Ten Levels of Consciousness

What are the Ten Levels of Consciousness?

There are ten primary partitions of consciousness, but most people use only three. How do we reach the others? Why would we want to? Come and find out.

The Rainbow of Consciousness

People often think of consciousness as separate partitions or part of a strict hierarchy, level upon level. But what if that’s not correct? What if consciousness is more like a rainbow? Perhaps it’s not a strict hierarchy, but like plants growing from the ground with several connections to the earth or like a rainbow that shifts in brightness and intensity.

People are doing the best that they can from their own level of consciousness.” ― Deepak Chopra

In our discussion of consciousness, we start with the three default states. We can recognize them from our daily cycle: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. These three default states are important because they connect our bodies to consciousness. They are like three plugs in a pegboard with many other holes.

Perception & The Expression of Consciousness

Most people consider these three states separate entities, like vertical silos on a bar graph. Waking is not on top of sleeping. However, some people see dreaming as a part of the sleeping state because we generally go through the sleep stage to reach it. However, this isn’t always the case. Daydreaming is the case where you go straight from waking to the dream state.

The fact that you can go from one state to another seamlessly is an important finding. It tells us that consciousness is not hierarchical in structure, at least not with the default states. Instead, they are linked and possibly related, like the vertical silos on the bar graph. (1)

When we are in the waking state, our perception and awareness are fully engaged in this partition. Yet, we still have access to sleep and dream states under the right conditions. It’s simply that our awareness is not using either of these partitions.

You are familiar with the first three; these are the default partitions that enable us to use this great mind, body, and spirit machinery. Many people never move beyond this default platform.

But as you will soon discover, there is much more to the experience. Nietzsche describes life as a series of questions and experiments. Consciousness is the apparatus through which we make this adventure.

The Ten Levels of Consciousness

Remember that the partitions of awareness are not static. The rainbow of consciousness is fluid. (2)

1) Waking

We concentrate most of our efforts on the normal waking state of awareness.   It becomes the benchmark for ordinary reality, even though we know we experience everything within the mind.

We assume everyone “sees” the world exactly like we do. But we know this isn’t the case, even in practical matters. Several people can witness the same thing, but each gives a different account. Sometimes, the accounts are drastically different. EEG brain waves of 8 Hz and higher are typical.

We start our discussion of the ten levels of consciousness with the waking partition. Most people spend most of their time in this partition, which is not necessarily the most important, but we’ll return to this issue in a moment.

2) Sleeping

We spend almost half of our lives in the partition, yet most of us do not remember it. When we sleep, our cognition of reality shuts off.

When we sleep, we go through multiple NREM (no rapid eye movement) and REM (rapid eye movement) cycles. In normal adults, each cycle lasts for about 90 to 120 minutes. Most people cycle through 4 to 5 phases during a typical 8-hour sleep cycle. NREM sleep is maximum in the first part of the night, while REM sleep predominates in the second half. In the sleeping partition, the EEG is 12 to 14Hz waves with a range of 11 to 16 Hz.

3) Dreaming

Our dreams are proof of non-ordinary reality, yet most people discount this fantastic conclusion. When we dream, we enter the stage of sleep known as REM, which stands for rapid eye movement.

The dreamscape seems as real and concrete as our experience in the waking state. The EEG is the same for sleeping unless we experience nightmares. Dreaming can escalate respiration and heart rates into the realm of the waking state.

This partition opens other avenues for expanding consciousness, outlined in the seventh state.

Sleeping and dreaming are two of the ten levels of consciousness that we overlook. These two states are portals that expand awareness. One of the easiest ways to increase the bandwidth of awareness is to use a lucid dreaming exercise.

4) Transcendent State of Pure Awareness

Without a doubt, the fourth state of consciousness changes things. It’s the beginning of what many Indian masters call the higher states of consciousness, and with good reason.

It’s a partition of awareness with profound rest while the mind is active. When you arrive in this partition, you feel the change. The other significant characteristic of this partition is its absence of internal dialogue. You are awake and aware. Here, the brainwaves operate around 4 to 7 Hz in the theta-wave area. So, it produces lower but more coherent brainwave patterns than waking, sleeping, or dreaming.

Many people learn to reach the fourth state using a method of meditation. We recommend Japa or Transcendental Meditation. After using this technique, many people report they experienced this state before; but didn’t realize it. This state of pure consciousness is the silence between waking, sleeping, and dreaming.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi describes the transcendent state like the sap in flowers. Although colorless and shapeless, it feeds the firm stem, the green leaves, and the colorful flower. It’s the expression of consciousness manifest in different ways. Maharishi calls this portion of awareness bliss consciousness.  Patanjali refers to it as Samadhi.

Many people report encountering this state after learning to meditate. Familiarity with the transcendent increases our awareness as we transition between states. Some also say the experience between sleeping, dreaming, and sleeping to waking shows that the fourth state of consciousness supports our platform of default awareness. It is not a state of awareness above but below holding them up.

5) The Shamanic State of Consciousness

We also have access to a 5th state, which Michael Harner calls the Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC). We achieve this state through the Shamanic Journey.

This partition of awareness has some unique properties. It is an inward journey that takes place in an imaginary landscape, which is the home of our subconscious imagination. We need to access the subconscious when we dream.

It is one of the ten levels of consciousness that some believe is humankind’s first technique for exploring awareness. This technique is one of the most significant doorways to non-ordinary reality.

6) Cosmic Consciousness

Next, we have the sixth state of consciousness, which combines the transcendent 4th state with the waking state. This partition of consciousness is known as cosmic consciousness and witnessing.

Many Eastern teachers refer to this state as witnessing. This is because you witness yourself from a second vantage point. This second vantage point is from above, but not always. You don’t stop experiencing reality through your senses. You hold both vantage points at the same time. It proves that consciousness is not bound by the body and that our ability to perceive is much greater than we realize. This aspect of witnessing is similar to experience in the lucid dreaming state.

7) Lucid Dreaming

Now, we come to the seventh state. Lucid dreaming is the combination of at least two or possibly three states of consciousness. It’s a most interesting experience. You are present and “know” you are dreaming, so it offers some control over what’s happening. This level of awareness is the same as the waking state.

While lucid dreaming, you are present and aware, just as you would be in the waking state. The more experience you have, the greater your control over what is happening. Lucid dreaming has similar qualities to the landscape of the spirit world in the Shamanic Journey. This is why many believe Lucid Dreaming is a separate seventh state of consciousness.

8) “God Consciousness”

This partition is where our own divinity is perceived as a part of creation. It is the second highest level of perception. One can comprehend the highest value of ordinary reality while maintaining the sixth state. “God Consciousness” as a label for this partition is a well-known oxymoron.

Consciousness and God are the same, although most do not understand them as such. They appear to be different before gaining the proper perspective. We finally grasp that we are as much “a god” as any other anthropomorphic being. We are just as much a god of creation as any avatar of religion. When we achieve the correct perspective, we realize we are the creator, “the god,” or the sap within the flower.

It combines the waking state and the fourth and sixth states, producing the ultimate physical perspective of reality.

“There is a God part in you. The consciousness. The pure Self. Learn to listen to the voice of that Power.” ― Amit Ray, Nonviolence: The Transforming Power

9) Unity Consciousness

In this state, one lives in the realm of oneness. When we reach the fourth state or apply the correct process to remove bias and prejudice barriers, we can get glimpses of oneness. These glimpses of oneness are temporary, but show us what is possible. Unity is the highest state of awareness one can achieve in ordinary reality.

10) Unbound Awareness

With this state, we step into the realm of non-ordinary reality. There isn’t a good label for this partition. Yet, it exists in the stories of those who can move beyond reality. The closest example we have for this state is Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime. Carlos Castaneda’s astral projection time travel experiences also mirror this capability. Some call this state the essence of sorcery or alchemy.

In this partition, we combine four states. We start with lucid dreaming and add the Shamanic Journey. Then, we combine the fourth and tenth states of consciousness. You don’t achieve this state unless you’ve done serious inner work.


These ten levels of consciousness are the key ingredients for our life experiment. But, like a rainbow, there are varying degrees of each. For example, as you learn to lucid dream, the first step is knowing when you are in the dream state. But now, you do not yet have control over what’s happening.

Those new to meditation only realize they reach the 4th state when they leave it. You don’t recognize it at first because it lacks internal dialogue, a state where time does not exist. As you become more familiar with this state, you’ll look forward to the peace while basking in the silence. This will help us understand the difference between a state of emotional enchantment and a genuine change in awareness.


(1) The Status and Future of Consciousness Research. The National Library of Medicine 

(2) Assessing levels of consciousness with symbolic analysis. The National Library of Medicine