quote: The conscious level is the level on which all of our thought processes operate. Anything that is thought, perceived or understood resides in this conscious level. Below this level, so to speak, is that of the pre-conscious. Here reside memories and thoughts which may threaten at any moment to break into the conscious level, which are easily recalled, and which may strongly influence conscious processes. Below both of these levels, in the realm of the unconscious, lie the wishes, urges, memories and thoughts which represent the bulk of the individual's past experience. Here lie the impulses and memories which threaten to debilitate or destabilize the individual's mind if they break into unconsciousness; by means of repression the mind maintains its tenuous balance. The ego banishes the urges of the id to this level, where they cannot cause mental anguish but are still perfectly capable of causing great anxiety.
quote: This heightened third level of consciousness occurs when you close your eyes in a quiet room and stop thinking about anything specific. Close your eyes and look inward. What do you see? Perhaps you are distracted by some pressing thought (such as hunger, or the big interview tomorrow, or some other human obsession), but perhaps you begin to experience the sensation of thinking about thinking. Perhaps you become aware of yourself, as separate from your job, your identity, your roles, your past, even your body. This is a taste of what I mean by the third level of consciousness.
Of course, before long your eyes are back open and the pressures and concerns of the real world once again occupy your thoughts. When was I supposed to meet Joe for coffee? Will my application be accepted? Should I see a dentist about this pain in my tooth? The third level of consciousness is a special state and we cannot spend much time in it without risking a collapse in our corporal affairs or a trip to the local mental ward.
As far as I can tell, there are dozens, maybe hundreds, perhaps billions (if we include each personís unique experience of it) of models of the mind including such domains as the conscious, unconscious, soul, spirit, intellect, what have you. I couldnít even begin to intelligently flesh out the distinctions. But I do think we all have some kind of model that we use for ourselves, even if weíre not away of it. For instance, as far as Iím concerned I have the super-conscious mind (sort of the "third level" mentioned above that includes hypervigilence, "thinking about thinking" and even much of the internal dialogue). And then thereís the more mundane conscious mind that isnít quite fully habitual. Itís nowhere near asleep or in a trance or semi-hypnotic state, but it is functioning without a great deal of "supervision" from thought itself. I actually donít spend much time here. LOL. And then, it seems to me, there is the "intuitive" mind, a state of mind that is by no means the mind in a "semi-automatic" or in any kind of near trance-like state. But it is the state of the mind at relative peace and in relative absorption of deeper aspects of things (kind of a long, blank stare) rather than absorption in surface-level details. I spend much time here.
And then there is the meditative or waking-sleep trance-like state of mind where time doesnít exist. Perhaps it is when one is lost in some pleasant activity such as gardening or listening to music. Consciousness seems quite high and yet it is a consciousness at rest. It is not particularly interested in probing.
Going deeper (or perhaps "darker") my experience of things is that one then runs into the "pre-sleep" mind (I know thereíre a technical term for this but I forget it at the momentÖthe alpha state?), the state of mind that is between waking active-thinking and dreaming passive-thinking. And then there is dreaming itself which can be such an active and intense state of mind for me that waking (as it was this morning) becomes more restful, at least mentally.
That, more or less, sums of my experience of mind. But my experience of mind (which is augmented by reading other peopleís scientific and psychological ideas about it) also informs me that there is a vast, dark, almost unknown area of the mind called the unconscious. The unconscious lets you know its there in a number of ways, but it never really seems to me that the unconscious is experienced directly. My model of the mind has the consciousness as the tip of the iceberg while the rest of what the mind is connected to (and what it is influenced by) is below the surface. I consider this a deep, broad, perhaps infinite depth. The unconscious might be quite deep and vast, but like the earthís crust, in the schemes of things, it's just a relatively thin covering compared to the mantel. I see the depths of that which is not conscious stretching from the unconscious to, finally, directly to God.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see what other intellectual models of the mind that people subscribe to and perhaps, in practice, how they may actual describe the experience of consciousness and the various states.
[ October 25, 2005, 02:45 PM: Message edited by: Brad ]
Posts: 5365 | From: Washington State | Registered: Sep 2001
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Good stuff, Phil. I see that youíve done some serious thinking on the subject. Certainly you and I will conceive of the various states of consciousness differently, perhaps describe them differently, and certainly would chart or graph them differently, but I see a lot of familiar territory there. And I also see that I totally forgot the mystical. Iíve only been there rarely, and only recently (this yearÖa couple times). One thing I wonít do is chase it or any other state of mind like an addiction. I think Iíve learned that lesson. But that said, I do wish to facilitate a healthier state of whatever mind Iím in by trying to reduce a little bit of stress, reduce a little bit of pointless craving, and to have an eye toward the nebulous notion of being ďcenteredĒ.
In bringing some type of awareness about what my actual model of the mind is as experienced (as opposed to just intellectual theory) I think itís helping me to approach meditation better. I tend to expect too much out of meditation and/or I try to ape what others are doing or achieving. Frankly, now that I have a better intuition about this process Iím much more skeptical regarding the claims of others. Meditation (and the maintenance of the mind) I think is a highly individual process, although there are obviously going to be some common absolutes. But I think, in particular, what we get out of meditation (or prayer) is quite dependent on what we really believe about what is going on and who or what is the object of that meditation of prayer.
Iím come to consider the unconscious as something not to try to ďfarmĒ or manipulate, but something to connect to so that, whatever its function is, it may do that function. Same with whatever is deeper than just the unconscious, whether that is Jungís collective unconscious, a state of quantum indeterminacy, or something else. And behind all this is the thought of a creator who may take center stage in the life of some people experience of mediation or prayer but for me is a distant observer, at best, perhaps waiting for my cluttered unconscious to clear a bit.
Kind of a complex topic, but very interesting.
What I was sort of hoping, Phil, is that people would simply describe their experience of consciousness in terms that mean something to them. If they want to try to construct a model (with a few charts and graphs) thatís great too, but just describing how one experiences the mind (while challenging, for sure) will hopefully not be too complex.
Posts: 5365 | From: Washington State | Registered: Sep 2001
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