- Meditation has its own category! For more extensive reading, visit the corresponding index!
Meditation (also known as prayer, mind channeling, reflection and many other names) is a practice in which a sentient being uses a technique – usually focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. In its simplest form, it’s a cultural, mildly medical and often religious discipline that (specifically in humans) helps significantly reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain; and enhancing senses of peace, perception, self-concept, and well-being. In the TNU, however, mastering meditation has the potential, especially for humans and Sun Serpents, to unlock an actual heightened state of awareness, opening significant access to manipulate Ethereal Energy.
In this context, meditation is a very special, very effective form of Ethereal Energy Channeling; the definitive psychic ability of the TNU.
In general, a sentient entity (usually a human) practicing meditation and actively performing EEC through it is called a psisculptor, psy-sculptor, or usually psyptor for short.
Since by definition EEC is supernatural and is not bound by any known limits of the Universe, possibilities in meditation are endless, making its phenomena inherently complex. This article aims to summarize its most important aspects; for extra details, visit the category index linked above.
In the TNU, every anomaly and supernatural phenomena originates from Ethereal Energy. By default, this potential is bound by the natural laws of physics; even though the writing system to unlock it exist, these are inert on their own (unless already channeled before). In general, it always requires an act on behalf of a sentient being to unchain Ethereal Energy; such event is called Ethereal Energy Channeling.
The simplest possible act required for this is focusing which releases psychic potential. The ratio of this potential depends on multiple factors; in general, most sentient beings (such as the Cloudan or the Aurost) have very limited access, regardless of training. On the other hand, for both humans and Sun Serpents, psychic energy seem to have no upper limit.
Psychically disadvantaged species can utilize what little potential they could achieve by carving a sequence of Ethereal Runes on inorganic and/or not living objects (even the components of AIs) and then focusing on and vocalizing these set of runes, like a spell. This is called casting and has a huge range of application since it can equip materials with properties they normally wouldn’t possess - for example, a steel bar can be casted to have its melting point below 100 Celsius degrees.
The exact process and possibilities of casting is outside the scope of this article; however, meditating entities also perform it subconsciously while interacting with metafield (see below).
In short, meditation is the practice of focus.
Focusing is the behavioral and cognitive process of selecting on a discrete aspect of information or perception, while ignoring all the other such inputs. In itself it yields no supernatural abilities and stronger outside inputs can disrupt it very easily. It is the starting state in every act of meditation, for every individual, including advanced psyptors.
Focusing has a subject, or target, referred as a totem. Anything can be a totem, as long as the psyptor can comprehend its existence.
Through focusing, neural activity restructures a small portion of reality, which, via not well-understood chains of events, induces a psychic potential in the affected being. Said being possesses total control over this potential and perceives it as an extension of its own body - even though this energy in itself has no manifestation in natural spacetime.
This psychic potential is called mental order since it arises from the eradication of cognitive noise. Naturally, living beings have a low mental order due to the endless stream of sensory input and behavioral processes they are exposed to. As such, meditation and focus must be practiced regularly in order to keep mental order and the potential it represents high.
Mental order essentially describes the ability to affect one’s environment through pure mental energy. It is separate, though closely tied to actually biological energy available for the brain; as such, general health conditions, even temporary ones such as medicals can inhibit or amplify it.
For humans, the most important amplifying factor is the focusing affinity: depending on the personality, genetic traits, and background life of an individual, certain topics and concepts provide much faster charge of mental order. The topic of affinity is related to personal passion, interest, or bond; for example, a person growing up in a prehistoric or early antique environment can meditate at trees more effectively.
When mental order and its charging rate is amplified appropriately, the psyptor enters deep focus or metafocus.
Metafocus is an extended state of focus. It is very similar to normal focus in terms of acting, but is much harder to disrupt, and as such, not limited by strict concentration anymore - though it can be broken, too; see below.
In deep focus, the psyptor can sense and manipulate metafield, and if chooses not to interfere, can gain mental order much faster. The sense of metafield still does not provide any supernatural ability as its merely a representation of Ethereal Energy in multiple dimensions.
A regularly meditating psyptor can reach metafocus from natural, non-focusing state in the matter of seconds.
Metafield is the sum of natural spacetime and its Ethereal Energy perceived as one continuous, extradimensional space. It is perceivable only by reaching metafocus via meditation; psyptors invariably describe it as an out-of-body experience, which feels and looks different for every individual, depending mostly on focusing affinity.
In metafield, subjective time is extremely slowed down, while spatial perception is extended to five dimensions, rather than three. Psyptors have an extension of all their senses, and essentially exist as a shapeless, weightless mass. As such, in metafield, they sense no boundaries, and can fly indefinitely, or through hopping extra dimensions via not well understood means to travel incomprehensible distances - though they all invariably describe an empty void at the edge of the galaxy.
It’s important to emphasize that metafield is not an extra tangible dimension, but rather an inertia system of heightened sense; Ethereal Energy is visible, unlike in natural spacetime, but not only visible. Energy (not only Ethereal) can be perceived with all five senses in seemingly impossible ways and even across distance and to a limited extent, time.
Through extensive training and practicing, psyptors are capable of memorizing and learning ways of interacting with energy in metafield - those with insufficient training lacks the ability to interact with it at all. These are called actions and these represent the meaningfully supernatural abilities and acts in real world. With the conclusion of an action, the psyptor always returns fro metafocus to normal perception immediately, but usually can enter very quickly again.
Actions cost mental order, though, and can very quickly disturb one’s senses much enough that they are required to return to calm meditation and regular focus again.
Since metafield in itself is shapeless and can only be perceived with a full and clear mind, a framework was conceived to provide stable foundations for actions. For that, the following definitions were introduced to describe metafield:
The self is the sentient being as the object of its own reflective consciousness. Meditating individuals in total are called selves.
An action, very specifically, is a conscious act of the self. The action is the most basic foundational step in meditation.
Each action has a subject: any concept that can serve as an intended target. It is very similar to a totem in focusing, but it refers to any other concept or entity.
Self can be the subject of any action; in fact, focus and metafocus are both actions with the self being the subject invariably.
In metafield, the subject is always the concept or entity that is going to be affected by metafield manipulation.
A thought is an action without physical motion. The subject of the thought is always the self.
In metafield, a concept can be synchronized or synced, if in real spacetime it’s identical to metafield. This concept is not supernatural by any means. They can also be desynchronized or desynced, in which case they are manipulated in metafield in a way that does not map to the laws of regular spacetime physics.
The transition to desync is shifting, the return to sync is collapsing. Shifting is always triggered by channeling or metafocus. Both shifting and collapsing can be partial, meaning that the concept retain some of its properties inherited from metafield (e.g. the low melting point steel above) or from the real world (e.g. a building can have the same visual shape in metafield even if it would be represented otherwise).
If an action is synced, it’s called an event: these are proportionally mapped in metafield. An action can be desynced too that can defy the regular laws of physics: this is called a motion.
A shape is an object of mass within contiguous boundaries in natural spacetime. As any entity, shapes are especially represented in metafield by a phenomena called its simulacra.
After shifting, some shapes have visible changes in natural spacetime; this is the shape’s field.
Psyptors can perceive each other in metafield, too; the shape (or natural spacetime mass) of the self is the body, represented in metafield by its avatar.
The psyptor can also have a field after shifting, called its aura.
As mentioned, both shifting and collapsing can be partial. Any new property of a desynced shape gained this way is referred as the color.
A color can be unintentional, and/or the side effect of a motion. Notable example of intentional color is one caused by the psyptor’s own aura - it always follows the psyptor’s body so it can be used for body-altering. Such color is called a shield.
Philosophy and symbolism
Since the totem can be any concept important for an individual, metafocus and abilities gained via metafield are generally considered the ultimate manifestation of human willpower in a tangible way. This virtue had a serious impact on pre-industrial and space-faring civilizations alike.
In industrial, modernized and space-faring civilizations, many of which are plagued by massive wealth inequality and injustice, meditation often provided the means of self-fulfilling and through superhuman culture could gave rise to a new age of heroism. As such, many advanced factions (most notably the Republic) impose strict regulation campaigns or even monopoly over the application of metafocus.
Since most alien species are significantly weaker at mental order and usually can’t even metafocus, many considered meditation a symbol for human superiority - often considered an important cornerstone in the war against the Cloudan.
In Arderism, meditation abilities are considered the ultimate proof of the existence and primacy of God: if human was created “His own image and likeness”, then metafocus is a small fraction of the power God is capable of.
Moreover, in Arderism a human being has a trinity: his body existing in natural spacetime; his mind as his aura, and his spirit represented by his avatar.
todo: Way of Justice, Church of the Cybergod, distemporal ppl, more about the stance of the republic, same for Arderism
Distemporal people tend to be better psyptors more easily, due to their supernatural bond with the universe.
Cloning invariably results in an individual with simplistic psychic affinity with virtually no mental order, and no ability to change their affinity, ever.
Psychic abilities can’t be inherited, nor amplified by augmentations, but can be both inhibited and temporarily boosted by medicals.
Given their nature, artificial beings, such as robots and AIs are virtually unable to become psyptors.