What is Consciousness? What is Life? What does it mean "To Live?"
We react to such questions by thinking the answers are obvious. I think, therefore I am. Hence "thinking" must be what "consciousness" is. I exist, so existence must be Life. To be alive must mean "to live." But a microbe lives; does that mean it has the same kind of consciousness as a human being? A microbe reacts to external stimulus; does that mean it thinks like a human being? What is the difference between a microbe's living and the expression "to live?"
Instinctively, we know those answers may be fundamentally "true," but they're inadequate to meet the challenges expressed in those three questions.
Matter, Energy, and Consciousness are the three fundamental of existence. But, each manifests at many levels and in many combinations of form, life and being—from sub-atomic in substance and energy to the formations of planets and stars; from sub-conscious to super-conscious and to the unity of soul and divinity; from unicellular life to that of human life and of gods and goddesses and the infinity of the Cosmos and Beyond.
With evolution the forms of manifestation grow in complexity that itself offers more opportunities for growth and development. The goal is always the increase in Awareness and Consciousness.
What does it mean to "live consciously?" Essentially, we have to start with the realization that most of us really do not live fully conscious lives. We may think we do, but the slightest self-analysis should demonstrate that much of your life is on "automatic," without any conscious awareness.
Of course, there is the body's autonomic nervous system that runs all the body's physical systems: the flow of blood and fluids; the beating of the heart; the movement of your lungs; the functions of your intestines and other internal organs; your nerves; your hormones; and all the processing that keeps the body alive and that enables the body to carry out your commands to lift a fork, drink a glass of milk, walk across the room, and all the activities of daily life. We don't want to interfere with any of that, but allowing awareness of them is another matter.
If you focus your attention on any of these activities, you become aware of them but you are really not conscious of them. If something goes bad—a heart attack, for example—you become conscious of that process, but perhaps if you been able to direct your consciousness to the operation of your cardiovascular system you might have detected a growing problem in time to make healthy changes.
Intervening in the functioning of any of the automatic systems is not normally a good idea, but becoming sufficiently aware of those operations through a "consciousness sweep" could be a life-saver if anything is going amiss.
One very solid and proven approach with many benefits is known as "Yoga Nidra," and is a two-fold procedure involving 1) Fractional Relaxation from toe to scalp, and 2) Projecting Awareness into Consciousness Centers in the body.
Fractional Relaxation is probably the most effective and efficient system to reduce and remove the muscular tension and blockage that is part of "normal" in modern life. Blockage inhibits the flow of nervous and even our more subtle energies resulting in everything from sexual and emotional "frigidity" to extremes in emotional reactions, irrational thinking, ill-health, and premature aging. (See the Suggested Resources at the end of this article for a detailed description of the Yoga Nidra process and its benefits.)
"Conscious Living" goes beyond achieving a healthy and energized physical body. The next step in expanding consciousness is to make life's daily decisions with awareness of their real values and the consequences of your actions. In other words: to "live responsibly" and not to act on impulse or react emotionally to situations. Do you really need that gadget so powerfully advertised on TV? Are those colorfully packaged breakfast foods really healthy choices for your children? Can you really afford that vacation in glamorous Tahiti? Do you really need to have a bigger house than your relative has? Can you really afford it? Are you prepared financially for prolonged illness or a change of job? Do you have the right education for today's career opportunities? Look at all aspects of your life and see if you are making sound choices, affordable choices, and forward-looking choices.
I repeat that famous advice: Think before you leap! Analyze the potential consequences of any big decisions. Don't just react with your emotions, or for that matter, to physical feelings (hungers for sensation, hormonal drives, the impulse to give "the finger" to the other driver, or cause harm to someone else because you are angry). Think! Don't just react! Life is more than a Game! Don’t be just a slave to the "Buy, Buy, Buy More" system!
Live Consciously! You are more than a bundle of physical drives and emotional impulses. Use your mind as well; try to perceive things from a yet higher level that we sometimes call "Spirit." Act with Wholeness out of the Whole Person you are: Body, Emotions, Mind, and Spirit. Awaken to your Soul, and your Soul will reach down to bring clarity to the Personality you mistakenly think of as your self.
Seek to Become more than you are: Be all that you can be. Instead of just plopping down in front of the TV with a bag of potato chips to mindlessly watch a stupid comedy or an emotionally disturbing reality show, or going off to a bar for some "excitement," choose instead to grow. Study books that will deepen your self-understanding and give you the means to self-improvement that will awaken and empower your higher consciousness and your psychic skills that really are expansions of Mind and Spirit.
We are passing from the old Piscean Age of Emotion and Faith to the New Aquarian Age of Mind and Knowledge. As never before, the Conscious Mind opens Doors to Rationality in public life instead of Ideological Posturing leading toward conflict and wars of fear and hate; of Knowledge based on Science instead of Obedience to some out-dated belief-system; of careers in new technologies in place of old and displaced skills, and in creative expression through arts and crafts in place of just following the other sheep.
It's a simple formula of "Wake Up, and Live," but it's hard to start living consciously when all around you other people are living reactively and thoughtlessly. But, this is the New Age; it is the Age of Aquarius; it is the Time of Becoming, and for you to Be all You Can Be.
Be conscious of all you do and feel, follow the practice of Yoga Nidra but also develop your psychic powers to expand your active field of consciousness. Move beyond past limits to perception and see and experience more of physical reality, and then to more than physical reality. Consciousness extends to other dimensions, and we become part of the greater consciousness as we experience more of the greater cosmos. Psychic Empowerment is the expansion of awareness and growth in consciousness, and thus to Self Empowerment.
Study the Tools and Techniques of Psychic Empowerment. As you learn to see and read the Human Aura, you are learning a practical skill helpful in daily life, but you are also expanding conscious awareness. When you learn to Project the Astral Body you are adding a totally new dimension to your experiential awareness—to see things from a higher perception, and to act upon the lower world with additional power. When you learn such skills as Dowsing, Pendulum Work, Crystal Gazing, and other forms of Earth-centered Divination, you are increasing your conscious perception beyond superficial appearances. When you become skilled in reading the Tarot, Runes, or the I Ching, you add the depth of symbolic meanings to the breadth of your conscious awareness. When you gain understanding of the Chakra System you awaken inner energies to become more than you are. With Dream Interpretation, you also learn Dream Intervention and thus become consciously interactive at both subjective and objective levels. When you develop Psychokinetic abilities, you are exercising conscious control of your energy body. With Self-Hypnosis, Meditation, and Ritual you are moving from merely reactive awareness to active conscious functions. Remembering Past Lives brings past skills forward but also brings forward wounds and repressions to release their inhibiting traumas to fulfill the lessons of the past for present benefit. Becoming skilled in Geomancy and Sand Reading, in reading Tea Leaves and Coffee Grounds, the Analysis of Handwriting opens additional Doors of Perception. All these Tools and Techniques empower your Growth and Transformation toward Becoming All You Can Be.
All Life becomes empowering as you become intentionally aware and conscious of the depth of human observation and experience. Conscious Living adds previously unrealized dimensions to the reality of your Personal World—extending its borders to comprehend more and more of the Greater Cosmos. Look at your every experience and see it in greater depth and breadth to participate more fully in the greater conscious universe, and see for yourself what lies "behind the scenes" so that you become an actor rather than a passive reactor.
Study. The greater the depth and breadth of your awareness, the higher and more dynamic your consciousness becomes. Imaginatively speaking, instead of a dull gray sphere of partial consciousness you become a shining sphere of light transforming the world in which you live and act. You become a Messenger of Enlightenment.
Carl Llewellyn Weschcke (Minnesota) was the owner and chairman of Llewellyn Worldwide, the world's oldest and largest metaphysical publisher. He played a seminal role in the rise of Wicca and Neo-Paganism in the 1960s and ...