Consciousness is like a rainbow of different colors. It is a kaleidoscope, partitions of awareness and consciousness blending from one shade to the next. Yet, many people live their entire lives in just three primary colors. There’s much more to experience in life. See how to do it.
The first step is to understand what we are. We are nothing but awareness and memory floating within a bandwidth of consciousness. It is constantly changing, fragile and energetic, able to expand and contract in relation to a variety of stimuli.
Consciousness is Like a Rainbow
So, without the thread of consciousness, we cannot become aware. If we do not have awareness, we cannot experience reality, and the absence of experience means we cannot create memories. Finally, without memories, we have no identity, and we cease to exist without an identity.
Although consciousness has an almost infinite variety of wavelengths, most people live out their entire lives using only three primary colors, which are waking, sleeping, and dreaming. So, they miss a vast range of other possibilities.
“The partitions of awareness and consciousness are not clearly defined lines. Consciousness is like a rainbow of colors harmonizing and changing from one to the next.” ― Guru Tua
We experience a range of awareness, but we overlook the subtle shifts. If we have a good night’s sleep, we make better decisions. We shift between different states of consciousness. We transition between waking, sleeping, and dreaming states every day.
There are many other variations and levels beyond the three default states. The partitions of awareness and consciousness include a range of expanded, altered, and higher states of consciousness.
Sadly, most people in modern society live their lives in the default modes of waking, dreaming, and sleeping. They miss out on many of the other experiences which are available. Religion and commercialism are counterfeits that trap many people.
Our goal is to help you see the infinite possibilities of the rainbow of consciousness. We hope it stimulates your curiosity to learn more about the other beautiful colors, the other shades in the rainbow of awareness.
Partitions of Awareness and Consciousness
The first thing we need to address is the two avenues of perception we call ordinary and what we call 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 is a generally accepted view of the senses. It is where time and space “appear” to exist as constants with clear boundaries.
- Non-ordinary reality is our experience of things outside the range of what is considered normal reality. These non-ordinary experiences can happen in any of the default states. Non-ordinary experiences can occur within and outside the realm of time and space. Think about it. For now, we won’t open Pandora’s Box concerning whether time and space are “real” or an illusion of the mind.
Three Basic Partitions of Consciousness
You are familiar with the three default states of awareness and the rainbow of consciousness; they are waking, dreaming, and sleeping. The waking state gets the most attention because it is the primary platform of experience. The waking state is where most people experience what we call ordinary reality.
Two of the most overlooked partitions of awareness and consciousness are the everyday cycles of sleeping and dreaming because they occur when we are generally unaware. The dream state is fascinating because it provides proof of a non-ordinary reality. We are generally unaware of time or space when we sleep and dream. When we dream, we enter an imaginary landscape, a non-ordinary reality. We don’t need drugs to induce an altered state. Next, look at each of these three and build upon the possibilities.
The waking state of awareness is the primary platform for human experience within ordinary reality. EEG brain waves of 8 Hz and higher are typical if someone is awake and aware. When we are asleep, the normal range is around 1 to 3 cycles per second in the delta range. EEG is 12 to 14Hz waves with a maximum of 11 to 16 Hz for the average adult while sleeping.
The lines of demarcation between these primary states in the rainbow of awareness are often indistinguishable. We are rarely aware of the shift from one state to the next. We will come back to this important point later. Let’s talk about sleeping and dreaming for a moment.
Explaining How to Fall Asleep
If you met someone who has never fallen asleep or dreamed, how would you explain the experience? How would you explain how to fall asleep?
First, you tell them it’s easy and good for you—trust me. It’s easy to sleep when you are tired. You lay down, close your eyes, and in a few minutes, you are asleep.
While you sleep, your mind and body repair things, but you aren’t aware of them. Hours pass, and you aren’t aware of time or your surroundings. You don’t know you are asleep. After several hours pass, you wake up refreshed.
That’s pretty much it, except for these things we call dreams. Dreams are an imaginary world of the subconscious. While dreaming, you don’t realize it, and it seems like reality. However, crazy things can happen. Sometimes your dreams are pleasurable and turn into what we call nightmares. Nightmares are bad dreams that contain the most frightening things your subconscious can muster.
So, the man who has never slept listens to your explanation and tells you they don’t want to sleep. It sounds like you aren’t in control; you lose track of time, which is wasteful, and to top things off, you can have horrible hallucinations. I don’t want to try it.
If you’ve followed the discussion, you’ll notice these are the same reasons people use to avoid using techniques that open the doors of consciousness. People don’t have any frame of reference to understand anything beyond waking, dreaming, and sleeping states. People don’t want to venture beyond the default partitions of consciousness.
“Our intellect, our awareness, and our consciousness is the most powerful form of life on this planet.” — James McAvoy
Altering, Expanding, and Reaching Higher States
Before we delve into the details of each, here are the short answers:
- To Alter consciousness is to change our level of awareness or perception. Before you have surgery, it is common to be given a sedative. The sedative alters your ability to maintain waking consciousness or feel pain.
- The Expansion of Awareness is an increased ability to perceive and understand. An example is the use of techniques for lucid dreaming. When you use techniques to control and remember our dreams, it expands awareness like a rainbow of different colors appearing after it rains.
- Higher states of consciousness are partitions with greater awareness, perception, and understanding. Reaching these states is one of the goals of spiritual exploration. Higher states are not moods or mindsets; they are concrete changes in the rainbow of awareness to a different color.
Altering States in the Rainbow of Consciousness
We can alter awareness by introducing substances into the nervous system. If you ingest psychoactive elements, you alter your awareness and perception. Alcohol is another common substance for altering consciousness. External stimuli can also alter consciousness. Situations that cause intense emotional reactions like fear and anger trigger our primitive fight, flee or freeze reaction.
Many ancient cultures used repetitive sounds to alter awareness. Drums, rattles, and singing bowls are common tools for altering awareness. Some cultures use a combination of sound, psychoactive elements, and rituals to produce trance-like states. They discovered the pathways beyond the default partitions of consciousness.
These practices have their roots in the shamanic traditions of the past. Meditation, chanting, and the shamanic journey also create altered states of consciousness. These methods are also tools used to reach higher divisions of awareness.
It is common to experience traumatic events like they are in “slow motion.” This is how people often describe near-death experiences. Medical conditions, like epilepsy, can induce altered states. Depriving the body of water, oxygen, or sleep can cause an altered hallucinogenic state. Some of these effects are predictable, but some are not.
Expansion of Awareness and Partitions of Consciousness
The expansion of awareness often involves a “eureka” moment when we grasp some new revelation. When we increase perception, it also increases our knowledge. The easiest way to expand awareness is by using lucid dreaming methods. These techniques help us to control and remember more of our dreams. In turn, it gives us a greater understanding of our subconscious mind.
Another example is using the analytical mind to grasp how our mind works. The best tool we’ve found for this is the Enneagram of Personality. This process uses a test to identify your personality’s nine essential components. 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. Logic and common sense are helpful tools in spiritual exploration. They help us sort out the facts from fiction. Many ancient cultures taught common sense along with other more esoteric methods.
Higher States of Consciousness
Higher states are partitions of consciousness which are quantum shifts in perception we classify as non-ordinary perception or non-ordinary reality. It is the difference between how an insect sees the world and how man sees it. Both occupy the same world but with vastly different perceptions of reality.
Those to traverse these states are often called, Seers, Shaman, Mystics, and Soothsayers. They are the pioneers of spiritual exploration. These travelers are the ones familiar with the rainbow of consciousness beyond the default modes.
What is The Non-Ordinary Range of Awareness?
Most of us start life with access to the three default states of consciousness: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. Gifted people have direct access to other states without needing any method. But sometimes this can be a problem. One must learn to control access. Otherwise, you slip in and out of ordinary states when you don’t want to.
Our ancestors were curious about the boundaries of consciousness. They created methods for exploring other realms of awareness. We call them non-ordinary states because Western thought does not deem them acceptable, not because they don’t exist.
We find there are two higher states practiced around the world. These are Transcendental Consciousness and the trace state (SSC) associated with the Shamanic journey.
The Experience of Pure Consciousness
The 4th state of consciousness is known by several names, such as pure or bliss and transcendental consciousness, to name a few. It is the first stop on the journey of higher states in the rainbow of consciousness.
This partition has unique metabolic characteristics. The most notable is a change in the increased coherence of brainwave patterns. Brainwaves are in the 4 to 7 Hz theta-wave area.
This partition of awareness has a profound effect on the mind and body. The body reaches a state of deep rest while the mind remains alert but absent from the typical internal dialogue. Scholars like Joseph Campbell to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi recommend everyone to learn how to reach this state of bliss consciousness. We recommend an Indian method known as Japa Meditation. The more commercially available version of this process is Transcendental Meditation (TM) (2).
Earlier, we discussed how most people do not notice the shift between states. Some people have this ability. We call them gifted. But you can learn to do this too. All you need to do is practice the methods of meditation noted above. After practicing meditation, you will notice these shifts. Once you experience it, you will understand how pure consciousness underlies all states of awareness. This realization is one way you know you are expanding awareness.
Shamanic State of Consciousness
The shamanic journey is the fifth state of awareness, a universal worldwide process. It is likely the first codified process for reaching a non-ordinary state of consciousness. Michael Harner, (1) anthropologist and modern shaman, call it the Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC).
It is similar to pure or transcendental awareness in that the brainwaves are also in the theta-wave bandwidth. However, instead of basking in silence, you use your imagination to engage in a “visionary quest.” It also has similarities to the lucid dreaming state in that you are aware of being in this partition while you direct the journey in a vivid imaginary landscape.
The Shamanic Journey has similarities across many cultures. It is an integral part of the cultural narrative. For example, the aboriginal tribes of Australia have a unique form of this technique known as Dreamtime. It is the centerpiece of their tribal culture, which includes a relatively accurate cosmology of the Universe. Processes like this are the most likely sources of modern religion.
Today, this process has undergone rebranding and renaming in the West. It makes the process acceptable to Western customers. It is even taught in Churches as guided meditation, creative visualization, and mindscape.
Overlapping States in the Rainbow of Awareness
Now we have what you could call our five primary states of consciousness. These include the three primary states of waking, sleeping, and dreaming. We’ve added two other higher states, the transcendental consciousness, and SSC. These are like the different colors of our rainbow. What’s more important is that there are many different shades between these five. Each color of the rainbow fades into and overlaps another. Combining these states is also one of the goals of awareness.
The Sixth State of Consciousness
The sixth partition shows us that consciousness is like a rainbow by combining two colors where they intersect, thus creating a new partition of awareness. When we combine the waking state with the transcendent state, we get “cosmic consciousness.”
The sixth state combines two forms of consciousness—one from ordinary and one non-ordinary partition. To enter the sixth state, we bring the transcendent into waking awareness, and it’s a significant development. It shows us how flexible the partitions of 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 naturally moves toward a state of silence. So, it is natural to bring this quality into the waking state of ordinary reality. The resulting experience is what we refer to as “witnessing.” Here, the mind can perceive two vantage points simultaneously. This separation isn’t a philosophical position. It is the experience of being separate from the body while 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 which provides evidence that “we” are one with this reality. We are both the Observer and the participant. It is the 6th state that gives us a glimpse of the concept of Oneness.
Lucid Dreaming the Seventh State
Some believe lucid dreaming should be the seventh state because it combines two or even three consciousness states. In lucid dreaming, one is present; they “know” they are dreaming. This level of perception is the same as the waking state. REM is a unique partition of the sleeping state. It is similar to the SSC, where you move within an imaginary landscape. In lucid dreaming, you also create and direct the experience. What do you think?
Life is Like a Rainbow of Changing Experience
There you have the essential 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.
The methods above are part of the ancient methods for exploring consciousness. We call them spiritual technologies because they help us investigate the intrinsic aspect of our nature. They are a collection of processes to develop the potential of the mind, body, and spirit. They offer us ways to expand awareness and reach higher plateaus of experience.
You could organize these methods in any number of ways. We divide these tools into four major categories:
Be sure to journey to some of the delicious places in your mind. Consciousness is like a rainbow of opportunities awaiting your discovery.