Imagine your brain to be like a forest.
As you walk through it for the first time you could go in any direction, and each direction you go in represents a thought. We all have about 60–80k thoughts a day, and over time, repeated thoughts become patterns or deeply trodden pathways in the forest of your mind.
The neuroscience bit: The neurons that fire together bind together, which is why we can become so entrenched in our thinking, set in our ways or see repeated patterns. Nearly 80% of our thoughts are the SAME thoughts we had yesterday, and will probably be the same thoughts we’ll have tomorrow.
By cultivating a practice of meditation, we learn how to tune into the space that exists in between our thoughts, sometimes referred to as The Gap. You could think of The Gap as the space in between the pathways, allowing us to visit the area outside the lines of our conditioned mind: this is the field of infinite possibilities where we remember/find our essence self.
Over time, the practice of meditation gives us the ability to experience those pathways objectively, see them with a bit of perspective when we’re off the mat, in our day to day lives. It gives us the ability to float above them, such that we can still choose to follow them if we wish, but we can also choose to go another way with grace and ease, without getting stuck in the same rut. We are controlling our thoughts, not allowing our thoughts to control us.
I also like to think of meditation like fresh snowfall that has fallen on the ground, covering up the pathways, a blanket covering and allowing us to start again, to go in any direction. Allowing us to forge and tread new paths that are free from conditioning, free from patterned behaviour, blocks or limiting beliefs, reopening to infinite possibilities.
As T. S. Elliot so eloquently put it:
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
The same can be said for psychedelics, especially in the treatment of PTSD — they allow the experiencer the opportunity to experience their entrenched pathway, be it fear or trauma, from a safe and objective distance. This allows them to climb out of their deeply entrenched fear or trauma to forge new pathways in the fresh snow or unexplored forest.
Never stop exploring, and I’ll see you in The Gap.