Below, I will outline some suggested strategies that I have found to be instructive in elevating the energetic or consciousness level of the hundreds of students and clients I have worked with through the years. This is in no way meant to be an inclusive list, but it is a wonderful primer for those who are just venturing into the field of human energy or consciousness.
Be mindful of what you consume in every way. If everything is energy, including you, then you need to be mindful of the energies you are exposed to and consume. Our culture is geared toward lower energies. According to research done by Dr. Bruce Schneider, founder of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, the Average Resonating Energy Level of "mainstream America" at 2.4 of a 7 point scale. This is in the range of what Schneider describes as "catabolic" energy. Catabolic energy is not supportive to life. This means that energy at these lower levels detract from life, or are not life enhancing. In relation to the body, these energies cause illness and disease; in relation to one's emotions, these energies create disharmony such as anxiety, anger, depression or despair. A good deal of what is available in mainstream culture will not enhance your energy or consciousness. The places we go, the things we read, watch on TV, listen to and even eat, all impact our overall energy level. Consuming stories about rape, murder and hate crimes serve no purpose when one is committed to living a high-consciousness life. Spending time engaged in addictive behavior, or with people who are chronically negative and blaming will not serve to enhance your quality of life.
Television or music that is violent in nature, or that speaks of hatred, anger and control creates inner disharmony at the energetic level. There have been numerous social science research studies that indicate that being exposed to violence, violent themes or hate-laden messages correlates with higher degrees of depression, aggression, anxiety and a decrease in overall compassion and empathy across demographic lines (Anderson, Gentile and Buckley, 2007, Bushman and Anderson, 2009, Hawkins, 2006, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009).
Consuming food that is processed, laden with toxic chemicals or created with inhumane methods creates similar disharmony in your body. (Robbins, 2001) The movement toward ethical treatment of animals, environmental sustainability, global resource equity and organic produce is reflective of a small, but growing subculture of "cultural creatives" (Ray and Anderson, 2001) who subscribe to higher consciousness values. Does your eating reflect your highest sense of yourself? Is it in alignment with your values for wellness, sustainability and nutrition? Or do you eat with no thought to what you are consuming, where it comes from, how your dollars and your choices impact the whole? All of this is reflective of your level of consciousness and energy, and the more you grow in consciousness, the more you will be mindful of what and how you eat. This mindfulness leads to an overall increase in your well-being and state of mind, which in turn serves to raise your consciousness further (Freston, 2006).
Choosing media and materials that reflect high consciousness values will serve your growth and overall sense of well being. There are many positive, uplifting, high-energy web based radio stations today such as UnityFM, Wisdom Radio Network and Achieve Radio. There are wonderful movies produced and distributed by Spiritual Cinema Circle. Upbeat magazines such as Ode, Unity, Science of Mind, Shambhala Sun and many more can satisfy our craving for information, while supporting our growth and development.
Keep a gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal is a wonderful practice that supports you in focusing on "what's working" rather than on "what's broken" in one's life. This simple, yet powerful practice every morning or evening (or better yet, both!) of making a list of things for which you are grateful trains your mind to notice and give attention to those elements in your life that serve your purpose and mission and are supportive in your life. I encourage people to stretch – not just to write two or three items, but to list ten to fifteen thoughts per day. When one commits to this practice over time, it works on your subconscious level and you start noticing things during the day that you can add to your list! What a fun thing to practice! By focusing on positive elements of life, and expressing gratitude for them, you are raising your consciousness.
Professor Robert Emmons of the University of California found that the practice of keeping a gratitude journal can increase happiness levels as much as 25% among people who engage in this practice as little as three or four times per week for only three weeks. It is true that the more we train our minds to capture the simple joys in life, the more we are able to savor the profound miracle of being alive.
One's gratitude list doesn't have to be profound or deep. It can be simple as this:
Today I am grateful for:
1. Time alone with my son yesterday
2. A good workout this morning
3. A great lunch out with Sue
4. Closing the deal with my client yesterday
5. Hot tea on a cold morning
6. My cat sitting on my lap while I write this and his purring against my belly
7. Waking up to what a great life I really have
8. Being willing to work on myself
9. Having great health that supports everything I want to do in life
10. My precious spouse, every day
The content of the daily list is less important than the practice itself. For people new to this practice, recollecting positive occurrences or simple pleasures may feel contrived. Give it time. Let it work in you. You will notice subtle shifts in how you see things, how you relate to the world and those around you. There is a good chance others will notice too! Lifting your energy benefits everyone around you, so give gratitude a try!
Spend time with positive, high energy people. I've heard it said before that if you want to know what you are like, look at those people with whom you spend the majority of your time. Like attracts like on the energetic plane – so you are naturally drawn to people of similar Average Resonating Levels. One important way to grow in your Energetic Leadership is to be intentional about spending time with people who lift you up rather than drag you down. You know exactly what this means, but sometimes it can be hard to face the "hard truth" that you've grown apart from former close friends, or even relatives. This is not to say that you need to disengage entirely from these people. It simply means that you are mindful about surrounding yourself with people who support your highest good, and who can benefit from your support in return.
Use affirmations to elevate your thoughts. The use of affirmations has been on the receiving end of some sardonic humor over the past decade or so, being seen as some sort of new age fad. Nothing could be further from the truth. The use of affirmations simply has not been well understood by those in the mainstream (this is reflective of the Average Resonating Level of mainstream culture being below 3.0. It will diminish anything that it does not understand that is life sustaining). Let's go back to the thought that everything is energy – including you. Not only are you comprised of energy, but your thoughts are as well. So if you can stand in the premise that "thoughts are things" and things carry an energy, then you can see that how you think, either unconsciously (that inner rambling voice in your head) or intentionally (prayer, mantras, affirmations) also carry an energy to them. Sit for five or ten minutes and simply think about the death of a loved one, or losing your home or business. See what happens in your body, how you feel emotionally, how it effects your attitudes or outlook in the moment – or even in the following hours. Then spend five or ten minutes thinking about something pleasing – landing a new contract, falling in love, purchasing a home that you've wanted or other similar experiences. See how you feel after spending a few moments in pleasant thought. Your mind and body will respond to the energy of your thoughts. This is always occurring; we just are unaware of the powerful effect our thoughts have on us all the time.
Affirmations are simple to use. They are a short, positive statement held in mind. The potential pitfall is to think of them like your "mental Santa Clause" and believe they will bring you things that you wish to obtain. I don't suggest that approach, and in fact, I believe that is what has given affirmations such a negative connotation in our culture. I recommend using affirmations to cultivate a way of being, an energy level and consciousness. (That is not to say that affirmatins are not effective in drawing things to you – they can be). As one begins using affirmations, it is important to know that the higher one's level of consciousness, the more effective one's affirmations will be.
I recommend affirmations along the lines of this:
I have the wisdom I need to face any and all circumstances.
My heart is full of love, and I am loved in return.
Joy is my compass and I follow it with passion.
I give and receive love in ever expanding ways.
I am peaceful in the face of all circumstances.
I grow in awareness every day in every way.
As you fill your mind with the energy of high consciousness thoughts, you literally become that which you think about. There is a magic and a power to this practice that cannot be described, but can only be experienced. Spiritual teachers and success coaches in every discipline have taught this principle for hundreds of years (Earnest Holmes, The Science of Mind; Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich; Charles Fillmore, The Atom Smashing Power of Mind; Anthony Robbins, Unleash the Power Within).
Develop the skill of acknowledging others and do it often. One sure-fire way to elevate your consciousness is to enhance the lives and experience of those around us, and I've found no better way of doing that than through the art and practice of acknowledgment. Acknowledgment is a way of truly seeing the best in others, often when they are not aware of it on their own. It is recognizing the essence of someone's deeds, their good intentions, their commitment in a matter, their "highest self." We so often overlook the simple act of noticing. We live in a culture geared toward speed and "busyness," often at the expense of deeper connection, greater kindness, and appreciation. It requires no more time to be acknowledging than it does to be critical, and the outcomes are amazing. You can literally begin to mold other people's way of being around you by acknowledging them for what you see in them and want to call forth at a deeper level. For example, "You care so much about our office operations going smoothly. I so appreciate that about you. Thank you for noticing that we were behind on our mailings and getting that caught up in record time." Or it can be as simple as, "Thank you, that really made a difference for me." Letting people know that they are contributing to your life, and being able to say so in a heart-centered way, can transform even the most challenging relationships.
Keep a journal. Most people have very little sense of their inner world, their mental clamoring, and their endless judgments and opinions. This lack of awareness prevents one from being able to elevate consciousness. All change, in any area of life, begins with awareness. A wonderful tool for the development of greater awareness of one's inner world is through the use of journaling. There are many methods taught for this practice, but I like the simple act of recounting one's thoughts and feelings about what is occurring in and around one's life, one's reflections on it, the ways it hurts or brings joy. What you most want to notice in your journal is what you most tend to notice in your life and record in your journal! That, in itself. is a wonderful indicator of your level of consciousness. Are you mostly writing complaints, negative opinions, upsets and validating your own sense of being right about something? Or are you able to notice what's working in your life, or to be curious about the experience of others without making harsh judgments or jumping to conclusions about someones behavior or choices?
Practice mindfulness meditation. There have been volumes written on this topic, so I cannot do it justice in a short summary here. Let me say a few key points about the practice of mindfulness meditation however. It is incredibly instructive into one's inner world and how one's mind operates. You will get to know yourself very well with only a few short days of 10 or 20 minutes of practice. It will ease your mind, calm your body, soothe your soul. It reduces anxiety, depression, and lowers levels of stress hormones in your body (Kabat-Zinn, 1991). If the benefits of mindfulness meditation could be put in a pill, there would never be enough of it manufactured to meet the demand. It is an enormously under-utilized practice, simply because most people either do not understand it, or don't believe something so simple could be so powerful. It is simple, and it is that powerful.
In simple terms, the practice of mindfulness meditation is simply sitting quietly and noticing your thoughts, and then letting each thought go back into the ether from where it came. One may choose to focus on counting one's breath as a centering point, and then simply notice when the mind has wandered off track from the counting. Or to watch a candle flicker, and notice when the mind is no longer on the candle. Or one may choose a simple mantra such as the name of God or the phrase "peace, be still" to repeat over and over again, and notice when the mind is no longer with the mantra and is off and running into wild mind land!
Author Jon Kabat-Zinn has been instrumental in bringing mindfulness meditation to mainstream culture and medicine. He was the founding director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical Center 30 years ago, and it is now taught in hospitals, clinics and mental health settings all over the world as a means to reduce pain, anxiety, depression and phobias.
The use of mindfulness in elevating one's consciousness is to increase one's awareness of the rambling thoughts, fears, worries, and lower consciousness states that are often below one's consciousness awareness. Once one becomes "the noticer" of one's lower emotions through the practice of mindfulness, it is incredibly easier to "let it go" and recognize the repetitious manner of one's mind. As one is able to let go of these lower states, one automatically is lifted up into higher and higher levels of thought and emotion, similar to how a helium balloon floats to the clouds once it is no longer weighted down or tethered to the earth in some way.
Deal with any and all of your addictions. Let's face it, your growth will only be maximized to the level at which you're willing to heal. Most of our mainstream culture thinks of the term "addictions" as something that only occurs to people who end up in some rehab facility, or who are destitute and out on the streets. Nothing could be further than the truth. The amount of addiction in our culture is staggering. It is probably not far off to say that we ALL are dealing with some sort of addiction at some level or another if we are living in this day and age. It is important to recognize that there are two types of addictions: substance addictions – which are most commonly recognized in our culture, such as to drugs and alcohol, and process addictions – which are much less recognized and more easily concealed, to things such as shopping, spending, sex, acquisition and accumulation, the internet, pornography and gambling. What is largely overlooked is our more subtle addictions, to things that are not considered harmful, such as to sweets, caffeine, "comfort foods" and chocolate. Addiction, from a broader perspective, is any activity that one engages in repeatedly, that serves to buffer one from their emotions and the stress or demands of one's outer life. So given that definition, who is devoid of addiction today!? Not many of us. It's not necessarily to say that one should forgo every joy or pleasure, it is more to the point of being aware of one's cravings, what they mean in the broader context of our growth in life, and how one responds to them. Cravings represent a lower level of consciousness, so when one routinely "gives in to" a craving, rather than using it as a path toward deeper insight into one's soul, then growth is stifled. At this level of consciousness, once a craving or desire is satisfied, it is immediately replaced with the desire for something else. Hence, there is no sense of inner peace, or inner satisfaction with self, life or the world (Hawkins, 2006)
Engage in consistent spiritual practices. Research has shown over and over again that people who have a faith in a higher power of some sort, a belief in God, and who participate in some sort of spiritual practices and/or community indicate higher levels of happiness and satisfaction in life. Which comes first? Do happy people seek out spiritual practices and communities or does a rich and vibrant spiritual connection lead one to greater happiness? This is a question worthy of further exploration. But for our purposes here, it is instructive to note that spiritual practice leads one to higher levels of consciousness, and the higher one's level of consciousness, the greater one's level of happiness and satisfaction overall. The content or type of practice is less important than the occurrence of the practice. Although, there are communities and teachings that resonate at a very low level of consciousness. New spiritual seekers need to be mindful of the principles taught, and whether or not they are in alignment with high consciousness attributes and calibrations.
I have already mentioned what some consider to be spiritual practices above, such as the daily use of a gratitude journal, personal journaling, and mindfulness meditation. These practices can indeed bring one into closer contact with Divinity, or one's "Higher Self," as do practices of prayer, spiritual song, forgiveness, and participation in a spiritual community (church, temple, ashram, meditation, yoga or other spiritual center). Many people also find a spiritual home in the 12-Step programs and recovery movement such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Over Eaters Anonymous, Al-Anon and so forth.
Read uplifting and/or spiritually enlightened literature and material. Reading high consciousness material will serve to elevate your consciousness. Part of the transformation process involves education and learning about the field of consciousness, how it applies to you, and what you can do to grow in consciousness. Similar to the birth of the psychology movement in the 60's, the growth in studying and understanding states of consciousness is the new frontier in human development. Reading on high energy topics such as happiness, love, joy, peacefulness or spirituality will serve the same purpose as reading material regarding the field of consciousness.
Take close note of your values, and see to what degree you are living in alignment with them. This principle is the age old "walk your talk" adage. We live in a fairly hypocritical culture where we have seen the likes of political leaders humiliated with all kinds of illegal behavior, conservative Christian teachers of "traditional family values" coming out as having multiple illicit homosexual lovers, Catholic priests exposed as pedophiles, and white-washed images of professional athletes crumble with the reality of their human frailty. We state that we value integrity, but when one looks closely enough, there is a gross misalignment between what many people say they value, and how they actually live.
Alignment is a high energy trait of creating a life of integrity. In this use of the word, integrity is not a moral stance, but more similar to the structural integrity of a building. Integrity with one's word is the solid foundation upon which one's life can be built. Integrity means that we can be counted on, and more importantly, we can count on ourselves, to live what we espouse to believe.
Adopt a high-consciousness principle and live by it in all circumstances, all the time, with no exception (Hawkins, 2006) An example of this would be "Be kind to all," or "Revere all life, in all it's expressions, no matter what." You would make a commitment to yourself to live by such a principle, and then find ways of reminding yourself about it (such as setting an alarm on your schedule to go off once an hour as a reminder, writing it in your daily planner, putting a note on your car dashboard and desk, or other similar structures). In this way, you learn to give yourself over to something – a tenant or a principle and have your life be "used by" something larger than the clamoring of your ego-laden mind. You know the one I'm talking about; the part of your mind that is full of opinions, judgments, criticisms, wanting to look good and be right and have things go your way. Once you train your mind to live inside of a principle such as being kind to all things in all circumstances, with no exception, no matter what, you begin to notice the degree to which unkind thoughts plagued your consciousness.
We all know people who perhaps are not the most spiritually inclined, nor particularly thoughtful or deep, and yet they have a way about them, a pleasantness or kindness that simply draws others to them, and puts others at ease. This is the type of outcome one can expect from choosing this method of consciousness elevation. David Hawkins, a consciousness researcher and teacher based in Sedona, Arizona calls this practice that of "making one's life a living prayer" (Hawkins, 2006). What you will find with the consistent application of one or two simple principles, is that deeper spiritual truths and an increased awareness of the world will automatically emerge. When one loosens one's grip on lower states of consciousness, the higher states simply emerge into the space where the lower states once lived.