Meditation


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Overview

Meditation is a form of mind conditioning. A sort of self-hypnosis that allows the mind to develop disciplines of focus and calm, as well as mental pathways and triggers to access these growing benefits while under duress. It can be used as well to mitigate the emotionally debilitating effects of past traumas, allowing a person to put them in a more objective perspective, so they do not unhinge them when they need focus. This is not to say that the griefs and outrages of personal history will be diminished to unimportance, for they are a major part of what makes person who they are. But they will be able to be viewed with less personal impact.

Most Meditation is done with some sort of repetitive stimulus that allows the person to sink into a trance-like state where they can begin to construct thought relays, memory triggers, emotion dampeners and other mental disciplines that the person decides will be beneficial for a variety of pursuits. This can be a chanted phrase, usually a drone of some sort, or a physical stimulus like a patterned drumming of fingers. Anything to give the mind a distraction to associate with the development of whatever discipline the person is trying to build.

One of the most common disciplines a person develops is the ability to set a focus into an automatic mode, so he can continue performing it while he focuses his direct thoughts on something else. This is frequently called "Compartmentalization". Many soldiers use Meditation to develop discipline against fear and pain in a battle, allowing them to perform their duties under such extremes, or even just to maintain their posts in the face of some monstrous horror. This is one of the main reasons that basic training includes deliberately abusive attitudes and treatment by their training officers, while they maintain rigid attention and face forward. It allows the soldier to let such harsh demeanor become a secondary concern, something they have already had enough experience with to shrug off. In a sense, the abusive outbursts inflicted on raw recruits takes on a meditative quality.

Actors will spend time getting into a state of mind where they can submerge their own personality in order to adopt the persona of the role they are set to play. Chances are, they have some manner of Meditation in their practice regimen. Oddly enough, they may also have a system to implant the fictional personality more firmly to make them more outgoing or emotionally volatile, or less so. Pretty much any sort of conditioning can be fortified with Meditation. It is a caution though, that such techniques are used in interrogations as well, when time is not an issue.

In and of itself, Meditation is not a directly quantitative skill. One does not get a job meditating (though some bosses might jokingly suggest otherwise). it is a technique to aid and enhance the development of other skills. The casting of magic is a prime example of such. The acquisition of fractive power may be intimidating at first. As will the confidence that it has been shaped to the proper proportions and intensity to perform the desired spell. Many beginners find themselves suddenly fearful of errant casts or backlash of power, and lose the very focus that allowed them to acquire the power in the first place.

This can be a terrifying state for a learner to find himself in. Full of power, uncertain of whether it has been "tapped" correctly, afraid to unburden it, yet well aware that it cannot be maintained indefinitely. And if a backlash does result, these fears are likely to be magnified. This is why Meditation is a very common partner to a magic skill. With the ability to remain focused under duress, these troubles are greatly reduced, and often completely eliminated before long. The fact is, most mentors will not even begin to teach a magic discipline without a prior schooling in Meditation. And it goes hand in hand with many of the developments of that magic as the student grows in power.

By the same token, an archer may need a method of remaining calm under the stresses of combat to keep a steady hand while drawing to fire. A city administrator may need to chant a phrase under his breath to endure the conflicts of political adversaries in council without exploding into a counter-productive rage himself. A handler of animals may find a soothing murmur to give a meditative tranquility to beasts he hopes to train. And such a technique will certainly help him maintain his own consistent calm, an essential element in animal training. The list goes on and on. In short, it would probably be easier to list the skills that would not benefit from Meditation in some way, than to list all those that would.

When using Meditation in a thread, it is possible that aspects of some skills may come easier than they normally would at the level your PC has attained at the time. This is not meant to say you will get a skill bonus, or be able to do things from the next level category of that skill. At best, you will able to perform as though you were higher within that category. Primarily, it serves to ensure that you can function normally under duress.

Skill Ranks

Novice (0-25)

The individual attempting Meditation has only just begun their journey into the world of mental growth. They've seen this skill work for others, thus, strive to do the same through breathing techniques, focus, and silence. They've found ideas come a little easier, and stay within the forefront of their thoughts longer than before. Such practice is helping the individual progress noticeably faster, but it takes a calm environment, and a good twenty bits of inner tranquility to gain this focus. And once the benefit is evident, even the excitement over this very progress might distract them enough to lose that focus. And outside distractions definitely undermine this clarity all too easily.

Competent (26-75)

He has learned more than one kind of trance-invoking technique, so he can find focus in most situations as long as he is not specifically targeted by adversarial distractions. It only takes ten bits at most to find the calm he needs to reach peak focus. He is able to compartmentalize his efforts to focus on two paths of thought at once.

Expert (76-150)

Unless his actual life is directly threatened, this person can sit in the midst of a battle and remain completely serene. And can divide his awareness in several direction at once, so he will most likely BE aware of such threats to his person. The charge of a rampant beast will not unsettle him with fear, though he is not such a fool as to calmly sit and be overrun by the creature. He will instead be able to view his options calmly and realistically, and make what response is the best for everyone. He can now find peak focus in just a few bits, regardless of distractions. And once found, he can maintain this focus without needing to continue his technique, because distractions are now as easily "compartmentalized" as anything else.

Master (151-250)

When in his meditative state, the command of surroundings this person radiates now goes so far as unnerve and distract his adversaries. Nothing unsettles him. Pain, grief, noise, bright lights, whatever; they are all things of the mind and can be relegated to whatever priority suits his current agenda. He does not seem to need any technique to achieve his inner state and it only takes moments. He also seems to exude this calm to those around him. This is because he, alone, is as completely aware of everything they are dealing with, as they, collectively, are. And is calm enough to assess each individual's situation as if it were the only one.