MAP MAKERS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Life on earth has undergone many evolutions. Humans have gone through many changes during their relatively brief time on earth. The effects of this have impacted both on our lifestyle and on the environment. Religious, social, creative and scientific understanding has forever changed the way that we live, whether for better or worse. We are currently part of another significant stage of evolution. Some of the indications we are dealing with a ‘new order’ of living in the world include the internet and virtual relationships, genetic food modification and modern medicine, rapid world travel and digital and cellular availability and communication. These also correspond to other aspects of human development.
As we begin to settle ourselves into this current millennium, we need to refocus on our joyful and sacred task as mapmakers and explorers of the vast continents of inner consciousness, including the personal and collective unconscious and the peri-natal and transpersonal realms. Much of the terrain we travel is not entirely new to the individual men and women who have journeyed there before us. Our unique contribution is in understanding with much greater precision and detail some of the complex aspects of these lands. We do this partly by building on the foundations of those who have gone before and partly by the relatively greater numbers of individuals interested and willing to do the work. Those who come after us will develop these worlds even further. This is one aspect of “new age” consciousness, for those have been challenged to do the work. To this end, TranceFormation Workshops use methods that allow for experiential entry into expanded states of consciousness.
TranceFormation Workshops facilitate accessing the realms of higher states of awareness that are described in various mystical, spiritual and creative traditions by many different terms. Some of these states of consciousness are referred to as Second Attention, Third or Fouth Awareness, the Fifth or Seventh Dimension, Otherworld, the Worlds of Creation, Forms or Archetypes, the Imaginal Realms, the Collective Unconscious, the Akashic Records, the Realms of Angels and many other terms that describe worlds and levels too numerous to mention.
The states of awareness that human beings can experience also include concepts such as Entering the Tao, creative Flow, experiencing Samadhi, Channelling Spirit Guides, Being Visited by Prophecy and other states of awareness. Some people who have experience of these states claim that these ‘interior worlds’ are entered into for brief periods followed by a return to a ‘normal’ state of awareness. Others claim that these experiences will result in a permanent change of the status of the person that has that experience, such as Enlightenment or becoming an Ascended Master.
It is important to note that the descriptions of these Worlds and States of Being are not vague terms. Nor are the energies encountered. Rather, each one describes relatively precise states of consciousness that can be entered into and experienced. Many of these experiences, for example described by feelings of wholeness and bliss, are similar enough to group them under a general collective heading, for example ‘Experiences of Cosmic Unity’, while other experiences, such as Alchemic ‘solutio’ and Shamanic dismemberment, clearly belong in their own distinct collective group. Some of the general ‘groups’ of experiences are outlined in the works of Stan Grof and other writers. Each workshop, or group of workshops, in TranceFormation Workshops, is designed to access and explore one or several specific and different realms of consciousness. Successive workshops within a group explore ever deeper layers within those worlds.
TranceFormation workshops are designed to create a balance between understanding and practice. All workshops have some theory that explains the thought forms being accessed and all include different types of Conscious-Body movement. Some emphasise more group work or more personal reflection, some have more formal learning while others are less structured and some require periods of silence. Each workshop is unique and different. All in all, the major areas of human learning, knowledge and experiential practice that is available, from primitive rituals to contemporary psycho-spiritual methods, is covered.
Not all areas of work will appeal to all people. Choose those areas that you are most interested in and trust your intuition in guiding you to make the right choice of where you need to be working for now. Some people are by their natures more Shamanic and others more Tantric. This does not exclude an interest in and even considerable knowledge of other fields of study. In fact, this could be an asset and eventually even a requirement for some people. But for most people, it is not a requirement for the correct and depth practice of one system, that one is required to have depth knowledge about other systems. Many spiritual traditions even warn that such studies could detract from authentic practice.
It is true that ‘a Shaman is a Tantrika is a Taoist is an Alchemist is a Gnostic is an Artist is a Kabbalist’ and several other terms, and no one path is superior to any other. However, the specific focus of and practices involved in each of these disciplines all have a different emphasis and each needs to be understood if a practitioner is going to be able to find their own authentic way on the path to consciousness. An undifferentiated and purely eclectic approach to these systems of knowledge would more likely suggest that the practitioner has not gone into any system with enough depth to achieve more than a superficial knowledge and experience of what is on offer. This is what Sogyal Rimpoche refers to when he says that we need to guard against spiritual tourism.
Some of the tools and numerous methods that are used in the workshops to enter these higher realms are not really that difficult to learn. For example, Meditation, Active Imagination, Dreamwork, Trance Dance, Breathwork, Sacred Sound and basic Tantra all offer entry into some of the outer areas of transpersonal and supra-rational consciousness. With practice, commitment and over time, they also allow access into deeper, more profound levels of experience and awareness.
But the initial energetic awakening of those experiences and the insights gained by certain meditations and affirmations or the levels reached in some practical energetic rituals should not be assumed to be at all like the profound experiences of shifts of awareness, described in traditional literature, which will endure over time. More important, in our information-driven society, neither should the intellectual grasp of Alchemy and esoteric subjects or an academic study of Sorcery or ritual systems be confused with the actual experience of entering into these arenas.
Further, to travel into deep altered consciousness in one matter. To then return and reintegrate these experiences into everyday life is another. The Kabbalah specifically warns us that “too much light breaks the vessel”. Without guidance and direction, and especially without the discipline and capacity to contain the experiences, sometimes these states of awareness can open a person to deep pre-conscious memory or they may access states of being that initially may appear frightening. A useful thought to remember, when exploring expanded consciousness, is Buddhism’s caution against becoming attached to or stuck in these experiences. Buddhism advises that we learn to simply acknowledge these states and move on, notwithstanding the temptation to see these experiences as achievements.
It is significant that many traditions warn that, without guidance and containment, these experiences could sometimes lead to mental or emotional breakdown, with long-term effects. It is better to not be naïve about these cautions. Without loving support and the knowledge and ability to process these experiences through to completion, one could land up being energetically dislocated, emotionally depressed or spiritually inflated. To do this work correctly, we need to be able to enter into and out of these higher realms with physical, emotional and spiritual safety. A basic tenet of Shamanism is that the difference between a madman and a Shaman is that Shamans choose for themselves when to enter into and when to come out of these states.
For the proper balancing of one’s life, one needs to know the boundaries between sacred and profane space. For most people, who live in our modern desacralised world, this is not a familiar subject. To this end, every spiritual tradition teaches that the preparation for, journeying through and integration of experiences of expanded states of consciousness require, initially at least, an experienced and competent teacher or guide to help to make sense of some of the realms entered and energies encountered. The concept of working with a teacher is a controversial and often a difficult matter for many contemporary Western men and women to understand correctly. But this difficulty does not alter the requirement for a teacher if success in these matters is to be achieved.