As therapists, can we offer our clients a magic bullet? Generally, I’m not a believer in magic bullets or saviors. But what if there is one? What if there is a way to help our clients—and us—alleviate suffering. Wouldn’t you want that for yourself? And if it repeatedly works, by following a precise protocol, is that magic, or just a great technique?
The Magic Bullet
Consciousness is the state of being awake, aware of what is happening, and having a sense of self. And, consciousness is the canvas on which psychotherapists paint. As we ply the tools of our craft our clients experience new colors, textures, and stories within their consciousness. The result, if we do our jobs well, is that our clients feel more awake, aware, and experience greater satisfaction in themselves.
And although therapists help many people, I’m suggesting that we are only scratching the surface, and the reason is because most of our work occurs at a lower level of consciousness. It is at this lower level that most problems are created, and therefore, this is the level on which we are focused—mistakenly.
I am proposing that our consciousness operates at three different levels. Yes, I’m aware that some people identify many more levels, but for the sake of the process I’m sharing with you, three is the magic number.
The first level is “safety-consciousness.” This is the level at which most of us spend a majority of our lives, focused on making ourselves feel safe, which includes being productive, accomplishing things, competing, as well as defending ourselves when we perceive any kind of threat.
The second level of consciousness is “heart-consciousness.” This is the level at which we turn on our attachment circuits and stimulate emotions such as longing, desire, grief, loss, passion and compassion. As we become better able to access “heart-consciousness,” we find it easier to relate with people in healthy and mature ways.
And, one might think that most couples therapy would stimulate heart-consciousness, yet, based on what I have observed and read, a great deal of couples therapy is stimulating safety-consciousness because so much focus is placed on what individuals need in order to feel safe. Although some attention needs to be paid to helping people feel safe, too much attention at that level of consciousness impedes personal growth.
Both safety-consciousness and heart-consciousness serve vital roles in our lives. But when we approach life from these levels of consciousness we limit ourselves. So, although they are both necessary, they are insufficient to reduce our anxiety—even eliminate it—and tap into our true potential.
There is another way.
The third level of consciousness is “spacious-consciousness.” When we access spacious-consciousness our perspective is so fundamentally altered that many—maybe most—of the issues we were previously focused on are no longer a concern. We transcend many of our psychological and emotional limitations.
It’s like installing a new operating system. Clink this link if you want to be notified when this “operating system” is available for you to play with.
As our levels of consciousness shift, so do all the ways in which we make meaning and interpret the events taking place in our lives. Can you imagine the kind of fresh interpretations and access to new resources our clients would have if they came to peace with their deepest existential concerns of death, isolation, how to make meaning of their lives, and the concern that time is running out?
Let’s use that last one as an example—time is running out. Well, at the level of safety-consciousness and heart-consciousness, it’s true—time is running out. We only have so much time. And this is probably the greatest cause of human anxiety. We all feel that time is a limited resource.
But, when we access spacious-consciousness we no longer use the measuring stick of time. We have entered a different realm.
“Time is an illusion.”
That’s what Einstein said. He also said, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved with the same level of thinking with which we created them.” And this is my central point. We create most of our problems from within a state of safety-consciousness or heart-consciousness, and if we want to bring about sustainable change, one of the most powerful ways I know to do so is to learn to access spacious-consciousness.
The first step
For therapists working with clients the first step is to learn to do this for yourself and then you can teach your clients how to access spacious-consciousness. By doing so you will dramatically alter the nature of the work you do. One can learn to access spacious-consciousness with relative ease. To master accessing and working within spacious-consciousness is more involved, but fully doable.
And for clients, there is nothing I know of that is more liberating, because once you learn how to access spacious-consciousness it is something you’ll have available forever.
I do want to be clear that spacious-consciousness alone does not solve all of our problems. We still need to learn certain skills and develop our emotional intelligence and maturity. But doing these things is easier after we have experienced spacious-consciousness.
After learning how to do this we can live with much greater ease in our lives; less drama and confusion. This is because as we access spacious-consciousness we create more space between any stimulus and our response to that stimulus. As a result of creating this space we can identify many more choices that are available to us in every situation.
To create more space in your life
If you want to learn more about this, click on this link and sign up to receive a fantastic new interactive learning tool as soon as it is released for publication. Not only will you learn specific spacious-meditation techniques, but you’ll also be invited to ask questions as you read this new kind of interactive E-book, and then receive a personalized response to your questions.