How Chrono Trigger Changed My Life and Improved My Meditation

My parents had separated when I was 5, any luxuries I knew were left behind back at my dad’s home in a city miles away. We had moved to a small town where I found it hard to make friends and to top that up, my mother as a single parent was quite overprotective. I wasn’t able to go out much or play with others outside of school. I was mostly being taken to my mother’s events and waiting around for her there with only pencil and notebook to entertain myself.

So I had no friends, no play dates, no internet, no choice over where to be, no room of my own and no type of travel whatsoever.

However, we had a Super Nintendo and two games on it.

One of them a masterpiece.

Chrono Trigger.

The moment I would hear the clock ticking during the intro, I would feel a rush of excitement. I must have been about 6 years old when I started playing and didn’t understood a thing of what was said in the game as it was in English and my native language was Spanish. That didn’t stopped me from beating monsters and figuring out the journey slowly while holding on to my English to Spanish dictionary at hand.

As I walked through the map for the first time and made my way to Leene Square, I felt something I had not experienced beforehand.

I was able to decide what to do and where to go, unlike my experience in reality, where I felt like a chess-piece constantly moved around by other people, making every choice for me. The game was the closest I had ever come to gain a sense of control and independence while being trapped between four walls. Even if they weren’t, the possibilities seemed infinite.

As I moved through the story, a brilliant score carefully crafted by Yasunori Mitsuda, supported by the man behind the best Final Fantasy soundtracks, Nobuo Uematsu, guided me through through castles, dungeons, caves and forests. None of the songs was ever dull.

Growing up with Dragon Ball on TV, characters created for the game by Akira Toriyama felt like family. Chrono himself looked like a red hair distant cousin of Goku.

I swiftly learned about authorities that will punish you whether you’re innocent or not, time travel in which the past and future exist simultaneously, the possibility of the world turning into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, rebel princesses, women engineers that sparked my interest in robotics, and most importantly, how every action we take, whether big or small, changes everything for you and the world around you.

The game is proof to this with 15 different endings and many ways in which you can affect the storyline. For example, you are one side mission away from saving your friend’s mother from losing her legs in an accident. It’s quite on your hands whether you find her happily walking around the house talking about how much she wants to dance or locked into a chair while her husband tries to cheer her up.

The animation and interface design is clearly ahead of its time, and even today it feels like magic. Had it never existed in the past and got released for the first time as an iOS game instead of the Super Nintendo back in the 90’s, it would still feel like a beautifully crafted captivating game.

I must confess, I have followed every single remake of its songs for years, including the extravagant jazz versions.

Which makes me travel back to the present time, with my own meditation practice. As I was getting frustrated with negative feedback on my Muse headband, with my mind having difficulty settling as usual, I started playing in my head one of the games song, and suddenly, all I could hear were birds. Which if you’re not familiar with the Muse as a meditation device, is the positive reinforcement as audio feedback that you receive when your mind settles and becomes steadily calm.

It was my calmest session by far compared to the previous 15 days I had been using the meditation device although I have tried both Transcendental Meditation and Vipassana methods.

The song that did it for me? Wind Scene song, also known as 600 A.D. which is the one you hear while you’re exploring the map.

For a lonely child with big dreams living in a small town, in the poorest state in Mexico, limited by resources and with no chance to see the world at the time, Chrono Trigger was everything.

It brings me joy to this day.

I learned a new language to figure out its paths, which in turn, opened doors in real life, which allowed me to travel, live and work on the other side of the world, it exposed me to interesting science concepts never before available to me, showed me strong and smart independent women kicking ass, and made me feel like I could accomplish anything.

Chrono Trigger was my happy place.

In a way, it might still be.

UX/UI Designer passionate about design, emergent technologies and how they shape society.

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Mariana Oka

Mariana Oka

UX/UI Designer passionate about design, emergent technologies and how they shape society.

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