´Dissociation´ or pure state of mind
I´ve been thinking some more about what happened at the cave with the tall waterfall that I had to climb. Read more about that experience in my post `facing fear in the cave´. It´s very interesting for me to see what happened in my internal process when faced with a dangerous activity in an unknown, although controlled and chosen, environment. So, at first I didn´t remember climbing the waterfall, I remembered we got to what looked like a dead end and then they said we had to climb it. I had even forgotten about the waterfall until someone else mentioned it after the fact. So I was trying to remember it and it all got confused in my mind, much of the cave looks the same, a bunch of rocks and water in the dark. Then I had a conversation about someone else who was equally scared of that waterfall and couldn´t believe that they made newbies climb it. I tried and tried to remember and finally I remember reaching the top of the waterfall which was a rock wedged in between two walls of the cave. In order to remember this I had to go into a special state of mind where I accept that not all memories have words, and what´s more I can think without words. I didn´t really ´forget´ this memory, it´s there, it´s just a very different type of memory than what´s usual.
At first I was thinking that I dissociated because I was afraid, and I saw it as a bad thing to have happened. However, I don´t think that is the right explanation at all. The pause in the stream of thought allowed perfect concentration to do the task at hand without mistakes. Panicky thoughts and fear would not have helped me climb up that waterfall. So, instead of disassociation I think what happened is that I experienced a more ´pure´ state of mind than what I normally live in. I recognize this same state of mind when I am doing very cerebral and creative work such as drawing, thinking out ideas that require concentration. It is actually a state of mind in which ideas ´flow´ without hindrance.
In this case I was at the cave for fun, I chose to be there, even if I didn´t really know that it would be so intense. However, in a traumatic situation I think we revert to this ´perfect´ state of mind, as a protection so that we will do and endure what has to be done in order to survive. I´m looking for the ´key´ to unlock hidden memories, so that I can process them and face them and not be afraid of shadows in the corner of my eye anymore. So, this experience at the cave, has helped me see what happens in my mind when I forget an intense event. In fact, I think that the memories are not hidden at all, they are right there in the perfect state of mind. Instead, I am the one who has made noise to cover them up, and maybe if I learn to be quiet enough I will be able to see them. The problem though, is that emotions are right at the boundaries of the perfect mind plane. It is the first thing I will get to once I start to quiet down, that is where the BIG FEAR resides, and all its nasty cousins. They don´t want me to get to the perfect mind so I have to go through them first.
In conclusion, the cave has been a validating experience in many ways. First, I saw and confirmed (through other people´s accounts at first) the fact that I forget very intense moments. Look up ´repressed memories´ online and the literature you find says that they are fake. It is refreshing to confirm through my own experience that they are very possible. Second, I’m really happy that I remembered the last stretch of climbing the waterfall. It makes me feel like it is possible to recover memories willfully. Third, since I remembered, I remember more or less what that special state of mind feels like, and perhaps I can replicate it in my daily life.