The word “consciousness” is being thrown around like confetti these days, especially in the wellness world. Yoga teachers talk about coming into our conscious selves, meditation practitioners encourage us to reach new levels of consciousness, and now even Reiki suggests an expansion of consciousness. Although it gets cluttered amongst trendy wellness jargon, consciousness is an important part of our personal development. Read on to explore the Fourth Reiki Principle and find out what exactly all this consciousness talk means!
Just for today…
I will practice expanding my consciousness.
If you’re anything like me, you read that and think, “Yeah…okay. Whatever.” The words “expanding my consciousness” conjure up images of old Indian men meditating for years on end, which is not something I can personally relate to very much (I’m lucky if I can sit still with my eyes closed for ten minutes). We tend to think of transcending dimensions, seeing visions, or reaching that elusive state known as enlightenment. Honestly, although it sounds lovely, it also feels a little impractical (if not completely unattainable) for our everyday modern lives.
Before you let the fourth Reiki principle float on over your head, stop and think with me for a second about the word “consciousness” (and prepare yourself, the linguist is coming out):
It’s a noun. The suffix tells us that it’s something abstract, like an idea, emotion, or state of being. If we look at that root word (conscious), we can see that it’s an adjective, a descriptive word. In everyday language, what sort of feeling does “conscious” describe?
- “Quick! She’s unconscious! Somebody call an ambulance!”
- “These pants have a hole in the crotch and I feel self-conscious.”
- “Put down your phone while crossing the street and try to be conscious of where you’re going!”
Those examples make the idea seem more familiar, right? Simply put, being conscious means being aware. There are many different things we can be conscious of: our bodies, our emotional state, our relationships, our schedules, our goals. The list is endless! Now, ask yourself this:
What is your breathing like right now?
Oh, that’s tough. I’m the one who’s asking the question, and I even had to stop and become aware of the quality of my breath! What a basic, fundamental miracle our breath is, yet we are so often unaware of it. We have lost consciousness of the very thing that keeps us alive, the very link that ties us to the life force. It’s time to expand!
4 Ideas for Expanding Your Consciousness TODAY
- Feel your emotions. Anger, jealousy, loneliness, and grief (and basically all the feelings we label in our minds as “negative”) aren’t usually comfortable emotions. As a result, we try to avoid them. We distract ourselves from the grief, push down the loneliness, and deny the anger. What would happen if you sat for a moment and became conscious of those feelings? What if you sat for a moment and let them wash over you, not resisting for once?
- Practice watching your breath. You can do this during a seated meditation practice, of course, but you can also do it while driving, waiting in line at the grocery store, or making awkward small talk with a coworker. Just become conscious of your inhales and exhales. Observe.
- Attend a yoga class. Yoga is great for becoming conscious of your body and your overall physical state. Are you holding tension in your neck all day? How’s your lower back? Are your hamstrings nice and open? Notice how good those side stretches feel, and see if you can keep that consciousness up the entire practice.
- Ponder your relationships. The state of our relationships is often something we try not to think about, whether it’s because we dread what we’ll realize or because we feel helpless to bring about any sort of real change. Still, being honest with ourselves and writing down the first things that come to mind (without thinking too much about it) for any given relationship can be incredibly enlightening. Grab a notebook (or a napkin) and just start writing. See what you come up with, what sorts of things are revealed. I’m a firm believer that deep down inside us we always know. We just have to listen to that little inner voice. We’ve got to be conscious.
Cultivating consciousness means that we are more beautifully aware of both our inner and outer workings. The more we quiet ourselves and the more we listen, the more in tune with ourselves we become. We begin to trust ourselves, love ourselves, and grow into our own grounded support network. The ideas I suggested above are only four in a million billion ways of becoming more conscious and aware of our Selves, so if it strikes your fancy, sit down and brainstorm some more ways to expand our consciousness. I would love to hear what you come up with, so please join in on the dialogue and let us all know in the comments below!