Psychology of Becoming Conscious

by Ovidiu Brazdau

Part One – The inner growth journey
Part Two – The return “jhanas” – From “being one” to “being a responsible part of the multidimensional we” (ongoing research)

Related research topics:
– The psychology of the DMT experience – navigating through the synchrony of the information flows (ongoing research)
– Autism, presence, and the pre-conscious awareness (romanian version here)

Becoming conscious

Painting by Argentina Stoica

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PART ONE – THE INNER GROWTH JOURNEY
Table of contents
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BEING CONSCIOUS AND WITNESSING AWARENESS
An introduction
What does it mean to “be conscious” and several key concepts
Witnessing awareness mode
Sleep consciousness, lucidity and witnessing dreaming
Pure awareness, a scientific perspective: Orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR)
The Conscious Experience Map – the interconnected subsystems which shape our conscious experience

SELF, IDENTITY AND INNER GROWTH PROCESS (SELF CQ)
The ego and the illusion of self
The subpersonalities and systems thinking
Ego stability and resistance to change
The Growth mindset
Ego development theory – scientific research related to the stages of human development
Descriptions of the post-conventional stages of human development
Vertical development and altered states of consciousness
Solving stage-related issues with patience
Activating the transformation potential
Highly sensitive persons and overexcitability
How long does it take to transform vertically
Being alive: temporary and persistent non-symbolic experiences

THE PERSPECTIVE AND ITS NON-CONCEPTUAL COMPONENTS 
Perspective and language habit
Attentional flexibility
Attention to space
The object less imagery
Attention to attention itself
Attending to the present moment
Samyama, absorption and “full empathy” as a way of attending to the present moment
Intention. The lenses through which we pre-define the perspective-taking process

GROWING UP, AWAKENING AND INNER DEVELOPMENT. (INNER GROWTH CQ)
Growing up and waking up. Types of “awakening”
Exploring and re-programming the automatic patterns
Exploring the shadow, accepting and integrating all experiences
Spiritual bypass – the premature transcendence
How to relate with the inner growth process
Balancing Aliveness: depression vs. anxiety in the growth journey
Daily practice and ”self-directed neuroplasticity”
Inner growth, google search and memetics
Spiritual teachers, channeling and our inner master
Neo-advaita teachers. A rational perspective
Entheogens: psychedelics and human development
Spiritual emergencies, mental illnesses or inner awakenings?
Alternative explanations for some natural inner growth processes, currently labeled as psychiatric conditions
How to get out of delusions: a proposal for an exit way out of the psychotic-like episodes
Spiritual emergency, schizophrenia and transgenerational healing
Depersonalization, changes in ”locus of identity” and diffuse-objective attention
Transformational counseling and non-dual psychotherapy
Importance of reciprocal validation during transition through stages of development
Psychosomatics and conscious embodiment
Kundalini awakening and psychosomatic rebalancing. Biology of Kundalini

DEPTH PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES DURING INNER GROWTH
Transitioning to a new stage: automatic patterns in perspective-taking process
Awakening meme
Maya pattern
The symbolic journey
Automatic life review
The cognitive answering machine
Healing the transgenerational memes
Dark night pattern
Ego hijacking

THE COMPONENTS OF CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE (CQ-i FACTORS)
1. Physical experience
2. Emotional
3. Cognitive
4. Social-Relational
5. Self (Identity)
6. Inner Growth
7. Human interconnectedness (Spiritual)

APPENDIX
Some hypothesis related with the nonconceptual self and witnessing awareness

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BEING CONSCIOUS AND WITNESSING AWARENESS
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An introduction

In this guide, I use an experience-based terminology to explain how I see the psychological development during our evolution as a conscious species. I try to speak directly to the lived experience, to keep everything simple and not use complex linguistic frameworks, such as “bottom-up theory” or “phenomenological approach”.

My research quest while developing the consciousness quotient was to look into conscious experience, and find the key elements of the structural changes. I try to answer the questions “what changes?” and “how it changes?”, incorporating all the experiences that I know of from various cultures, and the knowledge from spirituality and science. I looked into the structure of the human psyche, instead of the “content”, without considering anything as “pathology”.

I tried to see how each type of experience is useful for our evolution as a species, examining what is the purpose of that experience for our collective evolution, and how people integrate all types of experiences in order to become fully conscious.

It was quite a challenge to operationalize the conscious experience without using the word “conscious”, when I created the items of the CQ Inventory, but this challenge helped me to understand conclusively more about how we evolve as a humanity. I explored the identity of concepts from psychology and spirituality and tried to find their essential features, so that people from various worldviews and cosmological understandings could see beneath their specific orientation and identify the core element of the experiences. I hope that this kind of simple approach is an appropriate way to develop a psychology of becoming conscious, a psychology that will incorporate all the essential ideas about human development from philosophical understanding from the east and west, north and south.

As the Consciousness Quotient is a composite psychological construct based on a list of traits, skills and abilities that describe conscious experience, I present in this guide a selection of key findings and researches from various fields. My filter for selection was simple: I selected those people who have a very clear understanding of that topic, mostly people who talk from their own experience or have very good knowledge about the topic. You can use the links in the text for a more in-depth exploration of some concepts.

All the researched work I recommend here were useful for me during my own inner journey, and most of them were big wows for me at that time. What I did during my learning process was to explore new perspectives by finding their essential ideas, comparing them to my experience, experiencing their view, integrating them, and then exploring the meaning  further. Some of the ideas dramatically changed my conceptual framework.  I spent time exploring them deeply, which allowed me the opportunity to connect personally with people who emerged specific ideas.

I found myself psychologically jumping into some of the perspectives I was studying, and spent some time experiencing a particular worldview or frame of reference, before deciding if it would be useful for my research. In time, I began to like this new skill of jumping in and out of understandings, and the process became quite natural. It took me from a few hours to a few years, to really create meaning and understand through my own experience what people were talking about. Sometimes it was hard to get back from some circular perspectives, but I was lucky, I always had some friends near me who acted as lifelines and helped me go through. I could say I abused this “jnana” method of learning through full empathy in the last years, but with positive results: my cognitive and emotional flexibility improved a lot, and my learning speed increased dramatically, when needed. I have learned a lot from well-known scientists, and from unknown but brilliant consciousness explorers, who felt the need to share their personal insights on internet blogs, and from my friends and students who shared their inner growth journeys. I am thankful to all of you.

There are many personal observations and hypotheses included in this material. However, I prefer to look at them as pieces of knowledge, pieces that build an experience-based framework of understanding. My intention is to find explanations that still exist after dissecting them with the Occam’s razor. I have done this many times during the last years, comparing my view with others’ terminology. If my perspective was sharper and simpler, I kept mine. If not, I absorbed that theory as a working hypothesis, and went to the next step. In time, systematically, the knowledge became simpler and simpler. I feel that some parts of it reached the simplest level of experience-based terminology.

I invite you to see for yourself how the mechanisms I describe here works in your life. Please email me if you think I missed to mention some relevant knowledge or if you feel that your personal experience could add some clarity to some topics.

What does it mean to “be conscious” and several key concepts

From my own point of view, to be conscious means “to have a degree of witnessing awareness and a degree of freedom of choice when thinking, feeling, sensing and interacting with people and the environment”. An important element of the conscious experience is intentionality, the mindset which allows a person to  choose deliberately what behavior to enact and what attitude to select. ‘More conscious’ (a higher CQ) means a higher degree of witnessing awareness and being less automatic in thinking-feeling-sensing, together with a higher degree of choice when initiating a behavior. The witnessing perspective, which leads to the ability to observe the inside and outside worlds without engaging with them, is one of the key factors of the CQ construct. ‘Witnessing awareness’ is usually described as the ‘I am experience’, ‘the observer experience’, ‘just being’ (as opposed to ‘doing’), ‘awareness of awareness itself’ and ‘no-mind’.

The previous paragraph is my operational definition of conscious experience, validated using the scientific procedures, and it represents the key premises of the Consciousness Quotient Inventory (CQ-i). The CQ-i is composed of seven dimensions, known as Consciousness Quotient: physical, emotional, cognitive, social-relational, self, inner growth and spiritual. CQ-i explores these dimensions, using questions scored with a Likert scale with six degrees. You can find detailed information about CQ-i on the CQ Institute website, where you can take the test and find out how conscious you are. I explored more than 200 traits and skills that describe a conscious experience.

Being conscious is the opposite of being on autopilot. Recent studies have shown that humans are on autopilot more than 70% of the time, and do not realize they have lost their free will, their freedom to choose how to react to what’s happening to them. Most of us live our lives, as a kind of machines, socialized through education and self-programmed through our experiences.

Automatization plays a crucial role in our everyday life, but on our development journey, it is necessary to access our automatic programs, to re-write them by adding “the free will subprogram”, and after that, to let them become automatic again. For people at the beginning of the inner journey, this may look like a state of hyper-vigilance, or a permanent hyper-awareness that requires permanent attention and energy to what is happening. And this is what it looks like. After a period of transformation, it becomes natural. In fact, awareness is always present here, there is no need to consume energy to pay attention. We are also awareness and attention naturally goes where it’s needed, without consuming too much energy. We don’t have to remind ourselves to be aware, as we are already aware.

Witnessing awareness mode

Not being on autopilot requires us to become reflective, so that we feel ourselves and look at ourselves in every moment. A first step for de-automatization is the post-event self-observation, being conscious after the event occurred. When we observe ourselves during the event, acknowledging our actions moment-by-moment, we gain better clarity levels. Just as if, we would have a mirror in us, which reflects us every second. This is a process we call “the witness” or “witnessing awareness”. In order words, it is the awareness being aware of itself. Witnessing during an event is neither reflective or meta-cognitive, but meta-awareness or fully conscious awareness or choiceless awareness. I wrote about it in a chapter from a book written with several other scientists who are also studying the conscious awareness: ”Witnessing awareness and modes of cognitive awareness. A terminology proposal for the psychological assessment of witnessing and (meta) cognitive experiences”. The chapter is available on the CQ Institute website and the book is available on amazon.com.

What I find to be most important is that the witness is not a conceptual structure, mediated by language, nor a kind of super ego that analyzes what is happening. It is simply the experience of being. The witnessing self is different from the conceptual mind, the feelings, and perceptions we have of the world. On the other hand, it is a bit of all, we cannot tell for sure yet. Some researchers call it “the fundamental awareness”, pure consciousness, non-symbolic awareness, or, from a philosophical point of view, the collective consciousness. The witnessing awareness mode of being is described by the first person reports as a constant fresh look into the present moment, as a new zeroth-person perspective, from where there is no such thing as a flow of consciousness, there is only a present-centered experience.

In my opinion, the witnessing awareness mode is a part of a new system that appears to be active on a large scale in the human race. Richard Maurice Bucke conceptualized it as “cosmic consciousness”, but I think it’s a new human evolutionary feature, developing in humans just as the mind started to form millions of years ago.

In the exploration of the witnessing/nondual awareness, of great importance I found a series of scientific research conducted by Zoran Josipovic. In addition, on his website you can find also an interview with Rafi Malach, explaining the concept of ”perception without a perceiver” – the ability to be aware without having a fixed Ego.

When I see a pastor on TV saying, “God is in us, can’t you feel Him?” I see that he is referring to this system/field and to the connection with it. I see a man who feels this activation of an Observer in his own being, an observer who exists only in the present moment, experiencing a silent non-conceptual awareness or a nondual awareness. The pastor lives the experience but describes it according to the paradigm in which he lives. The moment of the activation of the ability of being a witness, described as enlightenment, generates a series of automatic transformations in the mind and the emotions of the person. Patanjali, in Yoga Sutra refers to this initial activation stage when he talks about the imprint of the enlightenment, which consequently will restructure all the other memories (memory imprints).

In the following table, I present some of the main differences between the non-conceptual Self and the body-mind-emotion Self that we are accustomed with (excerpt from” Witnessing awareness and modes of cognitive awareness. A terminology proposal for the psychological assessment of witnessing and (meta) cognitive experiences”). My thanks to Carlo Monsanto for sharing some wisdom while discussing this list.

NON-CONCEPTUAL SELF
Witnessing Awareness Mode
Non-symbolic (Just Being)

CONCEPTUAL SELF
Thinking/Feeling/Sensing-Perceiving/
Acting & Interacting

 

A zero reference for mental activity

Witnessing

Real Self, Witnessing Self – “I”

I am

Meta consciousness

Stable Witnessing awareness

I, witness patterns, choose or accept mental patterns

Witness mind and personality

Witness feelings and sensations

De-automation, paying attention to present moments

One mode of pure awareness, access to any part of the mind (no subconscious)

Witnessing experience, Aware of awareness itself

Pre-reflective state

Jamais vu

Knowing by contemplation (still need the mind to interpret)

Allows increased perceptual processing and

unconscious processing (faster)

Supported by receptive attention (attend diffusely to a whole field)

Just being

Direct experience through awareness, independent of ASC (e.g. natural connection with the environment)

Just watching. Voluntary control over thoughts and ego.

No repressed ideas in unconscious, letting go of any emotions and thoughts, good or bad

No desire to control, relaxed decision making

Accepting all emotions

Feeling on interconnectedness with all life forms

Universal love

Process of transformation through increased acceptance of life

Felt as real freedom (I am as free as I can be)

Know all the states

Pure awareness

Here-Now Experience

Observing surroundings, Perceptual visual data

Experiential therapies and techniques

A spectrum of mental activity

Observing, identifying

(Observing) Self – ego

I am me

Cognitive consciousness

Dynamic mental awareness

Self, Experience of patterns of thinking and feeling

Self-Actualization, Individuation

Observer – First-Person

Cognition, thinking. Personality traits

Aware of external/internal stimuli, Feeling, Sensing

Automatic behavior and cognitive patterns

Consciousness, conscious and unconscious content and processing

.
Déjà vu
.

Knowing by thinking, feeling, sensing

Cognitive processing

Conscious and controlled processing

Supported by concentrative attention

Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Sensing

Imagining a need for enlightenment

Altered states of consciousness (ASC)

(e.g. expanded consciousness)

Mystical experiences. People report a disconnect from thought processes and ego

Unconscious formed of repressed negative ideas, emotions

Control of thinking and emotions

Selecting good emotions

Feeling of separation, ego

Love for close friends

Process of transformation through higher order thoughts (higher level of abstractization)

the idea of freedom

Remember the states, state dependent memory

Flow Consciousness

Wandering in thinking

Switching modes: surroundings/thinking

Self –image rational psychotherapies

All the skills and traits listed here as are related to the non-conceptual self. Some of them can be developed through simple trainings, like diffuse attention (open focus), dividing attention, attention to space, visual thinking, supporting “being mode” vs. “doing mode” (e.g. by simple exercises of delaying with 30 seconds any reaction we have, already available through mindfulness movement), consciously generating and sharing love, by simple visualizations and increased body awareness through contact improvisation exercises. We can learn to access this “field”, using its framework, its terminology and learning its ways, like learning a new language. Starting from simple blocks, we can build our pathways into this new world of conscious interconnectedness.

Sleep consciousness, lucidity and witnessing dreaming

Jayne Gackenbach and Charles Alexander have conducted several studies examining the relationship of dream lucidity to pure/witnessing consciousness. Alexander explains that, “the significance of the experience of pure consciousness is that it provides the foundation for the development of stable higher stages of consciousness or ‘enlightenment’. Witnessing of deep sleep indicates that the inner wakefulness of pure consciousness is now beginning to be maintained even during the most extreme conditions of mental inertia — dreamless sleep. Indeed … the first stable higher stage of consciousness termed ‘cosmic consciousness’ — is defined as the maintenance of pure consciousness throughout the 24-hour cycle of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.”

Gackenbach describes three types of sleep consciousness experiences:

  • “Lucid dreaming” was described as a dream in which you are actively thinking about the fact that you are dreaming.
    An example from a Transcencental Meditation practitioner: “During a dream I will become aware of the dream as separate, then aware that I am dreaming. Then I begin to manipulate the story and the characters to create whatever situation I desire. At times, in unpleasant situations, I’ll think as the dreamer ‘I don’t have to put up with this’ and I change the dream or at least ‘back out’ of the involvement.”
  • “Witnessing dreaming” was described as a dream in which you experience a quiet, peaceful, inner awareness or wakefulness completely separate from the dream.
    “Sometimes, whatever the content of the dream is, I feel an inner tranquillity of awareness that is removed from the dream. Sometimes, I may even be caught up in the dream but the inner awareness of peace remains.”
  • “Witnessing in deep sleep” was described as dreamless sleep in which you experience a quiet, peaceful, inner state of awareness or wakefulness.

    “It is a feeling of infinite expansion and bliss and nothing else. Then I become aware that I exist but there is no individual personality. Gradually, I become aware that I am an individual but there are no details of who, where, what, when, etc. Eventually, these details fill in and I might awaken.”

In her studies, Jayne Gackenbach reports that “across samples lucid dreams were experienced more frequently than either witnessing dreams or witnessing deep sleep. This finding favoring the higher incidence of lucidity relative to witnessing also held across level of dream recall and supports the notion that lucid dreams are easier to access no matter what ones training or personal skills and therefore may represent a developmentally prior state of sleep consciousness leading eventually to the experience of pure consciousness”.

The experience of witnessing while sleeping was described to Alexander by one of his subjects in quite clear words: “he said that ordinary dreams are on the surface of the mind and that the lucid activity of reflective thinking and discrimination and acting upon that content is in a more settled state of mind, but that witnessing is at the source of the mind. Awareness is identified with the state of being and these other things are relative degrees of excitation above this silent state of awareness. He did say that he thought the duality of lucidity, the reflection on the content of dreams, was more abstract, more de-embedded than ordi­nary dreams, which of course it is. Lucidity is relatively liberating. You realize it’s only a dream and step out­side of a constrained reality. Then witnessing would simply represent, I think, the next step outside of that, to the source of thought entirely”.

Pure awareness, a scientific perspective: Orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR)

There are several theories to explain this state of being present, when we are able to observe the mind, the emotions, the body, in a non-judgmental way, without getting involved in their functioning. In my opinion, the best candidate is the Orch-Or theory, launched by Stuart Hameroff and developed together with Roger Penrose. Hameroff’s theory claims that the microtubules in the cells create a resonance communication field, which he says, is actually, consciousness, the experience of becoming conscious. In my opinion, a more appropriate term for this wifi resonant communication is the “witnessing awareness”. Anirban Bandhyopadyay, an Indian researcher working in Japan and the US, presented a research at the Toward a Science of Consciousness conference, in which he confirmed empirically that the microtubules resonate between themselves as in a sort of wifi resonance field, yet with a higher frequency. Until 2013, we knew that neurons communicate through axons, now we also know they have a wifi type of communication. Yet, what do they communicate? We don’t really know.

Coming back to the concept of pure awareness or observer: how is it possible for one to be also an observer as well as within one’s own mind and emotions? In my opinion, the answer given by Hameroff and scientifically proven by Bandhyopadyay is appropriate: the observer is a different system, which functions quicker than the mind. It’s another psychological mode of functioning, in the same way the mind is different from emotions. Some individuals activated this non-conceptual component, which works together with all the other already existing systems (mind, body, emotions). It is just a matter of learning and development.

This perspective of witnessing awareness as a different vibratory field to which we as a species are slowly gaining conscious access is consistent with the panpsychism theory, morfogenetic field or akasha (from Eastern philosophy). Still, Susan Blackmore’s scientific criticism of the voluntary access to the field is also valid (See her article – Why I had to change my mind).

Presented in the Appendix are some of my hypothesis based on Orch-Or research studies.

The Conscious Experience Map – the interconnected subsystems which shape our conscious experience

Below is my proposal for a map of the Conscious Experience Layers, described using the susbystems presented in this handbook. Click on the image to enlarge it, or download the pdf. Feel free to share it with anyone interested.

Conscious-Experience-Layers

The non-conceptual range of experiences and multidmensional awareness are my ongoing research. I will expand this section as time goes by and I have some conclusions and insights. For the moment what I can share from my research are these field observations:

Wave-like experiences (e.g. “I am”) and Particle-like experiences (e.g. ego-self, body, emotions, cognitive flows) can be lived simultaneously if attention is trained to function globally (e.g. open focus trainings), which allow simultaneous streams of awareness to become one system/image.

E.g. Paying attention to attention itself all the time, and also paying attention to Time, Space, Frequency Fields, Physical, Emotional, Cognitive, Social-Relational etc…. in a relaxed awareness space, accepting everything/choiceless awareness, plus extra details from narrow attention flows. Global & focused attention, in the same time, pure consciousness together with awareness of all the other layers, simultaneously.

The traditional way to get to a higher synchrony was to induce an altered state of consciousness, a one-direction-flow of the bodymind (samyama), that releases attentional energy and may lead to attention to attention itself (permanent feedback loop). As the synchrony increases, each point/cell/system is inter-connected with an increased number of other points/cells/systems. In the body, this manifests as a higher homeostasis (see biologyofkundalini.com by Jana Dixon).

The Witnessing-type of experiences are an amazing field of research. I am experimenting these years with attention, space length, time deepnees, and tuning into various energy and informations flows (while watching the flows, but not connecting with the content of the flows). DMT plays an important role here, as it increases the interconnectedness and the number of simultaneous flows we can allow in our inner experience.

Here is how the conscious experience map could look like from a wave-like perspective (link to SoundCloud, music by Saranankara).

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SELF, IDENTITY AND INNER GROWTH PROCESS (SELF CQ)
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The ego and the illusion of self

The ego is made of our thinking, actions, feelings and relationship habits. It is one of the most useful psychological acquisitions of the human species, providing us an identity in relation with others and makes us different from other people and the environment. The ego is our unique configuration that helps us give meaning to our experiences (meaning making tool). Some call it the storyteller or inner narrator – that part that interprets the experiences that we go through. In other words, our identity is a sum of stories about us, heard from our parents, from media, cartoons and movies we saw during our childhood, stories from school and interpretations we have told ourselves during our lifetime. The ego is not an “illusion” because it does not exist, it’s more like a dynamic structure that can be changed and adjusted, some sort of tool that we can use at our own wish. During our first stages of our lives, we believe we are the ego. Later, we discover that the ego is just an instrument so that we can live our lives that we can build and consciously adapt to our purposes. We can look at ourselves “from the outside”, by being self-reflexive. Philosophy is not a luxury, but a necessity of our current lifestyle.

I use the “ego”, “I” and “self” as synonyms, when I refer to the experience of having an identity structure; “personality” is a similar concept. I feel that we need to get back to less complex analytical approaches, in order to get back to real grounded life. Many times I feel like psychology has analyzed a lot, creating more and more ideas, uncountable streams of concepts, while losing the contact with the experienced reality. And from time to time, an individual like Ken Wilber connects them, but using an even more complicated theory. As I mentioned in the beginning of this guide, my approach is to reduce the complexity of thinking, and to re-start from experience, using the concepts that connects directly with reality (in what I call first level conceptualization) putting aside the second level or third level of concepts. Therefore, I try not to use concepts of concepts. I think we can move further and integrate some unclear concepts such as id, ego, super-ego, self, higher self, soul etc. In personality theories, there is already too much conceptualization, in my opinion and this reflects in the “doomed” DSM-V, where the authors use pathologizing labels for most of the natural responses to extraordinary events. Hopefully, the collective will react to this stream of development. So, self, ego, I, higher self, the source, transpersonal self, true self, they are all referring to what we experience as an identity. I consciously mix these terms in this guide, to create some unitary space regarding the idea of self-identity.

The subpersonalities and systems thinking

An important idea, is that the ego is formed in relation with some key events or facts in our life (e.g. job, relation with parents, food, friends, and sex). These groups of information created specific patterns of thinking, feeling, sensing, and acting, related with that event. In time, they formed a web of patterns, that activate only during that event, or when we are thinking of that event. As our education missed to integrate all this in a unitary ego, we have specific behaviors and values for specific situations, web of patterns that we call subpersonalities, or mini-identities, or facets of self.

From the conversations I have had with different people, I noticed that each of us have around 20 to 70 subpersonalities, depending on the complexity of our lives. You can think of them like some costumes we wear in relationships with different people or situations: myself in relationship with my parents, myself at work, myself as husband/wife, myself in vacation and so on. When a subpersonality is active, we totally become that subpersonality, with its emotions, traits, fears and joys. In the transformation journey, observing the subpersonalities is the premise for becoming an authentic human being. In time, we can integrate all the subpersonalities into one; we can be in contact with the totality of us in each moment. To do this, first we need to notice the subpersonalities, then to create a system of life values that can apply to all of them, and then, putting it into practice, by being authentic all the time, but adapting our behavior to that specific situation.

Changing our inner world requires a constant notice and observation of patterns, an understanding  of how these patterns connect and work together within systems. This is what ego development theory refers to as “systems thinking”, a basic skill for personal development. During the personal development some of the systems which can be analyzed are the body, the food, the emotions, the relationships with other people, the mind, the way we talk, the ego. Maybe the most dramatic transition in our personal development would be the one where people can see their ego as a system and stop identifying with it. Often, this experience is described as a death of the ego, followed by an experience of inner awakening.

Systems thinking allows us to detect that there are some patterns connected between them, and they form a larger system. Then, we can shift to a wider perspective. This idea is very well used in the Kegan’s subject-object approach. After we connect the dots, and see the entire system, we can go to the next level, like a jump from 2D to 3D. At the new level, the system becomes object again, and we see it from outside. Then the process repeats repeatedly, the object is integrated and the system becomes a part of the current subjective experience, until we connect everything with everything. This associative mechanism is quite automatic and unconscious when the inner growth engine starts, and it eventually will lead to associations between ideas, objects, symbols and archetypes, as the inner growth process goes deeper and deeper. The final part of this wonderful associative drive to evolution is to see the associative mechanism itself as a system, and get out of this never-ending fractal loop (or “house of mirrors”, using Susanne Cook-Greuter terminology), and dive through the void into the witnessing awareness.

I call this process “the symbolic journey”, and I describe it in the last section of this guide. It is always great meeting people in this stage of the process, they see wonderful connections I never thought of, e.g. between the Fibonacci spiral, my bicycle and my biscuit. Exploring the interconnectedness seems to be the most joyful part of the inner journey. It’s a never-ending series of excitement and enjoyment. It also has its black holes when it happens in a stressed person, who tends to interpret this newly discovered interconnectedness as if someone is watching them. How can I explain to such persons that it is Us that are watching over Us? And it’s ok? That’s a good challenge for a friend or a counselor. Many people stuck in this point consume their energies on conspiracy theories and try to get rid of any form of control. Their fear wins over their letting go.

Ego stability and resistance to change

In order to transform, every person must first defeat their psychological inertia and modify the inner mechanisms that maintain the stability of the ego. The ego is a consequence of evolution, that’s why the process of changing it is not gratified by nature with joy in the first place, but with fear and frustration. Conquering the defensive mechanisms that protect the ego is the first battle in the transformation journey. The ego does not allow a transformation from the inside, and the stability obtained during our life is constantly opposed to change. Some people tend to see this inertia as a negative aspect, or negative energies, that “attack them”. Some of the negative emotions are, in fact emotions resulted from the system inertia, which naturally defend the ego. In my framework, some of the positive emotions (e.g. enthusiasm) are released as an evolutionary support to overcome the inertia.

The Growth mindset

I think that creating a growth mindset is an important task that needs to take place when starting a transformation journey. Of course, we may already have sensing or feelings as a primary “sensor” for deciding when and how to transform, instead of using the mind. During the last years, I found out that a larger growth mindset is necessary, that include some basic skills and traits for inner journeying: openness, cognitive and emotional flexibility, accepting criticism, accepting paradoxes, and the frequent usage of “I don’t know (yet)”. All these are important to be developed, and in time, they will provide a framework for facilitating the evolution through the stages.

Another skill is the constant observation of the contexts of life, or life responses (the old term for this is synchronicity). In my opinion is important for each of us to discover what” assignment,” we have from the collective and to detect the stream of life that fits our way of being. When we are in the stream, life seems to respond all the time with “synchronicities”. The idea of “synchronicity,”  usually is thought of as a kind of positive confirmation of our stuff. I think this confirmation happens all the time, we are interconnected all the time, but from time to time, we receive a lift from the collective. When people are consciously in their stream of life, they receive this lift all the time.

Unconditional acceptance of life is important, but to me it looks a bit over feminized by the spiritual / new age approaches. I would add some masculine in this: there are moments when we need to fight and be a hero, and not accept the actual status quo. We also need social activism and setting the limits in relation with some people around us. Authenticity and radical honesty with ourselves are necessary to integrate the subpersonalities and to create a workspace for our unconscious information to manifest. I ask myself many times: Is what I think and say to me really, what it is happening in me? Is this what I am really experiencing, or this is just a frame I created for me, a personal veil that I put on automatically? Can I use some other words that are more related with my inner experience? Am I labeling the experience I have using my actual mindset, or I am using an old mindset that is blocking me from experiencing the present moment?

Radical honesty with ourselves and authenticity are the key pathways to connect with the present moment awareness, and I think that a harmonious mindset allows this awareness to create what we feel, think and sense in each moment, instead of using memories from mind-emotions-body to create the present moment experience.

Ego development theory – scientific research related to the stages of human development

Until the development of transpersonal psychology, the theories and research of western psychology focused on the evolution of the personality, from basic levels to the self-actualization, thought to be the last evolutionary stage possible. These include Piaget, Freud, Erikson, Kohlberg, Maslow. Since the ’80’s, a new series of theories and researchers included post-conventional stages of human development, that integrate new levels, previously related only with mystics: Kegan, Loevinger, Wilber, Back & Cowan, Washburn, Wade, Grof, Torbert, Joiner and Cook-Greuter. Susanne Cook-Greuter created my favorite theory, developed with an experience-based terminology (bottom-up theory). Some other interesting data regarding her theory is available in a PhD thesis at Fielding Institute, USA, written by Dane Hewlett. He presents in detail all these post-conventional theories of personal development as well as the experiences of 25 individuals, each of them analyzed from the perspective of their development level.

Susanne Cook-Greuter stages and the estimates regarding the percentage of each stage  is presented below:

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The basic basic ideas of the human development theory are presented in “Nine Levels of Increasing Embrace in Ego Development: A Full-Spectrum Theory of Vertical Growth and Meaning Making:

“- Development theory describes the unfolding of human potential towards deeper understanding, wisdom and effectiveness in the world.

– Growth occurs in a logical sequence of stages or expanding worldviews from birth to adulthood. The movement is often associated to an ever-widening spiral.

– Overall, worldviews evolve from simple to complex, from static to dynamic, and from ego-centric to socio-centric to world-centric.

– Later stages are reached only by journeying through the earlier stages. Once a stage has been traversed, it remains a part of the individual’s response repertoire, even when more complex, later stages are adopted as primary lenses to look at experience.

– Each later stage includes and transcends the previous ones. That is, the earlier perspectives remain part of our current experience and knowledge (just as when a child learns to run, it doesn’t stop to be able to walk). Each later stage in the sequence is more differentiated, integrated, flexible and capable of optimally functioning in a rapidly changing and ever more complex world.

– People’s stage of development influences what they notice and can become aware of, and therefore, what they can describe, articulate, cultivate, influence, and change.

– As healthy development unfolds, autonomy, freedom, tolerance for difference and ambiguity, as well as flexibility, self-awareness, and skill in interacting with the environment increase while defenses decrease.

– Derailment in development, pockets of lack of integration, trauma and psychopathology are seen at all levels. Thus, later stages are not more adjusted or “happier.”

– A person who has reached a later stage can understand earlier world-views, but a person at an earlier stage cannot understand the later ones.

– The depth, complexity, and scope of what people notice can expand throughout life. Yet no matter how evolved we become, our knowledge and understanding is always partial and incomplete.

– Development occurs through the interplay between person and environment, not just by one or the other. It is a potential and can be encouraged and facilitated by appropriate support and challenge, but it cannot be guaranteed.

– While vertical development can be invited and the environment optimally structured towards growth, it cannot be forced. People have the right to be who they are at any station in life.

– The later the stage, the more variability for unique self-expression exists, and the less readily we can determine where a person’s center of gravity lies.

– All stage descriptions are idealizations that no human being fits entirely.”

It is important to specify that most of us are simultaneously of 2-3 stages, a subpersonality may be on stage #4 and another one to have the perspective from the #5 stage. Only after the harmonization process has reached a certain point, we can feel, act and react authentically, from a unified perspective.

Descriptions of the post-conventional stages of human development

The post-conventional stages of development include Autonomous (7), Ego Aware-Construct Aware (8) and Unitive-Transcendent (9). Stages 8 and 9 are labeled as “post-autonomous”. They are a gradual transition of the reference point from bodymind to witnessing awareness. Referring to this transition from individual to collective awareness, a participant in a research about awakening (conducted at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology USA) said:

“There are two levels of awakening that appear to be happening in human consciousness at this time. Many people are awakening to their personal and collective shadow and realizing we are all here together. A smaller number (so far) are recognizing and learning to abide as this self-cognizant, empty awareness.”

In the Autonomous stage, the personal goal is “the most one can be”, i.e. one makes the best of himself/herself. These people are satisfied with what they are doing, they have a holistic perspective, are aware of the fact that there is no such thing as a single truth but several perspectives, accept both positive and negative emotion. They live their life story, are comfortable in it and this is a story turned into something beautiful or highly acceptable.

In the Construct-aware stage, the aim of the individuals is “to be aware”, while in the Unitive stage, the purpose is just “to be”. The transition to the stages 8 and 9 leads to the observation of the entire psychological system as a system and allows the permanent experience of the fundamental awareness that impregnates the body, mind and emotions. These stages depend on the ability of activating the witnessing awareness the fundamental awareness of the present moment beyond perceptions, emotions and thoughts.

Described below are the differences in the degrees of awareness in the three stages:

Autonomous stage

Focus: Self-development, self-actualization; creating a meaningful, coherent, objective self-identity.

Self-Definition: Autonomous, multiple roles; self-generated core- identity; aware of many defenses. Sense of self-esteem, empowerment. Rational mind and intellect; though as mediated through language.

Dominant center of awareness: Rational mind and intellect; though as mediated through language.

Range of awareness: Aware of body/mind as system, aware of context dependency and personal interpretation of internal and external events.

Method of knowing: Reasoning, rational analysis aided by some intuition: one assesses, evaluates, judges, compares, measures, contrasts and predicts.

Example of self-reflection: “I am – well-balanced professional human being, definitely on the path of self-actualization and self-fulfillment.”

An important skill that appears in this stage is the ability to observe the subpersonalities within themselves and other people. In the next stage, these individuals are able to produce effective transformation change in others, as they become more and more flexible, being able to empathize with people and to see what is the adjustment that would lead to a change in people’s thinking, emotional patterns and behaviors.

Ego-aware (Construct aware) stage

Focus: Exploring the habits and processes of the mind and the way one makes sense of experience through cognition and language.

Self-Definition: Complex matrix of self- identification, at the same time questioning their adequacy. Description of self in stages.

Dominant center of awareness: Rational mind plus intimations of transcendent awareness, and intuitive knowledge during peak moments.

Range of awareness: Aware of the limits of symbolic and codification and rational thought; aware of ego and conventional reality as constructs. Keenly aware of difference between map and territory.

Method of knowing: Rational awareness with awareness of the mechanics of thought, symbolic codification, construction of meaning, contemplation of limitations of present way of knowing – existential paradox.

Example of self-reflection: ”I am – sensitive, honest, striving to always love others . . . reflective . . . sometimes to the point of being unable to get out of endless loops, striving to take responsibility for myself.”

Individuals in the ego-aware stage are able to observe cognitive and emotional processes in others, and mirror them in others in real time, they see the patterns as they unfold (thus they help people to recognize them more easily). In Freudian terms, they process the other’s unconscious and turn it into conscious. I think this is the meaning of the claim in spirituality, which says a master can take over the disciple’s karma. A master in the ego-aware stage can recognize the patterns in the disciple’s functioning and realizes that some of them are automatic, then, by means of various mentoring actions, they can help the disciple expand their awareness.

Susanne Cook-Greuter differentiates between two categories in this stage: a rational category (rationally-directed) in which the individual is still very much connected to their own thoughts and uses logical thinking as an important way to understand the world; the second category is less cognitive (intuitively-directed), marking a change in the meaning-making way. The individual starts feeling a deep connection with the surrounding environment, and notices that they don’t require the use of thinking so much in order to know what is happening. “The old way of mediating experience no longer satisfies while the new mode of processing has been glimpsed at peak moments or during temporary transcendence, but is not fully or consistently available.” This second category includes individuals less cognitive and more subjective and experiential.

Dane Hewlett, a researcher who analyzed these categories, was wondering if the thinking-feeling dichotomy in any way parallels these categories. In my opinion, the Myers-Briggs typology no longer applies for the post-autonomous stages, because the personal development process changes the personality in a dramatic way before getting to these stages. People are becoming more and more a kind of “psychological androgens”, in order to integrate their experiences; they incorporated various types of functioning. They have many ways of knowing and meaning- making, and they use them in a specific situation depending on the situation. A rational person will learn in this stage that sensing or feeling has the same value as thinking; or a person who is using the body awareness as a primary channel for information will learn the thinking. I think that these reflect a transition to a way of abandoning the mind-senses as a primary filter for knowing the reality. The new way of knowing is becoming awareness itself. Perhaps future researches would explore more this availability of the meaning-making ways in the post-autonomous stages.

Unitive Stage

Focus: Non-evaluating, integrative witnessing of ongoing process of experience.

Self-Definition: Description of self as in constant flux and transformation.

Dominant center of awareness: Metarational, postrepresentational, immediate, integrative awareness and direct experience of what is.

Range of awareness: Aware of perceptional flux and changing levels of awareness; life as is; aware of “illusion” of a permanent, individual self and object world. Cognizant of witness-Self.

Method of knowing: Contemplation, witnessing of continuous flux; subjective experience of non-symbolic mode of direct knowing; intellect and intuition are used, but not overvalued.

Goal: To be.

Example of self-reflection: “I am – alive, trundling along, making sense as best as I can, diversifying and expanding while consolidating and contracting.”

You can find on the internet a few nondual communities where you can listen to people in these post-conventional configurations (ex. conscious.tv, batgap.com).

Vertical development and altered states of consciousness

In the ego development theory, there are two types of development: the vertical development is a shift in the way of meaning-making, and the horizontal development is an exploration of the world using the same configuration of being-thinking-feeling-sensing-acting-relating patterns. The horizontal development is needed in order to integrate the configuration. After people change their ways of meaning-making, it is necessary to spend some time using this new way, until it habitualizes. Neurons need time to form new neural network, and during this period, both ways are available. Prioritizing and using the new ones is then the primary task.

During “peak experiences”, or “altered states of consciousness” people can temporarily access more complex stages, and acquire a configuration for a period. Usually, this happens due to an event that provided the energy for a shift: it can be a love story, a life event, a near death experience, a “mystical” or spiritual event, it can be a temporary result of a some exercises such as yoga, meditation, dance, shamanic rituals, or a result of using various substances or psychedelics. During the peak experiences, individuals can “jump” from a configuration in stage 4 to a stage 8 configuration. For several hours, days, or months, the world is experienced differently. Then, the energy is consumed, and the configuration gets back to the regular level of consciousness.

What is the difference between someone stabilized, say in stage 8 and someone who is temporary there? In my opinion, the main element is the associated emotion. For an individual habitualized in stage 8, the everyday emotion is tranquility, because the body-mind is accustomed with that configuration, and there is no need for spikes of energy, such as bliss or joy. A person that temporary access the stage 8 configuration usually floats there on a euphorically energy spike. There is also the way of temporary floating to the more peace of the complex stages through the witnessing awareness field, which is available at any stage, in any moment.

Even after a stage is habitualized, a regression of the ego center of gravity to a less complex stage is possible, due to stressful life events. In these situations, the ego returns to the last stable configuration. I think of this as a positive defense mechanism.

Solving stage-related issues with patience

One of the lessons I’ve learned was to stop trying to completely solve an issue that appeared during the inner growth. I realized that each issue is in fact multi-layered, and have multiple causes. Usually it takes more than one cycle of exploration in order to solve an issue. An issue may appear many times, over a period of 2-3 years, each time with another facet, depending on my actual level of understanding and harmony. This is where some self-caress is needed, though, many times, there is such a strong desire to end with the past, to permanently solve an issue. Even if we use all the mind and heart powers of discrimination, some issues are so intricate and related with other issues, that the only way to solve them for good is to grow up and become more mature with our entire being.

Some journeyers feel anxious with this re-appearance of the old issues, that looked solved, but this is the way. For some issues, there is no quick fix. It takes time for the entire framework to change. However, with each passing, the issue is harmonized more and more, until one day we realized, wow, it disappeared.

Activating the transformation potential

The transformation energy (or the journey archetype) is that “thing” that makes a difference when people start to change, as a result of a stressful event, and realize that some people grow up by intention, and some people only grow up by suffering. This polarity literally splits the world in two groups of people. In many cases, people start to change in a group where others don’t have the transformation potential active by will, and they are so disoriented, realizing that either they are crazy, or the world around is crazy. Yes, it is hard to accept that the most of us are functioning on automatic pilot. Of course, the world means “the bubble” they live in, the selection of reality which they consider to be “the world”. This is especially true for people who are the first in their trans-generational flow that start to evolve (quicker than the flow around). In time, they will shift to a new stage, realizing there are other people like them; they are not the only ones functioning differently.

This loneliness sometimes leads to dramatic experiences, psychosis-like and depression-like. Because they tell about their experiences to friends that had for a lifetime, and they worry about them, unconsciously using the “weird/crazy” label. In a happy end, they manage to find new friends and get in touch with people who have the transformation potential activated. In a dramatic end, they are considered very weird and sent to a psychologist/ psychiatrist. Some individuals receive a label of manic/depression/bipolar/schizophrenia, and then, the reinforcing negative spiral down takes its toll. I will talk about this in detail in the following chapters.

One of the common sources of stress is hearing voices. However, in a temporary ego-aware state, it is natural to hear their thoughts. It is because individuals shift their vantage point, from identification with mind, to the witnessing observer. In addition, they see their thinking system, for the first time, as if from outside, and this experience is blowing the mind. This is all so new, that they may interpret the process as hearing voices, and not accessing their thoughts. There is a “hearing voices” movement in US, so people can join the movement and think they have found their explanation. The illusion of “madness” or “special individuals” is complete, as their mind narrows down the connection to other possible perspectives. It all becomes a loop, centered on their “special trait” and the transformation potential is blocked.

The conscious letting go of a specific way of looking at the world is easier only in the ego-aware state. At this level, people realize the words and perspectives they use condition the manner in which they perceive the world. Therefore, they decide to abandon the paradigm they live in, as soon as they feel it is becoming too rigid. This understanding is the key to step from the Ego-aware stage to Unitive, where in each moment the ego is created and dissolved.

Highly sensitive persons and overexcitability

In the process of inner development, every person has periods of high sensitivity. The term “highly sensitive person”, as used by Dr. Elaine Aron has four main attributes: depth of processing; over aroused (easily compared to others); emotional reactivity and high empathy; and sensitivity to subtle stimuli. Usually when people work with their emotional system, they discover depths of their sensitivity they never thought to be possible. Full empathy and full connection with the stimulus are new available ways of knowing and connecting. Usually, after a while, this high receptiveness is integrated. I look at this high sensitivity as an excess of yin (feminine), balanced by adding some masculine energy in the psychological structure. There is extreme beauty in these people, and it’s good for some people to keep this highly sensitive receptiveness. It is their way to show us the majesty of a delicate way of being.

An interesting approach to this topic of sensitivity during development was developed by Kazimierz Dabrowski. He developed an interesting approach to this topic of sensitivity during inner development, in his theory of positive disintegration. He looks at the overexcitability as an intense reaction to, and experience of the day-to-day stimuli of life. Dabrowski’s theoretical framework views psychological tension, anxiety, and depression as necessary for growth. The strongest potential for tensions that lead to advancement stem from mental overexcitabilities, above-average reactions to stimuli. Viewed as increased excitability, it is a feature of high developmental potential along with special abilities and talents and other biological factors. Dabrowski addresses five types of hyperexcitability: psychomotor (physical response to stimuli, often seen as hyperactivity); emotional (emotional hypersensitivity); imaginative/imaginational (intense fantasy life that sometimes disrupts reality); sensory/sensual (sensory hypersensitivity); mental/intellectual (Highly active mind, or an exaggerated search for explanations and a tendency to intellectualize problems in everyday life).

The person with a higher potential for development will experience growth as a loosening of the stable psychic structure accompanied by symptoms of “psychoneuroses”. Dabrowski called this process positive disintegration, he declares that psychoneurosis is not an illness and he insists that psychotherapy is automatic when the person is conscious of his development. I found his theory very useful for understanding what happens in the people with a higher transformation potential, who decide to allow themselves be transformed organically. For these people, there is no try. Only do. Or do not. I connected a lot with his ideas. When I started to transform deeply, I took the decision to go through, no matter what. I created my personal rites of passage, which shake my foundation of being in incredible ways, but they helped me a lot. Going into unknown, that was quite amazing.

To Dabrowski, real therapy is autopsychotherapy; it is the self being aware of the self through a long inner investigation; a mapping of the inner environment. There are no techniques to eliminate symptoms because the symptoms constitute the very psychic richness from which grows an increasing awareness of body, mind, humanity and cosmos. “Without intense and painful introspection and reflection, development is unlikely. Psychoneurotic symptoms should be embraced and transformed into anxieties about human problems of an ever-higher order. If psychoneuroses continue to be classified as mental illness, then perhaps it is a sickness better than health”… Suffering, aloneness, self-doubt, sadness, inner conflict; these are our feelings that we have not learned to live with, that we have failed to appreciate, that we reject as destructive and completely negative, but in fact they are symptoms of an expanding consciousness.

How long does it take to transform vertically

Nobody knows for sure, but in the ego development theory, Susanne Cook-Greuter offers some estimation: 5 years from one stage to another, if the circumstances are favorable and the person is open to change. A minimum of one year, if the person is included in a special transformative process focused primarily on stages of evolution (such as the Terry O’Fallon’s program at Pacific Integral). An important guideline for counselors, coming from the experience of these elders of integral community, is that the counseling target should  not be the following stage, but the second stage further. I also find this important, because the evolution happens in steps, and the subpersonalities don’t transform all of them together. After all, evolution is not mathematics, and no coach or transformational counselor can detect what resources are available for the client. It is good to know when seeing a psychotherapist that they can only understand the client depending on their stage of complexity.

From my experience, people who decide to take the “positive disintegration” approach advance more rapidly through transitions, but they also need the time for integration. Now, taking into consideration that we need 1 to 8 months to change a habit, and we need to change many habits of thinking, feeling and sensing, I would say that at least 1-2 years are needed for the integration of a new perspective. But all of this depends on the transformational potential and the life context. If the person decide to take the hero’s journey consciously, and have a context in life that allows this (usually with not too many relational bonding), then in 5 years it is possible to get to the unitive level. However, life is not only about having an “awakened” structure of being; life is about experiences, all sorts of experiences. I learned a lot from “awakened” people, but I learned more from people with life experiences, on all stages.

Being alive: temporary and persistent non-symbolic experiences

Ego Development Stage Does Not Predict Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience” is a PhD thesis by Jeffery Martin, where he explores the possibility that…. for accessing a unitive conscious experience, a person doesn’t have to reach a post-autonomous stage of ego development. Martin uses the term “non-symbolic” to refer to a range of experiences known as nondual awareness, enlightenment, mystical experiences, peak experiences, transcendental experience, unity consciousness, union with God. This idea was suggested by Combs and Wilber, who proposed that non-symbolic experiences are accessible across a wide range of developmental levels, directly challenging the orthodox view that they represented “higher” developmental levels.

From my personal experience, I also feel this to be correct, at each stage of ego development there are inner configurations available for living life as a witness in various degrees (or in other words, as an everyday mystic). The only thing is that, when there is less alignment in the ego structure (a less complex stage of development), there seems to be a necessary “disconnection from ego” in order to keep the non-symbolic configuration during every day activities. As I see it, the “Being” and the Ego system can have separate lines of development. But, in order to function fully as a human in human society, both the Non-conceptual Self (non-symbolic Self) and the Ego structure (values, cognition, emotions, energy etc) need to be educated.

The “persistent” non-symbolic experience means the person has habitualized a unitive configuration and prefers to look at the world from the vantage point of Being a Witness (as complementary to doing, thinking, feeling, sensing, acting and interacting). Jeffery Martin introduced 3 types of non-symbolic experiences, based on their length: Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience (having the experience for more than a year), Ongoing Non-symbolic Experience (below one year), Temporary Non-Symbolic Experience (momentary experiences, days, weeks)

Martin lists the following characteristics of a Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience (www.non-symbolic.org):

  • Persistent shift in your baseline state away from anxiety, fear, worries, etc. to a fundamental sense that everything is okay
  • Fundamental ‘okayness’ or contentment
  • Sense that you don’t need to add anything to yourself, but that its okay to explore
  • Reduced or eliminated mental chatter
  • Increased or total freedom from thoughts impacting mood
  • Increased or total focus on Now, rather than painful pasts and anxious futures
  • Increased mental capacity/improved decision making and problem solving
  • Increased sense of connectedness and possibility
  • ‘Life Flow’ instead of ‘Task Flow’

Jeffery Martin grouped the non-symbolic experiences in 4 “locations”, based on various criteria including sense of self (sense of agency), cognition, emotion, perception, memory:

Pages from BerkeleyConference2015

In his research, Martin concluded:

“The first hypothesis was that individuals who self-report persistent nonsymbolic experience would be found to exhibit a range of psychological developmental levels, specifically tested here as ego development using the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (WUSCT). This hypothesis was supported. The data showed that participants who self-report persistent nonsymbolic experience do not all score at the highest stage of ego development, but rather across a range of developmental stages (5-Self Aware to 10-Unitive)… It is possible that the decades of work on this measure by researchers like Cook-Greuter have succeeded in detecting a category that appears to match descriptions of persistent non-symbolic experience but have not yet reached the point where participants can be correctly placed in it. It is also possible that no measure involving language may accurately detect persistent non-symbolic experience. However, the amount of work put in to the Washington University Sentence Completion Test by Cook-Greuter and others and their success in creating a category that seems to match the experience must be recognized. It is more likely, as Cook- Greuter suggests, that what is being reported here are different phenomena.

Over time I’ve come to visualize a core zoom in/zoom out process that seems to happen for many participants. Internally participants report an aspect of them that can focus in and focus out. The fluidity that it suggests involving the experience of self at any moment is something I’ve come to see as a key component of persistent non-symbolic experience. In a sense most of us have this to some degree. How individuals feel when they relax is very different from when they are working on a problem or engrossed in a movie. This seems to be true for many of my participants as well, but with some significant differences. When the average person is working hard on a problem and takes a break, in a sense his or her broader sense of self comes back into focus. S/he might think about other things to do with the day, a conversation from 3 hours ago, or any range of other things. When these participants zoom out, they don’t seem to land in an individualized self. They also seem to have a much greater range and fluidity in terms of zooming in and out. At the furthest reaches of zooming out, they often report being immersed in or existing as a non-local self, spaciousness, union with the divine or god, and so forth. Not all participants can zoom this far out, and those who can usually stop short of it in their day-to-day lives.

This process of 95 zooming can be intentional or automatic. Generally it is reported as feeling automatic. The zooming in process is also an interesting one. Again, in some ways they are typical of the general population. Most can still get pulled into a movie, for example. The differences, however, are quite striking. Many can also experience a sense of versions of their ‘old self’ as part of the zoom in process. This is especially true when they are engaged in conversation or immersed in environments involving long lasting and complex relationships. They often describe it in terms of the conditioning that was discussed earlier, and in terms of relational clusters of thoughts, emotions, and memories that have a unique sense of self associated with them. Participants generally feel that every experience is temporary, that it arises and falls within a fundamental level of perception, generally expressed as a ‘field.’ Often they refer to this perception as ‘awareness.’ But, not everything is temporary. They also feel that they have uncovered a level of perception that is not only unchanging but also unable to be changed.

Many participants identify with this as their ‘true self’ while others are able to perceive it but see their self as unattached to it. The latter generally identify with a nonlocal sense of self that is highly fluid in nature and able to assume any number of zoomed in or out states at a given time.”

My view is that these constant inter-mixings, between the “Witnessing/Being” mode of functioning, and the “Ego/Body/Thinking/Feling/Acting” mode of functioning is a kind of ultimate challenge for any individual interested in being in harmony with life. Learning to be both, a witness and a flowing do-er of actions, using a wide inventory of inner configurations as they arise in relation with the now. It’s all about surfing the ‘Life Flow’, seeing the waves while keeping a direct warm connection with the content of the flow.

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THE INNER PERSPECTIVE AND ITS NON-CONCEPTUAL COMPONENTS 
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The elements presented below refer to the “structure” of the conscious experience. I see these inner configurations as a set of lenses with various colours and opacity levels, through which the witness is watching in order to connect with this world. These configurations “modulate” the perceptual field (physical, subtle or causal), and as a result, the witness “experiences” the reality in a specific way, larger or smaller, with more or less flexibility.

Perspective and language habit

The perspective is the place from where we look at the world and the picture we have when we relate with the world and ourselves. Our point of view from where we look at the world. During our evolution, the perspective we have changes; a wider perspective means to see the larger context, for instance the fact that we are beings on the Earth, that we have a past and a future. Susanne Cook-Greuter mentions that in the post-conventional stages of development, after developing the systems thinking, people realize that their perspectives are local, partial, context-dependent and culturally conditioned.

The two main components (or filters) of perspectives are space and time. For space (the physical space, distances) I used in the CQ Inventory the following item to explore this increasing widening: “What social identities do you usually have during the course of a day?”. There are multiple options as answers, in an increasingly wider spatial perspective: I am a partner in a couple relationship; I am a member of a family; I am a member of a group (e.g., sports team, political party, club, job, friends, etc.); I am a member of an ethnic group; I am a citizen of a country; I am a member of the human race; I am a human being on a planet called ‘Earth’; I am a life form existing in the universe.

A documentary I recommend, related with the spatial filter is The Overview Effect. For time filter, a movie that gives an excellent answer on how important it is to integrate the past, present and future is The Man from Earth (I suggest that you don’t read the synopsis before).

In forming our perspectives, everything gravitates around the words we are using, because the words we use create a vibrational feedback loop which modifies the non-conceptual structure. So, every concept and word we use speaking to others and to ourselves can sustain, limit or expand our perspective (and “create” experiences). This is how some people refer to when they say we can “create” our experience. In the begining, there was a word. Well, the begining is happening in each moment, so paying attention to what we self-validate in ourselves by language is necessary.

During the development process, it is good to know that there are always many points of view over the same subject. Postmodernism has brought us multiple views on the same phenomena and respect for others’ point of view. During the pre-conventional phases of evolution, individuals see only one perspective as being true, just “one” truth, the others being dismissed as false. A usual cliché that reflects this lack of flexibility is the phrase “the truth is…”, instead of “my opinion is…”. The transition from one perspective to another is made by integrating the polarities, by going from or/or approaches “this or that”, ”me or others”, ”good or bad” approaches, to an inclusive one “this and that”, ”good and evil”, ”me and the others”. Working with polarities is recommended in developmental counseling/transformational coaching in order to produce a vertical development and building a new way of thinking.

In Susanne Cook-Greuter theory, the language habit has the following attributes:

–      “It constitutes a universal, all-pervasive dimension of human existence

–      It is innate but needs activation and modeling by expert speakers in early childhood to emerge

–      It is a learned behavior that becomes automatic and unconscious once acquired

–      It bundles the flux of sensory input and inner experience into labeled concepts shared with one’s speech community

–      It is so deeply engrained that speakers of any given language are not aware of the reality construction imposed on them by their language

–      It can become a barrier to further development if it remains unconscious, automatic and unexamined.”

The perspective we take over a situation using words is so powerful, that in time, we all feel what we think, after the necessary time in which our brains form the new neural structures on that specific language structure. Good examples in this case are the spiritual or religious cults, where the followers really feel that the world described by their cult is real. For them. On this topic, I suggest an interview with Tanya Luhrmann, she talks about how people in religious cults experiences what they believe in. In conclusion, what we know for sure is that the words we use limit our perspective, and then, our experiences. That’s why it’s very important to observe the way we formulate and interpret our experiences through words.

In ego development theory, Susanne Cook-Greuter describes six types of perspectives. The perspective “pattern” begins in childhood with a narrow focus, and during development, it widens more and more : the first person perspective is a focus on the self; the second person perspective is a focus on self and other; the third person perspective is a focus on an observer who can focus on another self and other(s) and so on. At some point, people realize that perspectives are infinite and that they can have so many perspectives over the same subject. So, we need to ask ourselves the question: If perspective doesn’t reflect objective reality, what is, in fact, reality? We cannot give an answer to this question through another perspective, but by understanding the fact that perspectives are a mental pattern, even if at a very profound level. Individuals in the Ego aware stage start to abandon the pattern of knowing through perspectives. The new way is non-conceptual and is primary focused on listening to the world as it is, without trying to label it. We still need the mind though, and people in the Unitive stage can easily switch around different perspectives, without being conditioned by one of them in particular.

Attentional flexibility

Attention is the “scanner” that connects us with various sources (internal and external), making all this information available for our awareness and for conscious experience. In the transformation process, it is necessary to break the addiction to “narrow” focus (tunnel vision) and use a type of attention that is called “diffuse” attention, or attention to the big picture. Another term that I found in the literature is “full view vision”

Lester Fehmi, a researcher at Princeton who studied the synchrony of the brain wave activity, discovered that letting go the narrow focusing of attention, and embracing the entire perceptive field, including the peripheral vision, is producing a whole brain alpha synchrony. Fehmi concludes that how we pay attention determines significantly and immediately our experience, physiology, and behavior. How we pay, attention determines our subjective experience of our own identity and our objective experience of internal and external sensation and perception. Also, we can learn to flexibly choose and determine how we attend. Certainly most of us have the ability to choose the direction of our narrow attention, in order to choose to experience any subset of available stimuli at any given time. With training, we can also choose to broaden the scope of our attention to include a more diffuse and integrated background awareness of available stimuli, even in multiple sense modalities simultaneously. Moreover, we can choose to flexibly pay attention in other ways which help us function more or less well in specific conditions.”

He describes four types of attention, based on the narrow/diffuse category, but also adding another characteristic – our connection with the world we observe. We can have an “objective” style, looking at things as if from outside, as an objective observer, or we can be “immersed” or absorbed in the experience, being in contact with all the objects in our attentional field. The four types described by Fehmi are: narrow-objective, narrow-immersed, diffuse-objective and diffuse-immersed. The style that include all of them is called by Fehmi “open focus” attention: “it includes diffuse, narrow, objective, and immersed forms of attention – all occurring more or less equally and simultaneously, with a concurrent awareness of their presence. The ultimate goal of Open Focus training is to attain the attentional flexibility adequate for moving freely by degrees among and within attentional styles, including all, at times, simultaneously and equally”. Some detailed video explanations are available online.

Breaking the addiction to narrow focus is one of the starting points for becoming more conscious. We were educated by society to pay narrow attention to things, and not to engage in diffuse style of paying attention. How to do it? Contemplative exercises use a lot more this style of global attention. However, many of the contemplation practices don’t instruct the participant to connect with the objects, but to remain a detached observer. A better way is, while contemplating, to let all the information pass through us, to fully open and connect, perceive, feel the field we are attending to.

A simple exercise that I use with my students it is called “dividing attention”. Splitting attentional energy, we can attend simultaneously to various visual objects (in a diffuse visual way described above), and in the same time to our other senses – touch, hear, smell, our inner body sensation, our feelings, and our thinking. We then can add then the collective perspective on all this and observe, e.g. the differences between our emotions and the emotions we perceive from the environment and from people around us. Then we can add the temporal line, noticing the differences between the information we access from past, present or if our internal processing has taken us into future. In time, using this exercise in various setting and moments of the day, individuals are able to break the narrow focus addiction and embrace a richer perspective. Another visual exercise that creates the full view vision is to try keeping a narrow focus on the horizon line, and then slowly embracing the peripheral vision of the world below.

Another exercise I like and I found it to be quite challenging, is the practice that requires focusing our attention in the here and now while we talk and recall memories and information from the past. Especially when we talk about meaningful emotional experiences from the past, they tend to conjure our attention and make us relive the past, forgetting about the present. Still, through practice, one can learn to focus and simultaneously keep both the past and present. To do this exercise, just start to tell a story from the past that you like, including all the emotional aspects, while paying attention also to the present moment environment. And try to stay both in the present and in the past. This will help you differentiate between the information sent to you by memory engrams and the information sent to you by here-now stimuli.

The idea that attention is a “spot” is still the current paradigm in psychology, but it looks like the attention is much more flexible than we thought. Dave Carmel, researcher at University of Edinburgh posits that attention is not something like a “beam”, but rather, attention is a kind of “optical fiber” channel, with thousands of channels that can acquire full information from environment, no matter if they are in the “narrow spot” or not. It is just that we didn’t form the neural patterns to allow this awareness processing, due to our education that reinforce the narrow focus.

Attention to space

Another level of paying attention is paying attention to the space where all the things happen. Paying attention to the space in which all the life happens is a skill that develops in the post-conventional stages of ego development, but any individual can access it temporarily in an altered state of consciousness. Paying attention to space dramatically reduces the importance of the ego, and brings in the feeling of interconnectedness. I like Fehmi’s definition of self, which includes this aspects: “I am an awareness of how I pay attention to all the contents of all modes of my attention, therefore I am. That is, I am aware equally well and often simultaneously of the various ways I pay attention and their various contents (sights, sounds, feelings, tastes, smells, thoughts, sense of time and the awareness of space into which they come into being, float and subsequently diffuse), and therefore I am.”

Fehmi’s researches showed that “appropriately shifting emphasis from narrow to diffuse and from objective to absorbed styles of attention, to the feelings of pain and body and space simultaneously, dissolves even the most extreme pains. Most notable among pains that have dissolved in response to this technique are those in relation to birthing, kidney stones, interstitial cystitis, endometriosis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, back pain, headaches, colitis and phantom limb pain. It is not unusual for this pain dissolving attention technique to bring about long-term remission of symptoms. In addition, emotional pains such as anxiety, panic, depression, feelings of guilt, loss and failure also have dissolved.”

Attention to space brings a new type of awareness to any individual, a more relaxed and inclusive way of being. And a necessary link to spiritual experiences, described all over the world by mystics. The void-like nature of human being, which is not void but full of love, is a theme repeating over and over in many spiritual texts. Sensing the void (akahsa, if you prefer) is the passage from sensing ourselves or sensing the world in us, as we all inhabit the same space. Many psychedelic experiences with DMT evoke journeys into a vast inner space, a space populated with energies and helical and spiral patterns, accompanied with a feeling of joy and beauty.

The object less imagery

In his EEG research, Fehmi discovered that the most reliable production of alpha synchrony occurred in response “object less imagery”. He found that questions referring to the multisensory experience of “space,” nothingness, emptiness or “absence” often elicit large amplitude and prolonged periods of alpha activity: “when we pay attention to space, there is nothing to apprehend; by giving attention to this ungraspable space we eventually become aware of the previously unnoticed chronic act of gripping or physical tension, which is associated with our habitual bias toward narrow and objective forms of attention. Awareness of gripping is a precondition for the motivation to intentionally release this same gripping tension. When this habitual attention-related tension is released, attentional scope broadens and supports an awareness of also being immersed in a perceived vast and pervasive surround. This surround, or ground of experience, had so far been excluded from awareness by our narrowly objective attentional bias toward gripping the contents of limited fields of experience, i.e., a limited scope of sense objects.”

Fehmi’s researches are describing in modern terms the mystics’ experiences of being: “after opening our attention, while including our already present narrow objective attention to sensations in the center of our new open awareness, we experience a surround of immersed attention, of a vast three dimensional space, nothingness, absence, silence and timelessness. The perceived surround, the scope of our attention is not only expanded, but is experienced with greater immersion. Thus, the ground of our experience is reified, realized as a more pronounced sense of presence, a centered and unified awareness, and identity with a vast quality less awareness in which all objects of sensation float, as myself. As we continue to experience space and sensation more intimately, more simultaneously and equally, we deepen the absorption of our attention in the totality of present experience.”

An exercise that helped develop my attention was using the visual saccades. I used to go biking in the city, while listening with headphones some songs that gave me an observer attitude. In my case, I found out that the song “You once told be” by Andain creates a brainwave synchrony that allows me to watch how the attention is driven by stimulus in the city. After a while, I was able to watch the attentional “narrow” stream while moving from one stimulus to another, without losing the peripheral attention the global picture, that included me watching, outer world, my internal sensations and my feelings, and to feel the sensations and feelings generated by people and space around me.

An interesting observation related with this process is that DMT seems to increase the ability to maintain the attention to the tunnel vision and the global vision simultaneously. It happened that I participated in a Santo Daime ceremony during the time I was practicing the exercise, and in one break, I observed how each receptor in my retina is a kind of high-resolution camera, and billions of high-resolution pixels formed the visual field, each pixel containing infinite information in it. And in the same time, my narrow vision was bringing me even an extra amount of information from the area where it was scanning, directed by external stimulus. The level of let go was amazing. After this event, I became interested in exploring how the DMT is affecting our way of paying attention. You can found some of my research hypothesis in the last part of this guide.

Attention to attention itself

This is another level in the training of attentional flexibility. By voluntarily paying attention to the attentional mechanism itself, while is happens, individuals are creating the conditions for the witnessing awareness. Keeping a percentage of attention to the attentional stream, all the time, creates a subjective experience of being awake while the thinking-feeling-sensing-acting happen, being present and watching how the attention creates content for our experience. In spiritual terminology, we are able to watch “maya” itself dancing as it manifests. When we simultaneously pay attention to all the content, in a global way, and to the attentional mechanism itself, we discover that space is full of awareness, and this awareness is available all the time. Only our walls of attentional biases and our habits of experiencing limit our experience of it.

Using wisely the perspective, the attentional mechanism and the connection with the space in which all life exists, allow us to participate to the present moment with more richness, and we become able to connect with deeper levels of the reality. Seeing the patterns of interactions allows us a deep navigation of reality, through the never-ending layers of fractal reality streams.

Attending to the present moment

Nowadays there is an increased acceptance for mindfulness techniques, and for advaita teachings of “just being” instead of doing. They advocate for being “in the now” and not using thinking too much. But I would ask the question: in what now? In which stream of “now” to participate? Using the perspective and the attention, we can access simultaneously many types of information. In integral theory of human development, Terry O’Fallon describes the levels of reality we can attend, in a paper on collapse of Wilber Combs Matrix. Even more, each level has two components, individual and collective (for example, my body – others’ bodies, my emotions – other person’s emotions etc.). To live in the present moment is not something that can be done through abandoning reasoning. On the contrary, it takes clean perceptions, an excellent mind and an educated attention to remain aware.

In the ego development theory, states are temporary experiences using a specific ego configuration. In time, after the configuration habitualizes and the brain has formed new synaptic connections, the state become permanent, and it is referred to as a “stage”. Here is Terry O’Fallons’ description of these levels of reality we can attend:

“1. Gross state: awareness of the concrete, anything one can experience with external senses or their extensions (e.g., microscopes, X-rays, telescopes, etc.)

2. Subtle state: awareness or witnessing of the subtle, or anything that one cannot generally measure with the external senses, including thought, emotion, imagination, daydreams, dreams, interior sounds, interior vibratory experiences, and so on.

3. Causal state: awareness of or witnessing of the very subtle, formlessness, or emptiness.

4. The Witness: that which is aware. There is a progression of awareness from (a) instinct to (b) simple direct awareness to (c) the Witness that is aware of objects of awareness to (d) Turiya, which is the capacity to witness 24 hours a day, even in deep sleep.

5. Unity: awareness merging with gross, subtle, and/or causal realities. This definition recognizes different levels of unity for one can unite only the form that one has the capacity to be aware of.

6 . Nondual: the interpenetration of emptiness and form. This recognizes different levels of non-duality, for one can be non-dual only with the concrete, subtle or causal forms one is capable of apprehending.”

Terry O’Fallon considers that it is relevant to make distinctions between awareness and the level of object it takes. She writes: “Is the object of awareness a concrete (gross) object? Is it a subtle object? Is it a causal object? We can observe people who are aware in the moment of a concrete object, but are able to be aware of a subtle object only reflectively after the fact and were not yet able to access this awareness at will. Furthermore, one could be living within the perspectives of the Concrete Floor and have gross, subtle, and causal states; but the object of those states would be generally concrete because one had not yet inhabited the perspectives of the Subtle Floor. For example, someone coming from a concrete stage of development might be aware in the moment of a concrete experience, such as an itch or delicious food.

By contrast, this person might have reflective awareness (a subtle state) about itches or food he or she has experienced. On the other hand, this person might have awareness in the moment that he or she is thinking about food, which would be a subtle state (awareness of thinking). However, in all of these cases, the final primary object of the person’s awareness is still a concrete object. This is the basis of the Object of Awareness pattern, which iterates from the object being concrete, to subtle, to causal. Thus, one could also be in a subtle state such as a day-dream or imagination, having a subtle object (such as a hypothesis, or a plan or a strategy, or a subtle experience of the divine). This would be a subtle state with a subtle object and wouldn’t be accessed unless one had the capacities to take the perspectives of the Subtle Floor (tier). Or one might receive a download come through them of a map of consciousness, where self is not the center, and this might be described as a subtle state with a causal object (download from outside of the self) which becomes available when one can take the perspectives of the Causal Floor.”

A useful example of a subjective experience of here-now, with causal/nondual structures of experience, in a concrete content, it is the shamanic experience. In the shamanic visions, most of the information extracted from the “now” is related with physical aspects (nature, animals), and not too related to subtle content. Their rational is still in its concrete structure. This distinction is described well by Ken Wilber when he talks about the pre/trans fallacy.

Samyama, absorption and “full empathy” as a way of attending to the present moment

A skill that appears in post-autonomous stages of human development is the absorption (samyama). It is a process of perfectly identifying with the object of your attention and knowing an object by completely unifying with it. In yoga, they say that this process leads to correct knowledge, or direct knowing. In less modern terms, perfect emotional and cognitive empathy leads to feeling and understanding, that particular aspect (that can be an idea, a bird or a human being).

For some people, this new skill can be a weird thing, as they all of a sudden become absorbed in a landscape they see or in a sound, causing kind of “blackouts”, when the people around, see the person gazing at a point, and losing contact with external surrounding. If this happen when they are driving, it is not so easy. In my opinion, this is a sign that the witnessing awareness starts to activate and the person is experiencing a new way of connecting with things, a new way based on full connection, rather than on thinking, feeling or sensing. Mystics describe this way of attending to the present moment, when they speak about the oneness of all things. The mystics are one with everything they see, and as a result, they know things directly, they do not have to rely on thinking-feeling-sensing. In yoga, this is called “jnana”, direct knowledge. I would call it real learning.

At this level of openness, which many of us experienced as a temporary experience, you would need time to adjust. A 23-y.o. person, manifested this type of development, with spontaneous blackouts during the day, was taken to psychiatry by her mother. They did an EEG but the best interpretation was that “there were some epilepsy-like waves”, and the doctors prescribed some drugs. In my opinion, this was a temporary-side effect of her internal opening, so I advised her to learn and understand from this new way of connecting, to train the witnessing awareness. In some 8 months, her non-conceptual self became more stable and she was able to remain present during these moments of spontaneous deep connection. She gained the ability to witness her self being absorbed, as it was happening.

Intention. The lenses through which we pre-define the perspective-taking process

In my opinion, the intention is closely related with the system of values and attitudes we have towards life. Reorganizing the values of life is a very important process of personal development as the values offer the frame of development for each stage of the evolution. Each stage has its own values that generate experiences and feelings closely related with the chosen values. At each stage, the values become a kind of automated guide of our actions and they condition every thought or action. It is up to us what values we choose in order to allow us to move free though life. I like the system of values developed by Gurdjieff.

From a motivational point of view, choosing an appropriate intention is a powerful method that allows us to select what to experience. The intention is a powerful weapon for the Hero in his symbolic journey through his own mind. Rather than making the intention for “something”, we could use wider intentions, such as “I wish to live the experiences that I need to live in order to change” or “I trust life and I am heading towards where there is need of me”.

The intention is still a method for organizing the life stream. I don’t think that using intention all the time is needed, because ultimately, the intention is also a way of “controlling” the perception of reality. However in the end, we all need an ego, and some values, but it’s a delicate process to freely selecting which values fit us mostly. For me, after I decided my values, this looks more like a preference for some types of flows, a sort of lenses, always on and automatic.

A year ago, a friend e-mailed me saying “Ovidiu, what do you say about this dilemma: I say that health value is superior to money value. Still, it is possible to work all night long, and I think it is a good choice. But from this perspective, looks like money are more important than health… so, is it possible to make a hierarchy of values?” My opinion, in that situation, yes, he needs to find a superior value that do not have these polar opposites. I asked him today how he is doing related with this topic of values. He told me that this way of thinking about “values” looks obsolete to him. I found his conclusion to be a good sign that his inner growth is unfolding well.

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GROWING UP, AWAKENING AND INNER DEVELOPMENT. (INNER GROWTH CQ)
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The Inner Growth CQ refers to the capacity for expanding our awareness with the process of personal development, transformation and growth. The Inner Growth CQ includes traits, skills and abilities related to the evolution of personality, paradigm shifts, unlearning and learning (through pain or by open learning), openness, the language updating process, accepting criticism, abandoning old perspectives and embracing new ones, noticing resistance to change, learning after peak experiences, detecting the cognitive biases related to learning (e.g., confirmation bias), resilience, awareness of one’s level of development (e.g., using spiral dynamics theory), and an ability to sustain new patterns of thinking/feeling while old patterns slowly lose their grip (awareness of the process of neuroplasticity).

Growing up and waking up. Types of “awakening”.

The term “awakening” fits very well the subjective experience of transitioning through stages and beyond, or embracing configurations that allow a deeper connection with reality while keeping the same stage of ego development. Still, as a psychologist, I prefer to say “growing up” instead of “awakening”, because there are various types of experiences that can be described as “awakenings”. Below some of them:

–        The awakening from the “collective hypnosis” is an experience which happens when people start to become autonomous, and to form their personal system of values. In other words, it is the awakening from the “cultural hypnosis”, starting from the becoming conscious of the “cultural consensual reality”, and ending in seeing how culture itself creates this consensual reality when people just adhere to a cultural system.

–        Disconnecting from the mind and the old ego, and the discovery of a new way of “being” instead of “doing” or “thinking/feeling/sensing”. It is the experience when the witnessing awareness activates and being aware of awareness becomes available. Accompanied with a great feeling of interconnectedness, this type of non-symbolic experience is what we usually talk about as “enlightenment”. In time, the person can learn not to use anymore a rigid ego structure, but to keep a balance between the stability and the flexibility of the ego. In other words, it is the rediscovery of the non-symbolic self.

–        The reconnection with the body energy and bodily sensations is a natural part of inner growth, experienced as an “awakening” by the people who do not relate with their bodies too much in their life. Sometimes, this rediscovery of the felt sense is associated with the kundalini awakening, a process of cleaning that helps the body to transition to a higher level of harmony.

–        The awakening to the collective energy field, becoming aware of the energy interactions, frequencies and flows of energy, hyperspace. This is perhaps related with the endogenous production of DMT (the so-called spirit molecule). I listed this type of experience as separate from body awakening, in my experience I have seen people very connected with energies, but less connected with their bodies… it’s like, the energy activity is capturing most of the attention.

–        Awakening of the heart and the experience of unconditional love is another peak experience felt like an “awakening”. Experiencing full empathy is a big shift in development.

–        The interconnectedness awakening, related with the shift from individual to collective awareness. In my observations, this is a major shift in development, which brings extra clarity. It can happen in the physical – when people realize they are just a cell in a big planetary organism; emotionally – discovery of the group emotions; cognitively – experience of the “hive mind” and the discovery of the unconscious group communication.

–        The awakening of the multidimensional awareness and the transition to being&living simultaneously various types of perceptual, emotional, conceptual and non-conceptual experiences with various contents.

All the peak-experiences I presented above have an important potential for inner development. The awakenings come altogether with releases of energy. For some weeks-months, people who experience awakening-like experiences are exploring intense shifts in the biological and psychological functioning.

I like a blog that explores even deeply the “Stages And Levels In The Awakening Process”, you can take a look. For neuroscience of awakening experiences, I recommend two great researches: a study on ”Buddha’s Brain” by Rick Hanson and a study on the spiritual enlightenment experience by Todd Murphy.

Exploring and re-programming the automatic patterns

Can ”unconscious” patterns and content become conscious? Yes, the process of inner growth is about re-programming the automatic patterns of feeling-sensing-thinking-doing-being. In the spirit of modern psychology, I prefer to use “automatic” functioning instead of “unconscious”, as it relates better with the subjective experience of change.

The process of inner growth is in fact a large-scale re-programming of all these automatic patterns, and a creation of some new and free ways for being and doing. Some of the automatic structures of the psyche are available for re-programming easily, some of them not, due to the self-defenses that make us negate, reject or simply ignore some experiences and their significance. This content is what psychologists call “the shadow”. Accessing the shadow and allowing this content to contribute again to conscious experience in a necessary step for development.

Switching from automatic pilot to conscious functioning requires an in-depth exploration of our way of being and interacting, and usually it takes many years. It is like as if the person opens all the past memory engrams, re-explore the situation, re-arrange the content by including the ignored content, re-framing the significance of the engram, and then close the engrams and let it participate again naturally in conscious experience. During the inner growth process, we all discover blind spots in our autobiographical memories. Eventually, after years of practice, there will be no more blind spots.

There are many ways to reprogram the patterns. First, we need to notice the patterns. There are two main ways of noticing the patterns: post-event (after it happens) and during the event (witnessing while they happen). I think the constant self-reflection is important, observing at the end of the day or periodically how we were in a situation (with a help of counselor or not). In time, we can set us to act-think-feel differently. After the witnessing awareness activates, people are able to notice and modify in real time their patterns, and that leads to an acceleration of the growth process. Even if, in the post-autonomous stages, this re-writing is in fact more like “letting go to be re-written by the harmony around”.

During the periods of re-programming, it is good to keep in touch with harmony in our lives, keeping good contact with nature, listen to inspirational music with harmonically vibes, or just being silent and watching the birds. In addition, to remember that this process of transformation happens in many people around the word. Trusting the process and allowing the new patterns to emerge is a good attitude. While reinventing us, a common fear is that of our own disintegration. The ego cannot allow its own disintegration to take place. The attitude of “I am allowing myself to disintegrate” is itself a more subtle way to keep in place and maintain the “integrity” of the ego. In order to abandon the ego, this process needs to unfold without expecting anything. The evolution of the ego happens naturally, if we let go.

A technique I like that can be used in various moments of the day is asking myself the question “why I do this?” or phrasing what I do in that moment in terms of choice – “I choose to…”. This is bringing awareness to the daily functioning of our psyche. You can set a daily reminder on your computer or mobile phone with this task of self-reflection.

Presented in an article by Matt James, published in Psychology Today, with the title “Conscious of the Unconscious” are some principles to remember when working with automatic patterns:

The unconscious mind preserves the body: One of its main objectives is the survival of your physical body. It will fight anything that appears to be a threat to that survival. So if you want to change a behavior more easily, show your unconscious how that behavior is hurting your body

Runs the body: rather than telling the unconscious what perfect health looks like, try asking it what it knows and what you need for better health.

Is like a 7-year old child: needs very clear directions, and takes your instructions very literally. Therefore, if you say, “This job is a pain in the neck,” your unconscious will figure out a way to make sure that your neck hurts at work! The unconscious is also very “moral” in the way a young child is moral, which means it is based on the morality taught and accepted by your parents or surroundings. So if you were taught, “sex is nasty,” your unconscious will still respond to that teaching even after your conscious mind has rejected it.

Communicates through emotion and symbols: To get your attention, the unconscious uses emotions. For example, if you suddenly feel afraid, your unconscious has detected (rightly or wrongly) that your survival is at risk.

Stores and organizes memories: The unconscious decides where and how your memories are stored. It may hide certain memories (such as traumas) that have strong negative emotions until you are mature enough to process them consciously. When it senses that you are ready (whether you consciously think you are or not!), it will bring them up so you can deal with them.

Does not process negatives: The unconscious absorbs pictures rather than words. So if you say, “I don’t want to procrastinate,” the unconscious generates a picture of you procrastinating. Switching that picture from the negative to the positive takes an extra step. Better to tell your unconscious, “Let’s get to work!”

Makes associations and learns quickly: To protect you, the unconscious stays alert and tries to glean the lessons from each experience. For example, if you had a bad experience in school, your unconscious may choose to lump all of your learning experiences into the “this is not going to be fun” category. It will signal you with sweaty palms and anxiety whenever you attempt something new. But if you do well in sports, your unconscious will remember that “sports equals success” and you’ll feel positive and energized whenever physical activity comes up.”

Exploring the shadow, accepting and integrating all experiences

De-automatization involves a new way of being, a new skill: the ability to observe the defenses and to skip using them. Allowing all kinds of experiences to flow through us is a natural way to integrate and accept them. Interpreting the experiences we don’t like as “negative” is a choice that stops the development process.

Working with the shadow is a part of the archetypal exploration of the psyche. In Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork methodology, developed by Strephon Kaplan-Williams, working with the “adversity” archetype is useful in order to gain a balanced archetypal structure.

Fear is a natural response to strong “adversity”, and it takes some time to learn to accept fears and to communicate with adversity in our lives. Sometimes the masculine-hero energy is needed, sometime the feminine-hero energy. I prefer to look at fears as “versions” of reality, so that the negative can be explored as a polarity, and integrated as a polarity. Some people try to solve this fear, but they miss the understanding that the fear is actually the glimpse of the new reality. Their refusal to connect is the fear. Phrases such as “I’m afraid of something” creates a psychological game, where “I have something new and I am afraid of it”. The alternative phrasing such as “which reality version am I refusing to make contact?” brings a different type of thinking, a more inclusive one and offers a larger perspective.

In ego developmental stages, people gain access more and more to the shadow content. Integrating the missing parts of the conscious puzzle creates an alignment of the individual with the collective, creating a richer, whole being experience, with increased flowing and accepting of everything as it is, but with the choice to act and change the world when needed.

My own way of working with the some deep automatic patterns was to immerse deeply into the content, in order to explore it fully, as in a kind of ritualistic approach. For example, when I wanted to explore a fear, I set myself a period of time (hours-days) when I let my mind and emotions to wander freely in contact with the content. During that time I was writing, dancing, drawing, allowing what was coming. In this kind of approach, setting a “lifeline” for coming back is necessary, that is, a person that knows about the process and can bring me back to real life if the content is overwhelming. This full immersion in the automatic content is a powerful and effective way to get in contact with the rejected or ignored content, but it needs a lot of hero energy to do it. And a special safe place, so that one would be able to scream or dance naked if they wish, without any neighbors around to call the emergency line. After these kinds of exercises, I used to monitor myself day by day through self-reflections, at the end of the day, allowing some weeks for integration.

Spiritual bypass – the premature transcendence

Spiritual bypassing is a term coined by John Welwood to describe widespread tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks. In an interview, Welwood explains: “when we are spiritually bypassing, we often use the goal of awakening or liberation to rationalize what I call premature transcendence: trying to rise above the raw and messy side of our humanness before we have fully faced and made peace with it. And then we tend to use absolute truth to disparage or dismiss relative human needs, feelings, psychological problems, relational difficulties, and developmental deficits… Trying to move beyond our psychological and emotional issues by sidestepping them is dangerous. It sets up a debilitating split between the buddha and the human within us. And it leads to a conceptual, one-sided kind of spirituality where one pole of life is elevated at the expense of its opposite: Absolute truth is favored over relative truth, the impersonal over the personal, emptiness over form, transcendence over embodiment, and detachment over feeling.”

The search for transcendence or may lead to building a spiritual identity, which becomes primary and posits that social, psychological or emotional issues are not important, only the attainment of realization is important. In fact, this is a runaway from our innermost core, and solving the psychological issues using detached “spiritual” approaches is in fact just a smart defense mechanism. Common problems emerging from spiritual bypass include compulsive goodness, repression of undesirable or painful emotions, spiritual narcissism, extreme external locus of control, spiritual obsession or addiction, blind faith in charismatic leaders, abdication of personal responsibility, and social isolation”.

An example of ”spiritual bypass” is the idea that “thoughts are just thoughts, observe them but don’t pay attention to them”, used outside of the spiritual practice. In our everyday life, our emotions and thoughts are useful, as they bring to our attention things that we need to address. For a funny explanation of the spiritual bypass, watch “How to be Ultra Spiritual” with JP Sears.

How to relate with the inner growth process

On one side inner growth requires openness, cognitive and emotional flexibility, accepting the criticism, accepting uncertainty, getting used with paradoxes and accepting “I don’t know” as a valid answer. Yes, there is a lot to accept. On the other side, trusting one’s own process of transformation and abandoning the control are attitudes that I believe it is good to sustain during the transformation process.

During inner growth, the moments of uncertainty may be more frequent than the moments of stability. The more we abandon ourselves to the process, the more rapid the transformation is. However, it is impossible to predict how the transformation occurs, as each person is unique. In my opinion, we all pass through some benchmarks, but how we arrive in each benchmark, that’s unique.

It took me some time to accept that I am in a process that keeps deploying constantly, day and night, consciously and unconsciously. A few years ago, I made the decision that every time I realize that I am stuck in a perspective to change my perspective again. This way I managed to not be stuck in symbolical journeys through archetypes. I later realized that I am not alone in this transformation, that I am supported by the collectiveness, and that all that I needed appeared at the right time. The solutions didn’t fall from the sky, I was finding them by actively paying attention to what is happening with me, and looking for solutions by exploring my own person and exploring the people I was interacting with. To me, the inner growth process is yin and yang, active actions and passive noticing.

How does it feel when we change? Alison Crosthwait, from “The Good Therapists” blog, writes that deep change involves bearing a process, which we do not yet understand. And we have to bear its speed – fast, slow, or something in between. Here it is her experience: “Sometimes my brain goes fuzzy or suddenly empty; Sometimes I feel depleted. And thirsty. Like my psyche just had an intense massage; Sometimes I feel jacked up and manic; Sometimes I feel butterflies; Sometimes my shame is activated and past regrets, mistakes, and vulnerabilities take over with an insatiable vengeance. When I can catch this I call it backlash; Sometimes someone says something unexpected and I consciously try to take it in. To let it change my cells; Sometimes I cry about something I have never cried about before; Sometimes I have a dream or a fantasy and part of its meaning hits home and I know this is a marker of an incremental shift; Sometimes someone in my life puts words to a change and I recognize it as true but previously unarticulated. In talking the change takes shape; Sometimes I have an extra glass of wine that I don’t need or want. Later, I can identify this extra glass as a response to new feelings that seemed unmanageable even though unworded; Some of these changes are about my conscious self. Some are about unconscious shifts that I cannot fully articulate; And sometimes there is no perceptible sign of anything.”

Referring to what it is as other people change, Alison Crosthwait says, “when others change it evokes feelings in us. This gives us the opportunity to change. When I feel wild with anger at my friend’s new assertions I have the opportunity to explore that, express it, reflect on it – to live on the edge of it. This is my chance to evolve in response to my friend’s growth… Change has a ripple effect. Our change into the world. And the change of others into us and the world”. Here are some of her experiences when other people change, listed on The Good Therapists blog: “I hear something new in their voice. A little more strength. Or less questioning of their right to speak; They express emotion just a little (or a lot) more forcefully – anger, love, sadness, joy – it has more color and texture; My heart skips a beat with excitement and possibility as I realize that I am not trapped in one way of being with this person but that together, not just me but together, we are always creating something new. Together we are healing; I feel wildly angry, irritated, or annoyed at a limit, boundary or observation the person makes; I feel afraid and insecure at a limit, boundary, or new expression from the other person; I feel nervous or agitated around them or when thinking about them. I wonder about them; They say something that startles me. Something I haven’t heard before from them; They make a big change that they have been struggling with for a long time; I feel loved in a new way – perhaps more directly or openheartedly”.

Balancing Aliveness: depression vs. anxiety in the growth journey

A perspective that I like is related to how much energy we have to invest in the process of transformation. I found a nice explanation in a blog post by Steve Bearman “Depression, Anxiety, and the Mismanagement of Aliveness”. In Steve’s vision, depression and anxiety are polarities of the aliveness, the force of life that is in all of us. He wrote: “Imagine depression and anxiety as opposite poles on a spectrum. Depression is characterized by a lack: low energy, low motivation, less meaning, less pleasure. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a kind of overabundance: too much energy, restlessness, hypervigilance, overactive thoughts… Aliveness is the key to the entire system of depression and anxiety. Instead of asking what to do about depression, find out how to come more fully to life, how to liberate aliveness when it gets trapped. Instead of asking what to do about anxiety, learn how to withstand the relentless intensity of being alive”.

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For Steve, depression and anxiety are fundamental human experiences, because being alive is something we all need to learn how to do. “The old paradigm, by framing depression and anxiety as illnesses, has freed us from self-blame. An illness is no one’s fault. It is no one’s fault if they don’t yet have access to all the aliveness they need. It is no one’s fault if they are overwhelmed by the aliveness they experience. These are challenges everyone eventually faces. We all need help to master aliveness. We can all help one another.”

In my opinion, this mechanism is also happening in what we call manic-depression cases. Stepping out of a configuration into new one releases energy. In some individuals, this gives birth to a kind of “manic” time, it can be weeks or months, when people sleep just a bit, and they have a lot of energy. In fact, they are breathing life like never before. But, after it’s depleted, stillness (labeled with depression) comes, until a new blockage is released and a new energy wave hits again. Balancing aliveness, as presented by Bearman, is the most accurate explanation I know about this spiraling process of having/not having energy during the inner growth process.

Daily practice and ”self-directed neuroplasticity”

The concept of “self-directed neuroplasticity” means that we can intentionally change the functioning of our brain with our mind. We can embrace new ways of being just by thinking and feeling them in our mind, visualizing how we want to be. Because of this stimulation, the brain will create new neural connections, and the anticipated experience can become real.

It takes between 1-8 months to do this, according to some researchers. During this period, the old patterns and the new ways of being-thinking-feeling-sensing-acting exist simultaneously. During temporary period, there is a good advice to be followed: “Focus your attention on what you wish to create new, not on what you wish to change”. This is what is needed to reinforce the new neural connections. In time, old patterns, that are not used anymore, will disappear, and the new ones, cultivated with care, will become the default mode.”

Rick Hanson, a neuroscientist interested in self-directed neuroplasticity, has made available one of his presentations online. He says that the way we think can produce temporary changes in your brain and lasting one, according to the principle “neurons that fire together wire together”. Building new synapses in the brain through intention is incremental, and the key is attention: “neuroplasticity is heightened for what’s in the field of focused awareness, attention is also like a vacuum cleaner, sucking its contents into the brain. Directing attention skillfully is therefore a fundamental way to shape the brain – and one’s life over time”. However, it all depends on the daily practice. The new synapses needs to be sustained on daily bases, or they will be lost.

When working with visualizations, in order to create new synapses, we need to engage emotionally in the experiences we want to have, not just to think of what we want. That’s why when doing visualizations, it is important to imagine how we want to sense and feel, and to imagine them as if we already lived that experience. The richer the visualization is, the more complex synapses are forming in the brain, which will allow us in the future to experience reality in our programmed way.

Neuroplasticity also happen when we start to live new experiences on regular basis, e.g. doing meditation to calm down the mind. But there seems to be a limitation to neuroplasticity: our brains forms configurations, but all these configurations are dependent of the context during which they were created. If we just do meditation in the meditation room, the new patterns will be 100% available only when we are in the meditation room. That why spiritual traditions also say that the spiritual practice must be done all the time. In hesychasm, they say the prayer of the heart needs to happen all the time in the disciple, not just during the ceremonies.

Daily practice is important in changing our default brain setting from “reactive-survival” mode to “responsive-natural” mode, allowing us more choice for the way we live our experiences. The triune brain theory shows that we have three modes of functioning, the reptilian brain which is reactive and reflexive, the mammalian brain is related with emotions and social behavior, and the human cortex takes care of the abstract thinking, language, empathy and cooperative planning. When not threatened, these systems create an experience of calm (reptilian), contented (mammalian) and caring (cortex). In its natural mode, the brain is responsive and creative, and we feel gratitude, peace and love. We need to learn not to activate the “reactive-survival” mode in our daily life, leading to ignorance and suffering, but to stimulate and sustain the responsive mode, that will create an experience of well-being and wisdom.

How to rewire each mode of the brain? As general advices, Rick Hanson lists the following, seeing clearly; have compassion for yourself; take life less personally; take in the good; deepen equanimity.

Here are Rick’s advices for changing each brain mode:

Reptilian (avoid system): cool the fires; recognize paper tigers; tolerate risking the dreaded experience.

Mammalian brain (the approach system): be glad; appreciate your resources; give over to your best purposes.

Cortex (attach system): sense the suffering in others; be kind; act with unilateral virtue.

Inner growth, google search and memetics

If you had a revelation and, after that, a search on Google revealed that your bright idea is known for more than 20 years, you know what I am talking about. Some years ago, I started to use google as an access way to the collective knowledge; as times goes by, my searches become more and more helpful, as I am finding the combinations of words that suit my new perspective. As I was transitioning though various perspectives, I learned to use new words for google search, and I found a variety of information for many aspects I was interested in. As I was progressing in my in-depth exploration of human development, the available information started to be not so easy to find. In a way, the information available through google search for each stage of ego development, respects the percentages discovered by Susanne Cook-Greuter.

What I found interesting is that there are many subjective experiences in so many blogs, and I started to explore and observe the patterns of thinking and feeling in the people that wrote those blogs. In time, I became to be interested mostly in how the bloggers think and interact with the world, and not so much in the content of their experience. I was looking for patterns of thinking and memes. This helped me a lot to explore my perspective on the process of becoming conscious.

As a personal research hypothesis, I am now observing how the meme I launched – the consciousness quotient – is spreading through the collective mind, and how it appears in various locations. Interesting and quite amazing, since 2005 until 2015, I found the CQ meme is present in the internet only in associations that are similar to my inner psychological world. Science fiction or not, I don’t know, but it seems that the associations people make with CQ, at least in these first years, are the same as my inner emotional associations of the CQ meme. In other words, my emotions were the unconscious carrier for the CQ meme in the collective mind. People seem to relate emotionally with the CQ meme, in a conscious way or not. Studying how the meme unconsciously spread in the collective mind, based on the initial associations in the author’s psyche looks like a great research topic for me. If anyone is interested in joining this research, let me know.

Spiritual teachers, channeling and our inner master

I don’t think that we necessarily need a teacher or a master during the inner growth process. However, it is a wonderful way of learning through direct experience, but the master-disciple relation is just a way, among many ways of learning. I think that emotionally relating with a teacher while still using the critical thinking is the right way, especially for people who want to transition to post-conventional configurations.

Moreover, I don’t think that abandoning the mind to the “inner master”, that is supposed to have intuitive powers, is always a good choice. Until the psyche has been harmonized (balanced), in the later stages of ego development, that what we call “cognitive intuition” is not an access to a kind of inner clear light knowledge, but just an abandoning into the psyche, through by-passing the control of the ego. Until the psyche has not undergone a “cleaning” through personal work, the information we call “intuition” is just as biased as our psyche. We may have the sensation of being free while intuition happens, but this is just a sensation of being free from the ego chains.

The reservoir of information we are accessing through intuition is not the wisdom of the collective mind directly, but is filtered by our individual psyche, by our own imprints resulted from thinking, feeling, sensing and interacting with the world for so many years. The other forms of intuitions, the intelligences coming from the heart or the body, have the same biases. Until we clean the doors of perception and the windows of feeling, the “felt” or “sensed” answer when asking our heart or our body is biased by our unbalanced configuration. In my opinion, the best “inner master” is the collective non-conceptual awareness. But, as there is no way to access its wisdom directly, we need an ego to translate it, we need a feeling-thinking-sensing configuration to deliver the message. If we are blue, we will receive “”blueish” translations. If we are “light itself”, we will receive “lightly” information. There is no such thing as a perfect translator. We are all biased by our configurations.

As an overview, I don’t think that there is even such a thing as a “collective perfect wisdom”. Earth is a collective organism with its intelligence still developing, so, listening to our deepest source of information is just listening to the current status-quo of our collective psyche. If I want to find an answer or a solution, I listen to my ego but also to my automatic or unconscious functioning. I listen to what my “gut” and instincts tell me, I take into consideration what my feelings tell me. For me, intuitions are just valuable choices my ego was unaware of, not “the right” option.

The “channeling” phenomena is in my opinion a side effect of this intuitive-like connection with our own reservoir of information. Bashar, for example, is able to channel the information from his psyche only when he enacts one of his subpersonalities, and the other identities are silent. For me, his ego has an inability to integrate all this great ideas about himself and the world. He has found this configuration, as an escape method. His ego can’t assume his greatness as a human. After all, he could say, “Hey world, look how wonderful I think you are! Let’s think freely and dream big!” Instead, his ego hijacked this wonderful process of connecting to the collective mind. He prefers to be a “chosen one”, instead of being small and insignificant human, but with a brilliant mind. This is what I call “”caught in the archetype” stage of development. I talk more about this in the last chapter. But to be frank, I like Bashar’s ideas about goodness and being a human being, he adds a great note of cosmicity in our daily life.

A person that I met has a different configuration for accessing his psyche and some of the collective knowledge. He had an out-of-body experience some years ago, and since then, his transformation process continued. In his daily life, he is a successful businessman. But he feels like there is a great wisdom within him, which can only be shared though writing. His configuration adapted to this interconnectedness “awakening” by creating a subpersonality that is “white and pure”, in contrast with the daily ego configuration which is stressful. We are still exchanging emails from time to time. I feel like it is important to maintain this subpersonality active, as a source of wisdom, and in time, he may integrate his “pure side” into one unique configuration.

Here is what his “lightly” subpersonality told me, when I asked how the collective mind works: “If you want to know about the collective minds, think about an ocean. How many drops do you think are in all oceans together? If you are a drop in that ocean, do you think you easily can communicate with all the other drops? I think you believe you can, but how shall you know who is who, the drops seems to be one ocean? The answer is easy to say, but difficult to do. The answer is that you are one with all the others. When you feel that you are one with all the others, you are they. When you are them, you feel them all as many different thoughts“. Now, isn’t that a nice word of wisdom? I think it’s good that people are delivering these messages to the world. Perhaps in time they will be able to allow themselves to be great all the time, not only when they are “channeled” by some wise-looking information.

The above rationale is useful also for the psychological analysis of the “invisible guides”, such as angels or other “discarnated” entities. Many people tend to interpret the connection with the collective mind as a kind of connection with some beings that are advising them what to do and offering some wise perspectives. In my opinion, this is just a natural flow of information from collective mind to individual minds. In my opinion, this interpretation of the organism-cell communication as a channeling of revelation happens when people from conventional of pre-conventional stages of development develop a post-conventional skill, the witnessing awareness. Instead of updating their entire configuration, they just update one subpersonality, which becomes interconnected. Instead of interpreting the newly found interconnectedness as global natural thinking, they tend to use their old configuration. Thus, my thoughts are not just bubbles in the collective thinking. They must be “messages” from someone to me. Depending on their culture, the collective source is misinterpreted as god, angels, aliens, discarnate beings.

During my inner transformation, I have learned a lot from many people and I had some great friends and teachers, as I did not like the one-way approaches. I found my answers in various spiritual movements but also in science, and sometimes in ordinary day-to-day experiences. I just keep my eyes wide open so that I can see and feel more. And when I found a teacher, I connect deeply with their wisdom. I found out that each stage of development has its wisdom, and its teachers.

Neo-advaita teachers. A rational perspective

I would like to comment a bit about the nondual teachers, especially related with advaita and neo-advaita teachings. I like a lot some of the approaches (e.g. ShantiMayi), and I do not like some others (e.g. Tolle or Mooji). It is not the teachings that I do not like, it’s their methods that I don’t like. For example, I think that Mooji creates an unconscious emotional conditioning in his disciples, by showing himself as a kind of wise guru. And the vibe is like, “you are already light”, but unconsciously, the message is “you need to still come to meet me to be the light”, and there is the idea of “wake up! wake up!” and the followers are always in the cognitive mode of “searching” for something.

The devotional atmosphere is opening our hearts. I like many of Omkara’s songs. However, the unconscious energy is mostly “remember who you are”, instead of “you already are what you need to be”. The emotional flow is not “you are here-now, go home and enjoy life”, but, they maintain a kind of emotional longing for being here-now. During this longing, there is no ego, and the person feels free. When the longing is no longer active, freedom is gone. And the disciple feels the need to connect with the vibe again, listening to some music or some recordings, or staying all the time with the master. That’s the tricky part in all the cults.

As a side-observation, I suggest looking at some so-called spiritual teachers and see if they speak about the transformation process in objective terms, like using third person, or are they speak using second person. For example, Tolle says many times, “you are”, “you do”… e.g. “some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” To me, his inner self is talking to himself. His mind is unconsciously using the audience to explore more about his own perspective. He reflects himself in people, and this is for me a sign that his mind is blocked in his archetypal patterns (in this case, maybe the wise old man archetype). He needs to hear what he says, but the maya is so good that it hides Tolle from Tolle. Just pay attention how many spiritual teachers have this way of communication. If only they could hear themselves. Anyway, this is their path for learning. And they are doing a great service to humanity, generally, they help so many people. As any human beings, they have their greatness and their limitations. Human evolution is still far from being a smooth process.

From a psychological perspective, many spiritual communities are promoting a weak ego and total abandonment into perceptions and sensations, in order to “feel” the divine essence. What I learned from transpersonal psychology is that one needs a strong ego before being able to abandon it. The Ego needs to be fully developed, and then, in the post-autonomous stages become possible to relax its grip. Prematurely abandoning the Ego leads many times to psychosis. In other words, personal development is needed before transpersonal development.

An article that I liked on the topic of guru and guruness, written by John Horgan, ”The Myth of the Totally Enlightened Guru”. In his book Rational Mysticism (2003), John Horgan explores the human nature of some enlightened people. Here is a description of Andrew Cohen, among others, “Cohen describes enlightenment as a form of not-knowing. And yet his guruhood, his entire life, revolves around his belief in—his knowledge of–his own unsurpassed perfection. To borrow a phrase, Cohen is a super-egomanic. His casual contempt for us ordinary, egotistical humans is frightening, as is his belief that, as an enlightened being who has transcended good and evil, he can do no harm… If Cohen settled for being human instead of perfect, he’d probably be a better teacher, and a better man”. Time showed that Horgan was right.

Entheogens: psychedelics and human development

I met several persons who have experienced temporary post-autonomous configurations while using entheogens like DMT, LSD, magic mushrooms. In my opinion, if used for getting personal insights or transpersonal wisdom, entheogens produce beneficial effects. But all the experiences with psychedelics need the after-event integration, and this is the most important aspect. For me, they are tools that open doors, but without preparations, the integration is not possible. I will talk a bit here about the use of psychedelics for facilitating insight during the journey of inner transformation. “Set and setting” plus intention are the key elements that can make a psychedelic experience a sacred on. “Set” refers to the psychological configuration of the journeyer; “setting” is the context where the experience takes place. Like the lyrics of a song, “You can be whatever you want when you’re high”, but after the high is over it takes constant work of personal development in order to access the new configuration all the time, not only when high or in an altered state of consciousness.

It’s good to know that there is a series of scientific articles on this theme, grouped together in the MAPS archive – Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. There are sufficient books and papers that explain psychotherapy using entheogens, written in the period when these substances were legal, and I invite you to read them if you are interested in details regarding this subject. Some key-words for a Google search: Rules for tripping on hallucinogenic drugs; The Controlled Chaos of Creativity; The unconscious mental effects and benefits of cannabis on one’s psyche; Cannabis-Induced Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic Features; Drugs As Tools For Spirituality; Marijuana and Divergent Thinking.

A scientific work that describes the effects of marijuana intoxication is “On Being Stoned” by Charles Tart (available online). Besides the altering of body perception, pain relief, intensifying physical pleasure, or the ability to almost perfectly empathize with people and music, marijuana intoxication produces a series of changes in the functioning of the psychic, like an increased ability to observe the unconscious (automatic) processes of thought and feeling, and the possibility to access and to  re-program them.

On programming psychedelic experience”, an article written by Ralph Metzner and Timothy Leary concisely explains how the mind can be reprogrammed to support the process of personal development. Briefly, the exploration of unconsciousness and reprogramming take place as follows: it needs a conscious intention to make this programming, before the actual experience. On weed, some people experiment and feel what they are thinking, there is a direct correlation between thoughts-feelings, which goes up to the physical sensation of ideas, and for example, one is imagining that his leg hurts and the leg starts to feel pain. Or one is thinking that he wants to be happy and starts to feel that happiness.

With a correct intention, during this experience, a series of mind patterns can be noticed and re-written. How? The simple intention – I want to think “xyz” instead of “abc” – leads to changing the thought system in “xyz” and feeling the appropriate emotion. But the immersion into the automatic patterns of the psyche has also some inherent risks. Since these automatisms also contain “the shadow”, the encounters with “fears” are almost inevitable. If the intoxication is severe, the lack of control over the content and the apparition of negative thoughts are not just verbal; ideas are personified, the negative is organically felt and, depending on the symbolic system of each person, the fears take different shapes (demons, gods). This is how the so-called bad “trips” appear.

Across history, findings suggest that these substances were used strictly by trained individuals, who know what happens and how to react. Powerful intoxication generates a state of special awareness and, without knowing the basic rules, can lead to mental blocks and psychosis. This is already happening and some marijuana consumers end up in hospital, as they are unable to process the content brought up in their trips. Or, when the ability to be an observer is activated, subpersonalities become visible and start to talk to each other. Many persons, not being used to this experience, remain disconnected and don’t observe that in fact, these subpersonalities are parts of themselves.

In my opinion, the psychedelic journeys are just speedy processing of the natural human development process. The journey described by Leary, Alpert and Metzner in the “The psychedelic experience”, based on “Tibetan book of dying” is in fact a description of the collective human evolution. In my opinion, the visions that appear during the psychedelic experiences are re-organization of the human psyche, and the journeyer is able to become a real time witness of the re-organizing process. On psychedelics, the individual experience may include a translation of the collective wisdom.

“The first bardo” is the period of ego loss, the first part of the psychedelic journey. They wrote, “The duration of this state varies with the individual. It depends upon experience, security, trust, preparation and the surroundings. In those who have had even a little practical experience of the tranquil state of nongame awareness, and in those who have happy games, this state can last from thirty minutes to several hours. In this state, realization of what mystics call the “Ultimate Truth” is possible, provided that sufficient preparation has been made by the person beforehand. Otherwise he cannot benefit now, and must wander.”

In my opinion, this first stage is a temporary access to the Unitive stage, as described in the ego development theory. No matter at which stage is currently the journeyer, ingesting a psychedelic like ayahuasca is taking the person quickly thought the stages, arriving in the Unitive configuration in some minutes. And the big shift is about abandoning the ego. This stage has two parts: part I – “The primary clear light seen at the moment of ego-loss” and part 2 – “The secondary clear light seen immediately after ego-loss”.

“The second bardo” is the period of visions when the psyche is re-connected to the experience and it starts to interact with the nondual awareness field. During this period, “the flow of consciousness, microscopically clear and intense, is interrupted by fleeting attempts to rationalize and interpret. But the normal game-playing ego is not functioning effectively. There exist, therefore, unlimited possibilities for, on the one hand, delightful sensuous, intellectual and emotional novelties if one floats with the current; and, on the other hand, fearful ambuscades of confusion and terror if one tries to impose his will on the experience”. The instruction given by Leary & co. are very useful: “The experienced person will be able to maintain the recognition that all perceptions come from within and will be able to sit quietly, controlling his expanded awareness like a phantasmagoric multi-dimensional television set: the most acute and sensitive hallucinations – visual, auditory, touch, smell, physical and bodily; the most exquisite reactions, compassionate insight into the self, the world. The key is inaction: passive integration with all that occurs around you. If you try to impose your will, use your mind, rationalize, seek explanations, you will be caught in hallucinatory whirlpools. The motto: peace, acceptance. It is all an ever-changing panorama. You are temporarily removed from the world of game. Enjoy it”.

This process also happens automatically as a cleaning process during the post-autonomous stages of ego development. The mind realigns itself with the vibration of the source. There is no need to intervene in this realignment game, as the fundamental awareness reorganizes the psyche automatically. This is also the lesson the nondual teachers tell: just let go, and let the nature do its job. In “The psychedelic experience” book you may find various descriptions of the processes that happen as visions: “The source; The internal flow of archetypal processes; The fire-flow of internal unity; Wave-vibration structure of external forms; The vibratory waves of external unity; “The Retinal Circus”; “The Magic Theatre”; The wrathful visions”.

In my opinion, these visions that happen in hours during the psychedelic experience are in fact rapid natural re-alignment processes, and these processes are identical with transformations that occur during ego development (but in years).

“The third bardo” is the period of re-entry, or the climbing down from the experience, when the newly discovered abilities are observed, while they gradually are no longer available. After the experience has reached it speak, the journeyers descends into the configuration of their actual stage of development. The ego re-appears, but in a new form, with a new alignment and an updated configuration. “The chances of making a favorable re-entry are increased if the process is allowed to take its own natural course, without effort or struggle. One should avoid pursuing or fleeing any of the visions, but meditate calmly on the knowledge that all levels exist in the Buddha also”, is the advice of the Tibetan book of dying, wonderfully adapted by Leary, Alpert and Metzner.

My own research hypothesis regarding DMT is that it stimulates the harmony in the groups of microtubules in the cells, and that DMT is increasing the conductance in the microtubules, creating a temporary experience of a high-frequency connectedness. DMT is a facilitator for the non-conceptual field. I think that ayahuasca as used in Santo Daime ceremonies (drinking little by little and dancing for some 10 hours) accelerates this process, producing a “mirroring” and “re-framing” (re-writing) the programs of the body/mind/emotions/behaviors. DMT is accelerating the harmony in microtubules, and so, psychologically, the “mirroring” accelerates. It’s like, the mind has a mirror to see itself, and it is reorganizing quickly, providing insights, without the use of another mind of a therapist.

The “visions” are in fact re-arrangements of the content of the psyche, in a more harmonious way. I think this is the mechanism of visions, that’s why people have real great insights with ayahuasca. It is the harmony of this nonconceptual field (spirit world, soul, etc) that provides a mirror. In psychology, this process of mirroring is also involved in a process called “validation”. Reciprocal validation happens in psychotherapy. If we look at symbols in spirituality, this process is there: it is the mind looking at itself… In my words, this new field related with microtubules-DMT, which I call “the witness”, is “mirroring” the psyche, and so, our psyche can see itself. I included my entire research hypothesis at the end of this guide.

Regarding the aliens seen in the psychedelic visions, a valid explanations if offered by James Kent, a researcher of mystical experiences induced by DMT. He explains how the patterns of the visual imagery during DMT-induced states are in fact based on fractal patterns. In the introduction to his book Psychedelic Information Theory. Shamanism in the Age of Reason, he writes: “the book is a formal deconstruction of psychedelic hallucination, expanded consciousness, and shamanism, and as such it attempts to move topics which have traditionally been classified as metaphysics into fields of physics and mathematics”. He presents arguments that the aliens or angels people see during DMT states are nothing more than their own imagery, based on physiology. In a comment on Sex, Drugs, Einstein, & Elves he writes: “I think in general people like to romanticize the DMT state and make it more than it is because they desperately want there to be a hidden hyperspatial world filled with mischievous sprites and god-like entities. However, when one closely studies the experience over and over again over time you come to see that a lot of the romanticized notions are not what is actually happening in the state, and people tend to “editorialize” the content of the experience in hindsight in order to make it into something more than what it actually is.”

Spiritual emergencies, mental illnesses or inner awakenings?

Christina and Stanislav Grof have introduced the concept of “spiritual emergency” or psycho-spiritual crises in order to describe moments of dramatic transformations in the human psyche. For Stanislav Grof, “many of the conditions, which are currently diagnosed as psychotic and indiscriminately treated by suppressive medication, are actually difficult stages of a radical personality transformation and of spiritual opening. If they are correctly understood and supported, these psychospiritual crises can result in emotional and psychosomatic healing, remarkable psychological transformation, and consciousness evolution”. He lists some types of experiences that can be considered as spiritual emergencies: Shamanic crisis; Awakening of Kundalini; Episodes of unitive consciousness (Maslow’s “peak experiences”); Psychological renewal through return to the center (John Perry); Crisis of psychic opening; Past-life experiences; Communication with spirit guides and “channeling”; Near-death experiences (NDEs); Close encounters with UFOs and alien abduction experiences; Possession states; Alcoholism and drug addiction.

Since the introduction of the “Religious or Spiritual Problem” in DSM-IV, this perspective is expanding slowly to the mainstream psychiatry, especially supported by transpersonal psychology. Spiritual crises are natural responses to unusual life circumstances, happening during the inner growth process. And there are many other temporary expressions, many of them related with mystical experiences, which are included under some psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar disorder.

On the topic of spiritual emergency, I highly recommend some documentaries: ”Bipolar or waking up”, made by Sean Blackwell; Open Dialogue, describing the amazing work of Jakko Sekkula and his team in Finland and Healing Homes, about the work of the Family Care Foundation in Sweden.

David Lukoff’s website on ”spiritual competency” and the spiritual emergency network are very useful for advanced reading.

For the therapists and the families of people that go through these transformations, there is a great handbook by Cortenay Young – ”First contacts with people in crisis & spiritual emergency”. He writes, “Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is all to do with someone else. Yes, they may be having a crisis, even a spiritual one, but it will almost inevitably affect you as well, and thus some of this material will become part of your process, your life, your transformation. Your reactions will reverberate with them and facilitate or hinder their process; and you will also affect others. The ripples spread once the stone has been dropped in the pond. And how we use this material is also very important. We can view our glass as half-full, or half-empty. A crisis can be an opportunity, a side-track, or a disaster”. Courtenay Young has a small residence where takes care of the people in spiritual emergencies. His book is based on his experiences when working for 17 years as the residential psychotherapist at the Findhorn Foundation, a spiritual and educational community of about 1,000 persons, in the north-east of Scotland.

My approach to these topics is an inclusive one: I think that what people experience is a real phenomenon, and there are no delusions that they need to abandon. On the contrary, these “delusions” are offering the key to the next configuration of their thinking-feeling-sensing and being. To me, the spiritual crises are related with the vertical ego development, and they are a sign that the individual is passing from one stage to another, in a mystical or in a mundane world. For me, excepting the psychiatric conditions generated by physical dysfunction in the body, all other psychiatric conditions are natural responses to human life, and should be treated as such.

Centers such as Diabasis, developed by John Weir Perry, have shown that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can be solved if the transformation process is carried on. People can get un-stuck from the symbolic world, if the symbolic journey is completed, and the reconstruction of the new ego begins.

The story of John Weir Perry is amazing: “He was a Jungian psychiatrist who founded an experimental residential facility called Diabasis, in San Francisco, California, during the 1970s. This was designed as a comfortable home where young adults, who were experiencing the initial days of their first “acute schizophrenic break”, could live in and be empowered to go through their Apocalypse on the way to greater health and happiness. The results were amazing: without any treatment by medication, electroshock or locked doors – but with opportunities for painting, dance, massage, meditation and conversation – full-blown “schizophrenics” were able to go through their ego-death and emerge on the other side, as Perry put it, “weller than well.” Instead of being sent to a mental hospital and/or being expected to taking medication for the rest of their lives, these people would live at Diabasis for the first three months, spend three more months in a half-way home, and then return to the outside world, with few if any relapses of their schizophrenia!”

“What we did at Diabasis was specifically to set up what we hoped would be the most ideal, least toxic (smile), least damaging environment for a person in the visionary state. First off, this means a home. You need a place with friendly, sympathetic individuals who live there. These people have to be companions, have to be willing to listen and not be frightened and not be judgmental about it, and not try to do anything to anybody. One has to let the visionary process unfold itself spontaneously. Under such conditions, to our surprise, we found that our clients got into a clear space very quickly!

We had started out with the notion that we would surely be in for a lot of bedlam with all this “madness” going on, but actually, the opposite was true! People would come in just a crazy as could be on the first day or two, but they would settle down very soon into a state of coherency and clarity. Often, when I would come in for a consultation at the end of the week, I would see someone who had been admitted in a completely freaked-out state just a few days before, sitting at the dinner table indistinguishable from anybody else; sometimes I couldn’t tell if this was a new member of the staff, or one of our clients. The calming effect of a supportive environment is truly amazing!”.

In an interview, Perry said that “schizophrenia” is a self-healing process, and the reason why we have “chronic schizophrenia” diagnostics is in fact cultural; it is the society’s negative response to what is actually a perfectly natural and healthy process, many times including visionary experiences. How it happens? “What makes this visionary state appear so very psychotic is that an individual with a paranoid ideology or ideation tends to identify with everything that comes up from below, and one is very apt to get confused”.

“[At Diabasis ] the whole environment was organised into various “spaces.” One of these – a -very important one – was called the rage room. This was soundproofed and padded, for the individual’s own protection, and we put things in there that they could whack to pieces like old cottons and mattresses. But the door was not locked; it was not like the padded cell in the mental hospital, where the person is isolated against his will… We set it up so that if a client was having strong feelings of rage, he or she could share it with a staff member, particularly the counselor or primary therapist, and thus deliver it. This was found meaningful.

The anger is a very important part of the growth of the ego, you see. We also had the opposite: a room for quietness and meditation. This was equally important, for integrative purposes. We had an art room, but I must say, people didn’t seem to spend much time there (chuckle). These so-called “sensitive personalities” were all hanging around the dining room table, doing watercolors or modeling in clay, and giving creative expression to some of the imagery inside their head. We also had a sand tray and figurines for sand play therapy. It works like a dream: you set up a dramatic scene, move the figurines, or tell a story. This avenue of expression is easier than painting. It’s very dreamlike, so it hits the visionary state very well. We also had poetry… Another thing we provided was a variety of body movement sessions, dance and martial arts, with skilled facilitators. And finally, we had interviews at least three of four times a week, for an hour and a half to two hours each, with the primary counselor/therapist. But really all of these creative outlets put together became part of the interview itself – verbal expression combined with image expression in these various media. Now throughout all this there was nothing scheduled, nothing mandatory. It was all informal. We’d just respond to things as they came up.

Our only house rule really was “No violence to property or persons!” The clients could dash out nude into the street if they had to; we didn’t like it, but they did! You see, we wanted them to be in this house of their own free will. They had to realize their own desire to belong in the house, and they did. So this whole approach is essentially one of releasing, rather than suppression. We allowed everything and encouraged its expression – not toward chaos, but toward communication! Communication tends to order. This is a most important point in psychiatry, but the common opinion is that it is very dangerous… When you actually do it, however, you find exactly the opposite is true: people get over their preoccupations very quickly. The whole point here is to deliver the visionary content to somebody and to be able to appreciate its symbolic relevance to the inner process of personal and social renewal. Once it’s delivered, the process keeps moving by itself. It’s really unfortunate there is so much misunderstanding about it all. The truth is really very simple”.

In my opinion, these visionary states are a re-connection with the archetypal levels of the psyche, including culturally- related archetypal symbols. And it usually happens before the first ego death. If the person can manage to deal with this first ego death, they can embrace more and more a flexible ego, culminating in the post-autonomous stages with a moment-to-moment death and rebirth. But, when this happens for the first time, it is quite a challenge for many. If the experience happens to an individual that is in a supportive group with some knowledge about transpersonal psychology, shamanism or human development, then the person may be helped to transition thought the dark night of the soul, to the new configuration. If the person is in a pre-conventional or conventional environment, the chances are to frighten everyone around and to be send to hospital to receive a “psychotic” label. It is not easy to hear someone saying: “I am Jesus today”, or “aliens have implanted a transmitter in my brain, and all my thoughts are being transmitted to everyone”.

Apparently, these are delusions. To me, they are insights from a new ego, more complex and interconnected, but the individuals are using the old terminology and the thinking structures of the old ego, being unable to make a correct meaning out of the experience. Here there is a list of some topics labeled as pathology, and my interpretation (delusions description: source#1, source #2)

Alternative explanations for some natural inner growth processes, currently labeled as psychiatric conditions

Persecutory delusions: The schizophrenic believes that he/she is being followed or is under surveillance, or that he/she is being made fun of, tricked, or treated very unfairly by others. When schizophrenics experience this type of delusion, they may feel very frightened or paranoid. As a result, they will often do things to protect themselves from the persecutor(s).

Alternative explanation: When the person unconsciously starts to develop the sense of interconnectedness (either by activating the witnessing awareness, or by opening the heart), they may feel they are under permanent surveillance. In fact, they see the connection between everything, but they fear this, and as a result, the mind is creating stories of persecution. The same “tricks” are seen by mystics, when they spoke about maya, the illusion of life. It is all a game, as 99% of the people are functioning on automatic pilot most of the time. If the individual has “the negative” as a primary filter, due to their fears, they will see “the negative” in the people around. Starting from these unconscious insights, the person’s mind may start to create stories, as a coping mechanism.

Delusion of reference: the person falsely believes that insignificant remarks, events, or objects in one’s environment have personal meaning or significance. For instance, a person may believe that he or she is receiving special messages from the news anchorperson on television. Usually the meaning assigned to these events is negative, but the “messages” can also have a grandiose quality.

Alternative explanation: well, the reality for the post-autonomous individuals is that every passage in every book is about them; this view is another result of the newly discovered connectedness, which is being processed unconsciously by the bodymind. We are one collective organism, and we are so interconnected that all the things around us has many types of connection with us. Everything is at the right place in the right moment. In other words, we just need to open our eyes and all that we need is right now around us.

This “delusion” is similar with the Grandiose delusions mechanism. Of course, the messages are “exactly” for me. All that I experience in my environment is because it is there for me. The right interpretation would be “because it is there also for me”. People in the initial stages of awakening tend to reduce everything to their ego, as the ego desperately defenses itself against its dissolution. The more interconnectedness people feel, the more their ego defenses are activating, narrowing the attention. An intervention that may be useful is working with diffuse attention that may relax the grip of the ego over the experience.

Grandiose delusions: involve the belief that he/she has exceptional power, talent or worth, or is someone famous. He/she may believe he/she is God or some other type of deity.

Alternative explanation: This is especially happening during the archetypal journey, before the first ego death. The mind is deeply connecting with its structure, and the person is opening to cognitive and emotional empathy. During this process, while the person connects with a specific archetypal energy, a story of all the symbols related with that archetype starts to develop. E.g. if the person reconnects with the feminine or mother archetype, they have the thought of Virgin Mary, and spontaneously, they “feel the thought”, and they become to feel they are Virgin Mary. Then they may think of the story of Cleopatra, and they fell again the thought, becoming Cleopatra for a few moments. My intervention in these cases is to adapt the meaning-making system, phrasing the experience like “Virgin Mary is in me, Cleopatra is also in me”. These are shapes and forms of the archetypes, and connecting with them is a sign that the symbolic journey has begun.

Erotomanic delusions: this type of delusion involves the belief that a particular person, usually a celebrity or someone especially important, is romantically or sexually involved with or in love with him/her.

Alternative explanation: this is a result of the interconnectedness, but through relational filter. Of course, at our deepest levels, we are all in love with each other, as we are all humans.

Somatic delusions: this involves the belief that he/she has a medical condition or other physical problem or flaw.

Alternative explanation: This delusion can have multiple sources. When the ego starts to disintegrate, a somatic delusion may appear as a coping or defense mechanism of the ego, keeping all the attention to the body. This fixation on a body problem may be also the last way of the ego to defense itself in front of the change. Usually, this fear captures a lot of mental energy. A person I know had the fear of having cancer, and it was so paralyzing, that after a while it blocked all the unconscious processing. After a paroxistic period, her post-conventional transformation journey began. She is now informally helping other people to pass through this kind of transformation.

Delusion of control: this is a false belief that another person, group of people, or external force controls one’s thoughts, feelings, impulses, or behavior. A person may describe, for instance, the experience that aliens actually make him or her move in certain ways and that the person affected has no control over the bodily movements. Thought broadcasting (the false belief that the affected person’s thoughts are heard aloud), thought insertion, and thought withdrawal (the belief that an outside force, person, or group of people is removing or extracting a person’s thoughts) are also examples of delusions of control.

Alternative explanation: This happens in the first stages of ego disintegration, because of feeling (unconsciously) that we are all connected to a hive mind. In fact, this is mostly true, we are all part of a collective organism, with a collective mind. When there is no ego, the body moves according to the collective movements, and individual programming received through education. Of course, our seemingly individual thoughts are broadcasted to the collective mind: we are a part of the collective mind, and we are connected in infinite ways. Thought insertion is an unconscious recognition that some of the thoughts we have appeared in our mind as a result of an empathic connection with someone else. This is a precious spiritual insight, but when it happens to a person that didn’t have the protective environment, or without knowing too much about the psychological interconnectedness of all beings, it is interpreted as a delusion.

Nihilistic delusion: a delusion whose theme centers on the nonexistence of self or parts of self, others, or the world. A person with this type of delusion may have the false belief that the world is ending.

Alternative explanation: yes, the world ends. Two months from now, exactly on 30th of September. A person I just met told me this. And that’s ok. The world as she knows it’s going to end. This is the sign that ego is about to pass through the first “dark night of the soul”. This nonexistence is real, the world has many layers, which are about to be discovered by the journeyer who decide to abandon his ego. Of course, the ego will start to be re-build again, but with much less boundaries. Still, when the transformation process is in this point, my intervention is to support the re-framing of the situation, saying something like: “yes, the world of your ego will end on 30th of September; I hope my world is not going to end, I have passed though many moment like the one you are experiencing right now”. This usually creates a relaxation and an acceptance, which will facilitate the disintegration and the passing through the “dark night of the soul” experience.

Delusion of guilt or sin (or delusion of self-accusation): this is a false feeling of remorse or guilt of delusional intensity. A person may believe  for example that he or she has committed some horrible crime and should be punished severely. Another example is a person who is convinced that he or she is responsible for some disaster (such as fire, flood, or earthquake) with which there can be no possible connection.

Alternative explanation: another effect of unconsciously connection to the global human organism, focused on a topic of personal responsibility. The great idea is that we are all in time responsible for all our actions, and even the smallest individual is important to the collective. A flood in Africa is because of my imperfection, which is true. Even if, my relation to it is 0.00001% from the possible causes, this small percentage is important. Individuals in this configuration learn the value of our existence. In fact, what these individuals are unconsciously feeling and fearing is an insight that will change their life. After they manage to pass thought the fear into the new insight, the bright side of this delusion will appear, as expressed by Percy Shelly in one of his wonderful poems:

“The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?—

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?”

Delusion of mind being read: the false belief that other people can know one’s thoughts. This is different from thought broadcasting in that the person does not believe that his or her thoughts are heard aloud.

Alternative explanation: well, some people can sometimes really hear our thoughts. Spontaneous telepathy just happens. But this is not happening all the time consciously. Though, in fact, we all have a kind of connection to the collective field, otherwise we would die. But this is mostly not under our voluntary control. This delusion is also generated by the fact that when people open to this interconnectedness, they start to feel more and more, and they also start to feel the potential in the people around, while their own potential is also starting to become conscious. I myself have this issue, I still have some difficult times with some people, trying to discriminate if what I see is their active configuration, or I see their potential (which they don’t see in them). So, in conclusion, my approach to this delusion is that yes, some people can know sometimes my thoughts. Even if my thoughts are broadcasted to the entire collective mind, the evolution of our species is not allowing at this point the direct conscious exploration of the global mind.

Religious delusion: any delusion with a religious or spiritual content. These may be combined with other delusions, such as grandiose delusions (the belief that the affected person was chosen by God, for example), delusions of control, or delusions of guilt. Beliefs that would be considered normal for an individual’s religious or cultural background are not delusions.

Alternative explanation: archetypal symbols from religion are very powerful, if a person is related with religion, that specific religious symbols will start to activate in their mind. For example, if the transformation process has reached the source/self archetype, the person will begin to feel and think they are Jesus, or Buddha, or other symbol of the center-source. That’s why in hesychasm they say “Do you see Jesus? Ignore it”.

Thought disorder: describes an underlying disturbance to conscious thought and is classified largely by its effects on speech and writing. Affected persons show loosening of associations, that is, a disconnection and disorganization of the semantic content of speech and writing. In the severe form speech becomes incomprehensible and it is known as “word salad”.

Alternative explanation: First, there is a phenomenon called “hyper priming” that is related with this: when people can connect distant groups of concepts easily, on many levels of abstraction, by using abstract or visual connections. In my research, I have observed that activation of the witnessing awareness changes something in the way we think, activating deeply the visual thinking. If a person is unfamiliar with this (as most of us are), and temporary experience it, the amount of information is so huge that the mind is blocked, and the only thing to do is to catch up with some words. I would rather consider this as a temporary stage that happen when people transform from conceptual (using words) thinking, to visual thinking. The brain is changing, but it needs some time. That’s why art is perfect to facilitate the change of the mind. However, sometimes, for some people, it can be just a day with too much weed.

How to get out of delusions: a proposal for an exit way out of the psychotic-like episodes

Some years ago, I wrote these guidelines to help people get out of the psychospiritual crises. I posted it on Quora, answering the question “What is it like to have schizophrenia?” Here it is:

“I would like that see what happens if a person diagnosed with schizophrenia really believes that what I say below is true and accept this:

1. All the logical perspectives are true. We could find logic in everything.

2. We are all interconnected. All our thoughts, all the thoughts that had been thought during human evolution are stored and accessible right now in the collective mind.

3. So, we can think anything, from a certain perspective it is true. I am Jesus, I am me, I am you. Jesus saved me. I saved Jesus. At the deeper level of information, we are all connected. Still, in order to live we need our egos, so we need to find our way.

And usually, we need to keep this ego (personal story) so that we could live as a person. Everyone is doing this. Most of us on the automatic pilot.

4. The voices are the thoughts launched in the collective mind. Hearing them is ok, it is a deeper level or reality, but it is real. But we need to keep a balance between our story and other’s stories. Ideas create images. So, the images you see are visualizations of your mind, based on the ideas. If I have an image while writing this, you can have the same image while reading this. There is no problem. It is called empathy at its best. But don’t do this all the time. Have fun when you want, but follow your own way.

5. Accept that hearing various ideas and seeing connections is just an immersion in the collective information. There are flows of ideas, some of them scary, some of them lovely. See them, and let them pass through your mind.

6. Accept that everything is possible. Yet, some possibilities are not going to happen. Accept everything, and create your own Self, as you wish to be. Don’t fight with your insights. Just follow your chosen way.

7. For many, schizophrenia is just a spiritual emergency, an awakening. Indeed, the world of thoughts is amazing. Being conscious is a scary stuff.

Let all the ideas pass through you, and enjoy it in a mindful state. Observe, witness, and let all the ideas to pass through your mind. There is no need to reconcile the worlds. You are both: the observing self and the mind (ego) that is thinking. Accept this.

Google for conscious tv, buddha at the gas pump, advaita, spiritual emergency, schizophrenia. Just see that this is a step in the human evolution. Becoming a witness is just the half of the job. You need to balance your personality, to create a balanced ego. To consciously choose who you want to be.

8. 90% of the population is adhering to a system of thinking and refuse other perspective. Isn’t it fun to see that all of them are logically true? I would say – Go ahead, explore the wildest possibilities of logical reasoning, but after that come back to our physical world, go meet your friends, and discuss with them what they can understand. And ask-pray or do what you need to do, ask to meet people that accept your perspective.”

I was happy to see a comment that said “I disagree with the necessity of ego, believing ego to be only a tool within mind and not all of mind, but other than that I believe everything there. In fact, I progressed through your points in the order you gave them in. What a darling coincidence”.

Spiritual emergency, schizophrenia and transgenerational healing

In an interesting study that explored the styles of education of the families with  individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, using a questionnaire-based interview, the researchers discovered that mothers of male schizophrenics more often checked such items as: “Children should be taken to and from school until the age of eight just to make sure there are no accidents; A mother should make it her business to know everything her children are thinking; If children are quiet for a little while a mother should immediately find out what they are thinking about; Children should not annoy parents with their unimportant problems; A watchful mother can keep her child out of all accidents; A parent must never make mistakes in front of the child; Parents should sacrifice everything for their children; Children who take part in sex play become sex criminals when they grow up; A child should not plan to enter any occupation that his parents don’t approve of; Some children are just naturally bad; A good way to get children to obey is by giving them presents or promising them treats. Spanking a child does more good than harm”.

Some children manage to escape this coercive atmosphere, some don’t, and their psyche is just coping with the pressure, trying to evolve as a natural instinct. I know a family with two girls, both diagnosed with schizophrenia around the age of 18. The main reason was that they went out naked in the street and apparently, they lost the coherency of thinking and behaving. I met one of the girls when she was 25, and she started to study psychology, in an attempt to prove that she is not mentally ill. Then I found out that her father used to keep her locked in her room and verbally abusing both of them, since they childhood.

In my opinion, schizophrenia is rooted in the transgenerational psychological patterns. To heal an individual that has schizophrenic symptoms, one must look into the family style of thinking-feeling-sensing-behaving. Studies showed schizophrenia is transmitted through generations, in the sense that unbalanced patterns of thinking-feeling-sensing-behaving are transmitted from parents to children. In order to close the circular evolution and start a vertical transformation, a generation must assume the healing and change their psychological patterns. If not, the transgenerational line will produce repeatedly schizophrenic-like children. These children are not the problem; they are the cure for the transgenerational lie. Fortunately, shamans knew this and when a person had the symptoms, they were embracing the change with respect. Looking from this angle, the family tree of the person with schizophrenia will continue to try to heal itself, and the psychospiritual crises will appear again and again in individuals, until the family tree heal itself and advance in its evolution.

Depersonalization, changes in ”locus of identity” and diffuse-objective attention

There is a strong similarity between what we call “depersonalization” and the spiritual concept of “enlightenment”. Their common trait is the concept of “locus of identity”.

Depersonalization disorder consists of persistent or recurrent feelings of being detached from one’s body or mental processes, usually with a feeling of being an outside observer of one’s life. In The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, depersonalization is often categorized as a reaction to severe stress. The DSM-IV conceptualizes depersonalization as a dissociative disorder, and dissociation is a typical response to trauma. The DSM-IV also lists depersonalization as an element of posttraumatic stress disorder and considers depersonalization as a coping style.

In my opinion, depersonalization reflects mainly a change in the locus of identity. This change usually happens in the post-conventional stages of development. People realize they are not the body-mind, but something else. This stage in personal development is related to the activation of the witnessing awareness, the ability to observe and witness the entire bodymind as a system. When it first appears, there is a shift in the locus of identity: individuals see themselves as if from outside, and the entire life looks like a dream. When the persons are stuck in this stage, usually fearing this new experience, and they don’t happen to have a protective environment around, they end by getting a psychiatric label, instead of being happy about the doors this new perspective opens for them. It is interesting for me to see that it’s the stress that create this external locus of identity response. Theoretically, this confirms my idea that witnessing awareness is related with the release of endogenous DMT in the body, stress being one of the factors that are known to generate bursts of endogenous DMT, which activates the nonconceptual self and deploys different types of attention.

The type of attention that is associated with depersonalization is the diffuse-objective type. In Les Fehmi’s description: “The diffuse focus-objective mode of attention is one in which multisensory experience is simultaneously and objectively present, a potentially vast multidimensional objective awareness. An array of objective sensations hang suspended in the midst of a more general diffuse awareness of space. Playing in a band, appreciating a panoramic sunset, going for a walk or driving a car – these are among the activities for which an appropriate relational strategy may emphasize diffuse focus-objective attention”. It is like watching all that happens without being involved in it, and that can create the illusion of a kind of “depersonalization”.

But depersonalization is just a temporary stage. After the witnessing awareness and the diffuse-objective attention are activated, people can explore a new way of attention, which is diffuse-immersed: taking the contact with the world and own bodymind again, but this time, including the entire environment.

As a conclusion, the experience of depersonalization is just a temporary new perspective that is natural during the inner growth process. It can start as a self-reflection, and gradually the cognitive observer experience can trigger the activation of the witnessing awareness experience. Mindfulness is one of the methods focused on detached observation. In a sense, during the inner growth process, many Buddhist monks could have been temporarily diagnosed with depersonalization.

Transformational counseling and non-dual psychotherapy

Providing a support for vertical transformation is slightly different from the classic counseling and therapy. Speaking about nondual psychotherapy, Kaissa Puhakka writes, “those who have tasted the natural wellbeing associated with a momentary disappearance of the self may try to recapture it, and if they are therapists, perhaps set up conditions that could bring it about for their clients as well. Such efforts, however, proceed from the standpoint of the self as a distinct and enduring identity. From that standpoint, the disappearance of the self—nonduality–is something to be captured or attained by some sort of technique or spiritual practice. The one who is doing the capturing or attaining is, of course the very self that constitutes itself, paradoxically, in the very act of trying to capture or attain. Many spiritual practitioners have found themselves dead-ended in this paradox…. The practitioner, hoping to “go into” nonduality, “gets into” trying to dissolve the self instead. But the self cannot dissolve itself. It cannot really even allow itself to dissolve, for that, too, sets up a duality between the one doing the allowing and the state that is supposed to be achieved by doing it. Notice how “allowing” can be a mental attitude that fixates the self”.

Working with post-conventional transformation is even more unusual, as the counselor has to abandon his own ego, as the client experiences their ego death. Otherwise, the counselor will unconsciously “fixate” the client’s ego, and instead of helping them, the counselor will block the transformation process. That’s why for people in psychotic episodes, the classical therapeutical approach does not work. In these situations, the therapeutical approach is rather unconditional presence, which do not require even the establishment of a “rapport” between the counselor and the client.

Discussing about her transformation as a counselor, Kaissa writes, “nothing is required of the other in nondual presence—not even that the other be present. The last point is very subtle and its significance is easy to miss. I had missed it for many years without, of course, realizing that I had missed it. As a therapist, I felt my job was to help my clients to be present with me. I tried to use the relationship with my clients therapeutically, to bring them into presence through relationship with me. Then one day I realized that I had been working on an assumption all along. This assumption was that I could not be in contact with my clients unless they were in contact with me. That contact is mutual and reciprocal seemed intuitively compelling, and so I had never questioned it, never even realized that I had accepted it as a premise to “come from” into the therapy work. But one day I realized it, and the realization freed me up to be present and connected unconditionally, regardless of whether my client was present “with me.” My fixation around reciprocal presence was unraveled and my self was free to “go into” nonduality in the presence of another, to be in full contact with her even when she was not with me. Nondual presence has no requirement for reciprocity. It did not require me to withdraw from it because my client did. It did not require me to be or do anything. And just as important, it did not require anything of my client. I had “understood” before that nonduality is unconditional and requires nothing. But now that understanding had a new depth and a new presence in the therapy room”.

Some other useful perspectives about nondual psychotherapy are available in two volumes, “The sacred mirror” (2003) and “Listening from the heart of silence” (2007).

In the transformational counseling, a principle from ego development theory applies. The counselor have to be at least in the same ego development stage as the client, or at a more complex stage, in order to understand their issues. This is also valid for therapists and psychiatrists: if a client comes with a post-autonomous experience of ego deconstruction, and the experts are not themselves in a post-autonomous stage, they will be unable to see the big picture and the therapeutic approach will be not ok. The therapist will unconsciously fixate the self, trying to help the client make sense out of the experience; and the psychiatrist will just use ICD or DSM to label it as disorder and depending on the situation, will prescribe antipsychotics.

Importance of reciprocal validation during transition through stages of development

“You’re not great until someone says you are” explains the theory of social validation. In transformational counseling, I found that this is the most important part: validating the person that they indeed, are “there”. But this principle also has another side: when a person changes something inside, in the first days, they meet the same friends and most of the friends cannot see the change. In some situations, they even “fixate” the old ego, not validating the changes that just happened. If the change is a vertical one, and no friend is on that stage, there is no one around to validate the transformation, and that’s a problem in many cases. We need validation through our journey of transformation. Validation gives us stability and trust that we are on the right path. In some cases, I would describe the result of validation as a “blossoming”.

Somebody else has to “see” that we are changed, that we are “awake”; at a certain time during this process, validation is important, so that the change, or the “awakening” is integrated. For me, it was useful to announce verbally to my partner that something has changed in me, and I asked her a few times to be careful, not to unconsciously reinforce my old ego, but to support me and to see me in the new configuration.

To add some quantum salt and pepper, the validation phenomenon looks similar with the observer’s effect in double slit experiment, the person beside us is the one that can collapse the wave into a particle (our ego), by seeing and validating the change.

Psychosomatics and conscious embodiment

In the personal development process, cleaning out and integrating past experiences happens both in the body and in the mind. Each thinking pattern has a relation with an energy pattern in the body or in our emotional structure. Just intervening on one side will not produce the change. That’s why I think that visualizations in which people direct energy to heal some parts of the body produce only placebo effects. To clean the cognitive and emotional imprints in the body, we need to do use the body.

For me, inhabiting my body has reached a new level of sensibility when I started the contact improvisation classes, a form of contemporary dance that doesn’t involve choreography, but free and authentic movement. And the Feldenkrais classes were very useful, helping me reconnect with parts of the body I didn’t imagine that is possible to be felt.

Rosemarie Anderson describes the evolution of body awareness during the developing of the personality in her Body Map theory. She compares the ten stages of body awareness development to the corresponding nine stages of ego development offered by Susanne Cook‐Greuter.

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Speaking about her model, Rosemarie underlines, “early axes involve somatic and sensorial enmeshment; middle axes are characterized by increasing differentiation of body, mind, and spirit; and later axes reflect integration and ultimately unification of body, mind, and spirit in awakened consciousness. From a transpersonal perspective, despite our personal preferences, all dimensions of life and death are holy and no one axis is more sacrosanct than another. There is nothing more or less sacred about maintaining one’s safety and well‐being than about full awakened consciousness”.

Connecting with our body is essential in the “symbolic journey” process, when their cognitive energy becomes very powerful, and the connections are so attractive that people tend to detach themselves from their body and the outer world. Cognitive “enlightenment”, without integrating this experience in the body very often leads to situations when people temporarily disconnect from the physical world and live only in their minds (in psychology, we call the process “Ego inflation”). The seduction of the mind needs bodily integration – “conscious embodiment”.

In “Don’t Trust Your Feelings: Somatics and the Pre/Trans Fallacy“, Steve Bearman explores how the somatics can be integrated with higher development: “Somatics opens up a new developmental world, especially to people who missed these developmental pieces growing up. It is akin to training a person who has never developed their mind in the arts of perception, memory, logic, language, and lateral thinking. If you have been stuck in your life and stuck in your head, somatics can expand your world. If you have tried to work on yourself in counseling by thinking and talking, but failed to get where you wanted to go, somatics can be the vehicle that gets you there. If the head has been the problem, the body seems like the solution, but it isn’t. This is where the confusion begins. Rationality has its limits, especially when it comes to re-organizing a person’s inner experience, one of the basic goals of counseling. It seems that the way beyond these limits comes from embracing the non-rational, but it isn’t…

Let us, however, let soma be soma and nothing more. It’s so exciting to get our bodies back, and it should be, but taking up permanent residence at the lower levels of human development will not help us to integrate the pre-rational with the rational. Until such an integration occurs, the worthy goal of trans-rational development will be beyond our reach… Development never ends. Transcending rationality, and becoming our larger selves, is a developmental goal many people never reach. Somatics helps us prepare the ground. Don’t confuse it with the sky.”

Some people tend to confuse somatic (pre-rational) experiences with post-rational experiences, which include both the body and the mind. This confusion is reflected nowadays, in the neo-shamanic techniques, many of them belonging to a earlier stages of cognitive development in our history . Ken Wilber conceptualized this distinction as the “pre/trans fallacy”. The pre-rational experiences are sensory experiences, where the mind is blocked or in the flow like state and the witness is absent. It’s the experience that people have when they feel intense joy, when they have orgasms or mystical experiences of connecting with nature. In the more complex stages of human development, the mind in not blocked or focused in one point, but is experienced altogether with the body. This happens because both the mind and emotions are “fluid”, without blockages, and there is no need of “disconnecting” from the mind to fully experience life. In the Unitive/nondual state, the mind, the body, the emotions and “the witness” can work simultaneously.

Some of the people I have discussions with on this topic described that after their “awakening” experience, their cognition looked like it was shut down, and the only available content that mattered was the sensory world. Their subjective experience was as if the mind stopped for a few weeks-months. Then, they all felt the need to re-connect and use their cognition again, but this time with a new perspective. Looks like these periods of cognitive liberation are the chaos that the mind needs in order to reconfigure a new ego structure. It may be that periods of chaos, when the ego control takes a break, are necessary for any deep change in the personality.

Carlo Monsanto, from the Ayus Conscious Intelligence Institute, has contributed to the field of Ayurveda with the systemization of an applied consciousness approach (ayurvedic psychology) that aims at cultivating fully conscious or witness awareness as an absolute reference relative to which all forms of functional awareness (mental, emotional, physical, self-relational and other forms of awareness) express. Functional awareness directly relates to the different aspects of experience as this unfolds within mind and body. The mind and body offer a context, wherein experience becomes tangible. Witness awareness alone doesn’t alter experience. As all aspects and layers of experience move through mind and body, and express in relationship, they may be discerned on the basis of an introspective framework. This form of first-person research is taught through a system of internal assessment and feedback, which constantly mirrors the mechanisms that underlie experience. It is the combination of awareness, concentrative and open attention and the introspective framework that enable witness awareness to connect with, and continually reorganize and integrate all parts of the mind and body. Under worldly conditions these parts seem disconnected and incoherent as they reflect the immediate world outside. As mind and body start behaving in a more integrated and coherent way, reflecting the level of integrity of witness awareness, they are re-balanced.

Because of painful early childhood experiences and the subsequent conditioning of automatic action-reaction patterns of fear-control, sadness-anger and rejection-disassociation, different personality-modes come into play to keep one from feeling hurt. Henceforth, the authentic or real self is kept from expressing. Ayurvedic psychology describes the language-like characteristics of action-reaction patterns as they emerge and densify experience at the root level and how this structures our mind and body at superficial levels. These responses emerge as sequences and layers of inner felt responses that suppress and repress one’s natural urges, which are accompanied by different thoughts, feelings and sensations. Witness awareness and discernment not only recognize these patterns of responses and the expressions thereof in one’s personality, balance, behavior and way of communicating. It also creates the conditions for intersubjective integration that is the basis of group-consciousness and group-intelligence. Recognizing and acknowledging each response as this emerges, desensitizes the inner felt response to the point where it is processed and integrated. Thus mind and body regain their flow like quality, allowing us to express ourselves more authentically.

The following list of physical characteristics of the action-reaction patterns enables one to better recognize inner felt action-reaction patterns or responses as they emerge.

–        Fear-control (controlling): distrust, restless, controlling, tension, stiffness, cramp, contraction, stinging cold/sudden temperature change, electric-like sensation, giddiness, nausea, bloated (aversion)

–        Sadness-anger (victimizing): burning, uncomfortable heat, prickly/oversensitive, irritated, swollen, inflammation.

–        Rejection-disassociation (isolating): heavy, blocking, pressing, disconnecting, absent, lethargic, too much sleep, constantly feeling tired.

–        Powerlessness (paralyzing): a combination of all three pre-emotional responses: feels painful, blocked, tensed. As if paralyzed.

This is the one of the exercises developed by Carlo Monsanto:

“Close your eyes. Begin by noticing everything occurring inside your body. Can you feel the difference between the left and right side of your body? One side may feel heavier or larger, more present or absent, shifted moreforward, up, or down; more or less tense, painful or heavy. Now, witness what you sense in the left side of the body and then the right. Allow yourself to notice all that you can sense physically and emotionally. By being aware of everything, all at once, our mind attaches to “space”. By recognizing and acknowledging what you sense, experience is transformed and the mind becomes quieter. As your mind stops searching for resolution, it calms down. The key here is not to react to, but to recognize and acknowledge what is noticed. Through fully conscious awareness, which is neither internal or external, and a heightened form of discernment, you learn to recognize these inner felt or pre-emotional responses. Be open to see how what you sense and feel is transformed, as you bring more awareness to what you feel. Within your mind and body, notice everything that´s calling your attention. If you feel your emotions are overwhelming, you may also be able to notice that you’re afraid of losing control over whatever you’re not-yet used to “allowing”. Notice if you resist and deny what you are feeling. Go through this process simply noticing and allowing.

Are you able to notice what you think, sense, feel and intuit without “trying” to change or solve it? Our mind remains restless if these pre-emotions are not adequately absorbed by choiceless awareness, which is ever changeless or in stasis. Restlessness disrupts our ability to focus. It makes us feel unsafe and insecure. What’s more, our mistaken sense of reality may make us misinterpret our circumstances and relationships, imagining obstacles where there aren’t any. Notice how you are experiencing from a place that is always open and receptive. As you learn to see “what is” – without the need to change “what is”, you will notice how being a discerning embodied witness reorganizes even the most troublesome responses – forever. While you stop being reactive, you become more self-directed. This is a tried-and-true way to free yourself; to connect and communicate openly with others, integrating (healing) those patterns that tend to disrupt the relationship between people, transforming fear and other patterns into more transparent ways of relating interpersonally.

This illustrates how you can awaken your own awareness to rebalance your mind and body through discernment and pattern recognition, even integrating patterns that tend to disrupt interpersonal relationships. This enables us to communicate more authentically and work together more effectively. When you are free from being influenced by pre-emotional responses, you stop mirroring the world, and acquire freedom of choice. You’ll be able to better manifest what you envision.”

Kundalini awakening and psychosomatic rebalancing. Biology of Kundalini.

In some people, the process of re-harmonizing the entire being, body and mind, generates a phenomenon known as kundalini awakening (or pranothana). A person I interacted with had been undergoing this energetic cleaning process for several years, a process that manifested by shaking and spontaneous yoga postures and dances. The person did not know yoga, but the postures that came naturally were perfect yoga positions. The body told her what to do and she simply went with the flow. After identifying a few asanas, I gave up. For the passionate ones, she perfectly embodied Kali for a few minutes. She didn’t allow me to record her on camera, but I found something similar to her gestures on the internet.

Exploring with this person, I reached the conclusion that the phenomenon was an automatic cleaning of emotional blockages in the body. The person had a sexual and emotional trauma, which had imprinted itself in the energetic patterns of the body. The spontaneous yoga movements helped her to clean herself. Sometimes she would move as if she was collecting information from some invisible field and would position it in some other part of the field. I learned from her to abandon myself to my own transformation process.

I found the most detailed explanation of the kundalini awakening and the energy opening in a book by Jana Dixon – Biology of Kundalini.

I like a lot her clarity, below some excerpts from her website, www.biologyofkundalini.com:

“Our modern cultural conditions such as sedentary lifestyle, removal from nature and cooked-clogging diets are not conducive to kundalini flow or awakening. This means when we do pop it tends to be explosive rather than an ongoing thread of alchemy throughout our lifetime. Still I don’t think it should be the aim of spiritual practices like yoga and meditation to have a nice smooth calm awakening. Safe growth is translation not transformation. It is the machination of the ego to want to control the process of evolution, either through balance or through exaggeration of the extremes. Spiritual practices however can tend to tame the ego’s resistance to the process so that less friction and damage to the organism occurs, thereby making the metamorphic process more thorough and enduring. If one wants to establish a kundalini practice then I personally think that fasting, a raw diet, overt-generosity, compassionate action and adventure to be a better method of popping than preoccupation with yogic practices.”

“Since kundalini awakening is most often just something that happens, we don’t have a whole lot of say over how “mature” we are when it strikes. However by its very extreme nature, kundalini will force greater maturity and lucid adjustment to reality in order to survive. Along with the sense of danger inherent in the dissolving of ones known self, there is also a buoyant faith that arises from being so lit with Spirit and at one with the Universe. Kundalini arousal and the ongoing development of the nervous system make us more sensitive to the inner and outer worlds. The self-directed force of kundalini purifies accumulated stress caused by our past habits (samsakras) and traumas. Friction and difficulty during awakening occur not so much from the process itself but from our conscious and unconscious interference with it due to not understanding what is going on.

Kundalini burns off much of the primary reactivity imprinted from our family of origin and early life experience. With kundalini the opportunity for change is increased because our neurological slate is wiped relatively clean, but it depends on our will, faith and environment as to how far we can grow. If we do not change our habits to reflect the Self’s true interests, we will continue to rebuild the conditioned reactive self we thought ourselves to be. We spend our entire lives thinking we are an entity that was created by our parents and culture…but are we really that entity? I mean they don’t even know us, they only know their projections of us. The Grail of course is the true Self that is beyond all such imposition.”

“During a kundalini awakening we are at a lifetime peak in pituitary potency, this raises our center of being to the psychic level, through which we have access to a vastly higher vision and taste of reality. While at that level we cannot fit our larger being down into the consensus flatland “reality,” thus when in this higher operational mode we become acquainted with our essential aloneness. As well as the endocrine glands, the spleen, liver and stomach-brain, heart-brain are radically important to the metamorphic process. We can assume that the reserves in liver and spleen are being used up during the peak, and this along with exhaustion of neurotransmitters, hormones, enzymes etc… causes the classic burnout effects. After the 3 year peak is over the pituitary hormones drop off and we can fall into a slump, losing our psychic abilities, inner-navigation, motivation, attractiveness and attraction to others, purpose, meaning, drive, zest etc… From the heights of Everest we may drop back down to crowd consciousness and forget the power of our visions.

One thing we must be aware of while at the height of our psychic function is that as the awakening leaves us, and as we go into the exhaustion phase we might become “less” psychic than we were prior to the awakening. As a culture when we learn to manage kundalini without excessive organic damage, we should be able to grow in a fashion that prevents horrendous slumps in our functioning. But we should anticipate and be “prepared” for a loss of physic ability so that we do not become soul-sick from our apparent loss of depth.”

“It is the unusual nature and intensity of metamorphosis which forces respect, awareness, awe and faith. Fear is unavoidable with the hyperactivation of the sympathetic nervous system and the unknown quality of what is happening and where it’s going. But in the end passing through this fear leaves one with such an altered perspective and physiology that one essentially transcends the collective fear. Only then do we have any power to dispel consensus fear and increase love in the world. We become karma eating machines, offering cellular forgiveness.”

“Those who have had a childhood of abuse, neglect of dysfunction, tend to have more catastrophic awakenings because their systems are built for repression and dissociation. This is not always the case but it is a pattern. One can imagine that the more loving-touch and self-validation, the child receives the more efficiently wired their nervous system will be, and the fewer psycho-somatic and emotional blocks they will have. But consciousness will out no matter what the formative structure.

The nature of one’s individual awakening not only depends on one’s past history it is also determined by one’s future history. That is, what one is to become and experience is already at play in one’s present. In-forming us trans-temporally in ways the rational mind cannot perceive. The tree is already inherent in the seed. The future magnetically draws us toward it. One could call this, the karma of the future.

It seems like the more open, surrendered and evolved one is, then the more challenge one is faced with in incarnating one’s soul. So here’s the rub…the more spiritual preparation one does, the larger the flow of kundalini coursing through one. But if we don’t have some form of yoga and meditation, then we are upstream without a paddle and are battered about on the rapids with no sense of control over our boat. Traditional spiritual practices were developed to both bring on an awakening, give one the strength and skills for navigating the awakening and to substantiate the awakening in the life of the individual and his/her relationship to the world.”

“It is the unusual nature and intensity of metamorphosis which forces respect, awareness, awe and faith. Fear is unavoidable with the hyperactivation of the sympathetic nervous system and the unknown quality of what is happening and where it’s going. But in the end passing through this fear leaves one with such an altered perspective and physiology that one essentially transcends the collective fear. Only then do we have any power to dispel consensus fear and increase love in the world. We become karma eating machines, offering cellular forgiveness.

Whether rocky or calm one always has the awakening specifically designed for one’s own needs. Each individual is different. Some nuts are harder to crack than others and so take more force or unusual mechanisms to open. Kundalini herself will guide the way if we listen intently to be informed from within and hold lightly to our “shoulds” and known concepts. During Gobi Krishna’s major cycle he was having severe problems with extreme energy, aberrant mental states, heat, fear and pain. Although there was very little help available for him (even in India at the time), someone did tell him that if the energy goes up the right sympathetic trunk (pingala) that his could result in the symptoms he was experiencing, and possibly end in death. During the height of his suffering he had the intuition to concentrate on directing the current up the central channel of the spine. After success at doing this, his torturous symptoms abated and he entered a more gentle, blissful and illuminated awakening, which lasted the rest of his life.”

Here are some other articles about this topic: Kundalini is a Gift…It’s the Mind You Have to be Vigilant AboutKundalini and the First Three Chakras – Physical, Emotional, MentalPranotthana or Kundalini?The Secret of the Golden Flower.

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DEPTH PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES DURING INNER GROWTH
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In this section I describe some processes and patterns of inner transformation, which I’ve observed during my personal transformation and through my counseling work. Some of these experiences are already mentioned in the human development researches (Terry O’Fallon and Susanne Cook-Greuter), for some of them I couldn’t find any data in the literature. The language used below is quite specialized and not very easy to understand if you didn’t come across these experiences, but if you do find yourself in some of these processes and wish to talk about it, don’t hesitate and e-mail me.

Transitioning to a new stage: automatic patterns in perspective-taking process.

The early period of transitioning to a new stage of development includes a category of subjective experiences that reflect the beginning of the transition to a new stage of ego development. A new content and structure is available, but the interpretation is still being done by the old configuration. People’s experiences are described with words such as, “everything is new”, “I see details I have ever seen before”, “I have thoughts that I didn’t have before”.

These new insights are blowing up the mind, and some people interpret these new thoughts based on their fears, and the meaning they make may be something like “the new thoughts are from angels, demons, extraterrestrials or disincarnated beings”, and it can lead to delusional thinking.

Building perspectives through automatic contrasts and associations

In the first rounds of paradigm shifts, the new perspective is automatically created using comparisons with the previous experiences. Letting go fully is impossible, it takes incremental steps to do it. Until our psyche can allow a full immersion in the reality, the mind uses contrasts and associations with the already known experiences. This is not about the content of the experience, which is completely new, but it refers to the “structure”, to the way we look at things and make meaning out of it. The causal structure of the psyche that create the perspective dissolve only in the unitive stage, but until then, 99,999% of our experiences have a perspective attached. And this perspective is “felt” by associating it and comparing it with previous feelings.

For example, we may go to the mountains, and experience a wonderful landscape, with a forest and lake, and we can have a “here-now experience”, with a blissful feeling. The content of the experience is new. However, the structure of the experience is not: our emotions are generated not only by the real actual landscape, but also by the contrasts and associations with our past “here-now” experiences, and this associations and contrasts is being made automatically by the emotional system. We have a “configuration for new landscapes”, a configuration that unconsciously is labeled as “this is how the present moment is in nature”. This configuration has a specific way of paying attention, a specific way of creating the visual image inside our mind as a reflection of the outer landscape, a specific configuration of the “time” filter and “space” filter. And all these filters, which I described in the chapter on Components of the conscious experience, combine automatically with each other and give birth to the experience of “here-now in nature”. These configurations are dependent on the elements in the environment and in our inner psyche, which trigger the activation of some configurations. Observing the configuration of the perspective, and how it is created by our mind though associations and contrasts, relaxes the emotional structure. It is necessary to go beyond bliss and beyond using perspective-taking system in order to really connect with the here-now experience.

Differentiating and prioritizing pattern: choosing the new perspective

In my experience, this is about selecting the perspectives, when we have multiple options. During the inner growth, we realize that each perspective is a new configuration that has a “quality”, it may be an emotional touch, or a larger spaciousness, or special mixture of past-present-future. It’s like, we can be a part in many internal movies: we can be in “The Terminator” configuration for some years, and we discovered last year “The Titanic” perspective, and we just discovered a new one that we cannot label with anything but “The new one”. When “The new one” is just being born, we need time to explore it so that we can use it by choice. We need to see “what is different” in this new perspective, and then we are able to “prioritize” it, that is using it as a primary filter. This process is related with the neuroplasticity of the brain, I think the inability to prioritize it’s natural until the synapses related with the new configuration are formed. In other words, this speaks about selecting our new ego configuration.

This pattern, described by Terry O’Fallon, suggests “In the early stage of a person perspective, the new person perspective quality is apprehended. Those moving into any new person perspective (Expert [early third-person perspective], Individualist [early fourth-person perspective], Early Construct Aware [early fifth-person perspective]) are so naive to the unique quality arising at this new level that they cannot prioritize it easily. They tend to spend time familiarizing themselves with this new person perspective and its quality, rocking back to a more interior exploration of the quality. The incapacity to be able to prioritize with the new quality sometimes represents itself by shying away from categories, including developmental categories.

When individuals mature and are in the later person perspective stage, they are then able to prioritize the quality, thus the rocking back and forth between the inability to prioritize, and the ability to prioritize the quality at successive person perspectives.”

Working with polarities may include also working with subpersonalities, as in some cases, a preferred pole gave birth to a subpersonality. Integrating the poles needs integrating the subpersonalities. Some examples of polarities: order vs. disorder; autonomy vs. connection; masculine vs. feminine, doing vs. thinking, discernment vs. intuition, being vs. doing, appreciative vs. evaluative, knowing vs. mystery, seeking vs. non-seeking.

Polar opposites and integrating polarities in a new perspective

Observing both side of a story and accepting them is a key element for conscious decision making. Seeing more choices is used as a technique in psychotherapy and coaching. This is the first step when moving to a new perspective. A paper available online is “Polarities and Ego Development: Polarity Thinking in Ego Development Theory and Developmental Coaching”, by Beena Sharma and Susanne Cook-Greuter, where they wrote: “At each stage of development, we can again discern how human beings navigate the phenomenon of polarities and their dynamic. Whatever the stage we are at, we might consciously or unconsciously hold on to one pole, unaware of what we exclude. The current perspective provides us with a sense of self and certainty and with a set of clear values. When we grow beyond the confines of the current stage, we can begin to sense the value of a pole that becomes salient at the next stage of development. Once we have entered a new stage, we often consciously reject the pole we embraced at the previous stage because we are now aware of its limits and downsides. We are naturally drawn to the benefits of exploring the newly discovered perspective and to privilege the new insights into what is important”.

Triggers: conscious and unconscious anchoring the perspectives

Each perspective has its own triggers, or anchors. In NLP anchoring is an important process: an anchor is a trigger or stimulus that retrieves a desired emotional state. “We are constantly creating anchors. Every day all the time anchors are being formed through the repetitive actions we are doing and associated feelings we are having. E.g. you might have anchored yourself to feeling motivated for training by hearing a particular song. When I want to get ready to play a badminton match or go to the gym I might put “Eye of the Tiger” on my iPod because I have automatically associated success to that song through watching the Rocky movies”, wrote Amit Sodha in an article about anchoring.

In inner development, I recommend paying attention to the triggers related with perspective and with patterns of global interaction, not with just a type of interaction (e.g. thinking, feeling, sensing, and acting). In a vertical development view, when observing our transition to a new stage of development, we are unconsciously connecting the filters (space, time, life values) in a specific way. We can consciously set anchors for the perspective we want to prioritize, and disconnect the anchors from the old perspective we don’t want to use anymore. It’s like playing games with our psyche, but after all, why not select the new configuration consciously.

The linguistic bias: using old language to describe new perspectives

This in a natural phenomenon in the early stages of transitioning to the new perspective, when the feel of the perspective is different from the previous experiences. If the person is in a creative environment, they will adapt the language and update the language. If the person is having this transition and the old ego still holds on, then all the new perceived reality would be translated using the old language. One of the tasks when transitioning to a new configuration is learning to use the words in a new way.

Awakening meme

This meme contains a set of ideas and behaviors related with the “I am awake” idea. People start to relate with mystics literature and with “awakening” movements. I consider this a very good meme, but only for a period. After the awakening happens, the new ego configuration has to change accordingly.

If the person remains stuck in the awakening meme as a preferred emotional way of living, this is blocking the transformation, and the person stays in the early transition. It’s a sort of addiction with the awesome emotion of awakening. In the communities formed around this meme, the topic of discussion gravitates around awakening. A good step would be to change the feed of information to blogs such as Beyond Awakening.

After the blissful high of the awakening, the energy level lowers down, and some persons think that they have lost their awakening configuration. If they are in a religious circle, they may feel like God has abandoned them. This is just an illusion created by the old configuration that want to have a grip of this way of being. Instead of looking to get back the awakening configuration, the task is to see that the awakening configuration is in fact a flexible one, and the awakening can only happen by abandoning the configuration in each moment. In a way, abandoning is the most similar configuration that resembles the awakening. In Christian tradition, kenosis is a concept that is worth exploring, that relates directly with this transition.

Maya pattern

In Vedic texts, Maya connotes a “magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem”. In Indian philosophies, Maya is also a spiritual concept connoting “that which exists, but is constantly changing and thus is spiritually unreal”, and the “power or the principle that conceals the true character of spiritual reality”.

In human development, “maya pattern” pattern reflects the progressions in the way we connect with reality. Described by Terry O’Fallon as an evolution through stages of development, this pattern appears to iterate through the floors (tiers) as people gradually recognize finer distinctions of illusion: first concrete objects are seen as real; then concrete objects are seen as an illusion (That I am only a concrete entity is an illusion); subtle objects arise; subtle objects are seen as an illusion (That I am merely a subtle entity is an illusion); causal objects arise; causal objects are seen as an illusion (That I am merely a causal entity is an illusion).

When people first realize the amplitude of maya, this is especially dramatic for the social-relational perspective: observing that most of the people are living in a kind of “internal movie”, and are immersed in their inner world, not connected to the real world from time to time. This “we are the robots” insight is followed by the developing of a new skill, observing people’s patterns of thinking-feeling-sensing and being. This skill first appears in the post-autonomous ego configuration.

The symbolic journey

This is an associative process of the mind, which indicates the start of a deep transformation, generated usually by the apparition of the systems thinking. During this process, all the elements in the inner and outer worlds begin to connect in various symbolic ways. It is a natural process that eventually will lead the journeyer to their own “theory of everything”, or “complete theory.” A kind of map that charts the known territories of life.

In this process, a person may see that a cup of tea is the primary vortex of the universe. They live deeply inside these symbolic connections, and this uncovers many cognitive-based emotions. The systems begin to inter-relate, and the mind is constantly in a cognitive seduction. It’s a continuous flow of “aha”, that may continue for years. The logical connections are so extraordinary that it can induce a state of hyper-agitation. It is the energy of “new,” which creates the sensation that the person is an explorer, journeying continuously though a miraculous uncharted territory.

When the process is active, it sometimes gives rise to an agitated style of speaking, usually cognitive, and the person is most of the time in a state of cognitive amazement. This is the moment when people start to talk about resonance, symmetry, Fibonacci etc. They begin to see the patterns and the connections between the components of a pattern. When they discover a pattern, they apply it to all the things they experience. That is good, this is the integration.

A side effect of this symbolic journey is that people tend to be stuck in their minds during this process, due to the emotional excitation generated by this knowledge though seeing connections and patterns. The worse side effect is to remain stuck in the symbolic world, attracted by these connections; in this situation many people reach hospital and get schizophrenia diagnostic, or something related. In some cases, this process can trigger the ego inflation. It’s all about the capacity of the individual to integrate this interconnectedness.

In order to facilitate this process, but to keep the ego in a relative stable state, doing activities with the body is necessary. Art, dance, massage, running, walking, climbing, sports, all of these are important, so that the energies that are generated by the process wouldn’t all go into mind processing.

The symbolic journey is the natural way for the mind to re-balance itself, re-connecting with the deep meanings. It may take years for this re-organization to happen, but it also can become a permanent way of experiencing life. People can get stuck in this process, hypnotized by the infinite ways of connections between meanings. In Zen it is said about the process of awakening, ”In the beginning mountains are mountains, and woods are woods. Then mountains no longer are mountains and woods are no longer woods. Finally mountains are again mountains, woods are again woods.”

Creating a visual map of the new thinking usually helps for re-creating the new order, or the new perspective. This new perspective may also be discussed as a “theory of everything”: linking all the things in a big picture. When the individual see the big picture as a whole, then their mind can jump to the next perspective, and take the entire symbolic world as a system, going beyond the mind.

The symbolic journey is a kind of fractal traveling through the mind: we can see everything relates with everything, and every part is contained in every other part and in the whole, in the same time. This journey through never-ending circles of connections, of parts that form a whole, then what it looks like as a whole become a new part of a bigger whole, and so on, is related with some processes described by Susanne Cook-Greuter and Terry O’Fallon: “hall of mirrors” and “polar opposites iterating pattern”.

Automatic life review

“Automatic life review” is an automatic process that is offering new perspectives to the past events, by reframing and re-interpreting the memories of our past experiences. A kind of automatic “memory reconsolidation”. The process can be generated by the first activations of the non-conceptual self, when the witnessing awareness become available and it starts to reorganize the mind and the body. Or by a conscious choice to change the life values.

This is a process described in the Yoga Sutra by Patanjali, when he mentioned that the imprint of enlightenment would re-write all other imprints. In my opinion, this re-writing is being done by adding the “mirror” in each memory imprint and let it reorganize by itself. The process happens consciously but also in unconscious or semi-conscious states such as flashbacks, dreams or daydreaming. It’s a flow of reorganizing the information about our past in a harmonically way. Various data from our past experiences is being revealed to the self by the conscious awareness: there may be gestures, images, actions, feelings, all those that were not taken into consideration when the memory imprint was stored or re-analyzed in the past. This process doesn’t select between positive or negative life situations, so, people can re-observe themselves in a past situation in an amazing way, or they may face their shadow.

In the book “Neural Plasticity and Memory: From Genes to Brain Imaging“, the authors propose that instead of using reconsolidation, a proper term would be “updating consolidation”: “For a long time, consolidation was seen as a process achieved only on newly acquired memories aimed to store them for the long term. However, pioneer and recent studies have demonstrated that after retrieval, long-term memories may once more undergo a consolidation-like process referred to as reconsolidation. Mainly, reconsolidation is sustained by the now widely reported observation that after a memory trace is activated by means of retrieval and is susceptible to disruption by the same treatments that disrupt memory during consolidation. However, the functional purpose of this process is still a matter of debate. Recent evidence indicates that reconsolidation is indeed a process by which updated information is integrated through the synthesis of proteins to a memory trace. Hence, the so-called reconsolidation seems more like an updating consolidation intended to modify retrieved memory by a process that integrates updated experience into long-term memory. Through this process, previously consolidated memory is partially destabilized. By the infusion of disrupting agents, it appears as if the process is intended to consolidate memory again. In this chapter, we discuss this issue and propose that updating consolidation is a more descriptive term for this process.”

It may be that the functional purpose of this process is inherently the evolutionary drive. As an observation, I see this process to be similar with the life movie that is reported by people having near-death experiences (NDE). In fact, NDEs are temporary moments when the ego is cut off, and there is a wide array of information becomes available in a non-judgmental way. The life review that happens in NDEs in moments, in the inner growth process it happens in months or years. But essentially, it is the same drive that pushes the transformation: evolution.

The cognitive answering machine

This is a pattern in the communication style, that shows if a person is not flexible in thinking and they are blocked in a particular perspective This pattern of communication is visible is dialogues. A person blocked in this pattern will respond to everything through just one filter – their actual perspective. Say, their fixation is on “love”, when asked about food they will reply with something related with love, when asked about dogs, they will talk about love, when asked about their friends, they will talk about love. No matter what they are asked, they will respond as an automatic voice message. This can easily be seen in cults and closed spiritual circles, when the local dogmas are seen as universal solutions.

Healing the transgenerational memes

In the inner growth, the journey is not just a personal road. For most of the people, the basic configurations we have were received through our family, by education or through genes. Awakening from this spiral of continuing patterning from generation to generation requires an understanding of the transgenerational schemes of thinking, feeling, sensing and behaving. Growing up is not just for ourselves, we grow up as a part of a collective evolutionary process, and each individual has to update their transgenerational flow, in order to become free.

This process happens automatically during the life review process, when people re-frame their experiences from childhood. In other words, I would say that people do need to disconnect from their flow of transgenerational conditioning, in order to connect to the larger family of humankind.

Dark night pattern

The dark night of the soul is another name for the experience of ego deconstruction, when the individual ego ceases to exist and the connection with the collective is felt. Terry O’Fallon, in her research on stages of development, describe this dark night as the pattern:

“This pattern has been described in Christian traditions but seems to hold resonance with many people’s experiences. In this pattern, there is a series of dark nights in each tier or floor.

E.g. Concrete floor

1 . Dark night of the senses: This can be seen as “the night of correction where the senses’ appetites are curbed”.

2 . When one stops identifying with the senses and the concrete as the self, one becomes empty of that self, and experiences a hole or a pit where that self used to reside. That experience of not identifying with the senses as “me” is the Dark night of the soul.

3 . When one sees that the mind that makes concrete distinctions is not the self, and stops identifying with that mind, a vacuum exists where the concrete mind used to be- this is the dark night of the concrete self that leads to union with God.

This pattern repeats with the subtle floor and the causal floor, engaging, rather, with the subtle and causal mind and objects rather than the concrete senses”

In my opinion, this pattern relates well with the experience of the void, or emptiness as seen in oriental spiritual traditions. My personal experience was similar with the descriptions: when I first arrived in the void, there was a void I was feeling, an empty void. I took the decision to throw myself into this void, and see what happens. I asked a friend to read me the last sutras from Kaivalya chapter of Yoga Sutra. While she was reading, I allowed myself to be carried deep into the emptiness by her words. But the journey was short, I fall back into me, but this time, as an awaken human being. When I told this story to my students, some of them told me they have some similar experiences, instead of being absorbed by the void, their journey took them to the present moment, but with a new witnessing ability. That’s why I think Yoga Sutra accurately describes the process that leads to activation of the witnessing awareness. After that, chop wood and carry water, as usual.

Ego hijacking

This is the pattern of experience when, after a moment of pure awareness, the resulting energy is being captured by the ego and consumed on its passions, instead of just letting it change the structure and allow the transition of the ego to a new configuration. I found this description in a book by Satprem, describing the Aurobindo’s teachings:

“Because it is always the same: the moment we are clear… The moment it appears, it is instantly snatched up by the vital, which uses it for its own brilliant flights of exaltation, its own “divine” and tumultuous emotions, its possessive loves, its calculated generosities or gaudy aesthetics; or it is corralled by the mind, which uses it for its own exclusive ideas, its infallible philanthropic schemes, its straitjacketed moralities – not to mention churches, countless churches, which systematize it in articles of faith and dogma. Where is the psychic being in all that? It is there, nonetheless, divine, patient, striving to pierce through each and every crust and actually making use of everything that is given to it or imposed upon it. It “makes do” with what it has, so to speak. Yet that is precisely the problem: when it comes out of hiding, if even for a second, it casts such a glory upon everything it touches that we tend to mistake the circumstances of the revelations for its luminous truth.”

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THE COMPONENTS OF THE CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE (CQ-i FACTORS)
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Within this section, I present some of the features and aspects that describe conscious experience, as I included them in the Consciousness Quotient framework and in the CQ Inventory. These factors are the content of the experience of being conscious, and I highly recommend exploring how they are configured in yourself.

1. Physical experience

The Physical CQ refers to the capacity for awareness of one’s body and of the actual elements of the environment (environmental awareness). This factor includes various traits, skills and abilities, such as interoceptive awareness, body posture, tone of voice, awareness of senses (e.g., smell, taste, touch), psychosomatic connections (how the body is influenced by emotions and thinking patterns), detecting automatic movements of the body (e.g., automatic eating behaviors), awareness of the bio-energy of the body, and a connection with one’s physical surroundings.

Focusing attention on the body will result in a better connection with both your inner reality and outer reality. You will thus be able to identify the problems of your body in relation to the outer world. Breathing, conscious cooking and observing body movements comprise a few exercises that would help you to increase your Physical CQ. Another important technique is to observe what changes occur in your body when you have emotions or when you think of specific topics.

The items in the CQ Inventory that refer to the Physical CQ, are listed below:

–        When I eat I can detect which ingredients and spices are used in the food.

–        I am able to notice the automatic patterns and gestures of my body.

–        I like to touch an object with my hands in order to describe its characteristics.

–        I notice how my body changes when I feel rejected

–        I can feel differences in the energy of things, other people and environments.

–        When I experience a strong emotion, I notice where in my body this emotion is located (*I notice which parts of my body feel hot/contracted/cool etc.)

–        During the day, I have moments when I notice (and take the time to observe) the details of my surroundings.

–        I can easily assess which types of food my body needs.

–        When I am in a group of people, I can easily ascertain the sources of the smells that I perceive.

–        When I look at a landscape, I easily see all the details – the colours, the shapes, the small things, the empty space surrounding and defining it.

–        I notice how my body changes when I feel happy or joyful.

–        I can easily detect the various tastes in the food that I eat.

–        When I am psychologically tense I notice where the tension is located in my body.

–        I can easily notice whether there are any changes in the smells around me.

–        I am able to perceive subtle smells which may appear from my body

–        I realize beforehand when I am going to be hungry.

–        I can see energy surrounding people in the form of alterations in patterns of light.

–        I can easily detect the sources of the sounds around me.

–        I notice the first signs of a cold straight away, even before the physical symptoms appear.

–        I can easily detect most of the sounds around me, even if I am focused on a specific task

–        I notice how my body changes when I feel sad.

–        I can easily detect different nuances of the same colour.

–        I notice how food and drink affect my thoughts, bodily sensations and emotions.

–        I realize when people are somehow influencing my body energy, making me feel more or less vital.

–        I am able to really enjoy the taste of food and drink and not eating on automatic pilot

–        I notice when my voice becomes louder or my body language becomes aggressive.

–        I see familiar places as if I see them for the first time.

–        When something is bad or good with my decisions I can feel it in my body.

–        During the day, I have moments when I notice and reflect upon how time seems to go by.

–        I quickly notice when my body tells me that my mind is in conflict with reality (it feels contracted, tense, burning, heavy) or else in harmony with it (it feels vibrating, relaxed).

–        When viewing a wonderful landscape, I feel very connected, as if I am becoming part of it.

–        I notice how my emotions express themselves through my body.

–        I notice how my body changes when I feel different emotions.

–        I can see patterns of energy in space (*webbing, points of light etc.)

–        When I am in conversation with someone, I pay attention to my posture.

–        I can feel energy flowing through my body.

–        I easily notice changes in my breathing, such as whether it slows down or speeds up.

Scott Kiloby describes his experience in re-connecting with the body: “When I would see or feel the body, I began to notice that what I was really looking at was not a physical container at all. It was a combination of sensation, emotion, words and pictures. But damn it did feel physical at first. As I examined the stomach or the throat, I just kept seeing an image and feeling a sensation that came with it. I just did nothing – nothing but being conscious of that picture or that energy. Inquiry helped tremendously in stopping the desire to change how I felt. The whole game of fixing was seen as futile. From that point on, it was just a process of being conscious of these sensations, emotions, words and pictures and doing nothing with them. Being conscious of them and allowing them to float freely was enough. They began to be seen as temporary arisings, just like thoughts. I realized that a lifetime of paying no attention to these inner arisings only led back to the seeking, medicating and dissociating. It was time to pay attention.

This exploration became so intimate, tender and gentle, like falling in love with every sensation and every thought about the body. A complete surrender to all of that as it arose. I would gently feel into the body all over all the time, throughout the day. It truly became a love affair. I started to see that all my life I had been looking for attention, love and everything else outside of myself. I was just looking for something to change how I felt, for someone to love my body, my experience. I realized that this is my job, not someone else’s. Looking for that outside myself is next to impossible. And it’s so indirect and inefficient to think that something outside of me will comfort and love my experience. It’s up to me to do that.”

2. Emotional experience

The Emotional CQ refers to the capacity for awareness of one’s emotions and feelings, and their development and interactions. The Emotional CQ include traits, skills and abilities related to the emotional world, such as empathy, emotional validation, openness, vulnerability, recognition of people’s emotions, detecting the automatic patterns in emotional life, mirroring others, emotional acceptance, emotional intelligence, the ability to select among emotions and to sustain positive emotions, adapting emotional responses to various social contexts, and acceptance of any emotions that appear in you.

By raising the level of Emotional CQ through various personal growth techniques, you will be able to improve your personal and social life. You may find it useful to develop your emotional intelligence (e.g., eqi.org) and the capacity to welcome and accept all your emotions as they come.

Some of the items included in the Emotional CQ are listed below:

–        When talking to someone, I am able to identify even the smallest behavioral signs/clues indicating how they feel.

–        I am able to accurately recognize the emotions of the person I am talking to (*to explain to people what is happening inside them)

–        It is easy for me to perceive bodily feelings that reflect emotions.

–        I am able to sustain positive emotions for long periods.

–        I am able to reflect back to them (in words) the emotions of the people I talk with.

–        I have moments when I feel I am at one with everything.

–        I notice my emotions as they come, paying attention to them without blocking my mind, and let them go without a trace.

–        Even when I’m feeling very upset, I can find a way to put my feelings into words and express them.

–        I consider that all my emotions are genuine and welcome.

–        I find it easy to assess when someone I know behaves differently, due to their momentary emotional state.

–        When I am in a bad mood I can easily identify its source.

–        I allow myself to experience both positive and negative emotions.

–        When talking to others I stay connected and empathetic, even when we experience an unpleasant emotion.

–        I can empathize with people’s experiences and feel their emotion, even if that experience is new to me.

–        I easily adapt my emotional responses to various social contexts.

–        I can select from among my feelings and decide whether a given feeling is worth developing or letting go of, without fighting with it.

–        I can perceive my feelings and emotions without having to change them.

–        I realize immediately when I behave impulsively when strong emotions build up (*due to the strong emotions I have)

–        I pay attention to how my emotions affect my thoughts and behaviour.

–        I am able to distinguish between the different emotions that a moment or an event provokes, even if they might be contradictory (*provokes in me, awake in me)

–        I notice when I am getting lost in my thoughts or feelings

–        I watch or analyse my emotions in order to solve my personal issues.

–        I recover quickly from difficult emotional situations

–        I am able to recognize the automatic/usual patterns of my emotional life (*how my emotions and feelings behave in various situations)

–        I can describe how I feel at a given moment in considerable detail.

–        I feel empathetic with a story or its characters when I watch a movie or go to the theatre, without forgetting the fact that it is a movie or a play.

–        I am able to empathize with people whose opinions or actions I disapprove of.

–        I notice the emotions transmitted by a movie, a story or its characters, and I am able to decide if I empathize with them or not.

–        I notice when my emotional response in a situation is related to my past experiences, and not only to the present situation.

–        I accept all my feelings and sensations, even if they are unpleasant or painful, and I don’t try to change them.

Our emotions are highly influenced by the people and our surroundings. I found it useful to discriminate between the emotions I generate, somebody else’s emotions, and the emotions of the group we are in. This distinction may look impossible for some people, but in a few months it can be done.

The best handbook I know on emotional intelligence is available at eqi.org. It includes many words describing emotions that will expand your emotional vocabulary, and it shows how to validate a person, why invalidating a child is a terrible mistake with multiple long term dramatic consequences and what are the emotional needs of a couple. You’ll also find on YouTube some useful videos:  ValidationRSA Shorts – The Power of EmpathyOutrospection.

3. Cognitive experience

The Cognitive CQ refers to the capacity for awareness of one’s own ideas and thoughts, of the cognitive flow in general. The Cognitive CQ is related to thinking, reflection, judgment, patterns of understanding, ways of meaning-making. It includes specific traits, skills and abilities, such as systems-thinking, intuition, awareness of cognitive filters, metacognition, self-reflection, detection of cognitive biases (e.g., jumping to conclusions, labeling, projection), accepting indecision, flexibility in thinking, critical thinking, present moment awareness, awareness of the limits of words (construct awareness), attention regulation, an ability to act with intention (choice), decision-making, mindfulness, acceptance of multiple perspectives, cognitive openness, creativity, the ability to have a panoramic view (overview) of a specific topic or situation, and the ability to manage the flow of thoughts.

In my opinion observing and analyzing the thinking is one of the most important topics during the inner development journey. Improving the Cognitive CQ could have positive effects for the management of your thoughts. Training your attention (e.g., through mindfulness) would help you to identify less with your stream of thinking and provide you with the abilities necessary to better organize your thoughts. Sustained self-reflection (metacognition – thinking about thinking) is another useful practice to increase the Cognitive CQ (some useful techniques are available on wisebrain.org).

One key feature of thinking is the associative process: the connections between ideas and the connections between concepts / groups of ideas. Many people are not educated to observe how their mind wanders, how it starts to make associations from a word they hear or say. From our childhood, we are cultivated to make associations, and this becomes a thinking habit. Just watch this mechanism in a casual conversation, paying attention if the person you talk with is really discussing and sharing, or is just making associations based on the ideas you provide.

Here are some of the skills and traits that describe your cognitive world, as I translated them into items in the Consciousness Quotient Inventory. Think about them for a while.

–        When I reflect upon the significance of an event or an action, I deliberately take care to look at the big picture.

–        I analyse my reasons for being in relationships with various people.

–        I am aware that there is no absolute truth, but rather multiple truths.

–        I can detect and regulate (change) my thoughts when my thinking tends to become repetitive.

–        I realize when I need to ask for help because I cannot handle things on my own

–        I realize quickly if I have taken on more tasks or responsibilities than I can actually handle.

–        When looking around, my attention is focused simultaneously on the observed, on me as the observer and on the act of observing itself.

–        When I make important decisions, I listen to my inner voice and I am confident that I am making the right decision.

–        I am able to notice my own automatic habits of speech

–        When I make important decisions, I analyse my emotions and the feelings that may influence those decisions.

–        When discussing a topic, I notice when I’m overconfident – as if I were an expert – even if I don’t know too much about that particular subject.

–        During the day, I have moments when I reflect upon what I do or feel at that moment.

–        I quickly realize when I have wrongly judged someone due to my preconceived ideas.

–        I notice when I have a thought that is creating negative emotions.

–        I can easily be in the present moment, without any thoughts distracting my presence (my here-now experience).

–        When I speak, I like to play with words or use metaphors and images.

–        I tend to evaluate whether my experiences are right or wrong

–        When discussing with someone, I notice when they reach a conclusion too quickly, without much analysis.

–        I am able to notice the automatic habits/patterns of my thinking (*e.g. positive, negative, optimistic)

–        When describing a situation I realize that the words I use are just my own approximation and do not capture the objective reality of that event.

–        I am able to notice the automatic habits of speech of other people

–        When discussing a topic, I notice the ambiguities in the language of the people I talk with.

–        I can find the answers to questions without being able to fully tell how I arrived at those answers.

–        I prefer to use my own words when speaking to someone instead of quoting others in order to support my views.

–        When I think of a situation from the past, I remember most of my thoughts and emotions at that moment and many of the details.

–        I can tell when my mind grabs onto an idea and starts using it as a theme for thinking, creating related streams of thought.

–        If a topic I am thinking about is not helping me at the moment, I can abandon it easily, without fighting with it.

–        I allow myself to doubt my perceptions and my beliefs.

–        I believe some of my thoughts are abnormal or bad and that I shouldn’t think that way.

–        When talking to someone, I am aware of whether I use verbal stereotypes/clichés.

–        When I have an issue with something, I am able to distinguish between solutions based on gut feelings and those based on rational thinking.

–        I am ashamed of some of my thoughts

–        I realize that each person, no matter how well informed, has a subjective and limited perspective of any situation.

–        When I talk with people I notice their way of thinking and I am able to observe how they think.

–        When talking to a person, I am able to adjust my words and language to their framework so that I can communicate properly with them.

–        While dreaming, I have experienced moments when I was aware that I was dreaming.

–        People say about me that I detect subtle distinctions (nuances) when I describe an event.

–        When discussing a topic, I realize that I am able to have a panoramic view (a larger overview) of the topic being discussed, which may include many of the perspectives of the people I talk with.

–        I have moments when, in my mind, I am planning possible future discussions with people

–        When I recall a past action or a meeting, I am able to remember very vividly my surroundings and my own thoughts and feelings in great detail.

–        I consider more than one alternative and consider different perspectives when making a decision.

–        When I talk, I let my thoughts move with the flow and I feel that I am able to use the right words without any effort.

–        When I hear a new idea, I first make sure that I listen fully and openly, and only afterwards do I analyse it or agree/disagree with it.

–        I think about my principles in life whether they are really balanced.

–        When talking with people, I am able to notice how our language limits our perspective on a specific event or situation.

Over the years, I have noticed that the way we ask questions is relevant for the Cognitive CQ. There are two main questions I will comment on: “why” and “how”. Though it seems that “why” is a causal question, people who have this as a preferred way of knowing are many times stuck in never-ending causal correlations. Instead, “how” is a better question for vertical development. And even more important is the question “How do I relate with that?”. For example, a person may say “I feel exhausted”. The question “How do you relate with this?” is activating the meta-cognition and it takes the person’s perspective to observation of the big picture, instead of just analyzing the relations and the causes of their exhaustion.

Another example “I feel that I reached the end of my limits”. The question “How do you relate with the experience of reaching my limits?” leads to a change in perspective and sometimes to some moments of perplexity for those new to this way of meta-analysis. But the experience of this new perspective disappears after a while, if it is not consciously reinforced. Susanne Cook-Greuter talks about this in the ego development theory, when she speaks about “prioritizing perspectives”. To support the transition to a new perspective, we need to “utilize” it, until after a while, the neuroplasticity of the brain will do its job and we will have new stable synapses. After new synapses form, the new perspective will become a default mode.

An exercise that could increase the Social-Relational CQ is to divide your attention when speaking with people: keeping your attention focused both on the person you are talking to (and their message) and on yourself, on your own body posture, thinking and emotions.

Language and speech: the communicational hygiene           

The connection between thinking-feeling-sensing and speech is so automated, that it requires a lot of attention and exercises to de-automatize it. Conscious talking is about being in the conversational act, but in the same time, being a witness, without being “absorbed” in the discussion. Observing and eliminating verbal stereotypes and tics are efficient methods that lead to a better communicational clarity and to a higher mental clarity. The second step is to observe that most of the people tend to use the same phrasing and words, and not describe what they actually experience in that specific moment. Unless working in professions that require training the speech (e.g. actors, public speakers, professors), people are unable to observe their speech in real time. In the Ego-aware stage, due to the increased present moment awareness, people can take the speech system as an object, and they are able to use original language to communicate their experiences.

It interesting to observe that some subpersonalities even have their own type of speech. I found useful this mapping of speech styles, mixing the types described by Jaxon-Baer and Rohr: Preaching (moralizing); Advising (flattering, advising); Propaganda (wooing, inspiring, impressing advice); Lamentation (lyrical lamentation); Treatise (explaining, systematizing); Setting limits (warning, limiting); Stories (garrulous, storytelling); Laying trips (challenging, unmasking); Saga (monotonous, rambling).

Kaissa Pukhaka talks about the original speech, available in the post-autonomous stages of ego development: “speech that spontaneously comes from nothing and is the expression of a self arising afresh is creative in this literal sense that it comes from nothing. It is very different from the far more common speech that comes from notions of a fixated self and expresses the reactions of a fixated self. Original speech, as I call the former, has nothing to do with having high novelty value or shock value. The content of what is being said is often not important, but the qualities of saying it always are. Original speech is simple, spacious, and usually sparse. No words are said that are not meant, and nothing that is meant is left unsaid. It is simple because there is no hidden agenda to preserve or validate the existence or esteem of the self.”

Selecting the words carefully and speaking them with intention (with attention to every word) are important aspect for a conscious discussion. With my students, I use a few principles for maintaining a communicational hygiene during classroom debates and reduce the compulsive talking (some of them are also useful for daily interactions):

1. Hear the speaker’s opinion and view. Think for a few seconds about what they have said and then make out your case or offer your feedback/personal opinion on the topic. Do not respond right away, listen to what your partner has to say and then express your opinion.

2. Debates rely on the following values: respect, empathy, listening, emotional honesty. Further details are available at http://www.eqi.org/.

3. Separate emotions from cognition. Offending remarks about partners are not permitted, neither are sophisms or argumentative manipulations. For a list of incorrect arguments, please see http://www.skepticblog.org/2009/02/02/how-not-to-argue/.

4. In a debate, any topic can be approached from any angle, there are neither correct nor wrong points of view, there are points of view only

5. The purpose of debates is also to identify logical/cognitive errors, which should be avoided. For a list of such errors, please see the link below

http://io9.com/5974468/the-most-common-cognitive-biases-that-prevent-you-from-being-rational .

6. We respect each other, each speaker’s opinion is in his/her view correct and logical, and the other participants in the debate need to listen without interrupting. At classroom debates, if you wish to speak, raise your hand and you will be granted the right to speak. Certainly, flowing conversations should be carried with an empathetic attitude.

7. Your feedback and opinions shall not take more than five minutes; ideally, your answers or personal opinion should be condensed into no more than one minute. However, there is no time limit for communicating complex information (with the proviso in point 8).

8. If someone digresses, the other participants can raise their hands in a time-out signal. If more than five participants raise their hands in a time-out signal, then the speaker has to stop his/her argumentation.

9. During classroom debates, the teacher or colleagues have the right to stop the debate temporarily  if they feel a presentation of scientific concepts or of research that contradicts/supports the speaker’s point of view is necessary.

10. Choose your words carefully, pay attention to repetitive wording and avoid them; use phrases and sentences related to the topic, without adding unnecessary details to the situation or significantly diverging from the discussed topic. People with a high IQ but low EQ tend to monopolize the debate with their opinions!

11. Explore new outlooks that you didn’t possess before, interact with the participants that have different opinions. Ask ‘Why?’ Or ‘Could you provide me with more details?’

12. Ask questions. Do not make assertions such as ‘You’re wrong/You’re not right’, without offering a reason for such a point of view. Preferably, you should use the expression ‘In my opinion, what you are saying is not correct, because…’

13. Each participant has a personal experience, their own life journey and their own view on the discussed topics. The purpose of debates is to view the topic from as many angles as possible, not convince your partners that you are right!

14. Preferably you should reconsider your opinion on a topic if scientific research contradicts your view. Do not be upset when something you believed in proves to be wrong – this is called learning!

15. Any partner has the right to ask questions about your beliefs and opinions, but it is your prerogative if you choose not to answer!

16. During classroom debates, the teacher is not always right! You are not always right! Partners are not always right! It is not a matter of being right, but of pros and cons, supported by personal experience or scientific research.

17. We are all equal and other participants’ personal experiences are just as important as yours!

18. Upon closing the debate, pay attention to your emotions. If you feel resentment towards one of the participants, balance your emotions.

19. Be aware of your thoughts and how you express them, in addition to how you think. Keep your inner balance when you argue, and listen and be open to the arguments of others.

20. Many of your opinions on certain phenomena may be limited or distorted. In addition, it is always possible that your view could be broader, in which case you should be patient with your partners and explain your view as clearly as possible.

21. Develop your self-awareness.

Further details at http://www.selfcreation.com/self-awareness/index.htm.

22. Relate your argument to what the previous speaker said, don’t just say your opinion ignoring what they have just said. Listen, pay attention, think, give a short feedback, and then express you opinion. Don’t be in your mind permanently. Take a break. Listen. Relate!

23. Choose a sceptical approach.

http://www.skepticsfieldguide.net/2012/01/part-1-c-skeptical-thinking-how-to.html.

One of the things that I consider useful in the inner growth journey, is developing an internal speech hygiene. In my case, I noticed the following types of inner speech: talking to people (depending on the topic I’m thinking in that moment); affirming wishes or decisions (what to do, what I wish from a certain thing); verbalizing what I experience; reporting my experiences to an inner superior (an internalized parent); preparing for future events, repeating (how to say, what to say); commands, encouragements – do this, do that; repeating some words I’ve said that I feel the need to analyze or I like repeating (after saying something to someone my mind repeats what I’ve just said); questions – Why? What to do? How to do it? (an inner omnipotent voice); discussions with an inner judge. In time, I started to notice quickly the internal speech type, and that improved my self-reflection.

A person photographed by Humans of New York has a nice piece of wisdom: “When I was younger, I thought listening was just about learning the contents of someone’s mind. I’d always try to finish their thoughts, just to show them that I knew what they were thinking. As I got older, I learned to listen better. I realized that by trying to anticipate their mind, I was ignoring their heart.”

4. Social-relational experience

The Social-Relational CQ refers to the capacity for awareness of the relations and connections with the people around us and the communities we are a part of. The Social-Relational CQ includes traits, skills and abilities related to parental relationships, close relationships, social interactions, perception of others’ communications styles, detecting social deception, cognitive empathy, social intuition, flexibility in social behaviors, outrospection (a means of getting to know oneself by developing relationships and empathetic thinking with others), awareness of in-out groups stereotypes, cognitive openness when discussing matters with others, detecting the hidden agendas of the people we listen to or talk to, and conversational skills.

During inner growth, there are many modifications in the way we relate with people. Changing friends, moving to new groups are natural, as people change their interests and way of thinking-feeling-sensing. In couples, if the transformation potential is not similar in both partners, the natural way in many cases is for each one to continue the journey separately.

I see conscious couple in relationships as a mature connections: the partner is there not to solve the other’s insecurity, but to amplify stability and to support the partner’s evolution. I recently saw a feminine warrior’s manifesto for conscious relationships, in a blog by Kelly Marceau: “Sexy consciously awake women: who we are, what we want and need from men“. Below some excerpts:

“At 23-years old, my romantic life was tripping me up. I was choosing men who were ambitious and driven. The downside is they were complete pricks. I liked men that were wicked smart. It’s a shame that some of those fools were too wicked for their own well being. Then I met Adam. Adam and I clicked. Conversation was endless. There were no topics left untouched. What a relief that was. Adam was a Consciously Awake man, the first I had ever encountered in my life. His self-awareness opened my own world to an expansion of my self. The part of me I had been craving for an eternity. Deep-seeded issues started arising. I had no idea how much my past was playing itself out in my present.

Fortunately, the one thing I had gotten right… was my outright refusal to compromise on my standards of living. So, instead of running, I dived in to examine and process the stuff I’d buried for so long. My desire to wake up was bigger than my desire to stay unconscious. I went to war with my demons and did the work to become a more Consciously Awake human being. Choosing awareness was brutal. Real examination of self and vulnerability requires courage, discipline and immense strength. It’s tough to understand until you’re sinking in piles of your own shit and you have to figure a way out before it suffocates you. But once you’re out… you’re free.

Men… we need you. All this “we don’t need you” crap is a big fucking lie. The problem is a lot of you are lame, unreliable, emotionally stunted, and impossible to date. The idea that the vast majority of men are cavemen has validity. And it’s hard to need (and want) a caveman with no purpose and no ability to communicate to us as women. We need men, not boys…

There is nothing un-sexier to a Consciously Awake woman than a guy who is still being potty trained emotionally. These men are not men. They’re boys.And to the women who are still toying with these boys, you can make better choices. It’s time to demand these men step up and initiate into manhood. There is a big difference between a man who can harness his boy spirit, and be playful, loving, funny, and obnoxious, and a man who has the emotional intelligence of a teenage boy.

Three signs a man is still potty training emotionally:

1) He’s never explored his emotional landscape or done inner personal work, gone through extensive therapy or personal and emotional coaching.

2) He doesn’t own his shit. He expects others to deal with his emotional issues, triggers, unresolved childhood stuff or dysfunctional family imprinting.

3) He’s insecure and projects his fear and emotional wounds onto you, but tries to spin it like you’re the one with issues.

Emotionally stunted men are an epidemic in our culture. A lot of these emotionally stunted guys have awesome personalities. The real problem is that they’re cool in every way except for how they choose to deal with their emotions. All women get caught up with these types at one stage or another until they wise up. Why? Because we aren’t living in a culture where the emotional intelligence of men is predominantly great, and it often takes time for people to see others as they actually are. A lot of women are so starved for connection that they begin making excuses. They get roped into multi-yearlong love affairs when warning signs have been flashing the entire time.

Ladies! Stop falling for a guy’s potential. Too many women want to be with the idea of who a man is. They sacrifice deep emotional intimacy and choose good looks and hot sex, then complain once the relationship fails. If he has major emotional issues (like the ones I highlighted), you will be babysitting, playing mommy, and living with a headache larger than life.

That is unless he is willing to work his shit out on his own without you nagging him to do so. The desire must come from within, not from you. It’s time we choose men who value growth. We will no longer subscribe to one-sided relationship. These leave us bitter, resentful and unfulfilled. We’ve been down that road too many times already. We aren’t looking for disappointment. We are looking for someone who stands out. We want men who challenge us to grow.”

I think this warrior’s manifesto for conscious relationships has the same validity if we replace “man” with “women”. A native Cherokee proverb transmits an archetypal perspective to the conscious relationship: a woman’s highest calling is to lead a man to his soul, so as to unite him with the source; her lowest calling is to seduce, separating man from his soul and leave him aimlessly wandering. A man’s highest calling is to protect woman, so she is free to walk the earth unharmed. Man’s lowest calling is to ambush and force his way into the life of a woman”.

Some of the items in the CQ Inventory that refer to the Social-Relational aspect are listed below:

–        I notice when the group of people I am with is highly empathic or else has low empathy.

–        When interacting with people, I notice when we don’t find a way to really connect to each other and we just exchange some superficial ideas (or have a small talk).

–        When I meet a person, after a few minutes I know whether or not I’m going to like them, even before talking directly to them.

–        When I am asked I find it easy to describe my friends and my relationships with them.

–        I realize when I have to refuse the help of my family or friends so I can succeed on my own.

–        I know when my life partner is momentarily focused on priorities other than our relationship, even if he/she is not telling me.

–        I realize when somebody is trying to be someone other than the person they truly are.

–        When people talk to me, I listen to them with my full attention and I do not think about what I will say next, while they are talking.

–        I pay attention to what people recommend to me, because their advice might simply reflect their own desires and thoughts, and not my needs.

–        When meeting with people, I take care to create deeper and authentic relationships

–        I can identify what people want from me, even if they do not say it directly.

–        I know when I do not get back as much as I give in a relationship.

–        I pay attention to what I recommend to people, because my advice might simply reflect my own desires and thoughts, and not their needs.

–        When interacting with people I notice when my analysis of the situation is based on my momentary feelings (e.g., positive or negative) rather than considering the big picture.

–        I notice immediately when a friend has changed their attitude towards me, even if their behaviour appears the same.

–        When discussing with people, I can detect immediately when someone is not really aware of what we are talking about.

–        When talking to someone I am totally open to understanding their world view

–        When talking to a person I adjust my words and my language to their framework so that I can communicate properly with them.

–        I tend to shape my own opinion about people regardless of their culture or religion.

–        I notice when the people I am talking with try to conceal what they truly think.

–        When I talk with people, I reply by completing their sentences, without acknowledging what they have just said.

–        It is easy for me to take the perspective of another person and recognize it as their truth

–        I realize when I try to create an image of myself in front of others, which is different than my usual self (*letting others believe I am something, even if I know that I am not).

–        When talking to someone, I can easily look very closely at his/her non-verbal language to determine whether what they are saying is really what they are thinking.

–        (When discussing a topic with someone) I realize when the person I am talking to is trying to present a different image of themselves, other than they usually are.

–        When meeting people, I am very open and flexible in seeing them as they really are, not filtering them through my own perspective.

–        When meeting a person, I notice if they tend to label me with one characteristic, ignoring my complex personality.

–        I easily pick up social signals from the people around me.

–        When joining a group of people, I can easily detect the vibe of the group and how it influences just by being there, listening to them or discussing things with them.

–        When discussing a topic with people, I am able to help them by intervening at the right moment and with the appropriate words.

–        I get to know myself by developing relationships and empathetic lines of thinking with others.

–        I find great value in stepping outside of myself by discovering other people’s lives, and not just being self-absorbed in my own reality.

An exercise that could increase the Social-Relational CQ is to divide your attention when speaking with people: keeping your attention focused both on the person you are talking to (and their message) and on yourself, on your own body posture, thinking and emotions.

5. Self (Identity) 

The Self CQ refers to the capacity for awareness of one’s self and one’s own ego (identity). The Self CQ includes traits, skills and abilities related to identity, the self-system, one’s image of life, self-awareness, connections between emotions and thinking, an ability to see one’s self as objectively as possible, flexibility in ego-related thinking (e.g., the ability to make and appreciate jokes about the way we are), self-compassion, self-kindness, post-autonomous ego-development traits (goal in life, ego awareness), awareness of subpersonalities, multicultural self-awareness (e.g., recognizing how cultures you interact with influence your worldview), and autonomy.

Some of the items I have included in the Self CQ factor of the Consciousness Quotient Inventory are listed below. I invite you to take some moments to reflect on them:

–        I see my failings as part of the human condition.

–        I realize that my identity (personality) is just a system of patterns that has developed over the course of my life.

–        I realize when my emotional states (oscillations) are influenced by my thinking.

–        I have moments when I analyse myself through the eyes of others, in order to broaden my perspective of myself.

–        I think before saying something and I assess how to say it, even if it relates to discussions on everyday topics.

–        I can make and appreciate a joke about the way I am.

–        I feel that my main goal in life is to just to be.

–        When I fail at something important to me I keep things in perspective.

–        When I meet my friends, I prefer to discuss about how we think and how we experience life, instead of just describing the events that have happened in our lives.

–        I realize when my thinking is influenced by my emotional states (emotional oscillations).

–        When talking to people, I prefer to offer myself as I am at that particular moment and not try to mask who I really am.

–        I feel that my main goal in life is to just to be aware.

–        When I wish to do so, I can recreate an emotion from my memory and I am able re-experience that emotion in the present moment.

–        I sense that my main goal in life is to be the most I that I can be.

–        It is easy for me to notice the various aspects (facets, parts) of my self.

–        I can tolerate a certain amount of physical and psychological discomfort without needing to change what I am doing in order to comfort myself.

–        I easily adapt my emotional reactions and behaviour to different situations.

–        When I’m going through a very hard time, I give myself the care and tenderness that I need.

–        I like to have moments of self-analysis, whether by myself or in discussion with my friends.

–        I realize that my personality has some parts that are more balanced than other parts.

–        In my personal relationships, I realize which of my emotional patterns influence my behaviour.

–        I can easily tell the difference between ‘liking’ and ‘wanting’ something.

–        When I make mistakes I have compassion for myself and accept this without judging myself.

–        I am loving towards myself when I feel emotional pain.

–        I can detect which aspects of myself I enact in my relations with different people.

–        I am aware of both the strengths and weaknesses of my personality.

–        When I analyse myself, I recognize how the cultures I interact with influence my worldview.

You can increase your Self CQ by observing your subpersonalities – the various facets of your personalities (e.g., you as a child, you as a parent, you as a friend, you as a worker, etc.), how they act and interact with each other and with the environment, and what their specific emotions, patterns of thinking, fears and behavior are.

6. Inner growth experience

The Inner Growth CQ refers to the capacity for awareness of the process of personal development, transformation and growth. The Inner Growth CQ includes traits, skills and abilities related to the evolution of personality, paradigm shifts, unlearning and learning (through pain or by open learning), openness, the language updating process, accepting criticism, abandoning old perspectives and embracing new ones, noticing resistance to change, learning after peak experiences, detecting the cognitive biases related to learning (e.g., confirmation bias), resilience, awareness of one’s level of development (e.g., using spiral dynamics theory), and an ability to sustain new patterns of thinking/feeling while old patterns slowly lose their grip (awareness of the process of neuroplasticity).

The Inner Growth factor of the Consciousness Quotient Inventory include items that explore the transformation journey:

–        I have lived through important events which have changed my values and priorities.

–        When I examine the past, I can clearly see when and how I have changed.

–        When I search for information on a topic, I also explore data that does not support my perspective on that topic (*E.g. I check the sceptical perspective)

–        I notice when I become resistant to things that annoy me and do not accept them as they are.

–        I enjoy investing time and effort in developing my personality and my strengths and talents.

–        I have moments when I ask myself the question – What is the real objective world and who am I?

–        I am able to recognize the repetitive events in my life and then analyse and learn from them.

–        I detect the cognitive and emotional patterns that restrict me in becoming a better and more balanced person.

–        At the end of each day, I explore what I have learned on that day.

–        I question my perspective when I discover new or contradictory evidence.

–        When I discuss with people, I realize whether I have a bigger / more limited perspective on the topic being discussed compared to the person I am talking to.

–        I can easily change my view when I encounter a new perspective that is larger/more valid than mine (when I talk with my friends, read a book, see a movie)

–        I have lived through significant events that have changed my concepts about the world and life.

–        (It happens that) I see familiar situations as having new or different meanings.

–        I notice when my beliefs change and when I see a familiar situation from a new perspective.

–        When someone criticizes me, I listen very carefully and usually I ask for more details.

–        I allow myself to be open and vulnerable with the people I connect with.

–        When encountering new, important information, I am able to perceive how that information changes my personality or identity.

–        I learn very quickly from situations and, as a result, I don’t have to have something happen twice (or several times) to learn from it.

–        When encountering difficult situations in life, I find good fortune in misfortune.

You can increase your Inner Growth CQ by learning to be more open and to accept life as it comes. Learning from criticism and embracing various perspectives for the same situation are key skills that would support your personal development.

7. Human interconnectedness (spiritual experience)

In the last years, transpersonal psychology has offered a participatory understanding perspective on spirituality: the spirituality of persons is developed and revealed primarily in the spirituality of their relations with other persons (regarding spirituality primarily as the fruit of individual meditative attainment leads to the gross anomaly of a ‘spiritual’ person who is an interpersonal oppressor).

In my opinion, awareness of interbeing is the key element of the spiritual component. In the Consciousness Quotient Inventory, the Spiritual CQ refers to specific traits, skills and abilities related to human connectedness, meta-awareness, witnessing awareness (non-attachment) and acceptance of experience, present moment awareness, the connection of humans and nature (environment), mindfulness, and non-reactivity to inner experiences. An important part of the Spiritual CQ explores post-autonomous ego development features, including serving others, compassion for the self, transpersonal experiences, Ego as object/construct, detecting the limits of words (language as object).

Spirituality, as compassionate way of living and exploring life, exists in all stages of ego development. What happens during evolution is that the values related with spirituality become more and more internalized. In the preconventional stages, spirituality is rather related with moral norms, and respecting them was a matter of complying with the norms. As people transform, these values become living values, and respecting all the human beings is a matter of self-respect.

An emergent philosophy that suits well this approach toward spirituality is Ubuntu (Hunhu), coming from African wisdom. Ubuntu literally means “humanness or humanity to others”, and promotes a sense of community and communality. This philosophy of life is rooted in thousands of years of human experiences, and it is what the western lifestyle needs. Its main idea is significantly articulated in the Zulu saying, “a person is a person through other persons.”

Humanity to others is fundamentally and specifically a sense of togetherness with other human beings. To achieve this togetherness, reconciliation with those ‘others’ becomes a continuous necessity of being. For Desmond Tutu Ubuntu is “the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness. It speaks about compassion. A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole”.

This way of living stresses the importance of a the communal way of life which deems that society must be run for the sake of all, requiring cooperation as well as sharing and charity …. In other words, in the philosophy of Ubuntu, to be human is to be in participation with others. Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu as follows: “A traveler through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food and attend him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?” In an education grounded in Ubuntu, treating others people as humans becomes concretized through the principles that are enumerated above. Thus, education based on Ubuntu would emphasize “warmth, empathy, understanding, the ability to communicate, interaction, participation, sharing, reciprocation, harmony, cooperation”.

The Human Connection Institute provides a set of techniques that can activate a collective awareness in a group, by simply noticing the collective connections. Developed by Sperry Andrews, the technique is very effective, producing a deep connection to the fundamental awareness in some minutes. In the facilitator’s guide, a guide for sharing undivided attention, Sperry writes, “We are going to explore a new way of meditating together as a group. We all understand what it means to give our undivided attention when we are listening carefully to someone. Instead of meditating on our breath or on a candle flame, we begin a process of zeroing in on sharing undivided attention. By focusing moment to moment on sharing a sense of rapport with at least one other person, we get better at it. This alters our experience of what it means to be conscious with others in a group. Surprisingly, meditating in this way as a group makes meditation easier and teaches us a great deal about how to meditate alone. The more we share a sense of undivided attention with at least one other person, the more we share a sense of breathing together, of feeling together. This is a subtle process, and requires a deepening sense of relaxation and the gradual development of “effortless concentration”. It is not at all unusual that the imminent prospect of sharing awareness with others causes some nervousness. Please rest assured, anything we do not want anyone to know about us–automatically–remains beyond the reach of anyone else’s awareness. No one reads anyone else’s mind.

By immersing ourselves in collective rapport, we increase our ability to empathize with and respect others. For the first part of the game, we take turns pairing off, building rapport by sustaining eye contact with each of our partners. We speak to the whole group solely about sharing sensations and emotions–giving less attention to thoughts and intuitions for the time being– as we explore the nature of perception–itself. Instead of being focused by a task or vision, a stream of interconnected ideas or coordinated physical activity, we are going to focus on building rapport by sharing undivided attention together. We are each going to speak one at time to the whole group as the group listens while we sense the group listening to us. This allows the group to travel into collective consciousness”.

Below you can find some of the items in the CQ Inventory, which compose the Spiritual CQ factor:

–        I have compassion for myself – even when I have made mistakes – and I treat myself with kindness and love.

–        When I wake up in the morning I feel like life is full of mystery.

–        I am gentle with myself and I don’t judge myself too hard when I am having a bad day

–        It is hard for me to talk with my close friends about the meaning of life and my role on the Earth.

–        I am very eager and curious to learn more about myself and my life.

–        When I analyse my perspective on life, I see that my story is a part of a larger story that involves all of humanity.

–        I see my life as a wonderful and mysterious journey

–        I am comfortable with neutral experiences and I am not focused on looking for pleasant experiences.

–        I try to understand other people’s ideas about spirituality.

–        I make the effort to change those of my habits which I know are bad for me.

–        I feel that the world around is friendly and full of meaning.

–        When talking to people, I feel as though I am a musical instrument, and that music flows through me (without controlling it) to reach those listening.

–        I have moments when I feel that I am something more than my mental activity

–        I have moments when I feel that all human beings belong to one big family, even though we do not know each other.

–        I think about how I can contribute to the progress of humankind

–        I realize when I meet important people and when I am in important situations that can help me to improve or change myself for the better.

–        In difficult situations, I can pause to reflect without immediately reacting.

–        When interacting with nature, I take care to protect it and not to damage it in the slightest.

–        I am able to witness (observe) my own thoughts and emotions as they come and go, and I feel comfortable with this.

–        I have moments when I am out of my head and I am able to appreciate just being where I am, in the present moment.

–        When using natural resources (e.g., water, gas, food, wood products), I take care to use what I need for my survival only and not to waste them.

–        I find appropriate moments to do little acts of kindness for strangers.

–        When I meet someone with a view about spirituality that is different to mine, I become curious and I ask questions in order to learn more.

–        I accept each new experience as being the right experience for me, even if I don’t understand it.

–        When I have distressing thoughts or images, I am able to simply notice them without reacting immediately.

–        I see that each event in the world, even the smallest one, has a kind of indirect influence on me or at least has the potential to influence me.

–        I can easily include/reference God and other religious figures when I am joking, though in a kind way.

–        I have moments when I am grateful for what I am and what I know.

–        I have moments when I notice coincidences (synchronicities) in my life, when it seems that people or situations are giving me exactly what I’m looking for.

–        I pay attention to the present moment and to what is really here now in my being and around me.

–        I find the time every day to do exercises that help me improve myself or change myself for the better (e.g., reading, prayer, meditation, a diary, etc.).

–        When I do everyday tasks, such as cooking, this is very spiritual for me, and full of wonderful meanings.

–        I have moments when I feel that all human beings are highly connected, even though we do not know each other.

–        When I meet a person, I understand that they are as important to humanity as I am.

–        I feel that almost every moment in my life is wonderful.

Improving the Spiritual CQ could lead to an increased ability to connect with the collectivities that you live in and to experience your life as a part of a larger life that includes all of us. There are many available methods that can develop the Spiritual CQ. Some of the effective ways include mindfulness-related techniques and the practices promoted by non-dual communities (e.g., conscious.tv, batgap.com) and Eastern and traditional spiritual philosophies (e.g., Ubuntu, Native American), which develop the ability to non-identify with the self-centered ego and embrace a larger perspective.

APPENDIX

Some hypothesis related with the nonconceptual self and witnessing awareness

If the skills and traits related with the nonconceptual self prove to be useful for the human species, the collective wisdom will spread it starting from our birth. I think this is already happening, and we label it autism. In a paper about witnessing awareness, published in the book “Brain, Mind, Cosmos: The Nature of Our Existence and the Universe (Sages and Scientists Series Book 1)”, edited by Deepak Chopra, I proposed some hypothesis related with the witnessing awareness mode. I am advancing here these ideas, as a result of my researches in the last years.

#1 Microtubules, Orch-Or and the speed of processing

“Witnessing awareness mode may be correlated with the microtubules processing, while the cognitive consciousness mode may be correlated with the regular connections between neurons. Looks like the microtubules communicate through a wifi system, and they process the information of a higher speed than the neurons (see Orch-or theory). The witnessing experience is described by individuals as being in present, here-now, and the reaction time and processing is described as being speedier than during the cognitive consciousness experience.”

In the last years, Anirban Bandhopadyay’s researches on resonating nested networks on the brain showed some interesting links with this hypothesis, his research explores how various sets of frequencies resonate and link together.

I am looking to explore another interesting perspective, after the microtubules research procedure will advance: I think that the famous Libet’s free will experiment will prove wrong, if the experiment will be repeated adding a sensor in some microtubules in the specific brain areas. My hypothesis is that the microtubules generate the first impulse, not the regular brain circuits we know. The way is from microtubules-to neurons- to body. This hypothesis is consistent with the explanations from spirituality, that our thought of a fact is produced after the fact happened… because mystics look at the world from the vantage point of the higher speed configuration (nonconceptual self in my terminology). Or, in oriental energy terms, they set their observation point between sahasrara chakra and ajna, and they see the mind as an effect of the fundamental awareness. Maybe in the next years we will have the technology to do this.

#2 DMT, microtubules and pure awareness.

“It may be that the DMT is enhancing the resonance-induced conductance in single microtubules, a process that would be inhibited by anesthetic gases. Although there is no assay to measure endogenous production of DMT, it seems that 5-methoxy-DMT is likely to produce witnessing awareness experiences. Is it possible that the witnessing awareness mode have a physiological correlate in the production of endogenous DMT?”

This hypothesis still waits for the development of an array to measure endogenous production of DMT. But, the subjective experiences of all the people who used DMT, is that the experience links us with an information-richer world. Our mind can decode this speedier plane of existence only by using visual thinking, symbols and colors. People become aware of their retinal circus, the energy fields surrounding us, and the entire energy body begins to vibrate at a higher speed. I am still waiting for the DMT researches to start again at a larger scale, so that we could have more data on the link between DMT and the experiences like mystical ecstatic states, orgasm, kundalini awakening, experiences in pitch dark rooms, high stress states, prolonged fasting, awakening experiences, or experiences that are labeled now as„psychosis”, „ schizophrenia”, „mania”. All these are considered by spirituality to be related with transitions to a new way of being. It may be like this, or not, we need data that’s sure, before going further with these lines of inquiry.

#3 Autism and the witnessing awareness mode

“It may be that some individuals with autism are born with an increased ability to enter the witnessing consciousness mode, leading to an inability to develop the cognitive consciousness experience in the regular educational system? There are many adults with autism that show extraordinary abilities, related to memory and perception of here-now experiences (these are characteristics of the witnessing awareness mode). A study realized by Patricia Howlin of King’s College, London, suggests that as many as 30% of autistic people have some sort of savant-like capability in areas such as calculation or music.”

Since 2013, I explored hypothesis #3 with some therapists and parents with children diagnosed with autism and I noticed that ABA therapists and parents that have the witnessing awareness mode activated, at least partially, could communicate better with the children. I am now exploring if the open focus attention (diffuse attention) trainings with parents can increase their communication with their children, and support the formation of an ego. The plan is to have a training for parents, so that they would be able to observe the different “stories/primary subpersonalities/identities” of the children, and to detect the style and stream of communication for each one.

As opposed to a regular child who don’t have the witnessing awareness mode activated so much, and can control the switching by wish, these children are switching their mini-identities in an unpredictable way, they can say one sentence from identity #1, then a stimulus provoke a switch and activates #2, then #3 etc… and after a while, #1 again and the parents gets the feedback they expect. It may be after 1 minute or after one hour… But, without observing this mechanism in themselves, the parents and therapists are unable to see the continuity of the stories, and think it is an erratic behavior. Connecting the dots it’s hard, but not impossible. People on ego-aware stage of development can observe easily these switches. If anyone is interesting in doing a research on this, I would be interested to contribute with the training methodology.

As a conclusion, I would like to summarize the main lines of this approach:

– The non-conceptual field is a new evolutionary feature of the human species. It appears increasingly in many humans. Therefore, like any new feature, the process is not so smooth.

– The human psyche functions differently when this resonance field is activated: we have witnessing awareness, diffuse attention (instead of focused attention), extreme visual thinking, multi-conceptual hyper-priming when thinking (people can connect distant groups of concepts easily, on many levels of abstraction, by using intuition or visual connections), unconditional love etc.

In my opinion, all the actual psychological processes have a correspondent in this new “field” (noosphere, or whatever the name). For some corresponding process we already have names (like diffuse attention), for some we don’t have a name.

– The non-conceptual field may be somehow related with DMT – maybe with the endogenous production of DMT. We can explore the functioning of this field using various amounts of external DMT.

– This new field appears in some individuals at their birth or very early in their infancy, or during life (awakening-like experiences).

This synchronic activation of the microtubules networks lead to a series of experience that nowadays are not connected directly, but in my opinion, we should explore more these links:

– The autistic kids – in my opinion, they have natural witnessing awareness, hyper-priming and diffuse attention, but cannot communicate because they lack an ego, and parents and ABA therapists do not have witnessing awareness, hyper priming and diffuse attention… so they are, metaphorically speaking, human kids raised by wolves.

– People with synesthesia – one woman with this condition was born in 15 minutes, no pain for the mother. I wondered, may it be that the mother had a burst of endogenous DMT? That burst transmitted to the child, and provoked a microtubule-based connection between areas, that in time also appeared in neural patterns, generating synesthesia (a permanent hyper-priming). However, the neural pattern is the effect, not the cause. The cause may be the DMT burst that generated a pattern in the microtubules networks. Synesthesia people have multidimensional hyper-priming, they can easily connect visual and auditory, forms and content etc., and concepts from multiple perspectives naturally, without the need for so much analytical cognition.

– People with extraordinary life experiences – so called awakening experiences – or in my terminology, activation of the witnessing awareness (in ego development theory of Susanne Cook-Greuter, these are people who accessed Ego-Aware/Unitive/Transcendent stages temporarily). I am exploring what event induced the transformation. In most of the cases, extreme events, that it may have provoked bursts of endogenous DMT. Both positive (such as a relation with a twin flame) and a negative one (traumatic event, accidents, NDE). Rick Strassman mentions in his book – DMT. The Spirit Molecule, that stressful events may produce endogenous DMT.

– Spiritual emergencies, psychosis, depression, schizophrenia – they are all part of a continuum of transformation, deconstructing the old ego and composing a new one, more “fluid” and flexible. It may be that all these events are related with endogenous DMT bursts, but without integration by the regular bodymind structure (e.g. hearing voices is in fact observing the thoughts for the first time as a witness; in psychosis, fear of someone permanently watching – is in fact a discovery of the interconnectedness of all things – of course someone is watching us, it is us watching us etc.)

All these experiences are related with richer information, brought to the awareness by microtubules networks, and there is so much information, that it takes a lot of time for the mind to process. I call it the unzipping process. Also with DMT trips, it takes many weeks to unzip. Santo Daime ceremony takes ayahuasca 4 times in 8-10 hours, making this unzipping observable (instead of 15-30 minutes when smoked or injected). This super-connectivity brings a lot of information, and there is a time needed to distribute the information, and the regular channels of thinking-feeling-sensing are disturbed, resulting in psychotic episodes, when the old patterns are simply becoming dysfunctional, overwhelmed by the amount of data. In time, people learn to use both ways: microtubules processing and neural processing. It is what I think happens at the unitive-transcendent stage of human evolution.

Like any research hypothesis, it may be valid or wrong, but I am dedicating some of my time for this exploration.

Good journeys!
25th of august, 2015