There’s quite a bit of talk these days about raising consciousness, and despite a growing mainstream awareness it still remains a somewhat vague, mysterious and elusive topic.
What exactly does raising consciousness mean? What does it entail? How can you measure your progress?
All excellent questions that spiritual and esoteric traditions from around the world have been attempting to answer for millennia and the very ones I’ve been asking myself and intensely contemplating for over a decade. I’d like to think I’ve discovered meaningful answers, distilled from a synthesis of the shared wisdom across all the different paths I’ve studied: from Shamanism to Sufism, Hindu/Tantric philosophy to Daoism, Jungian Psychology to Non-Dualism, Kabbalah to Quantum Physics and everything in between. I’ve combined what I’ve learned from these traditions with personal insights and distinctions I haven’t specifically seen mentioned anywhere else to form a very powerful set of ideas, insights and guiding principles outlined below that have the ability to dramatically shift consciousness in a remarkably short period of time.
As far as I’m concerned, expanding your consciousness is loosely about the following four things:
1. Understanding the true nature of reality.
2. Experiencing the full range of human ability and potential.
3. Developing your spiritual awareness.
4. Having a positive impact with your life by being of service in some way shape or form to someone or something other than yourself.
While I’m not going to go into depth explaining what each of those mean in totality, I am going to offer three extraordinarily powerful ways you can experience a massive positive shift in your consciousness. One that will take your life from wherever you currently find yourself to an extraordinary level of fulfillment, happiness, success, freedom, peace, flow, and growth.
I make no reservations about stating that the act of truly and authentically raising your consciousness, which most definitely encompasses and includes living your purpose, is the most important thing you can do with your time on this planet and will result in your life becoming better than you could have ever imagined in your wildest dreams. In fact, I believe it is, as the famed mythologist Joseph Campbell stated, your “Hero’s Journey”—your actual, underlying purpose in this life—at whatever pace you choose, to expand your consciousness as described in the framework above.
And in order to accomplish that goal in the shortest time possible, if that is your desire and intention, I recommend focusing your time and energy on the following three key areas that will radically expand your consciousness.
1. Move Through the Six Phases of Consciousness
One of the most important things to understand is that within the general framework of raising your consciousness, there are sublevels and distinctions of conscious/spiritual awareness you must move through. These are states of mind and perception, meaning that they primarily have to do with how you see, interpret, and experience life and the world around you. I lay them out here as they have been developed and coined by spiritual teacher Mary O’Malley:
1. Life happens to you.
2. Life happens by you.
3. Life happens in you.
4. Life happens for you.
5. Life happens through you.
6. Life is you.
In a nutshell, this describes the process of moving from unconsciousness to consciousness, from the idea that life is happening to you, through the idea that you are creating your life and ultimately into the understanding that there is a greater wisdom in life than we could possibly comprehend, which is not so subtly being alluded to by breakthroughs in quantum physics research in recent years.
Rather than offering a rehashed description of the six phases here, I would recommend that when you finish this article, you take a minute to read Mary’s brilliant, in-depth explanation that can be found here.
Suffice it to say that moving through these six phases is a non-negotiable step up the ladder of consciousness and is an excellent tool for gauging how far you have come. And when combined with the following two keys, radical shifts may be experienced in remarkably short periods of time.
2. Move from Logical/Rational Thinking to Intuitive Awareness
Our minds, as amazing and powerful as they are, also inherently limit us and keep us locked into lower levels of consciousness. Let me explain. Your mind is limited to processing via images, thoughts, ideas, imagination, and logic. All incredible tools that are essential to grow and thrive, however, conspicuously missing from this lineup are the equally important processing tools of feeling, emotion, and intuition, which can and do open doors into entirely new realms of human experience, ability and ultimately consciousness. Without incorporating this felt intuitive sense into your awareness and life, you keep yourself only experiencing a fraction of reality and operating from an inherently limited vantage point that is counterproductive to the act of expanding your consciousness.
To understand more fully what I mean, take, for example, what the field of neurocardiology is revealing about the heart.
In it’s own way, the heart rivals the brain as a sensory processing center in the body containing it’s own nervous system with around 40,000 neurons, described as sensory neurites. What is quickly becoming known as the “heart-brain” or “heart-mind” is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins, and support cells similar to those found in the brain proper. It’s remarkably elaborate circuitry enables it to operate as a sort of secondary information-processing center that can learn, remember, and act independently of the cranial brain and actually connect and send signals to key brain areas such as the amygdala, thalamus, and hypothalamus, which regulate our perceptions and emotions. By all markers, we seem to have a second “brain” in our chest.
A fascinating study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that our hearts can receive and respond to stimuli even before the cranial brain processes it, which most people experience as a premonitive flash of insight about impending events or circumstances, which is an academic description of intuitive insight.
If your goal is to ultimately expand your consciousness, you’ll definitely want to develop your intuitive, emotional intelligence. Here’s why: your intuition dynamically adjusts itself to the ever-changing circumstances and conditions that exist whenever you need to make a decision.
It takes into account a huge number of variables that your conscious mind cannot even begin to comprehend, let alone process, and guides you towards the choices that will provide the most beneficial outcome for you and everyone involved.
Imagine for a second that you are playing a game of chess against a powerful computer. How many moves in advance can you see before things get hazy? Maybe two or three at most until the number of possible combinations of moves and countermoves you and the computer could make becomes so complex it is beyond the capability of your conscious mind to keep track of, let alone make sense of.
Now consider the computer you are playing against. In a few nanoseconds—instantaneously for all intents and purposes—it can foresee every possible combination of potential scenarios that could occur and make the ideal move given whatever circumstances are present at that very moment.
If you haven’t guessed it already, the computer is a metaphor for your intuition—one of your greatest allies for improving the quality of your life and expanding your consciousness. In order to experience the full range of human abilities, you must ultimately learn to calibrate to your intuitive awareness and that process begins by moving from mind dominance to a more balanced state incorporating intuitive, heart-based awareness.
3. Reprogram Your Heart and Mind for Happiness and Success
You, in a certain sense, are a construct. Your personality, your beliefs, your preferences, your taste in music and food, what you like and dislike… These are almost all learned habits that are conditioned into you over time, mostly by your experiences as a young child, well before you had the ability to rationally discern, challenge and analyze the experiences you were having in order to decide if you would accept them into your belief structures, which are your conceptual map of the world, life, and reality. That faculty doesn’t come until later in your childhood, typically around age eight or nine, which means that almost everything you experienced before that age was simply absorbed into your mind without rational consideration, in whatever way you interpreted it at the time.
Experiences, ideas, philosophies, euphemisms, etc. were basically accepted without challenge, which means that you have been highly influenced and shaped by a) your parents and immediate family b) friends, teachers and authority figures and c) society as a whole. In your early childhood years, you’re basically like a sponge picking up whatever comes into your awareness. These perceptions and beliefs go on to form your “default programming.” And, as you may have guessed, it’s usually pretty terrible.
The beliefs we pick up as children are so deeply embedded into our subconscious minds that we believe they are reality, not understanding that they are simple neural programming that allows us to make sense of reality—to interpret the incredibly complex stream of data that hits our mind’s incoming perceptual filter in any given moment. There is simply too much sensory information coming in for the conscious mind to process at any given moment and so it uses our belief structures to interpret and categorize what we experience in real-time, rejecting that which is out of sync with your beliefs and accepting that which fits your perceptual model of the world/reality. Therefore your beliefs are your programming. They determine how you experience and see the world. They form your personality, your preferences, and your tastes, and they also largely determine your emotional reaction to various situations and experiences. In short, they are hugely influential. To you, they are everything.
For most people, the beliefs they pick up as children are very simplistic because children can’t really understand higher order logical thoughts and interpretations. Which means they take the form of very broad generalizations about life that are rarely unequivocally true and often quite destructive. For example, say you are 3 years old and your mom gives you some finger paint to play with. Not really knowing better you start painting off the paper and onto the white table under the paper, ruining it in the process. You are happy as can be enjoying the moment until your mom walks in, having a stressful day, seeing her nice table ruined, loses her cool and remarks “What are you doing?! Bad girl Neena! You ruined mommy’s table. I am so angry with you.”
On the surface as an adult it seems inconsequential, but as a child, it’s all very intense and even traumatic. You’re happy as can be just following your bliss and suddenly a giant, intimidating authority figure, often one of the most important and meaningful people in your life, is yelling at you and telling you essentially that you are bad and wrong for doing what came naturally to you. This leads us to form beliefs like “I am wrong.” and “Love is conditional.” and so on. These become deeply embedded in our psyche and typically go unchallenged for the rest of our lives, leading to all kinds of destructive and maladaptive behaviors and perceptions that affect every area of our life from health to wealth to relationships and beyond.
Eventually, if you desire to become truly happy, successful and fulfilled in life, which most people do, you will need to examine this unconscious baggage, these sacred wounds you have been carrying with you your entire life. This is, in large part, the process of becoming conscious and aware. First discovering and then challenging these unconscious patterns, perceptions, and beliefs on every level—as they pertain to you, to others, to life, to the world and so on—fundamentally reprogramming your heart and mind in any direction you choose. You must shift your inner neural programming to align with the true nature of reality, to see the world and life how it really is, or at least in a way that is constructive, positive and uplifting.
There are many powerful tools to do this kind of work, and I highly recommend looking into the following: Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), Jungian Psychology, Hypnosis, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, Constellation Therapy and Huna Philosophy, among others.
Because we must be the change that we wish to see in the world, not only will this process of healing and reprogramming shift your own consciousness, but it will also be a major contribution to the evolution of consciousness on the planet as well. It is, in fact, the greatest impact you can have in many ways: leading by example, through embodiment of your truest self. And the best part is that it is the fastest path to the deepest fulfillment, success, joy, and peace that exists. After all, isn’t that why you want to shift your consciousness in the first place—to experience all that life has to offer and to have a positive impact with your life? If you’re reading this piece, I can safely assume it’s a resounding yes.
About the Author:
Justin Faerman is a visionary change-agent, entrepreneur and healer dedicated to evolving global consciousness, bridging science and spirituality and spreading enlightened ideas on both an individual and societal level. He is the co-founder of Conscious Lifestyle Magazine and a sought after coach and teacher, known for his pioneering work in the area of flow. He is largely focused on applied spirituality, which is translating abstract spiritual concepts and ideas into practical, actionable techniques for creating a deeply fulfilling, prosperous life. Connect with him at consciouslifestylemag.com and artofflowcoaching.com
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