Excerpt from Brazdau, O., Ahuja, S., Opariuc, C. D., Jones, V., Sharma, S., Monsanto, C., Andrews, S., Fiveson, K. (2021). An Exploratory Analysis of Collective Patterns of Conscious Experience Using a Self-Report Questionnaire. Frontiers in Psychology, 12:634677. 

The Consciousness Quotient Inventory (CQ-i) has 268 items that evaluate 15 patterns of behaviors, attitudes, and attentional styles as well as the usage of conscious skills, awareness, and the capacity to “feel awake and alive,” providing a complex exploration of conscious experience.

  • Content providers: global self-identity, physical self, energy self, cognition self, and non-conceptual self;
  • Selection and discrimination: perspective-taking, clarity of discrimination, and multi-modal integration;
  • Evolutionary modulation: inner growth, awakening skills, and habitual patterns;
  • Interconnectedness adaptation: social-relational interconnectivity and language use; and
  • Harmonizing: quality of experience, and spirituality-harmony.

1. Perspective-taking (61 items)

Perspective-taking is the process by which a person filters reality using various vantage points, or various lenses through which they select information sources and create meaning. This is a complex process, involving attention, cognition, perception, and other systems of conscious experience. Usually, the perspectives are culturally conditioned.

2. Clarity of discrimination (107 items)

Clarity of discrimination refers to the ability to have clarity in the process of selecting–discriminating among various stimuli, facets, and sub-systems of conscious experience. It also means the ability to perceive and respond to differences and various changes in the inner and outer environment. Discrimination is a latent feature of conscious awareness, usually running in the background and appearing in cognition, body energy, emotions, or perception only when necessary; it seems to be involved in most of the facets and systems of conscious experience. This is a pattern of experiencing that seems to have strong conceptual links with concepts such as viveka (Sanskrit concept meaning “discernment or discrimination”) and sati sampajañña (a concept from Buddhism, usually translated as “clear comprehension”).

3. Quality of experience (41 items)

This explores the quality of subjective conscious experience, modulated through present-moment attention and awareness, and a subjective sense of well-being. It is reflected in concepts such as comfort with discomfort, equanimity, freshness, connecting with the present moment, compassion for self, kindness, peacefulness, inner fluidity, continuity of conscious awareness, amazement and mystery of life, and depth of interconnectedness with people and life.

4. Spirituality-harmony (36 items)

This scale refers to the ability to live in harmony with ourselves, other people and life forms, nature, and the environment. It explores living styles based on a spiritual perspective, including the deep connection with life, respect and gratitude for being offered the experience of being alive, inner peace, and interest for deep and authentic connections with other people and life.

5. Global self-identity (101 items)

Global self-identity includes traits, skills, and abilities related to identity, self-system, one’s image of life, self-awareness, the ability to see oneself 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, and awareness of goals/direction in life. This scale tests for a selection of meta-skills related to post-autonomous ego development and psychological maturity, such as awareness of ego as a construct, awareness of subpersonalities, being aware and connected to the feeling of life flowing through, non-reactivity to inner experiences, sense of wonder regarding everyday activities, serving as catalyst for other people, use of language awareness, overall flexibility and acceptance of various types of experiences, and good present-moment awareness.

6. Language use (42 items)

Maintaining awareness of language use is a meta-skill and refers to the ability to use language in an intentional and conscious way. Language is so deeply embedded and automatized through learning and practice, that many speakers of any given language are not aware of the reality construction imposed on them by their language.

7. Physical self (36 items)

Physical self refers to the capacity for awareness of one’s body and of the actual elements of the environment (environmental awareness). This scale 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), the connection with one’s physical surroundings, using touch to gain information about the outer world, and interconnectedness with the natural environment.

8. Energy self (38 items)

Energy self is a label for the awareness of the variety of energy exchanges that occur in our physical body (owing to various forces or phenomena; e.g., chemical, electromagnetism, body heat, food processing, changes in proprioception). The energy body is the result of life processes doing “work” to maintain the functioning of a human being, perceived in various ways, e.g., emotions, feelings, and flowing sensations. Energy self is about having a consistent awareness of energy flows and managing the dynamics of energy so that energy flows effectively throughout the body. Emotional intelligence is a key element in the development of good emotional awareness.

9. Cognition self (65 items)

Cognitive self refers to the capacity for awareness of one’s own ideas and thoughts, of the cognitive flow in general. The cognitive experience is related to thought, reflection, judgment, patterns of understanding, ways of meaning-making, accessing, and understanding information provided by body senses, and emotions and social interactions. It includes specific traits, skills, and abilities such as systems thinking, intuition, awareness of cognitive filters, metacognition (Darling-Hammond et al., 2014), 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, noticing rumination, 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.

10. Non-conceptual self (31 items)

Non-conceptual self is the effect of the activation of witnessing awareness mode, generating meta-awareness and a smooth present-moment awareness. The witnessing awareness mode generates a fresh look into the present moment, where there is only a present-centered experience even if the content may relate to memories of the past or some thinking about the future. The witnessing awareness mode is a part of a new mirroring/self-reflective system that appears to be active on a large scale in the human race, an evolutionary feature, slowly developing in humans and perhaps in other life forms. The witness is neither a conceptual structure, mediated by words, nor a superego that analyzes what is happening. It is simply a mirroring process, a feedback process, active in all life processes on Earth and translated into our psyche as the experience of being alive as love, and wide-awake. Some researchers call it fundamental awareness, cosmic consciousness, pure consciousness or non-symbolic awareness. Non-conceptual experiences are accessible across a wide range of developmental levels, they do not belong to a “higher” developmental level.

The non-conceptual self scale includes features such as attending to the present moment, mindfulness, non-reactivity to inner experiences, comfort with emotionally neutral experiences, feeling of oneness, connectedness with the environment, and accepting all emotions as they come and go.

11. Social-relational interconnectivity (86 items)

Social-relational experience refers to the capacity for awareness of the relations and connections with the people around us and the communities of which we are a part. This scale includes traits, skills, and abilities related to parental relationships, close relationships, social interactions, perception of others’ communication styles, detecting social deception, cognitive empathy, social intuition, flexibility in social behaviors, outrospection, awareness of in-out group stereotypes, cognitive openness when discussing matters with others, detecting the hidden agendas of people we listen to or talk to, conversational skills, detecting social cues and depth of inter-connection.

12. Inner growth (81 items)

Inner growth refers to the capacity for awareness of the process of personal development, transformation, and growth, including learning and being aware of transformational patterns and stages. Within inner growth journeys, we must defeat psychological inertia and modify the inner defense mechanisms that maintain ego stability. The self-identity is a consequence of evolution; therefore, the process of changing is not gratified by nature with joy but with fear and frustration. Some people tend to see this inertia as a negative aspect, or negative energies that “attack them.” Some negative emotions are, in fact, emotions resulting from system inertia that naturally defends the ego. However, there are also positive emotions (e.g., enthusiasm), released as an evolutionary support to overcome this inertia.

The inner growth scale covers 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 effects of neuroplasticity).

13. Multi-modal integration (43 items)

Multi-modal integration refers to the ability to detect and be aware of the connections between various systems that compose our psyche, such as body, energy, emotions, thinking, and social connections. Integration awareness is supported by the development of a diffuse attentional style that keeps various flows of information or perceptions together, in a synesthetic-like manner. The scale includes topics such as identifying cognitive sources for various emotions, detecting the effects in the body of emotional or cognitive processes, awareness of the effects of food on the psyche, and ability to use words to describe sensations in the body or emotions. The most common integration pattern is psychosomatic integration, resulting from interactions between the mind, body, and emotions.

14. Habitual patterns (21 items)

Being conscious is the opposite of being on autopilot. Studies showed that humans are on autopilot more than half of the time and do not realize they have lost their free will and their freedom to choose how to react to what is happening to them. Inner automation plays a crucial role in our everyday lives; but it is necessary to access our automatic programs-to “re-write” them by adding “the free will subprogram,” then allowing them to become automatic again. For people at the beginning of their inner journey, this may look like a state of hyper-vigilance, or a permanent self-reflection that requires permanent attention and energy to deal with what is happening. However, eventually, it becomes natural and automatic. This scale includes the ability to notice the habitual-automatic patterns of the body, detection of verbal stereotypes, modulation of the automatic flows of thoughts, learning from repetitive events in life, and noticing the impulsive reactions to various stimuli or triggers.

15. Awakening skills (61 items)

* experimental scale composed of 30 items in Section 1 and 31 items in Section 2

Awakening journeys are a continuum of openings and insights about the functioning of life and nature. Awakenings are subjective discoveries about the natural functioning of the various systems that are part of our make-up. People worldwide seem to have the same types of “openings/awakenings,” that are subjective and associated with individuals’ personal/cultural frames of reference. Awakenings can be learned, cultivated, and invited and are habituated through practice.