The concept of consciousness might be boggling to you.
After all, science has to a large degree explained how the world works, satisfying our basic need for understanding of our universe, yet it hasn't come close to understanding consciousness. Curiosity about our consciousness is an itch that is hard to satisfy. For many it is left to be scratched by priests, shamans and mystics. It is just starting to be scratched by quantum physicists (or is it?).
I am certainly not one of these authorities on consciousness, and it is still a concept which continues to boggle me. But allow me to share my own perspective, a picture of consciousness I've painted over long hours of solitude and contemplation.
|My perspective of consciousness|
If I were to use an ocean based analogy contrasting our own land based existence, then our consciousness is the great blue ocean, an infinite expanse, and I am just an iceberg floating on its surface. The surface of the ocean is my reality, the sensory world I live in. Or at least it is what I perceive to be real, and what's real can be validated by my fellow iceberg colleagues like you - making it a shared reality.
Despite how you perceive me, there is more to me than meets the eye - I am so much more on the inside. In fact, only 10% of an iceberg is above the ocean's surface - meaning 90% of an iceberg is underwater!
Similarly, the real me are the thoughts and emotions swimming in this unheard and unseen space of consciousness just below the surface. This realm of consciousness is the same ocean that both you and I float in. However, underwater it is too opaque for me to see you or other icebergs, thus extremely difficult to see each other for who we really are below the surface. Though we have a shared consciousness in this realm, this is not a shared reality.
|The ocean of our being includes the great abyss, our subconsciousness|
Yet despite how well I think I know myself and my iceberg body, there is even more to me than I thought. Below my consciousness, which goes down to only 100 metre below the surface, lies the great abyss.
The abyss houses my subconsciousness. The abyss is my subconsciousness. It is where all my thoughts and emotions eventually go, sinking down and accumulating over time.
The real me - my ultimate reality - is here. The totality of my thoughts and emotions over the course of my life, written, like a history book. But not written in stone. Floating in the depths, these thoughts and emotions are still active, stirring up massive currents which dictate the wave patterns of my ocean being all the way to the top, altering my perception at the surface and, ultimately, driving my behaviour.
In real life, this cyclic effect is constantly happening - surface stimulus which I experience trickles down into my consciousness, which processes the experience in real time, and eventually filters down into my subconsciousness for long term storage. My subconscious creates habit patterns which cycle back up to the surface, in turn changing my future surface experiences. Ultimately, all of my behavioral patterns, biases and triggers are driven by my subconsciousness.
Sometimes negative experiences trickle down as trauma. Like garbage thrown in the ocean, trauma is heavy and sinks right to the bottom. If I ignore it, it eventually accumulates, polluting my entire ocean right up to the surface, driving my negative thought patterns and behaviors such as addiction and depression.
The good news is my abyss is not written in stone. But if I want to change a behavioral pattern or trigger, I have to dive into my abyss, go deep sea fishing and fish out all my traumas from the past which lodged itself into my subconsciousness.
This process is also known as healing.
There are many ways to go deep sea fishing. But no matter how you do it there is no easy way and there are no shortcuts. If you want to change your old thought and behavior patterns, you have to go inside yourself. Going inside yourself takes a careful balance of energy, effort, time, solitude and emotional support. Finally it takes facing your demons.
I have done a lot of deep sea fishing the last several years. I've done meditation and yoga. I've done psychedelics and psycho active substances, most recently and notably ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is more like a deep sea excavation rather than just fishing. The effects are on a large scale, and it takes time after the intense experience to process and integrate all the learnings.
|Meditation - one way to go inside yourself and face your demons|
|The day after an ayahuasca ceremony, looking hunchbacked and feeling sickly|
When we think of achievement we tend to think about looking up and reaching for the sky. But too often to move forward in life we need to take a step back and look inside of ourselves. Many of us are too afraid to do this, too afraid of what they'll see.
Don't be afraid to do the work. Do not fear the fear.
There are no shortcuts. Modern life has created the modern phenomenon of stress through social isolation - we no longer connect with others, nor our selves. Modern life has produced no solutions either - only medications which serve to distance us further from our selves.
The formula is quite simple: a combination of time and inner work. Do meditation, do yoga, take time to yourself, solitude in nature, and be creative. Spend quality time with the people you care about the most. If you want to take shortcuts, be warned that psychedelics, if used improperly, can harm as much as it can heal (I can definitely offer you guidance you through this process).
|Look up and reach for the skies, by looking inside yourself and peering into the darkness|
|Shambhala Music Festival - BC, Canada|