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Friday, June 3,2011

Alcohol, Drugs, Medication & Meditation

By Cary Bayer  
A good friend of mine, who was one of the sharpest m i n d s e v e r t o b e graduated from Yale University, used to smoke marijuana regularly. If the previous sentence makes you think that he lit up a joint every day it would be misleading— he lit one up every few hours. I used to joke that he probably should have arranged for an IV drip to administer the cannabis directly into his bloodstream.

Cathy Jenn is a senior citizen in my condo in south Florida, who I see in the gym a lot. She works out as religiously as my friend used to smoke—every day for three hours, including weights, elliptical, swimming, rollerblading, climbing seven flights of stairs several times a day, and walking--all to burn off additional calories. She does all this, in part, so that the two martinis she has every night before dinner doesn’t put on any weight. Those two stiff drinks are as important to her as the joints were to my friend. They both had a strong desire to change their consciousness.

Changing the state of consciousness is a deeply human impulse. It has led Native Americans to ingest peyote buttons even though it often made them so sick to their stomachs that they vomited their guts out. Centuries ago the Greeks worshipped Dionysus, the god of wine.

The desire to change consciousness has also led countless millions to beer, wine, and whiskey. Many of these people were unable to control such potent substances, and found their lives spiral out of control as they plummeted into alcoholism. Many hippies ingested LSD, even though they knew there was a risk of flipping out and losing their minds. Many others experimented with the more lethal heroin, which didn’t take their minds, but did take some lives. That’s how powerful the urge is to change consciousness.

Today, there exist legalized ways of changing consciousness and taking the edge off life, through the doctor’s prescription pad, albeit with side-effects that take up half a commercial. Medicating away anxiety seems to be a national pastime.

It’s time that meditating away anxiety replaces this dangerous trend. Just weeks ago, I taught Higher Self Meditation to a woman i n P o m p a n o B e a c h w h o , unbeknownst to me, had a habit of drinking six cans of Coca-Cola every day. While the people in Atlanta who churn out the stuff were, no doubt, thrilled, her digestive system and blood sugar levels were hardly happy with all that sugar and caffeine swirling around her blood every few hours. I mention this woman because, on the second day of her experience with Higher Self Meditation, she told me that she had given up her soda. Quit it cold turkey—or ice cold Coke—to be more precise. Within 10 days she had reduced her coffee, as well. It wasn’t a requirement of this meditation that led her to give up caffeine and Coke; it was just that she was changing her consciousness in a sweeter way than the sugar in Coke, and in a more natural and higher way than all the additives in her drinks could provide. And without a single side effect. Actually, that’s not true: there are side-effects to adopting a stress management technique like Higher Self Meditation or Transcendental Meditation, but they’re all positive. Much of the same could also probably be said for daily practices of sustained Hatha Yoga, Tai Chi, or deep breathing. I can’t say for certain of the latter three, because, while I’ve practiced all three, I don’t have daily experience with them the way I did with TM and do now with the Higher Self Meditation that I developed after several decades of teaching TM and training its teachers.

You can go into just about any bar almost anywhere in these United States, and drink more cheaply during a time frame known as Happy Hour. This is the time immediately after the 9 to 5 workday has ended when millions of Americans file out of their office buildings and into bars to change their consciousness. When such numbers of people close their eyes for even a quarter of that hour to allow their conscious minds to settle into the peaceful calm of the happiness of their own inner Being the people of this country of ours will be a lot happier, a lot healthier, and a lot more peaceful. Moreover, they’ll discover that the unalienable rights afforded Americans of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, will lead them to a fuller life, a deeper liberty, and the finding of that happiness.


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