Higher states of consciousness are naturally interesting to people because we all inherently know that things are simply easier to understand when we aren’t lost in our usual day to day problems that plague us from day to day. There are rare experiences when we are able to see the higher meaning of our lives and these moments help us to achieve greater clarity and value in the things we do.
In addition to the higher value and clarity that we can all achieve in a higher state of consciousness, we can also alleviate the negative feelings that come from our normal day to day routine. Higher states of consciousness transcend all of our negative emotions and leave us feeling as though we were “floating on air” in a perfect state of peace and contentedness. With such great promise as this, it is a great wonder that these higher states are so rarely reached and that the secret to their achievement often seems so hard to discover.
The reason why the difficulties arise has to do with a fundamental difference between what is called “theory” and what is called “application”. In “theory”, we know that higher states of consciousness exist and we can talk about them, read about them and think about them to no end. In “application”, however, we find that we must actually begin to do things that are more real and concrete.
Thinking and reading and talking are all very concrete things and yet they often aren’t concrete enough to bring about a higher state of consciousness. Our thinking and our books can only take us so far until we find that we actually need to transcend ourselves and go even further. This makes spiritual work seem extremely hard or even impossible for most people. We often decide to just “give up” and later on we discover that our “giving up” was actually part of the spiritual process which was necessary in order that we approach our task from a new angle.
Having “given up” on spiritual efforts, we discover that there is still a part of us which seeks those same higher states of consciousness that we originally set out to achieve. With a new strategy and a more open attitude, we reach a proverbial “second wind” which is mentioned in the classic spiritual book The Cloud of Unknowing. In this book, the anonymous writer explains how an initial effort to reach a higher state of consciousness often fails but that a person who returns to the effort again after years of “giving up” is almost sure to reach those higher states which they first set out to attain.
The basic effort that is required to reach these states has to do with letting go of negative emotions and becoming more aware of ourselves in the present moment. We can practice these things each day but often find that they are very hard to achieve for any extended period of time. Letting go of our grief, anger, fear and guilt are all part of what spiritual effort is all about but actually doing these things turns out to be much harder than we first imagined. Watching ourselves, observing our thoughts and coming to understand ourselves better are also important elements of spiritual effort but these things only come slowly over years of work and long hours of reading, writing and participating in spiritual groups. The efforts sometimes seem to much for many people after one or two years and they eventually become distracted by something and fall away from their path.
Falling away from the path is a normal part of spiritual growth and can actually be viewed as a positive step forward after some initial effort has truly been expended. If the person who falls away from their path doesn’t fall too far off course, they can often find a renewed hope in the idea that there is a “second wind”. This second wind is something that often indicates a true spiritual seeker and someone who has come to understand the true meaning of devotion and dedication to spiritual principles.
If you are intent on reaching a higher state of consciousness, it will be important for you not to forget your second wind. Many people begin on a spiritual path and even reach certain higher states of consciousness in the beginning. The true spiritual devotee, however, is that person who has come to a seeming end in their path and has actually fallen away for a time to wonder how a higher state of consciousness can truly be reached. It is only after their second wind that they truly come to see what higher states of consciousness are really all about. Good luck to you on your path and don’t forget your second wind!