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Spirituality

Pop Spirit – The Commodification Of Spirituality & Simulated Desires

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Pop Spirit – The Commodification Of Spirituality & Simulated Desires
Photo Credit: Waking Times

Kingsley L. DennisGuest Writer

spɪrɪt/

noun

the non-physical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character.

the prevailing or typical quality, mood, or attitude of a person, group, or period of time.

“A moment of enlightenment is of no use to someone who needs a good week of it.”  ~Idries Shah

We may need more than a week of enlightenment, yet in our modern cultures all we get are bite-sized Youtube-compatible fleeting moments. The prevailing mood of our times is one where the ‘spirit’ is like the radio-friendly three-minute pop song. It is a digestible burst that we can chew on without it giving us indigestion. We have literally thousands of online videos showing us how to improve almost every aspect of our lives by breathing, body postures, mental exercises, visualizations, and the good old self-to-mirror pep talks. We are told that we ‘create our own reality,’ despite the obvious fact that in many countries we have accepted sociopaths in power – or perhaps we voted them into office? If that is our reality, then what does it say about ourselves – that most of us are latent sociopaths with a hidden agenda for inflicting suffering upon others? If this is creating our own reality, then most of us must also be secretly longing for therapy.

It seems that the sublime has become lost or distorted within the grotesque spectacle of the spirit. That is, aspects of our soul nature have become commoditized and watered down so that they are shards or filaments of their real glory. And modern cultures worship these shards as if the fleeting reflections that fall from them are profound insights. Totems once considered sacred are splashed across social media and shared as if spreading them brings us amplified gratification. Phrases of some truth are gobbled rapidly as we scroll down the various quote-images that fill our media feeds. We breakfast on these handy spirit pop-tarts; yet we hardly have time to consume their words of wisdom. We yearn only for the quick fix, the morning shot of ‘feel good’ wisdom packaged with a pleasing image, be it nirvana, Samadhi, or some surreal bliss. Colourful figures in lotus positions with flowers blossoming from their chakras adorn our virtual walls and our desktops; we have their presence programmed as our screen images. Transcendence comes through the third eye as it sits in the center of the forehead awaiting patiently its activation through social-media triggers. And if the colourful chakras in the lotus position don’t get you, then there are countless videos of cute cats to make you go all fluffy and tingly inside. Whilst serious videos online only receive moderate viewing figures, the ones of cat compilations or a cute cat trying to do yoga will get in excess of ten million hits.

Popular cultures the world over have become saccharine playgrounds where fads and aspartame-coated famous-wannabes parade and trot like peacocks. We are in danger of becoming submerged in the sickly successes of such pop cultures, where the spirit is exposed as a short-cut trip to enlightenment. Of course, there is also ample room for those parodies that make light fun of such pseudo-spirit pretensions. And there are many of these humorous parodies out there in the world too. Thankfully they can make us laugh at the things we take so seriously.

Searching Where The Light Is

You may think that staring into a mirror, growling to yourself and saying, ‘You are a lion, rarrh!’ is sort of weird, in a surreal, onanistic sort of way. But we’ve been told to do it, or something similar, in a myriad of books on how to develop the spiritual self. We’ve also been urged to call out to the universe and order what we want to arrive in our lives, naming it as ‘cosmic ordering’ (with Amazon-style delivery). It’s all part of the new quantum reality we live in, or so we are told by ‘experts’ in the quantum field (which is more often people who have taught themselves Life Coaching from an online course). And yet here there is the question of what I term the ‘Quantum Dilemma’ – the understanding that our reality is energy-based and responsive to observation (the observer effect) should have torn down our walls of reality-construction. And yet instead what we got were new-agey fluff ball books on the likes of ‘quantum-ordering’ and how to ask the cosmos for our own riches and fantasized lifestyles. We know there is something strange going on over there in the dark (dark energy, dark matter) but we don’t truly wish to look for it as it’s easier to stay in the mainstream light. There’s a story on this from the incomparable Mulla Nasrudin, and it goes like this:

“Someone saw Nasrudin searching for something on the ground. 

‘What have you lost, Mulla?’ he asked. 

‘My key,’ said the Mulla. So they both went down on their knees and looked for it. 

After a time the other man asked: ‘Where exactly did you drop it?’ 

‘In my own house.’ 

‘Then why are you looking here?’ 

‘There is more light here than inside my own house.’1

Inside of our own house is often where we choose not to look. It is too dark, and the discoveries, should they come, are bound to be too close to home – quite literally! Perhaps it would help us if we adorned the house a little. Maybe a talisman here, a crystal there, or any other number of paid-for objects and trinkets that have been imported from elsewhere and now peddled in western markets and online stores.

What is less well-known is the concept that spiritual practices that were once legitimate can lose their functionality if they are taken out of their original context of time and place. Then, even worse, is when such precise tools are used in a haphazard way, such as combining different elements into a new and modern groovy pop-spirit assemblage. When symbols of ‘higher learning’ become atrophied – meaning they are no longer adapted to the culture, the time, and the people – they often incite a ‘Pavlovian’ dog response on the part of the practitioners. Pop spirit emblems, symbols, and trinkets are easily transferred into fetish totems; such as the religion of Rastafari came to be symbolized by the trendy poster of Bob Marley smoking a fat reefa that was sticky-taped onto tens of thousands of student’s bedsit walls. The two things are just not the same: emotional totems do not constitute the real thing. Popular spirituality – today’s pop spirit – has become its own marketplace in the modern world. An old saying comes to mind here – The bird which knows not of sweet water has his beak in salt water all the year.

The pop spirit marketplace is hot – it offers exorbitant choice in the belief that more is good. This encourages some people to take, experiment, taste, and dabble with a rag-bag bunch of spiritual goodies in the hope that the resulting fusion will develop their ‘essential self.’ Whilst there are sincere and genuine developmental tools and practices in the world, the online social media-sphere becomes the window-displays for attractive quotations, phrases, and slogans that are hungrily consumed by a fast-paced crowd. It is easier to ‘like’ and ‘share’ a spiritual tool these days than to consider its use. Pop spirit, like breakfast pop tarts, are tastily consumable, although high in sugary fats. The modern media marketplace delivers an easy ‘on-demand’ lifestyle which is making us lazy and complacent in that we are used to receiving what we request; and either immediately or within 24-hours. Pop spirit fits nicely onto this conveyor belt of spiritual-supply goodies. There are plentiful videos of some young, attractive person telling us how to reach inside for that ‘something higher’ as they have a clean beach and rolling waves in the background. The commodity spirit tells us that having one hundred thousand subscribers is a good sign of the health of the soul. Spreading the Holy Spirit these days gets rated by rising subscribers and on how many people click the thumbs up.

The contemporary world of pop spirit is mainly a material one as it is based in terms of transaction. That is, those involved usually want to get something in exchange for something else. It’s a trade-off, and a commercial one at that. It is a form of seeking that has yet to learn the fundamentals. There is a story which tells of a spiritual seeker who after some time comes upon a spiritual master that she feels is genuine and whom she wishes to learn from. The seeker asks the master if he will accept her as a pupil.

“Why do you seek a spiritual path?’ asks the teacher. 

‘Because I wish to be a generous and virtuous person; I wish to be balanced, mindful, caring, and to be in service for humanity. This is my goal’ said the seeker. 

‘Well’, replied the teacher, ‘these are not goals on the spiritual path; these are the very basics of being human which we need before we even begin to learn’.

Pop spirit may make us feel better as we scroll down the feel-good quotes over breakfast – but will it last until lunch time? Our daily fix of uplifting quotes and video blessings may not be an antidote to the missing essentials. Contemporary societies with their surface acquisitions and quick-fix remedies may only be glossing over a very real emptiness.

The resurrection of novel, intriguing, and peripheral ideologies and trends in the online world has brought about a new celebration of ‘consumer curiosities’ that range from acquired happiness, sexual fetishes, to extra-terrestrials. With previous restraints of access now thawed out we are seeing a reappearance of these various spectacles that are being celebrated in whatever form online surfers desire. And desire, it seems, is highly sought after.

The Simulation Of Desire

There is no doubt that modern life, and its institutions, attempt to seduce us. We are breaking down as well as digitizing our boundaries of longing. Modern cultural landscapes and digital realms are de-territorializing the reach of the voyeur. There is now a shift in how desires are being redirected into new stimulated sensibilities and customized indulgences. We are being drawn into new modes of seduction – a form of ‘always available’ easy access. Seductions no longer tease us with waiting but can be instantaneously ‘streamed’ in the ever-present now. We are entering saturation point of the sexually explicit – online s.x-sites raises its head as the new ‘desire of despair’ at the same time as children are being groomed, pedophiles are virtually gathering, and the beast within us licks its hideous lips.

Our modern cultures are more highly sexualized than ever as the s.x-world has gone main-stream. Our advertising allures us with sexual imagery, references, and innuendoes. We are getting turned on from music videos that are filling up with scantily clad and booty-shaking extras that gyrate to the groove. S.X Movie stars are making cameos in music videos and s.x-scenes are pantomimed and mimicked across the wide cultural scene. Fitness clubs offer pole-dancing and strip classes, and s.x-star memoirs are sold by top publishers and given table space in the big corporate bookshops. The once-peripheral world of s.x-graphy has now fused with the commercial mainstream. The moral bankruptcy of this industry now shapes much of our western popular culture. Sex has always been big business. Sex sells better than bearded gurus and pop spirit combined. And many people see sex as a ticket to fame.

S.x tapes are famously ‘leaked’ online in a new twisted route to celebrity cult-dom. These private performances are ‘accidentally’ made public in a bid for publicity and fame that represents a new and odd kind of fetishism, soaked in libidinal online viral flows. The simulation of desire is central to the digital realms, where arousal, demand, and creation co-exist. Almost any desires can be downloaded for instant gratification and viewer deflowering. Online s.x is a form of virus that absorbs endless amounts of libidinal energy that greases the cogs of digitized desire. These desires are soon to be projected into ‘false bodies’ as the robot sex toy becomes the next must-have gadget. Soon, Barbie will seem, well – quite timid. A recent report from futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson predicts that:

  • By 2030, most people will have some form of virtual sex.
  • By 2035 the majority of people will own sex toys that interact with virtual reality sex.
  • We will start to see some forms of robot sex appearing in high-income, very wealthy households as soon as 2025.
  • We will start to see robot sex overtaking human-human in 2050.2

Suddenly those closet-hidden doll inflatables will look like relics from the past. The experience of desire will soon be mediatized in a totally new way, with virtual reality and robot sex becoming a new and crowded playground. Yet this new experience is also likely to lead to an over-abundance of quick desire that may ultimately leave us unfulfilled – possibly leading to not sexual repression but rather a form of sexual depression. An over-plentiful supply of substitute sex may create a real wound of longing that a hyperreal world will be incapable, and unqualified, to cater for.

The spirit that dwells within us, that makes us a soulful species, is far away from the popular spirituality that invades our news feeds and social media. It is not a collection of colourful pixels or groovy 10-minute videos. I’m positive about the great future awaiting us, yet getting there entails moving beyond the immaturity of our commoditized desires.

End Notes

Shah, I. 1985. The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin. London: Octagon Press, p9.

 2 ‘By 2050, human-on-robot sex will be more common than human-on-human sex, says report,’ The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/11898241/By-2050-human-on-robot-sex-will-be-more-common-than-human-on-human-sex-says-report.html, 29th September 2015 (accessed 20th June 2017)

About the Author

Kingsley L. Dennis is the author of Bardo Times: hyperreality, high-velocity, simulation, automation, mutation – a hoax?The Phoenix Generation: A New Era of Connection, Compassion, and Consciousnessand The Sacred Revival: Magic, Mind & Meaning in a Technological Age, available at Amazon.

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Ascension

Understanding Ascension: The Geometry Of Energy

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Ascension Humanity
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution

Ethan Indigo Smith, Guest Writer

“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.” – Lao Tzu

After climbing through the jungle, making my way through the gruelling forest, dense and bewildering with trails, I came to a clearing on a ridge, on what I sensed must be the very top of the great mountain in the clouds. And as I made my way to the ridge top and clearing, I saw that this was not the top. I saw it was beautiful and magnificent, but it was after all only a plateau. And from the plateau above the bewildering and winding complex of trails I now stood, I could see in the distance what could only be assumed at this point to be the peak. Perhaps there was a mountain more massive behind it too.

And on the story goes…

There are so many narrative accounts as well as fictional and metaphorical stories that ring out the same truth in the same way as the above narrative. Many of us often have this experience on one level or another at one point or another, where we come to this point in our lives, in ourselves. The reason this story is so often true, metaphorically and specifically, is because that’s how it is, both aesthetically and energetically. No matter how things go, no matter the plateau or peak you reach, there are always more heights to scale, another plateau or peak above you. As soon as you think you’re on top, you’ve stopped evolving, you’ve stopped ascending. And while you may end up at quite an enjoyable and beautiful place there could be a whole series of heights just beyond you that you won’t realize — until you realize ascension is a process, not a destination.

Once you begin on this infinite and exponential journey of discovery, you might stop, but there is no turning back.

The Nature of Ascension

The Geometry of Energy is a meditation teaching of focus, clarity, connection, circulation, unity and expansion. It is also a formula for energy comprehension — through meditative understanding of points, lines, shapes and solids — and a way toward simplification of the ascension process. Through examining the four dimensions of geometry, we are able to engage individuation, understand energy, visualize the big picture, and understand its importance.

In ascension, first you find out what is your current point of view; your plateau. Understand the process of growth, and celebrate the view.

Then you ask: What am I afraid of? Why do I always do X? What do I want to change, or experience? When you know where it is you want to go, and you can visualize the next point ahead of you, then you can visualize your line to it. If the point is something simple like quitting smoking, you can then enhance your line – your approach – to your goal accordingly. If the point is something more esoteric or intangible, like becoming more intuitive, you retain and maintain that point of focus, and the lines rise up to meet you as you ascend. Then you find your higher point, your more true self.

The key is to consciously make connections with lines and directions that most resemble your true nature and the nature you wish to become. Choose the next plateau you want to rise to. Become, embody, meditate and even chant if you will, boldly and simply: “I am X…” and watch your ascension unfold before you. We have a point in focus, lines arise before us. Of course, try to make sure the direction of your lines of ascension are as unselfish as possible; you do not have to destroy the mountain on your way up to its peaks. Consider your approaches in modest and achievable terms, and great heights can be attained as you travel, step by step.

Next, emancipate your energy to be unrestricted and flow with it in a way that opens the linear (direction) and circular (pattern) formations of energy in your life. These openings allow the ‘cocooned you’ to expand and break out, and fly! Be present… get grounded… meditate on the breath… acknowledge and embrace your unique place in the cosmic order. It doesn’t matter what self-realization or self-actualization practice you engage in, but in ascension, energetic circulation and expansion must occur.

Edgar Cayce observed there are four aspects to wellness; relaxation, circulation, assimilation and elimination. These four aspects to physical wellness are also applicable to our energetic bodies. Consider the blood being of our physical bodies being illustrative of our energetic bodies. If we are physically unfit our bodies go to shit. If we don’t move, we eat a lot of crap, or we consume alcohol frequently, our blood literally coagulates and slows down. The same is true for our energetic bodies. If we don’t practice some form of meditation or meditative movement, or get involved with nature and our natural state of being, the flow of our energetic bodies coagulates too, impeding our wellbeing and journey to the next spiritual peak.

Arriving at the Next Peak

Lastly is the process of expansion; the arrival at the peak where the next new peak can be seen. The expansion process is the “breakthrough” that people speak of. It often involves the crumbling of so many outer-shells that it may seem like a breakdown, but it’s actually a breakthrough. Expand your thoughts and focus on the linear and circular openings, psychologically and spiritually, so that the openings can lead to a flooding – but cleansing – unity expansion.

Initially, being mentally and emotionally present can be confronting. The human mind is nearly always clouded by life’s desires and traumas, so when we remove ourselves from distraction and engage in the realization of our deepest consciousness, we may experience an influx of unresolved (circular) thoughts and feelings; the traumas (past) and fears (future) of life may come into our consciousness, seeking to be cleared. Don’t just sit there in a half broke cocoon, half way to being a butterfly, hampered instead of freed, like so many figuratively do. Face the darkness. We may feel that this takes us farther away from an immediate sense of peace and progress, yet we can only achieve peace in the long-term if we acknowledge and resolve the thoughts and feelings that continue to arise in our consciousness. Know that these feelings, now acknowledged, will clear over time. Allow them to pass through your consciousness as you return to the serenity of the present moment.

Each energy dimension opens you up more and more to increased ascension because of their enhanced vibrations and complexities. Each time you engage this process the more the superfluous aspects of your character fall away. The more we move energy the more our unnecessary mental and emotional ‘add-ons’ all crumble from the cocoon; all of our induced masquerades, the less-real pieces of our psychological makeup, the constructs and shells that otherwise restrict our true butterfly nature.

Breakthroughs are often painful at one stage or another, and certainly during the unity expansion process things tend to break. The more you take an active part in your own ascension process, the more likely things will break on your way to becoming. The shell of your ego must be broken too, and then slightly modified, returned to working order with a new greater perspective on life and your unique place in it.

And remember, no matter how far you go, there is certainly always further to go. No matter how your level of being changes as you ascend, there is always another higher summit to climb.

The Geometry of Energy: How to Meditate

This article was excerpted and revised from the book, ‘The Geometry of Energy: How to Meditate’.

In ‘The Geometry of Energy’, author Ethan Indigo Smith explores meditation and meditative energies through the sacred four dimensions of geometry. Simple and profound, it is an empowering four-step meditation designed to lead to individuation, self-development, an enhanced understanding of energy, and psychological and spiritual cleansing.

Useful to meditation newcomers and long-time practitioners alike, ‘The Geometry of Energy’ provides insights into a variety of meditative processes for psychological and spiritual cleansing and enhancement.

‘The Geometry Of Energy: How To Meditate’ is available here on Amazon.

Recommended Articles by Ethan Indigo Smith
About the Author

Activist, author and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to Mendocino, California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity, Ethan’s work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humour.

Ethan’s Publications Include

For more information, visit Ethan on Facebook and check out Ethan’s author page on Amazon.

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Consciousness

Hypnagogia: The Trippy Mental State That Is The Key To Deep Self-Discovery

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Hypnagogia
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution

Mateo SolGuest Writer

What is Hypnagogia?

We all know that there are two primary states of consciousness: wakefulness and sleep. But did you know that there is also an in-between state? This state is called Hypnagogia, a word that derives from the Greek words “hypnos” (sleep) and “agogos” (leading), meaning the state that leads into sleep.

Have you ever had a nap and experienced a strange trance-like state in which images, colours, sounds, even dream-like stories play out in your mind? Have you ever found yourself falling asleep and seeing a kaleidoscope of colours and shapes fleet in and out of your mind… or strange things like horses turning into helicopters? These experiences are hypnagogia in action and it’s likely that you experience hypnagogia multiple times a week, or even every day before you fall asleep!

So how can this unusual limbo state contribute to our self-understanding and spiritual growth? In this article, I’ll explain how.

Types of Hypnagogia

Depending on whether you are primarily a visual (image-oriented), auditory (sound-oriented), or kinesthetic (physically-oriented) person (you can take a test here), your hypnogogic experience will vary.

Here are common ways hypnagogia is experienced:

  • Images – e.g. monochromatic or colourful, static or moving, flat or three-dimensional – usually the images are fleeting but sometimes they form entire dream-like scenes
  • Sounds – may be loud or quiet and involve hearing music, voices, snatches of conversation, rain, wind, white noise, repetitive words, having one’s name called, etc.
  • Repetitive actions – known as the “Tetris effect,” when a person has spent a long time doing something repetitive (such as working, playing chess, exercising, reading) they may find themselves doing the same thing as they fall into the hypnagogic state
  • Physical sensations – tastes, scents, textures, and sensations of coldness and heat may be experienced during hypnagogia, as well as feelings of floating, falling, leaving one’s body or having one’s body change shape
  • Mental processes – at the edge of sleep thoughts begin to take a fluid and free-associative quality in which they morph and evolve in unusual, abstract, and innovative ways, uninfluenced by the ego
  • Sleep paralysis – the temporary inability to move may, in some occurrences, accompany hypnagogia, however while this state may be alarming, it is harmless

It is also possible (and common) to experience multiple forms of hypnagogia. For example, you might visually enter a memory from the day that transforms before your eyes into an array of physical sensations and sounds. The combinations are limitless.

Spiritual Oneiromancy, Dali, and Dream Yoga

Throughout history, there have been many writers, artists, and philosophers who have used hypnagogia as a way of triggering new ideas, insights, and even inventions.

Artist Salvador Dali, writer Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), and inventor Thomas Edison are some of the most notable historical figures who have used hypnagogia to stimulate saucy new ideas. Both Dali and Edison, for example, used very similar techniques of sitting down with objects in their hands (a key for Dali and brass balls for Edison) and waking up once the object fell and hit the floor. This sudden awakening allowed them to quickly jolt out of their hypnagogic slumber and write down the thoughts and images that had been dancing through their minds.

In Tibetan Buddhism, hypnagogic states are used as a way of practicing “dream yoga.” Dream yoga is a form of spiritual practice that is based on the premise that dream-like states can be used to train the mind to enhance spiritual awareness. This self-discipline can contribute to the experience of enlightenment.

In the modern age, there’s a niche of people who refer to themselves as Oneiromancers; or individuals who use dreams as a form of divination. The word Oneiromancy comes from the Greek ‘oneiros’ (dream) and ‘manteia’ (prophecy). Such people commonly use and interpret dreams as a way of prophesying the future.

Even psychologists such as Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud have taken an intense interest in dreams and their potential meanings. Jung was notorious for his fascination with dreams and their connection with the unconscious mind since childhood.

I can’t personally vouch for the divination aspect of dreams (as in ‘oneiromancy,’ although I have had prophetic dreams). Furthermore, I believe that predicting the future is useless and a major distraction unless it is accompanied with work grounded in the present-moment. That is why my approach to dreams and hypnagogia specifically is targeted towards psychological growth. Without understanding yourself, meeting your shadow self, uncovering and dealing with old traumas and wounds, and integrating what you find, you won’t get very far. All of the dream work in the world will be just that: a bunch of fantasy.

How to Use Hypnagogia to Explore Your Unconscious Mind

“Hypnagogia is the shortest path for communication from our subconscious.” – Sirley Marques Bonham Ph.D,

In the secular world, hypnagogia is often used as a way of stimulating creativity. But I propose, similar to the Tibetan Buddhists and their ‘Dream Yoga’ and Carl Jung and his technique of ‘Active Imagination,’ that hypnagogia can be used for deep psychological discovery as well.

By seeking to find patterns, interpreting the images that arise, and coming in contact with the fragmented aspects of yourself, hypnagogia is a powerful form of self-exploration, and one with the potential of uniting you with your Soul’s Wholeness and ultimate purpose.

The unconscious mind is the part of our brain that contains everything we have buried away and forgotten: memories, defence mechanisms, wounds, ancestral traumas, archetypal forces or ‘sub-personalities’ – you name it.

In the trance-like state of hypnagogia we are able to observe our unconscious mind and its contents as it begins to bubble to the surface.

If you want to learn a simple and effective way of using hypnagogia to explore your unconscious, practice the one below:

1. Set an intention – ‘Prime’ your mind and get it ready before you go to sleep or have an afternoon nap. You can do this by constantly thinking about what it is you want to explore about 20-30 minutes before you go to rest. For example, your intention might be to find out why you struggle to have self-control around certain people, what mental belief is blocking your happiness, what your Shadow wants to tell you, or anything that is to do with you as a person. I find that it helps to be very clear about my intention and summarize it into a sentence. You can even write this sentence on a piece of paper if it helps. For example, your summarized intention might be “I want to understand why I always attract the wrong partners,” “I want to discover how to strengthen my social boundaries,” “I want to find out why I feel so unhappy and lost,” etc. Meditating on your intention is also a powerful way of priming your mind beforehand.

2. Find something to record your experience – Before you enter hypnagogia, find a notebook, journal, sketch pad, or voice activated recorder (there are mobile apps for that), and place it next to your bed/sofa/chair.

3. Set a gentle alarm – It takes on average about 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. So take a moment to consider how long it takes you on average to fall asleep. Do you go under quickly? In this case you might like to set the alarm on your phone or clock to 10 minutes. If you take a long time to fall asleep, experiment with setting your alarm to 20 minutes. With experience, and assessment of how tired you are beforehand, you’ll be able to skilfully adjust the alarm to the perfect amount of time that you need.

4. Take a nap – Remember, your intention isn’t to fall asleep, (although if that happens, don’t worry, it can take practice!). Lie down on your bed, sofa, or whatever is comfortable, and relax. Let your body and mind drift off into a soft and hazy stupor. Completely unwind and let yourself be still.

5. Observe your mind – It is not always possible to clearly observe your mind, particularly when your consciousness is fading, which is why this step takes practice. You can use the sensation of your breath or chest rising and falling to help anchor yourself to awareness as you notice what is going on.

6. Time to record! – Bzzzz! At some point your alarm will go off. (Hopefully you set a gentle alarm, because loud obnoxious alarms can really be, well, alarming.) Once you’ve woken up, record what you have heard, seen, felt, or experienced. Do this quickly so that you don’t forget.

7. Interpretation – Reflect on what you have written, drawn or recorded. What are the first thoughts or feelings that pop into your mind? If you experience a strong physical/emotional ‘aha!’ reaction, you have found the right interpretation. Does your interpretation inspire, excite, or shock you? If so, it is probably correctly interpreted. According to Jungian analyst Robert A. Johnson, the best way to tell if you have interpreted dream imagery correctly is by the level of energy behind it. In other words, if your interpretation feels flat, dull, or lifeless, it is likely wrong. But if it feels alive and thrilling, you’ve likely found your answer.

Also, remember that hypnagogic imagery can be very abstract or very straight-forward – it is quite unpredictable. Sometimes it takes a while to interpret what you have experienced. Sometimes the material of your mind won’t be relevant to your question or intention. Keep practicing. Often images, words, sounds, and sensations may feel completely unrelated to your question. But when you revisit them a few days later, something may ‘click’ and you might suddenly discover how pertinent and symbolic they are.

8. Meditate on your discovery – After you have interpreted your hypnagogic content, sit and reflect on it. Meditate on its implications, lessons, and advice. I encourage you to journal about your experiences with hypnagogia as it will deepen your capacity to learn and grow from the practice.

Hypnagogia is a trippy, fascinating, kaleidoscopic world full of endless potential and possibility. Best of all, it provides an easy gateway to your unconscious mind. By taking advantage of this fleeting state of mind, you have the opportunity and ability to solve problems, gain guidance, and experience more peace and inner Wholeness.

Have you experimented with hypnagogic imagery before?

About the Author

Mateo Sol is a prominent psycho-spiritual teacher whose work has influenced the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Born into a family with a history of drug addiction, schizophrenia, and mental illness, Mateo Sol was taught about the plight of the human condition from a young age. As a spiritual guide and teacher, Sol’s mission is to help others experience freedom, wholeness, and peace in any stage of life.

See more of his work at www.lonerwolf.com.

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Consciousness

Ayni, Or Sacred Reciprocity: 5 Ways To Manifest True Abundance In Your Life

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Photo Credit: www.myneurogym.com

Mateo SolGuest Writer

“Ayni is responsibility and respect. Ayni is love and compassion. Ayni is everything. And it is us. Reciprocity.” – J. Wilcox

Throughout the ages, shamanic tribes and traditions have all agreed on one thing which science confirms: life is one big pulsating field of energy.

You and I are both part of this vibrating web of energy, as well as every single thing you perceive. Rocks, trees, animals, rivers, computers, cars, buildings, fire, clouds, even the human mind, and emotions — it’s all energy.

As a result of everything being energy and therefore connected at a core level, whatever we do has consequences. Whatever thoughts, feelings and actions we carry out impacts the world around us in ways we can’t even fathom.

Often, this simple principle that every action has a reaction causes a wave of events to crash down on our lives, leaving us feeling panicked, resentful and emotionally stingy towards others (and ourselves). We wonder why our lives seem so damaged and flawed when deep down we aren’t aware that our thoughts have created our reality.

If you’re feeling jealous, suspicious, guarded and as if your life is being lived in mental, emotional, financial and spiritual poverty, read on.

Why it’s Vital to Understand the Principle of Ayni

We human beings are used to pillaging the earth, taking what we want, and focusing solely on our own needs. This selfishness is a natural part of our conscious collective evolution as a species.

How often do you take the time to stop, examine all that you have been blessed with, and offer your thanks to Life, God or Spirit? In our materialistic society, most people equate gratitude with fluffy and impractical New Age concepts. But gratitude is an immensely powerful force as it is an expression of sacred reciprocity.

Having Incan heritage, I learned about Ayni early on in life. It was my grandmother who taught me that Ayni, which is loosely translated to “sacred reciprocity” or “proper relationship” is the central principle of life. As opposed to Western thought that believes creation is solely predatory, in Andean thought, creation is inherently benevolent and will live in harmony with us if we live in harmony with it.

In other words, when we don’t cultivate the right relationship with the earth, we reap the natural consequences. We can clearly see the principle of Ayni reflected in our current world: as a result of disrespecting the earth through annihilation of species, pollution, and degradation, the earth has begun to desert us. Pachamama has delivered us drought, floods, pestilence and climate change in exchange for our greed and narcissism.

Ayni, or sacred reciprocity, is the fundamental law of life because, without it, we live in extreme disharmony that results in suffering. In fact, the principle of Ayni is so vital that it is the only genuine moral rule in the Q’ero (Incan) tradition which is otherwise flexible and fluid.

Ayni is gratitude, respect, honour and reciprocal living. Put simply, Ayni is about recognizing that all of life exists in a sacred balance of give and take. When we practice Ayni we send a message to Existence and partake in the gifts that Life, in exchange, gives back to us. In other words, when observing Ayni we give back to the earth whenever we receive, and by giving to the earth, we know that we’ll be privileged to get something back in return.

How to Manifest Abundance Using Ayni

“Pachamama, the earth, is the first mother, the true mother, the spirit mother. From her we have all been given form and substance, and it is largely her will that determines the quantity and quality of our worldly sustenance. It is to her, and to the spirits of the rain and the hail and the other elements that exist within her domain, that Andeans owe the very conditions of their lives. Therefore every action they undertake is necessarily an act of ayni, or reciprocity, with Pachamama. Before any food is eaten or liquid is drunk, a portion is offered to the Earth Mother. Before a spade is thrust into a field, or before a river is crossed, or before a thousand other mundane actions are undertaken, an offering is made to the Mother.” – J. Wilcox

Everything in life is Ayni, sacred reciprocity. Everything from our relationships to the chemical reactions within matter reflect Ayni. Even our bodies express Ayni: our breath is supported by our lungs, our lungs are supported by blood and neurochemical reactions, and our neurochemical reactions are supported by our hearts, which are supported by the food we eat.

When it comes to manifesting abundance in our lives — whether that be financial, physical, emotional, mental or spiritual — we have to keep in mind that every action has a consequence, no matter how small. Ayni helps us to realize that we are not made to exist in an abusive relationship with the earth. In other words, we don’t own the earth (as the Abrahamic religions and Descartes would have us believe). Instead, we are a part of the earth and therefore must treat it with respect.

By treating the earth with respect, we learn how to treat ourselves with respect. By expressing gratitude for what we’ve been given, we receive even more to be thankful for.

Here are five simple ways to manifest abundance in your life using the principle of Ayni:

1. Offer sincere gratitude for what has been given to you

You might think that you’ve “earned” what you have. But you haven’t. Did you control the circumstances that led you to the opportunities that helped you to prosper? No. Did you control the people, environment or social climate that led to your success? No. What you have has been given to you through the grace of Life. The human ego loves to believe that it is solely responsible for its success, but this is what leads to selfish and destructive living.

The first step in manifesting abundance is to sincerely offer your gratitude to Life for what you’ve been given. Examine all that you have right now (even if you don’t have that much): look at the food, house, family, clothing, job, entertainment and/or security that you have. Consider what life would be like without these things.

You can offer your gratitude through a simple prayer that is heartfelt. For example, “Dear Life/God/Spirit, thank you deeply for what you have given me. All that I have is from You, and all that I have will return back to You. Thank you for gracing my life with Your loving kindness.”

2. Make respecting the earth your priority

So much of what we buy impacts the earth in a severe way. By choosing non-toxic, biodegradable, sustainable and ethically sourced options, you are performing Ayni, or sacred reciprocity. You might not think of it this way, but what you choose to spend money on contributes to the harmony or disharmony of the planet.

3. Do an earth-honouring ceremony to honour Ayni

Once a week, or whenever you feel the need, offer something back to the earth through a ceremony.

Earth-honouring ceremonies can be as simple or complex as you like. For example, you could sprinkle food scraps at the base of a tree, create an elaborate despacho (read more about despachos), or even practice mindful gardening. When you honour the earth, thank the trees, wind, sky, rain, sun and elemental forces for blessing your life.

4. Nurture and protect life

Everything on earth has just as much a right to be here as you. When you nurture Nature, Life nurtures you in exchange. This is the principle of Ayni. For example, instead of killing the spider or fly within your house, why not catch them and release them outside? Instead of exterminating all pests in your garden, why not choose organic alternatives to restore the natural equilibrium? After all, nature knows best how to care for herself.

You might also like to practice small acts of kindness to wildlife or flora. For instance, if you see a snail on the path, why not move it out of the way so it doesn’t get crushed? If you have the opportunity to save or support a local wetland, why not protect it?

5. Consecrate the ground beneath your feet

Wherever you are, bless the ground beneath your feet. Thank the earth for supporting your house, for the food it provides you, and for everything you have that traces its roots back to the earth. Bless the earth and ask that it thrives with health, abundance, balance and peace. Consecrating the earth beneath you can even become a mantra that assists you in meditation. For example, a beautiful Ayni mantra could be “Earth, may I honour you, Earth, may you honour me.”

So many articles and books out there are written about attracting and “manifesting” abundance. But a large percentage of them are written with the perception that Life is at our bidding and will “serve” us if we know how to “make” it.

Ayni is a principle of equality, respect and the mutual flow of giving and receiving. Ayni acknowledges that we aren’t slave-drivers of the planet, but we’re instead interconnected members of it.

Quite simply, if you want to receive more, GIVE more. Give your gratitude, give your love, give your support, give your attention. Paradoxically, the only way to receive more is to give more. And by giving, you naturally receive.

Recommended Articles by Mateo Sol
About the Author

Mateo Sol is a prominent psycho-spiritual teacher whose work has influenced the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Born into a family with a history of drug addiction, schizophrenia, and mental illness, Mateo Sol was taught about the plight of the human condition from a young age. As a spiritual guide and teacher, Sol’s mission is to help others experience freedom, wholeness, and peace in any stage of life.

See more of his work at www.lonerwolf.com.

Please SHARE this article with your family and friends.

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Consciousness

How To Induce A Trance State For Deep Psychospiritual Work

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Trance State
Photo Credit: Pexels

Mateo SolGuest Writer

Entering the trance state is ancient and primal.

For thousands of years, humanity has utilized various techniques to enter altered states of consciousness which open a door into the ‘spirit realm.’

From our shamanic ancestors to the indigenous traditions found on every continent, trance states are bridges to the unconscious and the earthy hidden realms of our souls.

These days, even mainstream religions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism make use of subtly induced trance states to assist the faithful in feeling more connected with the Divine.

No matter what your spiritual beliefs or practices look like, the trance state is a vital tool which you need to think about using. I’ll explain why soon.

What is a Trance State?

A trance state is an altered form of consciousness in which a person is neither fully awake nor fully asleep. In essence, the trance state involves walking between the world of the conscious and subconscious mind. Trance states are sometimes referred to as “zoning out,” “being off with the fairies,” “out of it,” and even “day-dreaming.”

The Five Levels of Altered States of Consciousness

You might be wondering, “how deep in trance do I need to go to do psychological or spiritual work?” I’ll answer that question soon.

But first, it’s important that you get a brief summary and overview of the five levels of trance. See how many you’ve experienced recently:

Level 1 – Very Light Trance

This stage involves becoming more self-aware of your inner workings. For example, in a light trance, you may become more conscious of your thoughts, physical sensations, and emotions. Those who practice mindful meditation often experience very light trance states.

Level 2 – Light Trance

This stage is characterized by a dreamlike state of consciousness. A person experiencing light trance may get lost in daydreams or fantasies. Those who get absorbed watching TV, reading a book or driving a car without remembering the trip have all experienced light trance.

Level 3 – Medium Trance

This stage is characterized by feelings of being “in the zone” – also known as the flow state. In this state of consciousness, it is common to lose awareness of one’s surrounding, the time, and even one’s body.

Level 4 – Deep Trance

This stage occurs when we fall into hypnagogic and regular sleep states. You can read more about hypnagogia here, but to summarize: this strange and fleeting state of consciousness occurs just before we go to sleep and our conscious minds wind down. It is common to see strange visuals, wacky stories unfold in our minds, and even experience auditory or tactile hallucinations.

Level 5 – Very Deep Trance

This stage is defined by complete loss of consciousness – such as those we experience during deep dreamless sleep or in a comatose state.

Of all the trance levels listed above, the best for creating psychological and spiritual change are the light to deep trance states.

Trance States and Deep Psychospiritual Work

You might be wondering how trance states help create psychospiritual (a word that means psychological + spiritual) change.

The answer is simple: entering a trance state helps us to bypass the critical mind which interferes with deep inner transformation, and communicate directly with the unconscious mind.

Why does the critical mind interfere with our psychospiritual work? The answer is that the rational mind is a barrier to the irrational mind (or unconscious mind) – and the unconscious is where the majority of our pain, neurosis, and unresolved trauma is buried.

Naturally, the role of the ego is to protect us from perceived threats, but often its defensiveness and stubbornness prevent us from shaking off old toxic roles, adopting new habits, and releasing pent-up pain. You can think of the ego – or rational mind – as the soldier who is eternally on guard. Our egos – like soldiers – have a number of weapons that keep us locked in certain roles and modes of living that are believed to be ‘safe.’ These weapons are called defence mechanisms. Common examples of defence mechanisms that our egos use to keep us “safe” include denial, projection, splitting, and repression.

The only problem is that what our ego perceives to be “safe” actually provides us with superficial comfort and the unsatisfactory ability to function as socially acceptable citizens. What the ego doesn’t understand is that everything that has been buried, avoided or rejected hasn’t been successfully evaded just because it has been hidden. Whatever is buried within us grows. Like a seed, all the fear, trauma, and pain we carry sprouts and blossoms into a monstrous plant within the fertile earth of our unconscious minds. We cannot escape what has been repressed within us. Eventually, the “monsters” of the deep will burst into our conscious awareness and will continue to do so until we face them.

Entering trance states is one powerful way to explore, embrace, and heal certain parts of ourselves that our egos have prevented us from exploring or facing.

What about spiritual work?

Perhaps more popularly, trance has been used for millennia for spiritual purposes such as contacting spirit guides, seeking animal allies, communing with ancestors, and communing with one’s own Soul.

How is this case?

There are many explanations out there which detail how trance states “open a door” to the other side of reality. I won’t explore the myriad of theories out there, but the one that is the most believable and accurate to me is that our unconscious minds are connected to the greater web of the Collective Unconscious – a term coined by famous psychologist Carl Jung.

The Collective Unconscious, also known as the Universal or Deep Mind, contains the energetic blueprint experienced by all of life. Within the Collective Unconscious live the archetypes, known by the ancients as the “Gods and Goddesses” of old. All I can attest to from my own shamanic experiences of journeying into the Collective Unconscious is that our Souls live in or emerge from this primordial space.

Whatever the explanation is, it’s undeniable that trance helps us access deeper states of awareness and even undergo mystical experiences that have a life-changing effect.

9 Ways to Enter a Trance State

The trance techniques explored below will lead you through the light to potentially deep trance states. How you decide to use these approaches is completely up to you. If, however, you have a history of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or any form of severe mental illness, please consult a medical professional before trying these techniques.

In no particular order, I will briefly outline each practice:

1. Breathwork

Changing your breathing pace and rhythm is probably one of the better-known trance state techniques. There are many yogic breathing practices out there which you may like to work with such as pranayama which is used to remove mental and emotional obstacles – but can also induce a trance-like state.

Holotropic breathwork by Stanislav and Christina Grof is another form of altered breathing which involves breathing rapidly and rhythmically and can lead to intense altered states of consciousness. If you have high or low blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or glaucoma you should consult your physician before trying holotropic breathwork.

Another simple breath work technique is simply to breathe in and out slowly and deeply. You can even incorporate mindfulness into your breathwork practice by focusing your attention on your inhalations and exhalations which often produces a light trance state.

2. Mantra and Prayer

Mantra, or repetitive sounds or words, is another way to enter a trance state. Many Hindu, Buddhist, and even Christian monks and believers utilize mantra as a way of altering their consciousness.

Prayer is a gentle technique that can alter consciousness, but I find that prayer induces only a light trance state as the conscious mind is integral to the practice. However, if prayer calls to you, experiment with different ways of praying (such as in a different language or made-up language) to try and bypass the barrier of the rational mind. Research the term ‘glossolalia’ for more inspiration.

3. Primal Rhythms, Beats, and Sounds

There’s a reason why shamans are often depicted beating their drums and this is because the beat induces a trance state needed for inner journeying.

You might like to buy yourself a drum (such as a djembehand drum or bongo) or find some primal rhythmic soundtracks online. I like listening to Mongolian throat singing because it has a profoundly earthy, almost abyss-like, quality to it. You may like to research sounds from indigenous cultures or music from instruments that relax you. Try to find sounds that are repetitive and without voices (unless they are in a language you don’t understand). The reason why it’s best to avoid music sung by those who speak your language is that the rational mind becomes too involved. The point of inducing trance is to move past the rational into the fluid state of the subconscious.

You might also like to experiment with binaural beats which are sound frequencies which easily put you into an altered state of consciousness. Read our article on binaural beats for more insight (I recommend exploring the Delta and Theta tracks).

4. Self-Hypnosis

I am quite frankly surprised by how largely ignored self-hypnosis is within spiritual circles. Maybe I’m missing something, but self-hypnosis is a powerful trance tool that can help us create deep psychospiritual change. Perhaps hypnosis has been tainted by stage performers or the fear of having one’s mind “controlled” – but true hypnosis is perfectly safe. Not only that, but you are always in control (i.e. no one can make you “do” anything unless you agree to on some level).

My favourite way to induce self-hypnosis is to lie down in a dark and quiet room, focus on my breath, and repeat in my mind, “sleep … deep sleep … sleep … deep sleep … sleep … deep sleep.” After a few minutes of repeating these words slowly, a notable sense of warmth and lightness fills the body and my mind becomes silent. There are many ways to induce self-hypnosis, and I recommend you read more about alternative methods in our self-hypnosis article.

5. Stare Upwards

This simple technique involves sitting somewhere comfortable and undisturbed and staring at a certain point or object above your level of sight. As you focus on this single point, become aware of the walls or objects in the periphery of your vision and focus on the point and your periphery simultaneously. Hold this gaze for at least five minutes.

6. Hold Out a Pendulum

Yes, I know this sounds cliche, but focusing on a repetitive movement can help induce a trance-like state. You can easily get pendulums from new age stores or on Amazon. You can also make your own pendulum by getting the string of a tea bag and tying something heavy like a button or safety pin on the end.

To do the pendulum technique, sit comfortably in a quiet place and focus on your pendulum. You can either ‘will’ it to move (and it will move due to something called the ideomotor effect) or gentle swing it to get it in motion. Try this exercise for five to ten minutes to induce a trance state.

7. Visualization

This is a common technique that many people have no trouble with. If you have a strong imagination, you will have no issue with visualization as a trance technique. You can use a pre-recorded visualization or you can create one of your own. For example, you might like to visualize light filling your head and entire body. You might like to visualize yourself soaring through the sky like a bird. You might even like to use a traditional technique like the stair visualization where you’re walking down a set of stairs, and when you reach the bottom your consciousness expands or opens (and you exit that state of consciousness by returning up the stairs). Use whatever visualization is most powerful for you – this may require a bit of experimenting, but it’s worth it.

8. Incense and Essential Oil

Burning incense or topically applying essential oil is another wonderful way to induce a trance state. I like to “stack” this technique with other trance practices to enhance the depth of my trance states. Good scents or essential oils for trance include frankincense, palo santo, sandalwood, copal, myrrh, and lavender.

9. Physical and Emotional Catharsis

Physical exertion exhausts the body and tires the mind – which is great for inducing a trance state. There is a reason why indigenous people dance a lot in their rituals. On some level, they must understand that dancing is a powerful way of bypassing the limited ego and reconnecting with the deeper Self.

You may like to do catharsis through intense cardio exercise (running, jumping, swimming, dancing) or try a technique like dynamic meditation to induce a trance state. Intense or prolonged yoga can also create an altered state of consciousness.

If all else fails, I hope a stereotypical optical illusion like the one below helps to inspire a trance-like state (try staring at it for five or more minutes):

Seriously Trippy Eye Trick Optical Illusion
What to Do Once You’re in a Trance State

Here are some ideas:

  • Repeat loving and empowering affirmations (to reprogram any negative beliefs you may hold towards yourself)
  • Request to speak to a spirit guide or animal ally
  • Communicate with the archetypes (or Gods and Goddesses)
  • Use active imagination (a Jungian technique) to go on an inner journey to meet lost parts of yourself
  • Meet your inner child and do some healing inner child work
  • Meet your shadow self and do some shadow work (note: please ensure you’re psychologically prepared to do this and have established healthy self-esteem beforehand)
  • Recall a forgotten dream
  • Do a healing ritual (or ‘spell’ if you follow the esoteric spiritual path)
  • Access altered planes of consciousness
  • Connect with your Soul essence and inner wisdom

These are just some ideas – the sky is the limit!

Recommended Articles by Mateo Sol
About the Author

Mateo Sol is a prominent psycho-spiritual teacher whose work has influenced the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Born into a family with a history of drug addiction, schizophrenia, and mental illness, Mateo Sol was taught about the plight of the human condition from a young age. As a spiritual guide and teacher, Sol’s mission is to help others experience freedom, wholeness, and peace in any stage of life.

See more of his work at www.lonerwolf.com.

Please SHARE this article with your family and friends.

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