Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mind Over Matter: The Power of Belief

EN 301: Writing Process—Theory and Practice
Essay 1: Autobiography
31 January 2008
Revised 19 February 2008

Mind Over Matter: The Power of Belief

A baby often isn’t considered conceived until it attaches itself to the uterine wall to become an embryo. Keep this in mind. I used to smoke this drug called Salvia, where I would lie on my back, close my eyes, and as I exhaled, I would feel my body being intertwined with whatever it was I was lying on. My actual self, my mind and soul went elsewhere. It was almost as if my body was changing form to adapt to the surroundings as my mind and soul perceived a parallel universe. With my body firmly planted into the ground, I grew twenty feet into the air, as well as some arms. I had become a tree, and spread my new branches (which felt like arms) outward in a Y formation, and smaller branches grew from my arms; shoots and leaves budded from the branches. With a bright smile, I was beaming and soaking in the summer sunlight. All my trips has the similar feeling of having gravity push and mold my body so attached to whatever it was lying on, be it a wicker chair, the trunk of a tree, or a leather car seat, as I watched the world around me as a kind of different dimension.

Once, my skin dissolved and my atoms were little people. Another time, I had parked my car in a field, and, as I exhaled, the car seat turned into a shell and I became a crab. Another time, when I was on the computer, I helplessly was being dragged by a shifting wheel and my face felt like it was being trampled upon by a million caterpillar feet, and the World Wide Web had a spider in the center of it which had the face of the evil princess in Sleeping Beauty. Each time, I felt as though I had died and my outer shell had gone back to earth and my spirit reconnected the land of limitless energy, kind of like a dream world that was already set in place while my eyes were still closed. The dream world would still contain certain elements of my surroundings; it retained the time of day and the colors and sometimes even most of the objects around me. But my body was being pushed by gravity to stay on earth and not join the place of the dead entirely. Once I could see my mind- It was a fertile soil, my thoughts, seeds that sprouted and grew as I formulated them. When I finally realized the thought, and said it out loud, it peaked out of the soil and bloomed.

To connect this to the conception metaphor above, I felt as if I were being attached to some sort of uterine wall, but since the high was temporary, I was not reborn into another world. But I almost did. I entered the womb of death and its imagery was a consequence both of my beliefs in the circle of life (that my body will return to earth from which it came and turn into nature) and my belief of the continued life of consciousness after death. I had no belief in God at this point in my life except a metaphysical God- an inherent spirituality in nature that all life forms are connected to, and this belief played a direct role in what I perceived in the trips from this ancient Mayan spiritual plant called Salvia. Also playing roles in these hallucinations were my fears, and desires- what I saw was all recognizable in the context of things important and specific to my life. I recognized motion with my eyes open, the kind of motion that goes on without us being aware of- the motion of atoms, of invisible electricity, of auras; and this motion took forms of archetypes that I began interacting with. I’ll never forget the stars in the sky moving and turning into a dramatic Native American dance. And it was as if my friends and everything else surrounding me blended with this energy, probably by way of tricks of my unconscious imagination. Once, my friends turned into colorful monsters like the ones in the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are; other times they turned into trees or animals. I will never forget the feeling, though, of something I had never felt before- the motion of the earth- that feeling of revolving slowly, or flowing as a river current, or growing up from the ground. The revolving and growing feeling have happened to us, we just don’t feel it because the change is so subtle and slowly gradual that it is unconscious. And some of us do drift downstream, just going with the flow. But to literally feel all of this at a sped-up pace, with my eyes open to take in the world in a new light, only confirmed my beliefs in the soul’s harmony with nature and ability to transcend conscious death. How my personal feelings and experiences in life affected this out-of-body and near-death experience, I realized was inevitable.

Around this time in my life, I took a huge bong hit and started coughing and gasping for breath. About a couple minutes of this and I was sure I was choking to death, not realizing that coughing is just Mother Nature’s way of telling you there is a serious problem and is not the same as choking. Then something happened. I don’t know if I had stopped coughing and was fully choking now or if I was still coughing, but I saw something that did not cast a shadow over the ground. It was a blurry line, spiraling to form the shape of a circle, and it was right in front of my very eyes. “The circle of life,” I thought to myself. Eventually, I got my breath back, but I never forgot what I saw as a non-drug induced hallucination (bong hits from pot do not make me hallucinate) as a result of a near-death experience. I am still not sure what that circle was. Was it a spiral ready to take me away to transport my spirit somewhere else, like a tunnel my spirit could fly into? I developed a sense of comfort and well-being in this difficult time of my life, a time full of insecurities, drug problems, home relocation and identity confusion. I was not afraid of death, because these experiences confirmed, in my mind, that death would be only the end of one stage of existence, like an embryo that will turn into a fetus and be reborn. My theory is that while everyone will not see what I see when they die, the feeling will be the same. There will be an overall theme of rebirth, but the forms in which this takes place will depend upon the individual’s spiritual beliefs.

The following I learned from a movie called Waking Life. When we die, we have seven to ten minutes of brain activity. Keep that in mind. Now, when we go to sleep, our brain drops a tiny bit of dreaming fluid into our brains to satisfy us for the whole dreaming period during REM (rapid-eye movement sleep). You ever notice how when you wake up in the morning and fall back asleep, the dreams are long and intricate? But you wake up and only two minutes have gone past! Your energy seems to have surpassed space-time perceptions. (Or maybe it is our mortal lives that produce the illusion of limited energy…) When you die, all of that fluid gets released into your brain. If one drop of the fluid can sustain you for a night’s worth of dreams, then think about the effects of the whole shebang! Seven to ten minutes of such an influx of this power could determine your next life as you chose to interact with it.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross worked at a hospital and recounted instances of people
who have died and been resuscitated. Some people saw the face of God, some Buddha, some the face of Jesus- it depended upon their religious beliefs. People who committed suicide, though, saw nothing. This suggests that life and death are a natural cycle and we should not mess with it. It also suggests that ones beliefs shape their destiny. I take for granted that our beliefs shape our reality. We know that people with an internal locus of control, people who don’t feel at the mercy of persons, places and events, accomplish more things because they believe they are at least somewhat in control of their lives. Also, a person in a bad mood all the time will walk around all day and only see the bad things in life and use it to support his pessimistic outlook on life. A person with a good attitude will see the beauty in everyday life, and can experience sacred things every day because of it. Also, people look at the same thing and see different things. It’s because of how they orient their lives by what they choose to belief and what their intentions are that they do so. Your beliefs become the lenses in which you perceive the world. It’s the difference between seeing different opportunities to arise from objects and events. A car accident to a driver is bad, but to a lawyer is his or her next meal. A crop is an asset to a real estate dealer or politician but a symbol of fertilization and cycles to a poet. That overly ripe banana is trash to the well-off, but a meal for a hobo. Darkness is full of monsters to a child but is only shadows to an adult. Even in the auditory senses, two people can interpret what someone is saying is based on their separate beliefs about that person and one person might get offended while the other might take it lightly. Sometimes when people say things to me, I hear something completely different but it makes sense to me. All this, to me, has become my common sense understanding of why believing is seeing, and, just like my theory, I find things to back this up all the time.

The power of belief is so strong that it goes hand in hand with the idea of mind over matter. I believe that blind faith gets us through life, because nothing in life is certain, so we all have to have at least a little faith that life is not all terrible or else we would have killed ourselves long ago. We take so much for granted on faith- probably 90 % of what we believe is just us accepting what other people tell us without researching their facts. But things such as convictions and prayers added to our faith can only help make it stronger and more focused. This faith can be used to summon adrenaline and perform acts of superhuman strength. We hear the legends of people lifting cars to save children. Maybe they got an aneurism afterwards, because I’m not saying that they were able to transcend the impossible without physical consequences. Some people, such as Neal Donald Walsch, even believe we can alter matter with our minds if we become masters, that is, if we train we can become ready to use our mental to defy the physical. The basic principle of Einstein’s E=MC2 formula is that it proved energy and matter are interchangeable, which might explain why dreams and hallucinations might just be physical manifestations (matter) of our unconscious fears and desires (energy). The ability to use telekinesis and read other people’s energies is said by some to be within everyone’s capability. All of this supports my mind over matter theory, but there is also physical proof of mind over matter.

My dad worked as a hospital equipment salesman. He constantly delivered equipment to institutions that housed “special people,” who possess what is crudely referred to as “retard strength”. There were these metal bars on the windows at this one place that were just pulled apart. The tables and chairs are permanently fused into the floor and are too heavy for any normal person to lift. These people kept in these hospitals can pick them up and throw them around like rag dolls. They are perfect examples of mind over matter where all the energy and strength is focused into completing one seemingly impossible task.

When we are kids, we summon monsters and Santa and fairies into existence using our beliefs, which are, at the time, so mixed with fantasy that the two get confused. Our fears, our hopes, and the mysteries of life manifest themselves into mythical creatures that we interact with, regardless of their physical existence. Our imaginations run wild and butterflies might be seen as fairies and that tickle on the back our neck late at night was a monster. Carl Jung is the famous psychologist talks about this in greater detail, and some books fuse together Jungian archetypes with Hinduism and Buddhism to explain our unconscious and subconscious thoughts- all those thoughts going on inside of us that we are unaware of on the physical, causal plane (the causal plane being that objective world we live in on a day-to-day basis). These unconscious fears and desires that are hard-wired into our system and manifest themselves as archetypes in nature, causing us as a society to feel certain ways about certain things. But we can try to disconnect ourselves from these feelings. You can stop believing in fairies or Santa or God, and they will disappear. People in life will demand you to accept their intolerance of the imagination- “grow up! Life is just hard fact and supernatural occurrences are kids stuff!” And yet we all live and die by illusions- we take so much of what we believe not only on faith but also by our limited perceptions and our speculations that come as a result from them. Existentialists also explain this quite well: “Life is what you make it- it has no meaning other than the one you give it”. They go into greater detail, but it is the sum of all their philosophy. My mom taught me that people have the ability to tap into a kind of spirit-world where the fantastic and mundane mix: children are very susceptible to contact with the paranormal, as well as sleepers, daydreamers, and open-minded people. It is all summed up beautifully in the Spanish-language film The Orphanage: “Seeing is not believing. It is the other way around. Believe, and you will see.”

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