What is an altered state of consciousness and who was Ricky Jay?
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Today’s blog is being written in a small hotel in Tel Aviv, Israel. The ocean is beautiful. We leave for the Holy City Of Jerusalem in an hour. In a day we are off to the Golan Heights near the Syrian Border. Always looking to making the world a better place.
Why I am Mourning Today – a Great Master has passed on – Ricky Jay
As a mentor, peak performance coach, and game-based strategist I have always sought out great thinkers and world-class game-based strategists to model.
One of the best was Ricky Jay. He was a magician, a scholar, a visionary, and someone who knew how to bring someone into altered state of conscious through sleight of hand and slight of mind.
Ricky passed away yesterday. Here is an article and video about him. He had a great influence on my work as problem-solver, influence, and strategist.
Now for today’s question
Q. What is an altered state of consciousness?
A. An altered state of consciousness can be defined as a short-term shift in an individual’s experience, such that the rational choices are clearly altered from an individual’s typical state of consciousness. There are many ways that one’s consciousness can be altered.
When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut. Now I like to call myself a psychonaut. A psychonaut is a person who explores the human soul, mind, or spirit through the use of altered states of consciousness.
Of course, there is no universal definition for the human soul, mind or spirit. Like Lao Tzu’s description of the Tao these are concepts that dominate, underly, and influence all that we are and do and yet all descriptions of their structure and function fall short of the truth about them. We call these things spirit, inner self, ego, true being, a spark of the divine, the One, Logos, persona, subconscious, mind, intellect, inner self, ego, true being, persona, mind, intellect, subconscious and anima.
We can talk about these things all day, but when doing this we are experiencing nothing related to that of which we speak. We are in essence, an empty teacup. There is form here but no content.
So how do we become the tea, as well as the cup? One approach is defined in many ways, but it is described in the same way, as “an altered state of consciousness (ASC). Also called altered state of mind, mind alteration, or altered state of awareness, it is any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking state. Of course in many instances and for many people the line between what is normal, ordinary, and extraordinary is quite thin. The expression was first used in the 1890s in relation to hypnosis, however, there has never been a specific definition and the term is used to mean different things to neuroscientists, psychologists, philosophers, Psychonauts, Western Shamans, and mystics.
Since there is no general definition of an altered state of consciousness, as any definitional attempt would firstly have to rely on a definition of a normal state of consciousness, what we are exploring here is the Theory of Everything as well as the Theory of Nothing.
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
The first formal definition of an altered state of consciousness was made by the psychiatrist Arnold M. Ludwig 1966. According to Ludwig “An altered state is any mental state(s), induced by various physiological, psychological, or pharmacological maneuvers or agents, which can be recognized subjectively by the individual himself (or by an objective observer of the individual) as representing a sufficient deviation in subjective experience of psychological functioning from certain general norms for that individual during alert, waking consciousness.”
Starting from this Charles Tart, an American psychologist and parapsychologist focused his definition on the subjective experience of a state of consciousness and its deviation from a normal waking state. Tart stated, “Altered states of consciousness are alternate patterns or configurations of experience, which differ qualitatively from a baseline state.” Tart added that an altered state of consciousness is a profound change in the “overall pattern of subjective experiences”.
The psychologist William G. Farthing adds to Tarts definition, that an ASC is short-termed or at least reversible and that it might not even be recognized as an ASC at that moment. His definition relies only on subjective experience, leaving aside behavioral changes and physiological response. Farthing states “An altered state of consciousness (ASC) may be defined as a temporary change in the overall pattern of subjective experience, such that the individual believes that his or her mental functioning is distinctly different from certain general norms for his or her normal waking state of consciousness”.
Altered states of consciousness, sometimes called non-ordinary states, include various mental states in which the mind can be aware but is not in its usual wakeful condition, such as during hypnosis, meditation, hallucination, trance, and the dream stage.* Altered states can occur anywhere from yoga class to the birth
One approach is to define consciousness as “Supra,” “Super,” “Sub,” and “ordinary,” “Ego,” “Primal Reptilian.” Let’s explore each of these.
- Supra-conscious -Typically referred to as the ‘collective consciousness’ or ‘group consciousness’. Its the idea that we all share and are apart of consciousness/data set/communication node/ understanding. Through this nexus, information, emotions, ebb and flow of momentum are shared, in some gradient form, to all other conscious beings connected. The spiritual equivalent would be something akin to the I AM Over-soul, Christ (non-religious form) Over-soul and/or Over-soul. Anecdotal evidence of such level/type of consciousness can be found in the ideas of ‘mob mentality’, walking into a room of people and knowing the mood without words being spoken, etc.
- Super-Conscious – This is the higher self. The you that is the greatest you that is possible. Spiritual equivalency is the spirit, the Lightbody, the etheric body, Apex you, the Adam Kardoman. Also and depending on the particular breakdown, attainment of Christ Consciousness (again, non-the religious affiliation. If you doubt, remind yourself that Christ was a title, NOT a name..eg, Jesus the Christ)
- Sub-Conscious – the hidden you. The YOU that you don’t let others see but that those that are close to you see after a long period of time. The voice you hear in your head that feels empathy, sympathy, compassion, judgment, etc., that talks to you when interacting with others or simply thinking about something internal and external to yourself.
- Ordinary Consciousness – This one is actually more nebulous to ID and to define in this setting. So for the sake of brevity, let’s call it the culmination of the above 3, in combination with the below 2, yet most identifiable by every decision you make. It is the YOU version that decided to read this, reply, scratch your nose, etc. It is the YOU that is getting most attention paid to.
- Ego – It is the level of consciousness that you present to the world. It is what you want the world to think you are. It is the YOU that you are striving to become. It is actually neutral in nature because it is a consciousness tool used by the previous level to HELP (not determine) who you are going to be in the next moment to yourself and others. Unfortunately, we live in a predominately Ego-Centrist system so not only has the ego gotten a bad rap but its also typically warped into what external sources say we need to be full, cool, acceptable, in-the-know, etc.
- Primal/Reptilian: It is the base level you. It is like ‘single strand’ consciousness that needs to eat, breath, drink water, procreate.
Again, please keep in mind that, that was a simple breakdown and a culmination of several different perspectives from hundreds of years ago to present. Also, if there are some terms in there that aren’t familiar, please don’t hesitate to ask further or check them out. And as always, I encourage everyone to challenge anything said. By doing so, you will either confirm what you already think or learn something new. To watch Ricky Jay work was to be drawn ino an altered state.
Here is a detailed article about Ricky Jay from the New Yorker.
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