Getting Back to Baseline
science, a baseline is a standard of value to which other similar
things are compared. Zero degrees Centigrade is a baseline. It is the
temperature at which water freezes. Other temperatures are compared to
zero. Picking a baseline is somewhat arbitrary. It depends on what you
want to measure. One could develop a temperature scale in which zero
degrees is the temperature at which chocolate melts. That’s
approximately the temperature of the human mouth, so that could be
might establish a baseline via meditation. In a successful meditation,
one becomes calm, the mind settles down and emotions become peaceful.
That relaxed but alert condition could be considered a baseline, which
provides a reference for comparing other states of consciousness.
an argument, or after watching a disturbing film, or after playing an
engaging video game, a person will be in a more or less agitated state.
Or if one lives a typical life in a developed nation in the 21st
century, one’s usual state is fairly high on the stress scale.
Unfortunately, many modern westerners have no reference for
peacefulness. If you ask people, what they can do to relax, you may get
answers like, “I will play with my cat,” or
“I’ll watch TV.” Those activities may be relatively
relaxing, but they don’t compare to the relaxation one might get
from listening to a guided relaxation exercise or practicing
autogenics. Similarly, if one has not meditated, one does not know what
emptying the mind would be like.
say you have meditated, and upon rising, you feel calm, clearheaded and
rather pleasant. That could be a baseline against which you would
assess your experience at other times. After commuting or watching the
TV news or dealing with a difficult person, your state will likely be
something other than calm. Rather than accepting that that’s the
way it goes, and having a lot of thoughts about how crummy life or
people are, you could just note that your mental/emotional state is
altered from baseline. That would be a signal that it is time to do
something to bring it back. Perhaps a few deep breaths, a reminder to
relax and a mental recitation of a mantra or affirmative thought will
shift you back toward that baseline state that you know is
possible. Maybe you would want to take some time to gather yourself,
possibly by meditating or by some other skillful means for coming back
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