“Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.” - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
It’s helpful to think of consciousness as a vertical ladder with different levels. When our consciousness is low, we are low on the ladder, with a depressed mood clouded by limiting thinking and worries. When we’re higher on the ladder, our consciousness is raised, our thoughts are more still, and we’re more in touch with our inner wisdom and joy.
Using prompts that we can reflect on or journal through is a powerful way to raise our consciousness. Questions direct our attention, influencing how we think and, therefore, where we sit on the consciousness ladder.
Raising consciousness requires becoming more aware of our direct surroundings and place in the spiritual realm. Try out the following prompts. You can reflect on them in silence, or write down what you find, so you can return to it for later reflection:
Follow your awareness
Spend a few minutes letting your awareness wander.
As you sit comfortably, take note of where your awareness and the attached physical and perceived sensations take you. Treat this as though you were being guided rather than acting to cut out noise and intrusive ideas, which can sometimes be the case in meditation. See where it takes you. What do you hear? What do you feel? And how does one sensation drift into another one? Enjoy this adventure.
No past or future
Ask yourself: What if the past and future did not exist?
Sit with this concept for a while. How does knowing this as an absolute fact affect your experience right now? How could this change your life for the better?
What would your reality be like if you saw the world as a newborn baby would, free of all labels, judgements, memories, and past experiences—completely fresh?
Imagine you’d just entered the world, your mind is a blank slate. How would that feel? What if all judgment and meaning were taken away? Would this improve your life?
“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.” — Betty Smith
Think about this for a moment. What does existing feel like? How do you even know you exist? What is the feeling of existing like? How would you describe it?
Take perceptions in your environment, like sounds or colors you can see. Then play with the idea that you are experiencing those things inside yourself rather than outside of you. Where are you experiencing sound? Out there? Or inside yourself?
“If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” — Leo Tolstoy
You create it all
What if everything you were aware of throughout your day and throughout your life was not coming from out there?
Instead, everything you’ve experienced was beamed out of you––like a ray of light from a projector. You are literally the creator of everything––all your experiences. Sit with this realization one for a while.
Zoom in, zoom out
Here’s an exercise that brings practice to your awareness muscle. Play with the idea of zooming your awareness down to a narrow point, like, perhaps, your knee. Hold it there for a few seconds before zooming out slowly.
Bring awareness to you in the room, then imagine you are awareness itself, expanding to cover your town, your country, and the way out to the planet and beyond. As you do this, be aware of all five senses. Then zoom in again. Experiment with this continual shift in awareness.
Passenger of experience
Many of us go through life with the sense that we are at the helm of what happens. We drive the results we are getting. But consider for a moment the idea that we are passengers of our experience.
What if we were being guided along? And if we knew this was true, how might that influence our decisions as we went through life? Would this mean noticing signs more often? Might that mean we become less self-absorbed and more focused on our surroundings?
What if you had no intention whatsoever, sitting there right now?
What happens when you let go of objectives, goals, needs, desires, and intentions right now? Does it bring relief? I find I let go and enjoy a sense of calm. Perhaps this is a state of being we can return to more often.
Become a detached observer of the feelings and emotions that arise in you as you sit in a meditative state. As you sense the feelings that may show up in your chest, leg, or throat, you might see how your emotions are separate from you. You are not your emotions. This is a powerful exercise.
In seeing this, we realize our true nature. Our emotions diminish in front of our eyes. This is how to work through stuck feelings and fears. Don’t try to direct anything. Just see what comes up. Observe them and they disappear, and you will feel lifted.