Consciousness is like a rainbow. The rainbow of awareness is a kaleidoscope of colors blending from one shade to another. Yet, many people live their entire lives in just three primary colors. There’s much more to experience in life. See how to expand your awareness.
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. And it expands and contracts in relation to various stimuli.
How Consciousness Is Like a Rainbow
So, without the thread of consciousness, we cannot become aware. If we do not have awareness, we do not experience reality. The absence of experience means we cannot create memories. Finally, without memories, we have no identity, and we cease to exist without an identity.
The colors of consciousness have an infinite number of shades. Yet, most people use only the 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.sp
There are many other variations and levels beyond the three default states. The partitions of awareness and consciousness include a vast range of options. They come in three primary colors: expanded, altered, and higher states of consciousness.
Most people in modern society live in the default modes of waking, dreaming, and sleeping. They miss out on many of the other available experiences. Religion and commercialism are counterfeits that trap many people.
Let’s explore the possibilities of spiritual development through the rainbow of consciousness. We hope this quest stimulates your curiosity and prompts you to learn more.
Deep Dive Into Awareness and Consciousness
Here’s one way to define these terms. Merriam-Webster defines “awareness” as having knowledge and understanding something is happening or exists. And it defines “consciousness” as being aware of things around you or within oneself.
Another way to understand consciousness is as a wavelength of vibrational energy. Consciousness is the wavelength with a specific vibrational signature or frequency. Awareness is the amplitude of the frequency.
Frequency is the number of waves that pass a given point. The amplitude of a wave is the height of a wave at the peak of the wave to the lowest point on the wave (trough). Wavelength refers to the length of a wave from one peak to the next. The amplitude or height of a wave is measured from the peak to the trough.
Everything in the Universe has a unique vibrational frequency. Consciousness is the frequency on which awareness exists. Some things are more than others. Rocks have consciousness, and plants have consciousness. Plants grow and live, so their frequency is more like ours than rocks.
The Two Primary Partitions of Awareness
The two primary avenues of perception are 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 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 ordinary 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.
When we expand the rainbow of awareness and consciousness, we increase perception. This gives us experiences beyond ordinary or everyday reality.
The Brainwave Colors of Consciousness
You are familiar with the three default states of awareness. The three primary colors of consciousness are waking, dreaming, and sleeping. The waking state gets the most attention because it is the primary focus of daily experience. The waking state is where most people experience what we call ordinary reality.
The two most overlooked partitions of awareness and consciousness are sleeping and dreaming. We are generally unaware when we access these states. The dream state is fascinating because it provides proof of a non-ordinary reality. We are usually 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.
There are four main types of brainwaves: alpha, beta, delta, and theta. Each one is associated with a different state of consciousness.
The frequency of beta waves ranges from 15 to 40 cycles a second. Beta wavelength means your mind is fully engaged, while alpha waves mean you’re calm and awake. Alpha brainwaves are slower and higher in amplitude. Their frequency ranges from 9 to 14 cycles per second. A person who sits down to rest is often in an alpha state. These waves are also produced when we take time to reflect or meditate. Engaging in walking mindfulness or forest bathing creates an alpha state.
Theta brainwaves are of greater amplitude and slower frequency than alpha or beta. This frequency range is generally between 5 and 8 cycles a second. When you daydream or brainstorm, your mind is often in a theta brainwave state. Chanting a mantra, because of its repetitive nature, can produce theta waves. The same goes for people who practice Tai Chi. Any task that becomes automatic and allows you to disengage from it will have the theta state.
Delta brainwaves have the greatest amplitude and slowest frequency, at 1.5 to 4 cycles per second. They never go down to zero. That would mean you were dead. The deep dreamless sleep mode produces 2 to 3 cycles a second.
The boundaries between these states of consciousness are blurry. 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.
Exploring The Different Colors of Consciousness — Falling 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 contain the most frightening things your subconscious can muster.
So, the man who has never slept listens to your explanation. They tell you they don’t want to learn to sleep. It sounds like you aren’t in control. You lose track of time, and you can have horrible hallucinations. I don’t want to try it.
You’ll see these are the same reasons people use to avoid methods that expand awareness. People don’t have a frame of reference for anything beyond the default 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 expected 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. Using methods to control dreams expands awareness. This is like being able to change the colors of a rainbow.
— Higher states of consciousness are partitions with greater awareness, perception, and understanding. Reaching these states is one of the goals of spiritual exploration. These partitions are concrete changes in the rainbow of awareness and consciousness.
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 trigger our survival response. Fear and anger activate our primitive fight, flee, or freeze reaction.
Many ancient cultures used repetitive sounds to alter awareness. Drums, rattles, and singing bowls are standard tools for altering awareness. 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. These methods are the tools used to reach other colors of consciousness.
It is expected 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 state. Some of these effects are predictable, but some are not.
Spiritual Development Through the Rainbow of Awareness
The expansion of awareness often involves “eureka” moments. This is 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 it as a 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 who traverse these states are often called Seers, Shaman, Mystics, and Soothsayers. They are the pioneers of spiritual exploration. These travelers are familiar with the colors of consciousness beyond the default modes. Spiritual development through the rainbow of awareness and consciousness is a lifestyle.
What is The Non-Ordinary Range of Awareness?
Most of us start life with access limited to the three default states of consciousness. The use of waking, sleeping, and dreaming states helps us acclimate to this reality. 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. It’s not because they don’t exist. Many ancient traditions and science tell us they do.
There are two higher states practiced around the world. These are the transcendent 4th state and the shamanic state of consciousness (SSC).
The Experience of Pure Consciousness
The 4th state of consciousness is known by several names. It is called transcendental consciousness, pure consciousness, or simply the 4th state. It is the first stop on the journey of higher states in the rainbow of consciousness. This partition in the rainbow of awareness and consciousness is the most important. It’s the first significant partition of the higher states 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. Our awareness is absent from the normal internal dialogue. Joseph Campbell and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi say we all need to learn how to reach this state. 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. You’ll understand why pure consciousness is the foundation 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 process for reaching a non-ordinary state of consciousness. Michael Harner (1) calls it the Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC).
It has similarities to transcendental consciousness. When in this state, the brainwaves are also in the theta-wave bandwidth. But, instead of basking in silence, you use your imagination to engage in a “visionary quest.” It is also like lucid dreaming. This is because you are fully aware while in this partition. At the same time, you are directing the journey in a vivid imaginary landscape.
The Shamanic Journey has similarities across many cultures. They understood spiritual development through the rainbow of consciousness is a natural progression. It is an integral part of the cultural narrative. For example, the aboriginal tribes of Australia use a form of this method known as Dreamtime. It is the centerpiece of their tribal culture. Their theory of cosmology 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 and Consciousness
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 — Cosmic Consciousness
The sixth partition shows how consciousness is like a rainbow by combining two colors to make a new one. Where the colors of consciousness intersect, they create a new partition of awareness. Combine the waking state with the transcendent state, and you get “cosmic consciousness.”
The sixth state combines ordinary and non-ordinary partition realities. To enter the sixth state, we bring the transcendent into waking awareness. This is 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 who has never slept what it is like to dream.)
The 6th state proves reality is a collective holographic construct. It demonstrates 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. This is 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 resembles 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, you can achieve spiritual growth by exploring the different levels of awareness. 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 our spiritual 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.