Meditation

Meditation is the skill of clearing one's mind, taking on an uncritical and dispassionate perspective, and practicing self-introspection and -reflection. It allows the user to look deeply at a subject, be it themselves or a project they are working on, and put together realizations and innovations that would otherwise escape the conscious mind. Meditation is also useful for promoting self-awareness, situational awareness, centeredness in mind and body, acceptance of events, and the revisiting of memories.

Professional Applications

Meditation is not itself a professional skill and does not directly enable any occupations. However, it is a useful secondary skill, particularly for magic-related professions. The examples below are not exhaustive, but represent the kinds of characters who might pursue proficiency in Meditation.

Shaman: Meditation is particularly useful for shamans as it helps them maintain the delicate balance of Identities needed for their magic, and also to reconcile and integrate the long-term consequences shamanism has upon a practitioner's psyche. In short, proficiency in Meditation helps reduce the risks of shamanic magic.

Healer: Meditation is effective for helping healers keep themselves focused and calm during time-critical situations. The dispassionate introspection it promotes is also effective at helping healers come to terms with losing patients despite all their best efforts.

Fighter: Both Awareness and Movement meditations are particularly useful to warriors and guards; the former can be used to promote situational awareness, while the latter improves proprioception and control. Most do not gain enough proficiency to reach a level where they can effectively access meditative states during combat, thus the benefits of Meditation to fighting professionals are typically indirect.

Fields of Expertise

Auditory: Auditory meditation uses sound to focus and empty the mind. Techniques range from whispering a simple repetitive mantra, listening to music, and listening to the sounds of one's own body to ultimately listening for a subliminal 'universal' sound. Auditory meditations have the advantage of competing with and overriding verbalized thoughts, which can make them easier to learn. Overall, these techniques foster self-centering and focus, along with inward concentration.

Awareness: Awareness meditation encompasses techniques intended to promote inner stillness, calm, and detachment. It is typically centered around breathing techniques, including counted measures or simply using one's breath as a focus. The practitioner clears their mind, learning to let stray thoughts pass them by; they generally cultivate an awareness of themselves and their surroundings, observing and monitoring while keeping their mind detached and free of judgement.

Movement: This uniquely physical style of meditation uses postures and flowing movements along with deep, even breathing and a calm mind. Movement meditation techniques are often intended to strengthen the body, improve balance, and improve the practitioner's awareness of their body and its motion. Practitioners generally need to balance awareness of their self and their body with observation of their surroundings, rather than making an inward retreat into emptiness.

Tracing: Tracing meditations use an external image, sometimes a labyrinth or knotwork design, other times a complex mural, and trace or experience the sense of movement within it. Often one begins with making the pattern, which is regarded as a meditative action in its own right, then proceeds to meditate on the image proper. Colors are often an integral part of these meditations, used to symbolize or counter particular emotions or concepts; for example, one might choose colors to promote positive feelings, or to designate experiences one is moving past. Highly skilled practitioners can accurately visualize familiar patterns and have no need for an external aid.

Visualization: This branch of meditation is centered around mental imagery, and is often geared towards self-cultivation on the principle of "what you think, you become". Techniques include focusing on a single visualized object, on a pleasant scene or past experience, or on succeeding at future goals and aspirations. Practitioners often use their visualizations to promote relaxation, assurance, and self-confidence along with the resolve and determination to achieve their goals.

Proficiency Levels

Amateur

An Amateur in Meditation has no particular proficiency. He may attempt any type of meditation, but finds himself plagued with distractions, wandering thoughts, and may even relax into drowsiness rather than clarity. To an Amateur, a few seconds of meditation feel like minutes, and minutes like eternity; he is likely to become restless and impatient over long periods of self-reflection. Simple motions and patterns in the Movement and Path Tracing fields may be easy enough for him to follow, but he has difficulty achieving the slow, graceful, nearly unconscious executions of a meditative state, and instead fixates on the completion of each action.

Professional

A Professional has diligently studied one field of Meditation and become comfortable with it. Within his Expertise, he is able to effectively use meditation techniques to clear his mind and focus his thoughts, slipping into a centered state after several minutes. He still has occasional lapses in concentration and intrusive thoughts, but is able to meditate consistently for longer periods, sustaining a calm and objective perspective throughout. In tandem with this, the practitioner begins to gain more awareness of his own habits of thought and behavior, being able to regard himself in an objective and contemplative way; he can also find meditation useful in ensuring deep and restful sleep. Professionals remain highly subject to external disturbances such as loud noises and physical contact.

When utilizing techniques outside his field of Expertise, the practitioner remains at Amateur level.

Exceptional

One who is Exceptional in Meditation has pursued multiple techniques and the various facets of self-reflection they offer. He has become able to put himself into a meditative state within a minute or two, at least when using a well-practiced method, and can sustain it for hours if not disrupted. With techniques in his fields of Expertise, the practitioner is able to go beyond the contemplative state into a deep trance. While in a trance, he can ignore virtually all but the most disruptive outside influences and is free to plumb the depths of whatever subject he has chosen to meditate on. Such a state can lend itself to the birth of particularly creative and innovative ideas, or to deep introspection on the nature of his self and emotions, including the exploration of events and memories from the past several years. At Exceptional level, it is also possible to achieve and maintain a centered, dispassionate state during stressful situations such as crises or combat.

When utilizing techniques outside his field of Expertise, the practitioner remains at no more than Professional level, contingent on having appropriate IC knowledge.

Master

A Master of Meditation is fluent in all manner of meditative techniques and the situations they are most effectively applied to. He can slip into a centered state almost immediately, and his meditations are beyond the ability of outside forces to affect; they can last for days if the practitioner so desires, or if he forgets how time passes by. Masters improve in their ability to plumb the depths of their own memories; while they can only reach back a few years in each session, they may ultimately traverse back to their own childhood memories, drawing up events and emotions otherwise long forgotten. This facility gives a Master unparalleled understanding of his psyche and how it was shaped into its present form, knowledge that can be leveraged into altering his own behaviors and habits, or simply observed for further changes. In a sufficiently deep trance, a Master may even catch glimpses of his own soulscape, gleaning an awareness of the deepest symbology of his essence and his connections to others, or snapshots from his past lives, though he cannot explore either at will or continuously.

Resources

Note: All available resources refer to meditation techniques in the context of RL traditions and philosophies. While any aspects particular to e.g. Zen, Buddhism, New Age philosophy are not appropriate to use IC, the instructions and techniques can be generalized and then used in RP.

  • 7 Days of Mindful Living - A handful of mindfulness exercises appropriate to the Awareness Expertise. (pamphlet, read online or download)
  • Directions and Techniques for Meditation - Pages 21-41 only. Gives a number of general tips for seated meditations; includes exercises appropriate to Awareness, Auditory, and Visualization Expertises. (book, read online or download)
  • 23 Types of Meditation - An overview of a variety of RL meditation techniques and traditions which may be useful for inspiration and further reading. Touches upon all fields except Tracing. (webpage)
  • Kundalini and Yantra - A brief showcase of mural patterns (mandalas) that may be inspirational for designs used with the Tracing Expertise. (pamphlet, read online or download)
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