Thursday, December 7, 2017

The psychedelic meditative scan

One of the strangest narratives in the Bible belongs to Jonah, the man who spent 3 days inside the belly of a whale. While inside, he prayed to God and repented his decision not to obey Him.
Well, modern day humans don't do so well inside the bellies of whales. But 1 in 20 modern humans have an experience similar to Jonah. They willingly enter an MRI machine and stay still for 25 minutes or more. Praying to God, however, has become optional.

An MRI machine looks like a fancy coffin and feels like a tomb. Claustrophobic folks are better off taking a sedative because the roof of the machine is almost close enough to be licked and there is literally no elbow room in there.
As powerful magnets and radio waves combine to creates images of innards of the human, s/he is entertained with a sound and noise show. The sounds you hear will remind you of:

1) A fast-moving emergency vehicle
2) The alarm that rings when a large crowd has to be evacuated quickly
3) Drumbeats that occur at the beginning of random rock songs
4) A series of amplified rings of bullets exiting a gun fitted with a silencer
5) Bass guitars being tuned before a show
6) Sonorous water pumps operating at a distance

Time inside unfolds like a music album. Many "musical" pieces will be played one after another. There will be a pause between each piece - when the machine prepares for the next audio attack and the human makes micro-movements to try and get more comfortable.
I've heard stoners describe psychedelic experiences, and I'm inclined to think those experiences cannot be any weirder than visiting the belly of an MRI machine. MRI machines in children's wards are lined with happy cartoon artwork to convince children that they are being entertained. Adults get the vanilla design and the discovery that no single posture of the human body is infinitely restful. No matter how carefully you choose the placement of your hands and the angle at which your feet stick out, you will, in a matter of minutes, wish that you could change something, be somewhere else.

Perhaps the MRI machine is the final bastion of boredom left in the world. You cannot seek any distraction whatsoever. You are imprisoned, not just by the machine, but also your thoughts. After the first few minutes - where you will worry about not moving your body - you will find yourself slipping into deep moments of reflection. You will return to your conscious stream of thoughts during the brief silence before the next "musical piece" begins. Studies have shown that boredom is extremely important for creativity and introspection. The MRI machine seems to prove this theory.

So the next time you want to travel far, do yourself a favour and visit the MRI scan centre closest to you.

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