This series of articles show common approaches to higher states of consciousness, and how they are related to transcendence. To summarize, most world traditions target two brain states that help people with their inner journey. Here they are, presented graphically in this Map of Transcendence …
So, what are these brain states, and how do we get there?
In ordinary consciousness, there are many things competing for our attention. We have five senses, telling us what we are seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling. We have thoughts about our family, work and other obligations. We have emotions …
From this list and more, our awareness typically jumps from one “attention seeker” to another, resulting in a stream of consciousness that we experience as “normal.”
The Harmony Point (THP)
The opposite of normal consciousness is The Harmony Point. It’s where all of the competing attention seekers are quieted, making higher states of consciousness more easily accessible. (Notice that each green line represents a different attention seeker, which can be of a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual nature.)
So how does someone attain THP? Many traditions approach it directly, through meditation, prayer, and/or other ritual. An example from my Catholic tradition is centering prayer. Other traditions approach it indirectly, often by targeting the other common brain state …
Single Point Awareness (SPA)
Single Point Awareness is THP plus a single point of focus for your awareness. This focused awareness can occur with any of the green lines, meaning that it can be of a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual nature.
SPA can also vary by intensity (how big the line is). Many traditions, for example, teach low intensity approaches like staring at a candle or mirror, focusing on your breath, chanting, rocking, or spinning. Initially, focusing on something boring quiets all of the other attention seekers. Eventually, your mind gets bored and stops focusing all together, leaving all attention seekers quieted (aka The Harmony Point).
SPA can also be more intense, resulting in higher states of consciousness. Arguably, most human progress occurs within this type of Single Point Awareness. Our most celebrated sports heroes, our most famous artists, musicians, writers, and scientists, and our most respected spiritual and emotional leaders, report that SPA-like conditions led to their most significant achievements.
The most intense form of SPA is Transcendence. That’s when SPA “breaks through” to something outside of normal awareness. Some say it’s a connection to source, or to God, or to the Akashic records. Whatever it is, it’s unusual, profound, and life changing.
In closing, it’s important to recognize that these higher brain states can occur at any time, with or without preparation. However, those who pursue a regular meditation practice are more likely to attain these states, and benefit as a result.
Until next time …
Here’s a recent scientific research article that confirms these two brain states, which they call focused attention meditation (FAM) and open monitoring meditation (OMM): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29967435