Consciousness is Like a Rainbow — Range of Awareness

Consciousness is Like a Rainbow — The Range of Awareness

Consciousness is like a rainbow. There are a multitude of colors. ― Guru Tua

Defining these terms is a good first step.  However, this is more difficult than you would think.   That’s because like a rainbow, consciousness is a kaleidoscope of colors. The colors of our perception overlap and sometimes run together. Yet, most people live their entire lives in the three basic states. These are waking, sleeping, and dreaming.  So, they miss a huge range of other possibilities.

Consciousness Is Like a Rainbow

We experience a range of awareness but we overlook the subtle shifts that occur. We are more alert and make better decisions when we are fully rested. We shift between different states of consciousness. We transition between waking, sleeping, and dreaming states every day. These are just the default settings of consciousness.  
Waking, sleeping, and dreaming are the beginning. There are many variations of altered awareness and several higher states of consciousness. But many people live their lives in the default modes.  The goal of this article is to help you see the possibilities of this rainbow of consciousness.  We hope it stimulates your curiosity to find out more about the other colors.

Ordinary and Non-Ordinary Reality

First, we have two big buckets of perception, ordinary and non-ordinary reality. There are many philosophies and ways to define and describe these two concepts. We’ll try to simplify the definitions.

  • Ordinary reality consists of that which appears to exist in the corporeal body. This is where time and space “appear” to exist.
  • Non-ordinary reality is what we experience outside of the corporeal.   This includes our thoughts, day-dreaming, and dreams while you sleep. All of this takes place outside of the realm of normal time and space. Think about it.  For now, we won’t open the Pandora’s Box of concerning whether time and space are “real” or an illusion of the mind.

Three Basic Partitions of Consciousness

Next, we have three basic partitions of consciousness, waking, dreaming, and sleeping. The normal waking state of consciousness is the primary platform of perception.  The default setting is ‘ordinary reality’.

Then we have sleeping and dreaming states. Sleeping and dreaming are common experiences. The dream state is very interesting. It gives us proof of non-ordinary reality. When we sleep and dream, we are generally not aware of time or space.  When we dream we enter a landscape of non-ordinary reality.  We don’t need drugs to induce an altered state. Next, let’s look at each of these three and build upon the possibilities.

The normal waking state is the like RAM setting of a computer. It is the platform for human experience. In the normal waking state, the brain frequency operates in the beta range of 13 to 20 Hz. The normal range when we are asleep is in the delta range of around 1 to 3 cycles per second. The lines of demarcation between these basic states are often imperceptible.  We are rarely aware of the shift from one state to the next. This is an important point that we will come back to later. Let’s talk about sleeping and dreaming for a moment.

The Analogy of Someone Who Has Never Slept

Let’s imagine you met someone who has never fallen asleep. They have never had a dream. How could we explain to them how to “fall” asleep, and the benefits of doing so? If they asked you, “how do you know you are asleep?”

You’d have to tell them you don’t know you are asleep.  That’s because when you are asleep, you are unaware of time. In fact, several hours pass and you have no experience of time passing.

You simply wake up refreshed and rested. The only thing that could happen while you are asleep is that you might have dreams.  Okay, now you have to explain what dreams are.  This leads to more trouble. This is because some dreams become intense hallucinations known as nightmares.  Yes, the most frightening things you could imagine.  And, they seem real.

At this point in our discussion, the other person is becoming more hesitant.  They are not sure they want to attempt sleeping.  Not only is a waste of time, but they “lose” awareness of their body.  And they don’t like the possibility of having a frightening nightmare. So, the answer to the sleep experience is “no.”

These are the excuses people use for not exploring other states of consciousness.   They don’t have any other similar experience to compare.  So, it is scary.

Altering, Expanding, Reaching Higher States

Before we delve into the details of each, here are the short answers:

    • Altering consciousness involves changing or manipulating the waking state of perception.  For example, an anesthesiologist will administer drug compounds to alter your consciousness. This alters our ability to feel physical pain.
    • Expanding awareness involves a “eureka” experience of additional perception.  An example is the dream state.  Most people don’t remember their dreams.  So, if we use techniques to remember our dreams, we expand the range of awareness and perception.
    • Reaching higher states of consciousness is one of the main goals of self-development. These are partitions of awareness different from waking, dreaming, or sleeping.  They are states of consciousness with unique physiological and perceptive characteristics.

Altering Consciousness

When you alter consciousness this refers to distorting the waking state of awareness. The distortion is caused by some stimuli. This happens when injecting or ingesting psychoactive elements. Since altered states are caused by the distortion is limited in duration. Alcohol is an example of a socially acceptable substance for altering consciousness.

Many indigenous cultures use repetitive percussive or tonal sounds to produce altered states. Some use a combination of sound, pharmacology, and ritual. These practices have their roots in the shamanic traditions of the past.  Meditation, chanting and the spiritual journey also create altered states of consciousness. And, these spiritual technologies may also provide gateways into higher states of consciousness.

Some people experience altered states because of a traumatic event. Near-death experiences often involve a psychedelic altered state. A medical condition like epilepsy can also cause an altered state. It depends on several factors. Depriving the body of water, oxygen, sleep, can cause an altered hallucinogenic state. Some effects of the altered state are predictable.

Expanding Awareness

As was mentioned earlier expanding awareness normally involves a personal “eureka” experience.   Remembering more of our dreams is the easiest way of expanding the range of awareness.

Another example is using the analytical mind to grasp how our mind works.  The best tool we’ve found for this the Enneagram of Personality. This is a test which outlines the nine basic components of your personality.  Everyone is a little different but we all have a default setting.

Yet another example is the perspective you get by studying basic logic.  The analytical powers of the mind can transform our perception. This is a helpful tool in spiritual exploration. Training the mind to use logical processes helps us sort out the facts from the fiction. This strategy isn’t new. Many ancient cultures trained common sense along with other more esoteric methods.

Reaching Higher States of Consciousness

Higher states of consciousness are sometimes more difficult.   They often deal with perceptual elements well outside the range of normal reality.  In this case, it’s the differences in the worldview of an insect and man.  Both occupy the same world but with vastly different perceptions of reality. 
In the next section, we’ll discuss to partitions of higher awareness. In the modern world, people see these as Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness. But, this depends upon who defines ordinary.

The Non-Ordinary Range of Awareness

Most people start out life with the three default states of consciousness. These are the partitions of waking, sleeping, and dreaming. Our ancestors were curious about the boundaries of consciousness. They developed techniques for exploring other realms of awareness. We know these as non-ordinary states because they aren’t accepted in the Western world.
We find there are two higher states of consciousness practiced around the world. These are Transcendental Consciousness and the Shamanic State of Consciousness.

Consciousness is Like a Rainbow

Transcendental Consciousness

Transcendental Consciousness is known by several names. It is sometimes called the 4th state, pure or bliss state of consciousness. This is a partition of consciousness that has unique metabolic characteristics. The most notable is a change in the increased coherence of brainwave patterns. Here the brainwaves operate in the theta-wave area around 4 to 7 Hz.

This state is most notable for its profound state of rest. The mind remains alert but without thought. Scholars from Joseph Campbell to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi describe it as bliss consciousness. This is because you remain self-aware without having the normal inner dialogue. The process used to reach this state of consciousness is Japa Meditation. Maharishi calls this process Transcendental Meditation.

Earlier we talked about how most people do not notice the shift between different states. Some people have this ability.  They are often called gifted. But, you can learn to do this too. All you need to do is practice the methods of meditation noted above.  This will show you how consciousness is like a rainbow.  After practicing meditation you will begin to notice these shifts. This leads to the realization that pure consciousness underlies all states of awareness.  This is one way you know that you are expanding awareness.

Shamanic State of Consciousness

This is the fifth state of non-ordinary consciousness. Michael Harner, an anthropologist, and modern shaman. He calls this state, the Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC). In this state, the brainwaves are also in the theta-wave area. Besides being self-aware, you project yourself into a “visionary state” of consciousness. You are both the director and participant within a landscape of non-ordinary reality.

This state is the most ancient form of spiritual practice known. The Shamanic Journey has similarities across many cultures. It is the most likely source of modern religion. To make it more acceptable it has been rebranded and given a new name. We know it today as guided meditation, creative visualization, and mindscape. The Shamanic State of Consciousness is significant for several characteristics. The person in SSC controls when, where, and how long they travel. By setting the goal of their journey, they provide a level of freedom and control.

Combining the States of Consciousness

So, now we have what you could call our five primary states of consciousness. These include the three basic states of waking, sleeping, and dreaming.  To these, we’ve added two other higher states. These are transcendental consciousness and the Shamanic State of Consciousness. These are like the primary colors of a rainbow. There are many shades in between these five. They fade and overlap one another. Combining these states is also one of the natural goals of awareness.

The Sixth State of Consciousness

The sixth state of consciousness demonstrates how consciousness is like a rainbow. Here we see where two colors intersect and create a new state of awareness. Combining the waking state with the transcendent state, we get “cosmic consciousness.”
This is the first level of combining two states of awareness.  One from ordinary and one from non-ordinary reality.  In the sixth state, the transcendent is brought into waking awareness. This is a significant development. It shows us how versatile consciousness can be. It is like the advent of color TV from black and white.
One achieves this state through regular Japa or TM meditation. The mind is naturally drawn to the state of bliss. So, it is a natural progression to bring this quality into the waking state of ordinary reality. The resulting experience is what we refer to as “witnessing.” Here the mind is able to perceive two vantage points of reality simultaneously. This isn’t a philosophical separation. There is an awareness of being separate from the body while being fully “present” in mind and body. (Sorry, but it’s like explaining to someone that has never slept what it is like to dream.)
This 6th state provides experiential proof that reality is a collective holographic construct. There is also the experiential realization that “we” are one with this reality. We are both the Observer and the participant. This is where we get the concept of Oneness.

Lucid Dreaming the Seventh State?

Some believe that lucid dreaming should be the seventh state.  This is because it combines two or possibly three states of consciousness. In lucid dreaming one is present, they “know” they are dreaming.  This is the same as the waking state.  The REM partition of the dreaming state is a unique partition of the sleeping state.  So, this is similar to the Shamanic State where you create and direct the experience.  What do you think?


There you have the basic landscape of the states of consciousness.  Now hopefully you can grasp how consciousness is like a rainbow.  And, we haven’t even talked about the non-linear nature of time.  We hope this helps you understand the shapes and colors of the rainbow of perception.

There are several ancient tools for expanding and exploring consciousness.  We call them, spiritual technologies.

Spiritual Technologies

Spiritual technologies are tools for exploring consciousness.  They result from generations of research by cultures around the world. These processes stand up to the test of science. They are repeatable and measurable.  Everyone who can follow a process can use these tools. We call the practice of these processes spiritual exploration.

You can list these tools in several ways. Some fall into more than one group.   We like this simple method of grouping.

Critical Thinking

The first group is several analytical tools to enhance critical thinking. The Enneagram Personality Profile is the first tool of our blended learning process. This tool provides insight into the mechanisms of ego, personality, and instinct.

The second group is the tools of logical reasoning.  These tools help you to think logically and assess information using common sense. These tools are Logical reasoning, spotting logical fallacies, and logical axioms.

Next, a research tool we call Comparative Analysis.  This is a process to help us explore and compare belief systems.  This process is a scientific process form of comparative religious studies. Together these analytical tools give a solid foundation of common sense thinking. They sharpen your ability to discern facts from fiction.

Seated Meditation

Seated meditation is the heart of most spiritual practices. This includes a wide range of meditation techniques. It starts with Beginning Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation. It progresses to more advanced forms like Japa Meditation the Siddhis of Patanjali.

Moving Meditation

This is another foundational element that strengthens the mind-body connection. Moving meditation is another tool key to our health and wellness.  This progression includes several methods of energy collection. Here we teach Forest Bathing, Qigong, and Tai Chi. It also includes more contemporary processes for Grounding. This includes techniques like Tree Grounding and Sun Gazing.

Awareness Expansion

Pathways for expanding awareness include a variety of tools. This group includes practical tools like a Spiritual Journal and Automatic Writing. Here we introduce Lucid Dreaming, the Shamanic Journey, or Guided Meditation. There are also techniques for Third-Eye Awakening and soul memory awareness.

Healing Practices

Healing practices are the last group.  This branch includes Pe Jeut, Reiki, and Shiatsu.  Self-care is an important element of this group. It is vital for normalizing our inner work and maintaining our health and wellness.

Final Thoughts

If this article resonates, there are more on our blog. To find out more about our organization, see our page FAQ.

Interested in spiritual exploration?  Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey.  Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions.  Please consider donating and supporting our mission. This helps others learn the knowledge for developing their path.


Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia
Michael Harner, Wikipedia

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4 thoughts on “Consciousness is Like a Rainbow — The Range of Awareness

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback and assessment. If you haven’t already registered as a user please do so. We send out an email to update users quarterly. We also let users know about any special developments or projects. We went to virtual meetings over two years ago so that we could help spread consciousness development tools. Here’s the link to sign up.

  1. Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
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    1. Thank you for your kind assessment of our site. We have been online for about two years. Our articles reflect the information we provide in our blended learning process. We are always looking for new processes, and connections. We went to virtual meetings about two years ago to help share the information about spiritual exploration. Please keep in touch. We send an email to registered users about once a quarter. Here’s the link if you are interested.

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