You Can Attain A Higher Level Of Consciousness If You Want Have you ever wondered if there is more to life than what you are experiencing? If you are like most people, you live in a state of consciousness below that which is attainable. There are different levels of consciousness and most people live in the lower levels their entire lives never knowing that it is possible to go higher. Experiential research that I and my cohorts have done over the years shows, without a doubt, that there are five levels of consciousness. See if you agree with me as we go through the five levels. Waking Sleep This is the lowest level of consciousness, and surprisingly, this is where most people spend most of their time while they are awake. Waking sleep is when the body is doing one thing and the mind is thinking of something else. An example would be walking down a flight of stairs while thinking about having a conversation with someone you were talking to an hour ago. Another example would be driving a car while thinking about what you are going to do when you get to your destination. The scary part is, when you get to your destination you don't remember many of the places you passed while driving. Probably we can all relate to our own experiences of waking sleep. You can even be in waking sleep while reading a book or reading this article. You are reading but your mind is thinking about something else. This kind of waking sleep is called "mindless reading." Waking sleep can be dangerous because the mind is not "in tune" with what the body is doing. Thousands of automobile wrecks occur every year due to waking sleep. Falling down stairs, falling off ladders, walking off scaffolding, sawing off fingers are some more examples of what can happen during waking sleep. I had a good friend in high school who was plowing a field next to the one I was plowing. The farmer we were working for told him to go down the road and start plowing the next field when he got through. When he finished plowing the field he drove down the road and forgot to take the plow up out of the ground and plowed up a bridge. I could hear the rumbling of the wooden planks over the sound of my tractor's engine. He later confided in me and told me that he was thinking about his girlfriend. Absorption This is the second stage of consciousness, but it isn't much better than waking sleep. When in absorption you are not aware of yourself because you are completely engrossed in some kind of activity or situation. Watching a move, in which you are totally engrossed, is a good example. You become so "caught up" in the movie that you feel as though you are with the actors and experiencing what they are supposedly experiencing. You are totally unaware of your surroundings. Your heart is beating fast, your palms are sweaty, you are not even aware of the person sitting next to you, the edges of the screen or the theater itself. You are totally absorbed in the movie. Absorption can occur while in deep thought, reading a book, staring into a fire, listening to music. This might seem like waking sleep but it isn't. In absorption, the mind is completely immersed in the object and there is no sense of what the body is doing or what's going on around you. In waking sleep there is still some sense of what your body is doing and vaguely what's happening around you.
The effects of absorption can be recognized best after you have experienced it. Coming out of absorption can be interesting because it is much like having been asleep and oblivious to yourself and the immediate surroundings. Interestingly, when you come out of absorption, it appears as though time has passed very quickly. You may take a look at the clock and say something like, "Where did the time go?" Attention For most people, attention is about as far as they will go in consciousness because they don't know that it is possible to go further. In school, students are often told by their teachers to "pay attention." A person can be "paying attention" and all of a sudden fall back into absorption or waking sleep without knowing it. Attention requires effort, while absorption and waking sleep require no effort at all. Unlike absorption, however, there is a feeling of separation between the observer and the observed - you and the object. For example, if you are looking at a tree, you experience being separate from the tree and that there is distance and space between you and the tree. Let's go back to the example of watching a move. This time rather than being absorbed you remain attentive to things around you - the person next to you, the frame around the movie screen, people coming and going in the theatre. You are not disturbed by what's going on around you. You are simply attentive. If your focus suddenly becomes narrower and deeper, and you become emotionally involved in the movie you can easily slip back into absorption. This is neither good nor bad, it just is. It is something you can experience for yourself. You can experience going back and forth between absorption and attention while doing most anything - running, riding a bike, walking, watching a ball game, watching television, talking with someone, etc. Awareness This level of consciousness is not difficult to experience - the difficulty comes in staying there because the mind will snap you automatically into waking sleep, absorption, or attention. Being aware is a higher level of consciousness than the first three. Awareness is simply noticing what is happening in you and around you with a very keen sense of understanding. You may be noticing cars whizzing by, people walking, birds flying overhead, dew on the grass, and so on. At the same time you are also aware of yourself. You may be walking and you are feeling your feet coming down heel to toe, hearing the "crunching" of the leaves, feeling your arms swinging, your breathing, and the wind blowing across your skin. Awareness is like opening up and letting things come to you - a field of experience opens and life is being fully and completely witnessed by you. Awareness also includes the ability to observe things and events with impartiality and non-judgment. It is an acceptance of whatever is happening in your experience at this very moment - not a year ago, not yesterday, and not a minute ago. It means staying with the experience, whether it is "good" or "bad" and allow it to yield its meaning to you. This doesn't mean, However, that you let things happen without getting involved. If you see someone in need of help, you help them. If you hear a baby cry, you go see if something is wrong. Let the experience of awareness yield its meaning to you by understanding exactly what is happening within you and outside of you this very moment. Practice staying in awareness by relaxing into the present moment. It is very important to remain
relaxed at all times. The more relaxed you are, the more aware you become. But don't let your mind wander into the lower levels of waking sleep, absorption and attention. Stay alert, but also stay relaxed. You might think that these two terms, relaxed and alert, are opposing one another but they are not. In fact, they compliment one another. The mind is alert (aware) and at the same time it is not having any thoughts of the past or the future. In other words, the mind is attuned to the present moment. The body, as well, is relaxed and not tense. Move like a graceful dancer - fully alert and relaxed. Pure Awareness Pure awareness is the ultimate level of consciousness. It is somewhat like awareness but it is not so much an experience as it is a knowing. To go into pure awareness you must first of all be in the state of awareness. While in awareness all you have to do is expand your consciousness to include the infinite space inside of you and the infinite space outside of you. This may not be so easy at first, so use your imagination to focus inward into your body starting with a cell and go smaller into molecules and then into atoms, subatomic particles, and on into infinitely smaller and smaller particles. This is the infinite space inside. Do the same thing going outward into the space beyond your body - to the stars and planets, further and further indefinitely. This little trick of the imagination allows your consciousness to expand to its fullest limits. Keep your consciousness expanded into infinity for as long as you can while walking around in a state of awareness - expanded awareness. Sooner or later your consciousness will shrink back into waking sleep, absorption or attention, and when it does, bring it back into expanded awareness. At some point in time, while practicing coming back into expanded awareness, you will feel as though you and everything are actually the same. At first, it may be for just an instant but when it happens, you are pure awareness. Existing in this state, no matter for how long, is not in the mind nor the body; it is knowing that everything is one. That is what pure awareness is all about. With practice, you will be able to stay in pure awareness longer and longer. How Can You Jump Higher