I have recently been asked for some advice on mastering the art of psychetachia. That is not an easy request to answer. Trying to teach the art of psychetachia is somewhat like trying to teach someone how to wiggle their ears. It’s way too specific to each person. However, I will try.
First, for those of you who don’t know, psychetachia is a mental state in which your internal sense of time runs much faster than it usually does. This makes it seem like time in the outside world has slowed down. This gives you relatively more time to act and react than you have outside of this state. Police officers and the military are sometimes trained to learn how to enter this state at will. Its advantages for the fighting berserker should be obvious. It is an especially common technique for berserkers because the gangr makes us very prone to experiencing it. It can range from mild, in which things in the outside world seem a little slower than usual to extreme, in which dropped objects seem to float lazily to the ground, although the extreme states never last long.
There are three components, biologically speaking, that go into setting your body up for the psychetachia state. One is a massive amount of adrenaline in your bloodstream. The second is a raised electrical potential in your nervous system. The third is a deep meditative calm. The first two make signals travel through your brain and nervous system faster. The third one minimizes distractions and resistance to your natural reactions.
To put it in spiritual terms, you need a hel of a lot of wod in your system.
So that’s the first thing you need to develop: maximize the amount of wod you can raise. It doesn’t much matter how you do it, everyone’s got their own techniques, but you need to get to the point where everything in your field of vision seems to shine. (Note: a few people don’t see the shining effect, they hear a buzzing noise instead.) Amongst your wod raising techniques, I would recommend whipping your head around/headbanging. This stimulates blood flow to the brain. I would also recommend deep breathing exercises. Rhythmic movements help, too.
Once you get to this stage, psychetachia is much more likely to happen spontaneously. But that is not the same thing as reliably. If you want control, you need to take it further. This will involve learning to spike your wod even further, but there’s more to it than that. There has to be a need for you to be especially fast. In the deep meditative state that accompanies heightened levels of wod, a genuine need will cause your mind to reshape its function to fill that need. This is how you learn to trigger and control the psychetachia state.
Let me give you some examples. One of the exercises that taught me control of the state involves a little prep work. First I constructed a gallows-like structure, with the support pole sunk into the ground. From it I hung some strings of different lengths, each with a rock tied to the end. Then, underneath this all, I put in some short monkey poles, which are poles that stand at different heights. Each was just wide enough for me to balance on on the ball of one foot. Then, after raising my wod, I stood on the poles and set myself the task of keeping all of the rocks swinging by striking them, while standing only on the poles, not letting them get tangled up with each other, and not letting them hit me. This was all way too much to keep track of at the speed things were moving, and this pushed me into a psychetachia state often enough that I came to understand how it worked, and could replicate it through an effort of will.
This is the approach to training that the Rillway school, my old Pack’s style of the berserkergang, favored: cles. It was an approach used by some ancient berserkers, and it amounts to trying to do feats that require more out of you than you have, so that the need can bring out the ability.
If you do not have access to outdoor space where you can set something like that up, there is a lamer but still effective indoor version you can use. Tack or tape several strings of different lengths to the ceiling in a circle. Tie or tape a coin to the end of each. Standing only in the circle, keep all of the coins swinging without getting tangled up or hitting you.
The most valuable exercise for developing a deep understanding and control of psychetachia, I found, was badminton, wearing a 30lb weighted vest, 5lb weights on each wrist, and 10lb weights on each ankle. Moving fast enough to catch the shuttlecock in that much weight requires a LOT of wod. Controlling your shot when that wod-high so that it stays in bounds requires an insane level of awareness and self control. It pushed my development of psychetachia control like nothing else did.
That one is also a good exercise because it teaches you how to move really fast and then pull back at the last instant, so you get the benefit of speed but retain finesse and don’t overpower things. If you ever master psychetachia well enough to call on it reliably, then you have the potential to become really dangerous to your sparring partners and opponents. Let me share with you an example. During the time after my initiation, I was sparring regularly with an opponent who practiced the same sword style as me (17th century regimental basket hilted broadsword). I suddenly got into a powerful psychetachia state and struck him three times in the time it took for him to raise his sword 1/4 of the way toward blocking my first attack. The third strike shattered my wooden sparring sword. Against his body. It left him with a nasty two foot bruise and an inability to stand. I could easily have broken his ribs if I had hit a little higher. Moving fast means hitting hard. So part of your learning psychetachia must be learning control.
And speaking of the sword martial arts, they also make for excellent psychetachia training. The tip of a sword moves between 200 and 300 mph. If that doesn’t push you into psychetachia then nothing will.
Hmm, I would also recommend the antique video game Breakout. Deceptively simple, it requires reflexes of lightning and a wide awareness when it gets going.
There is also one more thing you can learn to help you get into the psychetachia state. It is what my sensei referred to as a stored meditation. Up to 24 hours before your training, perform some sort of meditative ritual designed to boost your wod. Use a series of mantras or mudras or yantras or something. Intone a series of runes. Whatever works for you. The point is to get into a powerful ritual, and then stop before carrying out the last step. Immediately put it out of your mind and go and do something else. Once you are in the midst of your training, say the last mantra, intone the final rune, or whatever, and if you have done it right, you get the benefit of a long ritual all in an instant.
That is a part of the strategy of using everything you can to get your foot in the door. Eat a candy bar before training. Have some coffee. Heightened blood sugar and caffeine will also make you more prone to psychetachia. The idea is to use every trick you can to experience it a few times, so you can learn enough to access the state without the tricks.
P.S. Of course, once you really get a handle on psychetachia, then you are set to begin studying the warfetter, the berserkers’ most advanced technique.