The thing that gets most people in trouble, is their strategy for changing their state.
Changing your state is not simply a nicety or luxury, it is as important as survival needs like food, water, sex and shelter. In fact in some cases, people will give up even these basic human needs including risking life itself, for that all important: change of state.
What is a change of state?
It is more than just a change in mood, although that is part of it.
It is a desire to change the experience. And ultimately, change the channel on consciousness.
Change of state means going from point A of conscious experience to point B. And sometimes eliminating conscious experience altogether through sleep, deep meditation or drugs.
What are other examples of changing state?
It is the lovers, sitting on a bench, gazing into each others eyes
It is eating food not because you are hungry but because you are craving some other kind of stimulation.
It is the world traveler hungry to experience a new culture
It is playing your favorite sport
It is engaging in your favorite hobby
It is watching a movie or television or a stupid YouTube video
It is drinking alcohol and smoking pot or any number of substance induced state changes
It is speaking from a stage, creating art, or engaging infinite variety of passions
It is the process of attraction, dating or having sex
It is skydiving, it is deep-sea diving, it is the explorer in the mountains
It is the daredevil flying a plane under a bridge or any number of risk taking activities
It is physical activity like walking, running or extreme
It is going to a new place
It is moving into that new home, or buying that new car or wardrobe
Its connecting with friends or family
All state change is preceded by the idea: “I NEED to experience something different from where I am at THIS MOMENT”
Now here’s where it gets interesting.. We have been taught, through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for example: that humans start out with basic survival needs and once those needs are taken care of, needs shift upwards in an orderly fashion, to security, status and eventually all the way to self-realization and self-transcendence . While on some level human needs do evolve as they get met, it is not always so linear. In fact it has been my observation that some humans NEED to simply experience a change state, even if it their approach contradicts some of their more basic human needs.
Look at the celebrity or politician that is willing to sacrifice their position, status, and security of a good family, to change his state in a love affair. Or the drug addict that is willing to give up food, water and shelter for the high he gets off the crack pipe.
We are all under the influence of the need to change state. And our strategies for doing so ultimately dictate the habits we form, the risks we take and the kind of lives that we live.
The need for changing our states also has a built in self-correcting mechanism. As long as we don’t kill or permanently damage ourselves in trying to change our state, we will try something else. We will keep moving up the ladder from a level 1 experience to a level 10 , as long as we do not settle for 2 because its better than 1, and or adopt the belief that we have no other options.
I believe this core need (to change state) is often overlooked because ‘change’ is like the water that fish swim in. We hardly notice it because it is always there. The need for changing your state can occur many times in a single hour. And with the advances of things like civilization, free markets, internet and technology, the number of options available to us has grown significantly.
In todays age, our brain is on stimulation overdrive.. Fortunately our brains require sleep otherwise the wheel of thought would be in constant motion.
But as soon as they wake up.. the wheel starts picking up speed again. The only way to slow this wheel down consciously and take back control of the brain is through meditation, in fact with the onslaught of mental stimulation from the external environment, this strategy is becoming more essential than ever to preserve mental health.
Meditation allows you to slow the wheel of thought down and observe them, and re-choose where you want to be rather than get caught in the chaos at the surface. It is the equivalent of a mental reset button.
And if meditation is the answer for the mind, exercise is the answer for the body.
If you have tried to meditate and failed to slow the wheel of thought down, its likely because your body needed to burn out the excess energy accumulated in the muscles through adrenaline caused by a ‘fight or flight’ response triggered by the threats or overwhelm of daily living. The muscles are literally prepared to fight or run as an instinct from earlier times when our ancestors were under real physical threat, and so this tension in the muscles NEEDS a proper outlet if you hope to restore balance in the system.
– The need for changing your state can sometimes grow stronger than basic survival needs
– Your need to change your state, happens rapidly throughout the day
– Your strategies for changing your state will determine the consequences in your life (positive or negative)
– the best strategies like meditation and exercise not only serve your short term needs to change state, but also strengthen you and serve your best long term interests as well.
– taking a short cut to change your state quickly without assessing the risks both short-term and long-term is impulsive and foolish
1 – Be aware of your NEED to change state. If you aren’t prepared to make big necessary changes, your brain often seeks a variety of distractions to change your state in small ways.
2 – Develop a list of high value activities that help you raise the energy or at least reset your mind and body – and make them your go-to default when you experience that need for a shift.
3- Notice any unhealthy routines that are your current ‘go-to’ solutions for changing your state, that do not really serve your or others best interest. Refer back to points 1 and 2.
– Create and condition a high value routine to experience positive state changes all day long!
– Be prepared to make the big shifts when necessary, so you do not get swallowed up in distraction or riskier behavior as a coping mechanism.