First of all, how can altering our awareness be useful to us – how can that help us achieve greater Peace of Mind and help us cope with the circumstances we find in our lives? The best advice is to adopt a ‘suck it and see’ approach. Each person must and will choose their own path for themselves. The information given in this volume is based on the collective experience of a group of similarly minded people, who have gained great benefits from these ideas and techniques over many collective years of living and therapeutic practise. I offer it with the assurance that it has worked well for me.
Making use of techniques of altered awareness has two distinct benefits. In the first place it enables deep relaxation of both body and mind, and relaxation at this level is a powerful antidote to the stress of daily living. When the body is able to cope with stress, it does not need to display the host of symptoms we have given the collective term ‘dis-ease.’
The second profound benefit of altered awareness work is that it allows access to deeper parts of ourselves, and because it partially by-passes the ‘critical factor’ in our personality – the computer operator/programmer that we referred to in Part I, it becomes possible, by the use of affirmations or positive statements about ourselves, to influence many of the attitudes and beliefs we so often hold. This is a very pragmatic and useful way of influencing our general well being.
When our belief about ourselves changes, our behaviour changes, and the new behaviour reinforces our ‘new’ belief, which accelerates positive change in an upward spiral way, just as the original negative beliefs were reinforced in a downward spiral. In many cases these negative beliefs were established while we were young – before the ‘critical factor’ part of our personality was fully developed. Indeed, a large part of this ‘critical factor’ owes its existence to the very negative attitudes that cause us discomfort in our daily living.
So what exactly do we mean by ‘altered awareness? A good way to gain some perspective on what has different names (all of them emotive!) is to consider it in an historical context. The study and practise of altered awareness is one of the most ancient of human practises. Traditionally it has been associated with religions or cultural belief systems. In societies that we sometimes call primitive, ‘special’ members of communities were either taught during the course of a usually lengthy apprenticeship to achieve a state of altered awareness from which would emerge benefits for the community at large. Sometimes this process was assisted by consuming mind altering plants or plant extracts, and sometimes it was a process in which the whole community participated. The ability to enter an altered state, or even to appear to enter an altered state conferred great power, and in many cases this resulted in ‘power over’ the masses, with ‘information’ being received from the current divinity while in this state. In some cultures there was a greater devolution of this power, and individuals were able to work towards achieving this altered state ability. In many North American Indian cultures, for example, it was the norm for each member of the community to seek out their own truth on a ‘vision quest’, sometimes assisted by mind altering substances. This vision quest almost always included many of the aspects of self development covered in this volume – exploration of the self, both the self from the past and the self in the present.
In the East, the tradition turned more to the establishment of groups of students or disciples who studied under a Master or teacher – quite literally someone who had mastered all states of being. In the West we initially adopted this approach as well by following the teachings of one or other Master teacher.
As pure science gained in power and popularity, so we began to move away from belief in the usefulness, or even the existence of an altered state of mind. Studies that were conducted were basically flawed from the start, because it is impossible to experience a mind state in the physical sense, and the debate began, attempting to locate the mind in the physical brain. Ancient practises of meditation were discredited as belonging to heathen religions and research such as there was into the scientific basis for altered awareness hung on the fringes or respectability …
There are many things that will help you in Sue’s book “Peace of Mind – Pathways to Successful Living”. Download chapter 1 free now!
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