploring what caused this experience psychologically, and I’ve already ordered a room-darkening aide in order to help me recreate the environment I was in (thank you, math girls who gave each of participant in your study an Amazon gift card – you’re the real MVPs here). I was in an ungodly state of relaxation once this activity was over, and I’m definitely going to tweak and experiment with it to figure out how I can get the most out of it for my own personal gains. I want to explore my mind as it functions without my conscious apprehensions and judgements, as well as judge what happens when I do and analyze what situations contribute to what reactions.
Too long; didn’t read: THE HUMAN MIND IS INCREDIBLE AND WE UNDERESTIMATE WHAT WE CAN DO WITH IT.