Right now I’m going through a period where I have multiple stressors coming at me simultaneously, causing me to feel a little anxious about their outcome. It’s not a big deal – one of the benefits of surviving cancer is that nothing ever seems too catastrophic after that. But I’ve noticed this phenomenon with regards to my daily practice of TM that I find really interesting. When I am stressed out, I feel like I can’t quiet my mind, and of course that’s the whole point of meditating. What happens is this: I sit down and begin to focus on my mantra for a 20 minute session, and my mind is racing. Just a constant barrage of thoughts that I can’t seem to stop. I’m trying to focus on the mantra but it feels like a deluge of bullshit is drowning it out.
Now, 20 minutes is a long time to sit in what feels like this very un-peaceful state. But what happens is really fascinating: I end my session and realize I have gone longer than 20 minutes, and I feel very relaxed. So what is going on here? The short answer is that I really don’t know – but something is definitely happening on a deep level. What appears to be disorganized turmoil in my mind is clearly not what it seems. What it feels like is this: My mind is indeed in a state of turmoil and whatever state my brain goes into when I meditate is definitely overstimulated by stress. There are lots of thoughts that seem to be causing interference with my mantra – but they really aren’t. It’s hard to put into words, because the whole thing is happening on a level of consciousness that I don’t normally access. It’s really weird – I am completely awake and alert, but my brain seems to be processing information on a level where I am aware but not conscious. I am in a state that doesn’t feel peaceful and relaxing while I am doing it, yet when I finish that’s exactly the state I’m in.
When I am meditating it doesn’t feel like I have transcended to a deeper level of consciousness. But clearly that is what’s happening – I am watching this turmoil seemingly awake and alert, but I’m really not. What seems to be a conscious state isn’t. At the time it seems like I’m thinking and not in a meditative state at all, when in reality my mind is functioning on some deep sub-conscious level.
It’s a total mind fuck – with no drugs involved!