Wednesday, January 7, 2009

States of consciousness

I’ve been undergoing some hypnotherapy. In practicing some of the techniques, I’m learning more about states of consciousness.

Imagine a continuum with your unconscious mind on one side and your conscious mind on the other. Imagine that your ego—i.e. your consciousness of yourself is in the center of the continuum. The end of each continuum might look like this:

Less/no ego-----------------------------------------------------------ego dominated

Here’s how my different states of consciousness might line up along the continuum:

--Hypnosis/dream state drugs meditation workinginflow dailythoughts worries--

I’ve tried to place meditation in the middle because while I’ve experienced it mostly with an “I” (ego) consciousness, I’ve also had moments that transcended my own ego. Now, working with hypnosis, I’m learning to let go of my thinking and go “under” my thinking. I know many meditation teachers talk about this but I never needed or wanted to really go to a place of “no mind.” For me, meditation was a prayerful (even ecstatic) experience of God in my heart. I used a mantra to keep me focused but I had thoughts and many emotional and even body experiences. Tonight’s practice of self-hypnosis was different. I had a profound (and surprising) experience of “no mind.” I watched my thoughts come and go but I wasn’t the thoughts. But even though I was experiencing no-mind I was also using a mantra of a positive suggestion. My goal was to plant a positive thought in the virgin soil of my unconscious mind. But who plants the thought—if not me?

In my deeply relaxed state, this paradox was immaterial.

Another enigma: even as I experienced a place deeper than my mind, I couldn’t will (or even expect) my active and searching mind to shut down completely. I was, after all, curious about this experience and trying to make note of it for later. My mind was also making periodic reminders about other issues of the day. But this time I didn’t run with the thoughts. I trusted that I could let them go without losing them. I returned to my positive mantra and a place beyond me.

This was different from my wonderful experience of prayer/meditation-- a refuge of rejuvenation, insight, revelation, inspiration, and peace. Tonight was what I’d heard Buddhists talk about.

For many months now I’ve been meditating upon slowly waking up. It has been a wonderful gift to have that time to shift very slowly from unconsciousness to consciousness. Sometimes I will remember a dream and work on it. Sometimes I will have a spontaneous realization about my life. Often times I will just sit in a kind of half-sleep stupor and eventually do some writing as my consciousness comes to the fore.

Yesterday I decided to try self-hypnosis in the morning just as I awoke. What better time to do the programming, yes? But a strange thing happened. When I tried to do the positive mantra (I skipped the preliminary relaxation process thinking that, half asleep, I hardly needed it) I felt unable. The direction was wrong. What I’ve enjoyed so much in the mornings is the sacred experience of gradually linking unconsciousness to consciousness. Of hearing God’s voice through the darkness of what is “not ego.” Is it one experience to start with ego and descend into no-mind and another to come from no-mind into mind? Seems to me that these two directions are complementary but different. And they don’t seem interchangeable.

These experiments show me the mystical marriage of mind and no-mind. I have felt the sacred harmony of their union. Simply living in one frame or the other doesn’t work. Of course we all know that-- but my experiences of hypnosis, meditation and Jung, are changing me experientially, not theoretically.
© Lewis-Barr 2009
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