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Musings on Minds, Altered States on Consciousness, and Kink - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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April 6th, 2008

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02:08 pm - Musings on Minds, Altered States on Consciousness, and Kink
teaotter and I were talking about how our minds work and about minds and bodies in general. One difference between us that was immediately obvious was that she said that she trusts her body significantly more than her mind, and that most of her distrust of her mind is due to her occasional problems with depression. As I mentioned in this post about depression, I have no such issues and am exceedingly inclined to trust my mind, to the point that I have significant difficulty imagining not being able to do so – the entire concept seems very frightening. In vivid contrast, Becca generally trusts her body, while I most emphatically don't trust mine. While I definitely get sick significantly less than most people I know, it still happens, and I deeply resent it, in fact, I resent all physical limitations. Those limits, combined with the lack of an easily available, built-in readout on general and specific health and operating efficiency for my body, and the fact that without the sort of technological fixes that will hopefully be coming in the next 15-25 years, none of the damn things are good for more than a century, inclines me to have little faith in their general reliability.

Our conversation then drifted over to kink, and why I'm not particularly into it and why Becca has only a peripheral interest in it. I can definitely enjoy mild S&M and bondage (at least while being the active participant, for me, pain is universally a bad thing), but solely for the reason that it increases my partner's pleasure. However, given that there are many other ways to increase most people's pleasure and enjoyment, many of these methods are easier than most forms of BDSM, and I'm generally somewhat lazy, the appeal of most BDSM is rather limited. I don't object to it in any way, but if it requires too much effort or preparation, it honestly seems like too much work when easier and equally satisfactory methods are available.

The part of BDSM that I've never remotely understood is the aspect of it inducing altered states of consciousness. From what I've experienced, physical sensation simply doesn't do this for me at all – I don't get "pain highs", "runner's highs" or anything similar nor does simple physical input (other than the inputs produced by various hallucinogens) ever trigger any other sort of altered states of consciousness in me. I suppose it might be possible if I worked at it, but given that I can easily manage a mild trance state by meditating for a couple of minutes and deeper states through a variety of more lengthy but relatively easy means, to me at least, BDSM also seems like a great deal of trouble to do to in order to achieve an altered state of consciousness. In some physical or psychological fashion (and it's far from obvious that there is any good reason to separate these two idea) I'm either not wired for that sort of input, &/or I've never worked to learn how to do so, because I found various means that were easier for me.

Becca suggested that one of the major reasons that BDSM doesn't connect well for me is that I'm exceedingly apollonian in my approach to spirituality. I'm pleased that unlike many highly Apollonian people, I in no way dislike physicality and I can work with it, but I'm not inclined to trust it, and it's certainly not an important part of my spirituality (as is vividly reflected on the "ecstatic/solemn axis of this quiz).

In any case, thinking more about my own methods of learning to achieve various trance states and similar types of altered states of consciousness perhaps reveals a great deal about my own psychological idiosyncrasies. My facility with such things is in large part the result of 6 months of rigorous practice with self-hypnosis and similar simple meditation and visualization techniques that I did 17 years ago, shortly before I started training with my coven. It was a fair amount of work, but it also came exceptionally naturally to me and was fairly enjoyable. I also know that this sort of practice is not something many people I know would be remotely interested in. The first step involved lying down for 10 minutes or so every day and visualizing the same simple image (a glass [made of glass] holding a clear soda) for several weeks, until I could hold the image sufficiently well that I could move on to more complex visualization and meditation techniques. In any case, the book I used to learn most of this was Passages - A Guide for Pilgrims of the Mindby Marianne S. Andersen & Louis M. Savary, a basic guide to meditation and visualization written in 1972 that I found in a used bookstore in LA.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(9 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)

mind/body trust

For me, there is a melding of both mind and body. My body learns from my mind and learns how to phrase intuitions in ways my mind can grok.

For instance, I was craving watermellon, which is a big no-no for diabetics. I then learned that watermellon is rich in citrulline. Once I started taking citrulline daily, all watermellon cravings went away, and I need to urinate less frequently.

So I do research reading health related websites, scanning various alternative health e-lists, etc. then listen to my dreams, my intuition. I keep records of various supplement and diet experiments. So my mind and body are contantly giving feedback to the other.

For me, the learned partnership has been well worth the effort.
[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2008 10:33 pm (UTC)
I don't trust my mind or my body. They both lie to me to get their own way.
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
For myself, mind and body are inseparable, though I think the mind is more the gateway for trance states and the enjoyment of kink, for me, but the influence of the physical, the body, is equally strong.

Heh, and thinking about this, it's hard to separate the two, as a lot of my spiritual work of late has been kink oriented. I do have a developed body awareness--and the ability to shut it off, if I have to. (Coping with tension headaches develops pain management tactics REALLY fast.) Trance states have been reached via endorphin highs, repetition of sensation (flogging, tattoos, sexual intercourse), and via fasting. (This latter is NOT always a good thing and I have to be careful with it.) I have been known to start to trance during a tattoo (and one time start to fall asleep), and when it was over, come back completely recharged (and looking for sex. :)). At the same time, there might be a moment during a scene where the physical action itself isn't working, but say a word, appeal to my mental state, and BANG! We're off to the races!

What my anxiety has taught me, however, is that I have to be wary of how the mind interprets the emotions and sensations of and from the body, and vice versa. Chronic pain moments, when my shoulder acts up, or if I have an asthma attack, will induce the panic response--my brain can then go from there and cycle into some crazy thoughts, and that is very much an altered state, not always a good one, but one where physical triggers can be used to pull me back from it. (Brushing my hair and holding me, for one, to induce a more calming trance, rather than a panic-induced catatonia).

So I have to work sometimes to develop a way to monitor my mind/body boundaries, as both have a way of vast affecting my reality. I used to feel very bad that I wasn't a more "disciplined" practictioner--I didn't meditate daily, or so I thought. However, I am a highly internal person--I spend a lot of time in narratives in my own head, as it were, and my visualization has always been excellent. I daydream. In fact, for years, on commutes to work, I would go into a light trance and play out whatever narrative in my head I was currently working with/constructing daily, for years. I could, even for 5 minutes, enter light sleep or trances and wake up at work, having played out whatever course I was following in my head. I didn't realize until much later that that was probably the exact kind of training and discipline I needed to develop and I can still do it with ease. So, in some ways, I think I am a strangely disciplined ecstatic. :)

Mmm. Discipline. Yes, please. ;)

(Hope I made sense...speaking of being sleep deprived....)

[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 04:25 am (UTC)
To me, pain play is a way of training mind and body to a more encompassing state of being. I am rather a hedonist, and for me, pain is hedonism beyond comfort, which may sound paradoxical, but I am drawn to rarified experiences. To me, both mind and body need to be disciplined. To me, moving past pleasure or pain, past desire or aversion, is a purifying experience. I can do sitting meditation, successfully, but truly I find it a bit boring as a lifestyle choice. I prefer the delectation of an organismic state of being. Because human beings are defined to a great extent by our limitations, I find satisfaction in experiencing those boundaries.
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 06:53 am (UTC)

Unrelated to your post

I'm not sure if it's just that I have been out more lately, but I think I've seen you several times in my neighborhood around SE 28th & Pine in the last week or two. True? I didn't want to say hi because it's been long enough since we met that I wasn't positive that it was you. If so, I will say hi next time :)
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 07:24 am (UTC)

Re: Unrelated to your post

That was almost certainly me, I live quite near there and regularly walk down 28th. Definitely say hi.
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
I'm generally somewhat lazy, the appeal of most BDSM is rather limited. I don't object to it in any way, but if it requires too much effort or preparation, it honestly seems like too much work when easier and equally satisfactory methods are available.

*chuckle* So very true of why BDSM is relatively infrequent in my life, even though I enjoy it immensely when I happen to be in the mood and motivated.
[User Picture]
Date:April 7th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
Depending on the situation I sometimes finds my mind either extremely reliable or extremely not. For me, the two act as one. Physical limitations annoy me a lot, I do not really feel like I have mental limitations. I seem to be transitioning from trusting neither, to trusting both. In my universe it is always a matter of balance of the extremes more than anything else.

BDSM does very little for me overall, but some subsets of it can be entertaining on occasion.
[User Picture]
Date:April 8th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
IMHO, the whole shebangabang's quantum. Body, mind, fish.

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