Well, before we can change our consciousness, we have to understand what it is in the first place – right?
First, the psychologists tell us we have a conscious mind and a subconscious mind. Generally, we are aware of the material in our conscious mind and only partially aware of the material in our subconscious mind. This post is not about those aspects of our makeup. The word “conscious” can get us off on the wrong path in a discussion like this one.
So, then what is consciousness in the bigger sense? Most people experience three states of consciousness – deep sleep, dreams and the everyday waking state of consciousness. When our brain activity is measured, there are clear differences in these three states.
It is possible to experience other states of consciousness – sometimes people refer to this as higher states of consciousness. Maybe they are just more complete states of consciousness?
The purpose of most spiritual practices is to take us beyond our everyday, conditioned, programmed mind into some of these more complete states.
The first shift or change is to become the observer of our life – most teachings liken this to soul consciousness. We become progressively less identified with our ego, mind and body and more identified with the part of us that is, was and always will be. As I said, some call this aspect soul – others name it the witness or the observer. One path to experience this shift or change is meditation – going into the stillness and experiencing the observer. As we move into this state, we find we are more intuitive and more centered in who we are – maybe calmer, finding it easier to cope with whatever life brings.
Next, we find we are living from this witness consciousness most of the time. Some traditions call this cosmic consciousness – the witness is experienced as unbounded by space or time while at the same time recognizing the body/mind is in this local place and time – in this material reality. In the Christian tradition the phrase “to be in the world and not of it” gets at this same idea.
In the third stage cosmic consciousness is experienced more fully. Here is where we experience limitless unconditional love – as a state of being. We know it’s who we are. Our minds are free from the filter or the veil separating us from realms normally not available to us. We may experience extraordinary states or abilities – heightened intuition, clairvoyance, refined senses (taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing). We are tuned in to our life on a more subtle level. Dormant abilities are awakened.
Finally we arrive at unity consciousness where we have the experience of oneness with all that was, is or ever will be. The observer or the witness realizes oneness with pure consciousness. Observer and observed are one. Some would call this stage enlightenment . Here all life is seen as filled with miracle or magic. At last you are totally free from fear. Some call this a bliss state. You and god, the universe, source, creator, or whatever word you like – are one. There really isn’t any separate “you” experienced at this stage.
It can be frightening to hear those words. “You” doesn’t want to be lost. The thing to remember is “you” are an illusion to begin with. You made you up. Nothing is ever lost on the road to enlightenment. Simply one shift or change after another until the real world is experienced.
I believe the reason many people dismiss or choose not to follow this path is because it challenges our very foundation – at least here in the west. If we all achieved unity consciousness, what would change in your life? In our society? On our beautiful blue planet?
So, let’s say you do want to follow this path. How do you do it? Enlightenment is not attained through reading or studying or through belief in something outside yourself – you are still at the level of mind in these activities.
It really comes down to regularly and systematically experiencing deeper states of yourself and integrating them into your everyday life. My path is one of daily meditation – going into the stillness – experiencing the witness/observer/soul and bringing that calm and peace into my daily life.
You may find a different path. The method isn’t important. The ultimate experience is where the magic happens.