Altered States of Consciousness
by Marcus Antebi
Article at a Glance:
Intelligent creatures move, wriggle, squirm, walk, run, and cling to whatever makes them feel better. We are drawn to feeling pleasure and comfort and we avoid pain and discomfort under normal circumstances. But we as humans are very complicated. We can confuse things that make us struggle and suffer with things that make us feel comfortable. It's puzzling how we do that throughout our lives and do so unknowingly for the most part.
When we are in a state of consciousness that brings us discomfort, we look for a way to alter that state. Of course basic necessities such as drinking water, sleep, food, companionship, and entertainment provide some degrees of comfort.
We should understand that every action we take is an attempt to improve our state of consciousness for the better. Things that we might not ordinarily think of as consciousness altering experiences are exactly that: Scenery, new sounds, new touch sensations, and new stimulations of various kinds bring us from one state of consciousness to another.
Boredom is a very bad experience for an intelligent creature. We do many things as humans to keep us from becoming bored. We need entertainment and we need culture, no matter how small or primitive our society might be.
We will do whatever makes us feel good throughout our lives. If we're in the wrong state of mind and we pick up something like smoking to make us feel better, we’ll do it over and over. We so crave to feel better, get a buzz, get a thrill, get a rush, be stimulated, or be brought down that we’ll do whatever it takes to repeat the experience again and again. And we’ll do so no matter what the negative side effects might be.
This is the nature of the anxious, struggling mind. It will seek pleasure regardless of the consequences. We need to become aware of this pattern. We must face up to the fact that we've been habitually doing things that don't serve us well although we convince ourselves that they do. Only when we come to this realization can we begin to conquer our addictions and mental and emotional problems.