Consciousness is everything. It’s that feeling you get when you hug a loved one. It’s the taste of chocolate. It’s the sound of water… everything that we experience, we experience via our consciousness. Hence, if only we could expand our consciousness we would experience more. Indeed, this is one reason why many of my meditation students take lessons with me, for the simple desire to live more.
Sadly, many people spend much of their lives barely conscious at all, lost in the tidal wave of information and stimuli, mindlessly watching TV or scrolling through social media. And so their consciousness levels are low. But that can be changed.
Indeed, it is normal for our levels of consciousness to ebb and flow. For instance, when you’re asleep or under the influence of alcohol, your consciousness will be decreased, and when you are fully awake and, yes, when you meditate, your consciousness will increase.
But maybe you’re not content with the regular levels of consciousness. Maybe you want to be more alive, more aware, and yes, more conscious. If so, what can you do? Some people turn to psychedelics, others to meditation. It turns out both work. But for me personally, I like to expand consciousness through meditation.
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Meditation To Expand Consciousness
- Sit comfortably with good posture. You can lie down if you prefer, but sitting is more effective. Make sure your back is straight but relaxed. Slightly low your chin to elongate your neck.
- Breathe in through your nose, watching your breath as it enters your body. Allow your breath to flow deeply into your body
- Focus your mind on the sensation of your breath moving through your body. In particular, be aware of the feeling of energy that is created by your breath moving through your body. Focus on that energy for a few breaths.
- While you are focusing on your breathing, inevitably some thoughts and feelings will come up. When they do, simply observe them for what they are (be aware of the sensory perception of thought and feeling).
- Notice how all around you there is a subtle energy (chi). Notice how this energy wraps around your entire being, touching every part of your body. Focus on that energy. This will increase internal consciousness.
- Now we will gradually expand consciousness. Imagine that you are taking a slight step back in your mind and view your body as though you are looking at it from the outside. Focus on your entire body for five to ten breaths.
- Now begin to tune in to the sounds around you. Focus on your soundscape for five breaths.
- Continuing, notice if there is a scent in your environment and if so, take a moment to observe it.
- Can you taste anything? Be conscious of any taste you are experiencing.
- While being mindful, slowly open your eyes and observe the world around you through your sense of vision. Finally, notice how you are aware of a sense of space that extends to infinity in all directions.
- You have now fully explored your consciousness.
Call me biased as a meditation teacher, but for my money, meditation is the number one way to raise consciousness levels. And both science and spirituality agree with this.
Science tells us that meditation raises our levels of consciousness because it increases cortical thickness in the prefrontal posterior occipital cortices and the claustrum, which are two areas that scientists have determined are responsible for consciousness, although in truth scientists are still mostly baffled by the miracle of consciousness and are ever trying to discover what they call the Neuronal Correlates of Consciousness.
While scientists try to lead us into the future of consciousness, spiritualists have been exploring consciousness for thousands of years, and indeed, meditation has been one of the main ways that they have done so.
Spiritualists state that meditation opens the mind and heightens our awareness—and because an open and aware mind is the core of a conscious one… well, you get the drift.
As most experienced meditators will tell you, meditation does expand consciousness and this is especially true for certain forms of meditation. For instance, when we close our eyes and do a meditation such as Anapanasati or Vipassana, we become more internally conscious. When we focus on external stimuli, such as by performing Open Meditation, we become more externally conscious. And when we practice techniques like Body Scan, Zazen, and forms of Integrated Body Mind Training, we become more conscious of the body.
Perhaps the most common state of consciousness that meditators experience is Effortless Presence. This is an incredibly relaxing state to be in, one in which we are more conscious than normal but also in a state of absolute ease. It is like we are enjoying the pure state of awareness for its own sake, and it is incredibly healing.
Another meditation for consciousness is the yogic meditation samyama, which is the combined simultaneous practice of Dhāraṇā (concentration), Dhyāna (meditation) and Samādhi (union). This method basically feels like a state of complete oneness with whatever object you are meditating on.
Those methods are quite technical. And in truth, you don’t necessarily need to go to such lengths to experience a change in consciousness. Simple mindfulness activities can also increase our consciousness. Indeed, mindfulness literally is the practice of being conscious. It is a practice in which we hone our awareness. And awareness, of course, is essentially consciousness. Plus, not only does mindfulness expand consciousness at the time that we are being mindful, but it also trains the brain to gradually become more and more conscious, which it does by gradually creating new neuronal tracks in the prefrontal cortex as well as in the mid-insular regions of the brain.
And so, as you can see, there is an inherent link between meditation and consciousness. But what is the absolute best meditation for expanding consciousness? Well, for me I think it would have to be a method that progressively made us conscious of everything, perhaps starting with internal consciousness, then body consciousness, then external consciousness. That’s why I wrote the meditation script above.
Meditation is the ultimate way to raise our conscious awareness, and indeed it has been for millennia. By meditating, and particularly by trying different types of meditation that focus on different things, you will gradually expand your consciousness. And when you do that, you will experience more of life itself.
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison