Have you always felt that there is something bigger than yourself? An energy or consciousness that surpasses every material and immaterial thing in our world?
You may be on the path to experiencing your higher consciousness.
The journey to higher consciousness is often uncomfortable. It comes with many challenges. Ultimately, it’s a journey towards a deeper understanding of yourself and the cosmos.
In what follows, we’ll provide an epic guide to higher consciousness. We’ll explain how to understand what it is, the 6 phases of higher consciousness followed by 12 steps to actually experience it.
Let’s get started.
What is “higher consciousness”?
It can be difficult to define something only a few people manage to attain in their lifetime. Even more frustrating is the human tendency to define something as is and put it in boxes.
Hindu sages, Christian monks, Buddhist ascetics, western philosophers and different cultures all have their own beliefs and definitions when it comes to consciousness.
But perhaps the simplest way to describe “higher consciousness” is to refer to an elevated sense of body, mind, and soul.
The School of Life explains it more aptly:
“As human beings, we spend most of our lives functioning in states of lower consciousness, where what we are principally concerned with is ourselves, our survival and our own success, narrowly defined.
“However, at rare moments, when there are no threats or demands upon us, perhaps late at night or early in the morning, when our bodies and passions are comfortable and quiescent, we have the privilege of being able to access the higher mind – what neuroscientists call our neocortex, the seat of imagination, empathy and impartial judgment.
“We loosen our hold on our own egos and ascend to a less biased and more universal perspective, casting off a little of the customary anxious self-justification and brittle pride.
“In such states, the mind moves beyond its particular self-interests and cravings.
“It’s an astonishing gradual evolution to develop the ability to explain others’ actions by their distress, rather than simply in terms of how it affects us. We perceive that the appropriate response to humanity is not fear, cynicism or aggression, but always – when we can manage it – love.”
“At such moments, the world reveals itself as quite different: a place of suffering and misguided effort, full of people striving to be heard and lashing out against others, but also a place of tenderness and longing, beauty and touching vulnerability.
“The fitting response is universal sympathy and kindness.”
The six stages of higher consciousness
Mary O’Malley, certified counselor and author of Belonging to Life: The Journey of Awakening, believes that there are 6 levels of higher consciousness.
According to O’Malley:
“Higher consciousness is a state of elevated awareness and perception in which a person has a deeper understanding of the nature of reality, the self and various spiritual aspects of life that play an important role in one’s personal evolution and psychological development.”
O’Malley believes that higher consciousness involves certain shifts in our perception, behavior, and awareness. These shifts are essential to moving on to the next levels.
Six Phases of Higher Consciousness
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
O’Malley’s six phases of higher consciousness incorporate Agape Church minister Michael Beckwith’s four stages, adding two more of her own:
1. Life happens to you.
How many times have you felt like you’re simply going through the motions? As if life is just happening to you, instead of living life on your own terms?
According to O’Malley, this is your starting point. It’s coming to the realization that you’re done being the victim. Suddenly, you have the desire to turn the tables.
“It is understandable that the more unconscious you are, the more often you feel like a victim to Life. When you live in the belief that Life is happening to you, you often view it as a possible threat.
“So you stay caught in your head, finding yourself lost in your storyteller that resists, reacts, defends and explains, hoping to figure everything out. It generally does absolutely anything except be open to Life, right here, right now.”
2. Life happens by you.
This is the first real stage to higher consciousness.
“When it becomes too uncomfortable to live with this much powerlessness, you evolve into the belief that Life is happening by you. Rather than being a victim to Life, you believe you can control it. There can be a great feeling of personal power in this level of consciousness.”
But many people get stuck in this stage. Because you want out of this helpless existence, you begin to control everything by setting goals with your mind.
What you should do, instead, is to live life by intentions.
“Goals are where you use your mind to try to make things be the way you want them.
“With intentions, you work with feeling what you want to generate.”
Instead of creating your own reality, simply think of it as showing up for the reality that exists.
3. Life happens in you.
When you’ve successfully stopped trying to control your life, you begin to realize one profound thing:
Life is not to be controlled. It’s not even “made.” It’s something you just listen to.
Life begins to happen beautifully when you open up to it.
According to O’Malley:
“It is in this phase of higher consciousness that you also realize that your suffering doesn’t come from the experiences of your life. Instead it comes from your stories about what is happening. It comes from inside of you!”
This phase of higher-consciousness involves choosing yourself. It means focusing on “you” instead of your past or the things and people who’ve hurt you,
It’s realizing, as O’Malley says, “that the healing you long for comes when you turn your attention within.”
4. Life happens for you.
The fourth stage to higher-consciousness may be the most challenging phase yet.
It’s because it’s all about trust.
It’s hard because you will have to let go of your need to control and just trust that there is a reason for everything.
You can choose to believe that everything has a purpose, a meaning, and it’s going to lead you somewhere beautiful.
“Life is not a random series of events. It is a highly intelligent unfolding that is putting you in the exact situations you need in order to see and unhook from the spells that keep you separate from its flow.
“No matter what is happening in your life, you finally understand that Life knows what it is doing.”
There is something beautiful and soul-altering about learning how to let go and just letting it be.
5. Life happens through you.
You’ve overcome the life-changing stage of accepting life as it is. Now, it’s all about feeling it.
This is perhaps, the gentlest and most peaceful part of your journey to higher consciousness.
Because it’s all about gratitude. This stage of your awakening is about accepting that you can’t control life, yes. But it’s okay. Life knows what it’s doing.
“This is where you recognize that Life is trustable. It is not always likable, but it knows what it is doing.
“You see that your life is dependent on every ounce of creativity that has ever happened in the universe. You also see that all that has happened to you, even the difficult, has been a part of your journey back into Life.”
6. Life is you.
“You are not in the universe; you are the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.”
– Eckhart Tolle
Your journey was about questioning your existence, challenging it, and coming to terms with what you’ve found. The last two stages of higher-consciousness, however, is like coming home to Eden.
“You are no longer a separate being. Instead, you merge completely back into the creative flow of Life, understanding that everything—every rock, person, cloud, molecule, and ladybug—is you. You are Life!”
It’s like a veil has been taken off, and now you can truly see and feel, without questioning it. And yet, with a deeper understanding of everything.
How to achieve higher consciousness: A 7-Step Guide
In truth, the path to higher consciousness is not a one-way street. But there are some actionable things you can do to open yourself up to the process.
Here are 7 steps you can take to urge you further in your journey:
1. Develop awareness.
Don’t just go through the motions. Develop an awareness of what is happening around you. Question everything.
Be present, internally and externally.
Higher consciousness can be intentionally awakened once you start exerting your free will.
By being aware of everything inside and around you, you are able to react meaningfully to life.
Most of us go through life never really processing our internal struggles. Why do we choose the choices we make? Why do react to things a certain way?
But you cannot achieve higher consciousness this way.
According to the teachings of Indian yogi Swami Rama:
“You have the capacity and strength to expand your conscious mind with the help of a method that is called “interior research,” the internal journey.
“You have to be a master if you really want to enjoy life here—the master of your own mind. Your mind is yours; know your mind.”
So learn to sit with yourself. Understand your thoughts. Determine the roots of your struggle. Only then can you start achieving higher consciousness.
3. Control yourself.
Once you allow your “observer self” to come out, you’ll be able to master how you react to both your internal processes and the external circumstances of life.
But controlling yourself goes beyond just stopping your impulses or delaying your reactions. It’s about being accurate with them.
According to Roger Gabriel, Chopra Center Educator:
“Mastery in this sense doesn’t mean to control in a negative way. The first step is to become conscious of who you are and then you can master the gifts and talents that you have. Like your
“The path of Self-Mastery unfolds throughout your life. It is an internal and self-directed journey, whose progress only you can determine.”
4. Know yourself and educate yourself.
“To know that you do not know is the best. To think you know when you do not is a disease. Recognizing this disease as a disease is to be free of it.”
– Lao Tzu
Achieving higher consciousness involves quantum leaps of awareness. It’s about knowing who you are and what drives and motivates you to take the actions that you do.
Self-knowledge is about recognizing your strengths. But more importantly, it’s knowing your flaws and negative human tendencies.
With that self-knowledge, you can begin self-education.
Ultimately, self-education is about actively ridding yourself of your bad habits, while actively working on your virtues.
5. Develop discipline.
What does it even mean to discipline your mind?
Simply, it’s about not letting your thoughts and fears control or silence you. Rather than interfering with your journey to higher consciousness, self-discipline serves it.
According to Sacred Healing Journey:
“To make meaningful and powerful connection with Higher Consciousness, takes further work requiring self-discipline and commitment.
“Self-discipline and Commitment are powerful qualities to develop in your character, as they are essential to identifying the personality traits, reactions and limiting thoughts that you hold and react from, and then doing the work of releasing or transmuting them.”
6. Listen to your gut instincts.
Many people say that intuition is the highest form of intelligence.
Unlike the intellect of the mind, intuition is quieter and less assertive. Your intuition never demands attention, which is why it is often ignored.
But it is powerful nevertheless.
Sophy Burnham, the bestselling author of The Art of Intuition, says:
“I define intuition as the subtle knowing without ever having any idea why you know it. It’s different from thinking, it’s different from logic or analysis … It’s a knowing without knowing.”
However, it’s important to distinguish good intuition between erroneous intuition. Because it’s easy to mistake fear for instincts.
Mindfulness coach Sharon Franquemont advises you to always be conscious of that difference.
“Listen to your body and the signals it is giving. Try also to develop a focusing practice that allows you to achieve a calm, detached state where you can better identify what is going on.
“And always examine your intuitive images to see if you recognize wishful thinking or projections in them.”
7. Think first and speak later.
Most of the problems we experience in our life come from our inability to think before we speak.
The most compelling tale in the Yaksha Prashna is this:
“The Yaksha asked, ‘What is heavier than Earth, higher than heavens, faster than the wind and more numerous than straws?’
“Yudhishthira answered, “One’s mother is heavier than the Earth, one’s father is higher than the heavens, the mind is faster than the wind and our worries are more numerous than straws.”
The story holds undeniable truth. Our thoughts are fast. That’s why we struggle with keeping them to ourselves.
But in order to achieve a more elevated self, you need to learn to think first. Learn to organize your thoughts before you speak.
Higher consciousness, after all, recognizes that excessive words require unnecessary energy.
Why is higher consciousness essential for a meaningful life?
Your consciousness is a powerful thing. Yet, it can be stagnant if left untapped.
Your perceptions, beliefs, and everything in between influences your reality – but it also creates it.
Without higher consciousness, we are like mechanical beings running simply on survival, without thought and enlightenment.
This is why higher consciousness is essential to purpose and happiness. Without it, you will never discover the true nature of being. The real you. The real reality of life and of yourself.
Without it, your existence will mean nothing.