In a previous article, I described the evolution of Ego-based consciousness towards higher, Self-based consciousness.
The Self, a term initially coined by Carl Jung, represents the unification of the conscious and the unconscious parts in an individual, his psyche as an integrated whole.
The aim of this article is to present aspects I believe are important to support such a transformation at individual level.
I am personally fascinated by this perspective of providing maps that one can consciously rely on in order to support deep inner transformations. However, all these aspects below are based on my personal experiences from my own journey so far, and even though they are backed up by my readings, I am also very aware that it is a vast topic, and full of depth.
Here are they:
- Rationality and external knowledge
- Intuition and inner knowledge
- Implementation (via direct experiences)
- Exploring the unconscious (via altered states)
- Facing fears and resistance
- Learning to die
- Disrupting brain’s status quo (via peak experiences)
Let’s see why these aspects are important on the path to transformation.
Rationality and external knowledge – Rational thinking and large-scale access to intellectual and theoretical knowledge since the invention of printing led us to the modern world as we know it today.
At individual level, rationality gives us critical analysis, rational sense making, and the amazing capability to learn quickly and in such condensed ways from others.
Rational thinking combined to extensive knowledge also creates order from chaos, a very important aspects for deepening our consciousness in times of constant increase of complexity and specialization of our reality.
Our rational mind is also a great tool for observing and discriminating into clear awareness irrational aspects of our drives and emotions, from our inner selves, and from our environment.
Intuition and inner knowledge – As opposed to rational thinking taking place in our rational mind, intuition takes place at deeper level in our body. And the body, knows, as well.
It is an incredible source of internalised, embodied knowledge and wisdom, that has been accumulated for millions of years of evolution through our sense perception, combined with our individual and collective history of experiences.
Intuition consists in deeply listening to our body feelings, at a slow pace, without our rational mind involved, and therefore operates without naming and conceptualizing anything. It relies on what is from our beings.
As opposed to the rational mind working by compartmentalising and abstracting subparts of reality, “intuition apprehends a totality directly in its living existence” 1.
This feeling of knowing within our body is a crucial gateway for deepening our consciousness and getting access to deeper knowledge and truths.
Finally, intuition is also a very important asset when it comes to re-evaluating and adjusting our actions, or non-actions, along our transformation journey.
Implementation (via direct experiences) – By implementation here, I mean taking focused actions on the long run to learn new inner and outer skills, with the goal to apply constructive changes in our daily life.
It is a transference from theoretical knowledge to our physical reality, thanks to our will.
By exposing ourselves to repetitive experiences, to successes and failures, we adjust, learn and internalise tremendous amount of knowledge, consciously, but most importantly unconsciously as well.
Implementation operates via direct, first-hand, experiences. Direct experiences can be outer in the physical world, or inner within ourselves, e.g., via imagination, visualisation, meditation, or inner spiritual experiences.
Once on a personal transformation path, it also seems important to be able to experience and explore self-expression of the many parts of our personality, in psychologically safe, and free, environments.
Exploring the unconscious (via altered states) – There is a great deal of information stored within our unconscious which needs to be explored one way or another if one seeks deep transformation.
First, light needs to be shed on our inner shadows to bring them into our field of consciousness.
Second, imprints from past traumas have to be defused, in particular if emotional leftovers are still unconsciously stuck in the body. This is usually done by triggering deep catharsis (e.g., via involuntarily body shaking, deep crying, primal screaming, etc.).
Third, one has to experience the transpersonal aspects of the psyche, towards the collective unconscious, the archetypal, and inner spiritual realms.
However, these aspects of our unconscious cannot be reached at a deep level from our normal waking consciousness, in particular when old defence mechanisms have been put on place in our psyche to protect us from past emotional pain.
And certainly not via our rational mind either, since the very act of simply thinking or talking puts the brain in a mode that does not allow deep body work to take place.
Finally, on top of that, our ego-mind strongly resists surrendering to psychic forces and wisdom beyond its narrowed field of consciousness and outside its “mighty control”.
Therefore, altered stated of consciousness need to be consciously triggered as well.
There is a wide range of options for that, from non-intrusive ones usually requiring a lot of practise and time, e.g., via meditation and contemplative techniques, to more direct options, such as use of drumming or intense breath work (e.g., holotropic breathing), and to more intrusive ones, such as (mild, or intense, peak) psychedelic experiences.
Self-awareness – By self-awareness here, I refer to our inner abilities to watch what is happening in our mind and body. It can be thoughts, body feelings, emotions, sense perceptions, or behaviour.
When practicing self-awareness on a regular basis, our inner observer watches what is happening in the present moment, without the need to label and conceptualise anything.
I extensively talked about self-awareness in this article.
From my perspective, it is a tremendous asset to practice (if not the most important one actually), since it contributes to raising into our field of consciousness a lot of deep and subtle manifestations of our unconscious, while also contributing to reducing useless and noisy brain ruminations.
Self-awareness is also about exploring and trusting traits of our feminine essence, related to nurturing self-compassion, surrender, and self-acceptance. These feminine principles are the ground from which transformation flourishes.
Finally, self-awareness is a gateway to disidentifying ourself to the ever-changing content of our thoughts and emotions.
Disidentification – It seems that the notion of identity (“who am I?”) is at the cornerstone of human existence and its evolution. And in fact, “any growth path can be considered as an evolution departing from a series of partial identifications to identities with increasing complex and inclusive elements” 2.
By consciously practising self-awareness, slowly, but steadily, we come to realise that we are not exclusively identified by our thoughts nor our emotions.
We come to realise that we are not exclusively identified by our body, or our chronic illness. Neither by our past traumas or limited beliefs. Neither by our roles in society (e.g., as manager, father, co-worker, car owner, etc.). Neither by the various inner, fragmented parts, of our psyche.
We come to realise that we are not exclusively identified by our ego either.
And, even if only from now and then, reaching such a state of being pure-awareness brings us closer to our core, pristine, Self.
However, questioning the essence of who we are is also very scary.
Facing fears and resistance – When we enter into adulthood, our psyche reaches a state of stability allowing us to function properly in the world beyond survival.
Our ego structures become intertwined with the unconscious parts of our psyche around a sweet spot, which becomes our “functional comfort zone”.
However, if we want to engage on a transformation path beyond functionality, we need to consciously challenge this status quo in our psyche. We need to initiate changes, and see ourself, and the world, from new perspectives, form new associations, and create new opportunities.
This process triggers enormous amount of resistance.
The root of this situation resides in our instinct as living beings to preserve our existence. Indeed, we spend significant time in the first part of our life as very vulnerable and dependent beings. A time during which we need to be nurtured and loved by our care takers in structured and secured environments.
In adulthood, challenging our psychological structure and safety triggers fear.
Fear of pain, fear of not knowing who we are, fear of being rejected and alone, fear not to be loved, you name it.
And resistance is basically rooted in fear.
Resistance can take many sneaky and so convincing shapes in order to prevent us to do our transformation work, e.g., procrastination, projecting our gold onto someone else so we don’t have to be responsible for it, denial, pessimism, thinking we are not ready, just to name a few. The book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield gives interesting perspectives on resistance.
And therefore, implementing transformation, and daring living the life we ought to live, requires the full responsibility of our self-sovereign, the courage and the discipline of our inner warrior to face our fears, and overcome our resistance.
And on top of all fears, we must face our fear of death.
Learning to die – Abandoning old identities to which the ego has been attached for years, and reframing ourself, refers to the process of dying.
It is Ego death.
And it is no joke, since death, even symbolic, generates tremendous fears.
To die, you must take courage and trust what comes next, a subsequent rebirth.
It means that we must find in ourselves the courage and the confidence to fully enter into pain, darkness, and chaos.
It also implies to fully embrace and learn to be comfortable with the unknown.
Disrupting brain’s status quo (via peak experiences) – From now and then, I believe it is important to consciously bring chaos in our psyche in order to shake things up.
Psychedelic peak experiences are for instance a great tool for that very purpose. But many other alternatives are relevant as well, like going to festivals, retreats and workshops challenging our comfort zone. Living and working abroad also provides great opportunities for transformation and new perspectives.
Integration – A very important aspect of implementation, is integration. Indeed, when it comes to implementing deep inner changes in our psyche at least, only exposing ourselves to direct experiences is sometimes not enough.
We also need to figure out how insights and learnings from these experiences have to be consciously applied and integrated in our daily, mundane, life.
As Jack Kornfield titled his book, “after the ecstasy, the laundry“.
Time – Finally, for most of us, the path towards deep transformation takes time.
A lot of time.
Moreover, the process is not linear.
All these aspects also co-evolve at their own pace and depth.
So, patience has to be befriended here as well, as much as nurturing love for the process.
Need for synergy and balance
If all these aspects contribute individually to transform our adult consciousness, it seems also important that they operate in synergy with each other.
And some of these aspects are clearly unbalanced in most individuals.
Here are just a few examples, mainly Western countries I believe.
Nowadays, we are constantly bombarded by massive amount of external and hyper specialised information, triggering our childish expectations for instant gratification instead of taking full responsibility for long-term commitment to implementation.
Modern life gives us incredible possibilities and diversity for peak experiences, making us willing to chase too much the highs, without considering how these experiences could be integrated in our daily lives.
A common pattern is also for the ego-mind to be willing to speed-up deep transformations as fast as possible, by denying that it takes a lot of time, self-compassion, and self-nurturing to shift our consciousness.
In Western countries at least, masculine aspects such as rationality, implementation, and unbalanced ego-identification are strongly over-manifested to the detriment of feminine aspects such as intuition and self-awareness. Indeed, the world is full of smart, childish warriors, pushing hard for external achievements, driven by shallow, ego-dominated purposes, and in complete denial of our inner world beyond materialism.
Which might explain why the world goes a bit too fucked-up sometimes.
To be continued.
Related posts to read from this blog:
- Human Consciousness And Its Transformation
- The Inner Power of Self Awareness
- From Discovery To Integration Of A Postnatal Trauma
- Experiencing My Fragmented Self
- How To Practice And Increase Awareness?