Yin Yang, the feminine and masculine principles of conscious awareness

Consciousness is the
relationship between the opposite and complimentary forces of Life, through the play of our creative imagination with the

The Many Definitions of Consciousness

One way of beginning to understand what consciousness is, is to explore the Chinese symbol of yin/yang that represents the holistic view of reality. This universal symbol is based on the very earliest shamanic traditions and the Taoist philosophy, which respects interconnection, interdependence and the balance of polarities of the creative forces in the natural world.

The yin/yang image is usually represented in the reverse to what I have shown here, but this view makes more sense to the western mind. The exploration of the feminine, dark 'yin' and the masculine, light 'yang' energies creates the fundamental relationships of life.

Life is Oneness, an exquisite dance of the opposite forces of feminine and masculine, with the complementary forces of the earth, our bodies, and Spirit - unlimited possibilities. These create the four directions, north - masculine, south - feminine, east - spirit and west - body. The center represents the Self - ether or the central axis of consciousness as expressed though creation and imagination. There are other variations on this theme in many different spiritual traditions but this is one of the oldest interpretations.

We become consciousness when there is an awareness of movement, balance and clarity in the relationships between all these directions, giving rise to the experience of presence and an awareness of the core Self, which is whole. Life is experienced as a field of awareness and our relationships become interactions with consciousness within those fields. Modern quantum physicists are now demonstrating the truth of this ancient wisdom as they delve ever deeper into the mystery of how life is created.

The relationship of the creative expression of our essence in co-creation with the Divine can be most fully be experienced through play, community, love, presence and an awareness of all Life. We can begin to understand how we synthesize structures of meaning or patterns, both old and new, through the experiences of different learning environments that open us up to the feeling of belonging and of connection, of being home.


Every experience can be analyzed into two components; the actual event and our interpretation of the event. This gives rise to our creative imagination, and through the play of creative imagination with consciousness, we create our stories, our beliefs about ourselves and our personal cosmology. It is how we make meaning out of our experiences and how we recreate old patterns.

When there is a core sense of Self, we are able to create our inner and outer experiences by moving through awareness with consciousness, recognizing we are not limited by the perception of physical separation. There is an availably to the play of polarities in relationships with a sense of integrity and connection to our core Self and the Divine, not just with people, but with places, animals, plants and all of possibilities of Creation.

The four directions with the central axis of consciousness provides a universal map forming the basis of all experience, most all religious, spiritual traditions and quantum physics. It is more than a two dimensional representation, as each point on the circumference of the wheel has its own spherical set of directions. Imagine each dot on the wheel has 6 directions and then view the wheel as a sphere with every point a wheel of experience of relationships and stories. It is like a solid disco mirror ball, with every tiny mirror a world unto itself, layered upon all the experiences that go all the way through to the very center, and then out through the core of the fractal to the universe beyond!

So you can see, ultimately, consciousness is a vast arena for us to explore and play with, a mystery. Our understanding of it at any one point in time simply reflects our current level of experience, perception and awareness of our inner and outer relationships and our ability to flow with our creative imagination.

 YIN ~ YANG: Dark Light/dark Light Dark/light  Balance,
 ELEMENT: Earth Fire Air Water Ether
 LOCATION: Body Mind Spirit Heart Consciousness
 SEASON: Spring Summer Fall Winter The Sun
 TIME OF DAY: Sunset Noon Sunrise Midnight The Present
 PHASE OF LIFE: Birth Youth Adult Old Age Eternity
 MOVEMENT: Transitional, Death Extremes,
Transitional, Life Extremes Death Unity
 RELATIONSHIP: Complimentary Opposite Complimentary Opposite Harmonious
 QUALITY: Biological Gender Masculine Amorphous Feminine Impersonal
 FUNCTION: Presence,
Possibilities Connection, Flow Structures
of Meaning
 POWER: Presence Expression Creation Sharing Core Self
 EMOTIONS: Satisfaction
or Distrust
or Anger
or Fear
or Sad
and Integrity
 BEGINS: Spring
Summer Solstice Fall
Winter Solstice Now

The Scientific Model

The word consciousness comes from the Latin words con (with, to be aware of) and scio (to know). It is usually defined as an alert cognitive state in which you are aware of yourself, your situation and the environment.

On the mundane level, consciousness is used to describe group experiences of shared feelings and beliefs and sets of opinions such as in a tribal or national consciousness. It also refers to awareness of, or sensitivity to, a particular issue, for example health consciousness. There is that which we do not know about our selves, the so called unconscious, and there is this mysterious vastness called the collective unconscious which contains the all that is unknown in humanity's existence.

What Are Altered, Expanded & Non-ordinary States of Consciousness?

The popular scientific perception of expanded or so called "altered states of consciousness" is that they are states induced by psychoactive drugs, especially hallucinogens and alcohol. The expression 'altered state of consciousness' has been defined as any condition which is significantly different from a waking beta wave state, our normal brain wave pattern, which is when we are active, busy, anxiously thinking and actively concentrating: the state most valued by this culture.

Pink lotus - Nelumbo nucifera, sacred waterlily
Every one of us experiences a non-ordinary state of consciousness each night when we sleep and dream. It includes even drowsiness, hypnosis, meditation, trance, euphoria, bliss and psychosis, as well as premonitions and channeling. Other heightened, altered states happen during intense emotional times when we are around birth or death, experience traumatic events or accidents, during fevers, sleep deprivation, fasting, oxygen deprivation and nitrogen narcosis (deep diving) and in near death and out-of-body experiences.

The intensity of these experiences heightens our awareness of our true feelings and of our body's reactions. Time seems to slow down, our priorities shift as our focus narrows. We find ourselves behaving in exceptional ways, for good and ill. The very meaning of life transforms at these pivotal times and our sense of what truely matters may change forever.

Meditation and devotional practices including prayer, chanting, specific forms of singing, music and yoga, the use of sensory deprivation, isolation tanks or mind-control techniques and hypnosis also alter our consciousness as does the ecstasy of orgasm and deep tantric union.

For thousands of years medicine people and shamans in indigenous tribes have been rigorously trained from birth to enter into trance states. Among other things, they journey to the realms of spirit to bring back the person's soul or to effect healing for their people. They use sacred chants and sounds, herbs, smoke, crystals and other substances as tools. They recognize the interconnectedness of all life and that changes in one part of the field of consciousness affects other parts. By entering the spirit world, the shaman is able to affect the energy field of person needing healing. Shamans also access the spirit world to gain knowledge about the environments in which they live, including food sources, gain insights into the past, the future and relationship issues and to create rites of passages for their communities.

Pink lotus - Nelumbo nucifera, sweet scent of waterlilies
Specific forms of breathing cause shifts like the shamans created, allowing you to access a wide range of expanded and intensely focused states of consciousness: experiences of birth and death, archetypal identities, past and future lives, cosmic awareness of life on other planets and the geometric forms underpinning all life.

Another effective way to induce an expanded state of consciousness is using a variety of neurotechnology. Hemi-Sync, psychoacoustics, mind machines, light and sound stimulation and cranial electrotherapy stimulation induce specific brain wave patterns and specific non-ordinary states of consciousness.

So What Is "Normal" ?

The popular perception of what is "normal" only serves as a baseline for the initial awakening of Self consciousness. I encourage the view that each one of us has the potential for limitless connection and expansion, and in this view the "norm" is not the center, the Self is.

What passes for normal is merely a beginning point for the possible and is a lesser state of awareness than that with which we were born. Children naturally have access to a wider range of conscious states than average adults, including when asleep. Many indigenous cultures also retain access to a wider range of conscious states than western peoples as demonstrated by their inalienable connection to the Spirit of the Earth.

What was once the province of the occult and esoteric is becoming recognized as "real" through scientific inquiry and the study of the physical laws governing life, the universe and everything. Perhaps it is by admitting we don't know everything, that we can begin to know more.

Sacred lotus - Nelumbo nucifera, sweet scent of sacred temples

How Conscious Are You?

The degree to which you can become conscious is only limited by how fully present you can be to all your body's sensations, your thoughts, feelings and aware of the relationships to all that is happening in the world around you in any one moment:
  • How perceptive are you of your inner stimuli - your breath, your body's functions and sensations?
  • What are the limits of your hearing, sense of smell and vision?
  • Are you aware of the pulse of Life flowing through all living things?
  • Do you know where your water comes from?
  • How old is the food that you are eating and is it what your body needs?
  • How dynamic are your learning processes?
  • What are you feeling and thinking?
  • Can you create new feelings and actions when confronted with old patterns, beliefs and hurts?
  • How spontaneous are you when faced with new situations?
  • What kinds of images do you create when faced with stressful situations?
  • Do you understand how you create your life?
  • Is your imagination able to go beyond the borders of that which you currently know?
  • What are the fundamental stories you keep telling yourself?
  • Do you know what rules you, the past or fear of the future?

Sacred Waterlily - Nelumbo nucifera, the fragrance of the sacred


There is a profound shift that happens when we become more conscious. We experience a bone deep sense of belonging and create our lives from a place of imagination rather than fear or habit. Gaining mastery over our thoughts, feelings and actions, how we care for our body and the planet creates deep sense of peace and naturalness.

The process of incarnating different aspects of expanded consciousness seems quite extraordinary to our "normal" consciousness yet these experiences provide extraordinary healing and growth. They add much to the richness of life, increase our tolerance of different cultures, religious beliefs and ideologies and they access a reliable natural source of wisdom to respond to life's challenges. Most of all, by expanding our consciousness and learn how to do relationships, we become what we all most long for, love.

Experiencing the wonders of the worlds within and outside ignites the imagination, providing access to greatly needed creative energies, opening the pathways for new solutions to many of our old dilemmas. The journey of life becomes one of evolution rather than being caught in the devolution that is happening to much of our world. We become the dance of opposites, accepting of the polarities and mystery of Life. Expanded states of consciousness offer peace to the continually questing soul, remind us of the power of our connections and open us to the freedom of our true place in this world.

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