The Transcendence Institute’s spiral course is coming to an end, so now is a good time for you to look back over the last three years or so of learning and meditation and consider what benefits and gains you have achieved over that time, to see if you have in fact become more transcended over that time. To judge if you are more aware of your environment and your mind, to see if you have gained any control over your body or your thoughts.
You have spent time meditating on your awareness of your perception, focusing intently on the images, sounds, smells and feelings which your body experiences, attempting to grow neural connections in your brain to improve your ability to pay attention to these things. Have you noticed any results? If you look at a painting, or a sky, or anything around you in your environment are you better able to really focus and enjoy the experience of seeing it, of noting how the sight is composed, what it’s made up of? Perhaps you’ve become more keenly aware of colours, or of background sounds, or just of the fact that you are seeing, touching, hearing, feeling.
You also worked on building awareness of yourself, of your emotional states and thoughts and confidence. Visualising yourself exhibiting some trait to prime your mind to notice more often when you actually perform according to that trait later, to help your mind grow towards a more positive self image. Not by bending your self perception, not by lying to yourself about who you are, but by actually tending towards improvement. Noticing it. Practising it. Becoming it. Consider your self image now, compare it to the way it was two years ago. Are you more aware of your image? Have you improved it? Are you better able to control your moods, simply as a result of being more aware of them?
One of our meditations was designed to make you more aware of the fact you do not directly experience the world at all, that you are locked away inside your own virtual reality, hallucinating a world behind your eyes. You have been trying to become more aware of this fact while simultaneously improving the match between the virtual model which you exist in and the physical universe outside your mind. Have you been successful in this? How often have you wondered if you are mistaken and checked? Have you had lucid dreams in which your hallucinated virtual world is almost completely disconnected from the physical universe and compared that with your waking experience? Do you think you have managed to understand, on a gut level, your place in the universe in your mind, and the universe outside your skin?
Does your increased awareness of your perceptions, your self, and your model of reality improve your life at all? Have you been able to use this improvement as a base from which to improve the other spiral skills?
You should have been practising using simple visualisation and mnemonic techniques to improve your memory. Do you have a nice loci system, an imaginary path of at least ten locations filled with treasured memories, reminders, todo tasks? If you’ve been practising associating numbers with letters and words and characters and stories you should have a much richer network of associations and semantics for dealing with numbers, remembering them, identifying with them. Has this improved your memory? Are you more, or less, likely to be able to chunk, encode, and recall something now than a few years back?
Not only should you have been using deep visualisation techniques to learn to burn your initial memories deeper, but you should have also been practising refreshing those important memories often. Keeping them alive longer. Focusing on the memories you want to keep, and trying to ignore those you find less pleasant. Directing your memory, taking conscious control over it. Has this practise helped? Have you improved? If you want to, do you know how to remember things for longer, recall them more easily?
Dream recall has also been practised, trying to exercise those memory circuits by giving them a good workout. Are you better able to recall your dreams, or even use your lucid dreams to refresh and relive memories on demand? How does having this improved memory affect the rest of your life? The rest of the skills in the spiral?
You have been becoming more conscious of your emotional reactions to the world, to events. Using memory and your awareness of those reactions to gain better control over your mood, by recalling events which put you into some desired mind-state. Ponder how that’s been working. Are you becoming closer to your ideal mood? Are you more aware of the things which provoke emotional reactions, are you getting more control over those reactions? Either to heighten, or to dampen, them?
In exploring the manifestation of sentience and sapience in your own life you have been learning to see how a mind turned to study itself can push consciousness up from basic reaction through awareness to full experience, even on to understanding and beyond to higher levels of consciousness. How far along this path do you think you are? How far have you come in the last couple of years? Has the experience of meditating on these things, directing your neural networks to form semantic relationships between the concepts, helped you to grow into a higher state of consciousness?
You worked on trying to take some conscious control of your body, to become conscious of your immune system, even to guide it, direct it and encourage it to focus and use the placebo effect to your advantage. Has there been an improvement in your general health? Are you more aware of your body’s needs, the way it communicates with your consciousness?
If you have raised your consciousness, how has this affected your abilities in life? Has it also enabled you to improve the other spiral skills? Does it seem to you that conscious thinking about a mental skill helps you to understand and so improve upon it? Helps your mind to grow more flexible?
Improving your diet gives your body, and thus your brain and so your mind, the elements it needs to function properly. Have you successfully learned to enjoy more healthy foods? Have you increased the range and variety of your culinary adventures? You have at least been learning to associate good foods more directly with good experiences, and so teach your mind to actually enjoy those tastes more. If you have managed to eat better over the last few years, how has this affected the functioning of your brain? Has it also improved your health? Your fitness?
Not only have you been stretching and improving your mind, you should also have been stretching and exercising your muscles, drilling your body both to improve it and to become more in tune with it, more able to listen to it and improve your kinaesthetic senses. Assuming you have been doing the exercise routine on which we based the second lap of the spiral, and even doing more yoga or pilates or alexander technique classes, has this actually improved the shape of your body? Your awareness of how it moves, how it responds. Has even your posture and gait improved?
If your body and your relationship with it have indeed improved, how has this been reflected in the other spiral skills? Does being fit, healthy, and well fed make your feel mentally more agile? Have you improved your gut grasp of the correlations, and thus your very desire to keep in top form?
In practising using your imagination, you will have been exercising and thus growing it. Do you feel more imaginative now than you did when you first started working on it? Have you been able to apply techniques like artificial limitation to guide your imaginings? Do you see yourself as more, or less, full of ideas and inspiration than before? If you do have more ideas, more imaginative thoughts, how have these helped you in life?
Your intuition, too, should have been improved by drilling it and focusing on it as you have. Do you get those vague creeping feelings more often now? Are you more able to judge if they are right, wrong, or in need of more investigation? We have often talked about a “gut level understanding” and this is usually perceived as the kind of vague intuitions which most people have. Have you been able to sharpen up those intuitions? To understand them better? How has this helped in your life? How has it helped you improve in other areas?
You have also been working on your reasoning powers. Gaining an intuitive feel for the way information flows around the world, and around your head. You will have improved your reason, your logic, your ability to use things like a pen and paper, or a computer, or mathematics and the study of history or other subjects to improve your reasoning. Does this clear and reasonable way of thinking about the world also work when applied to thinking about yourself? Have you been able to think clearly about the other spiral skills, and how has doing so enabled you to improve them still further?
In some ways the whole of the Transcendence Spiral course here has been a way of practising self-change, taking some conscious control of the influences on your own mind, learning to program your own brain. You started by simply learning to select perceptions more finely. To tune out the things you don’t need to concentrate on and make your concentration into a sharp focused point. Have you been practising doing this? Using your mental filters more effectively? If so, have they improved? Has their improvement enabled you to program your mind better and thereby improve all the other spiral skills?
You’ve spent much time in many of our meditations learning to become more suggestible, to enter a more trance-like hypnotic state in which your mind seems easier to program with suggestions and visualisation. Has this worked? Are you more able to enter that kind of state at will, and thus to better reprogram your mind? Are you better at finding realistic and true affirmations to say to yourself rather than focusing on your failures and disappointments?
Bio-programming isn’t just about influencing your own mind of course. In life you will inevitably also influence others. Have you been better able to do this when needed? To build a rapport with others, influence them in arguments, tell an emotionally evocative story? Have you been better able to pick those who influence you, to direct your own development by choosing your friends?
Is an ability to program your own mind an advantage in learning to improve all the other spiral skills?
Speaking of other people, you have been trying to improve your abilities at judging their moods, their tells, their body language and social hierarchies. Consider whether you have in fact improved these skills, if your social perception is better than it was back when you began. Consider also if being a better judge of other people’s intent and intentions has enabled you to learn from them more efficiently, and how this might have affected your general transcendence, your ability with each of the spiral skills.
As well as learning to better receive social signals, you have been learning to better send them. To improve your gait, your stance, your posture, your language and tone, the muscles on your face and around your eyes, the glint in your eye. These things are all constantly communicating things about you and helping to build other people’s image of you. Have you been practising improving them? Visualising your increasing ability? How has this affected people’s opinion of you? And indeed your opinion of yourself?
Your linguistic skills, the words you pick, their emotional and associative content and affect on others have been worked on over the course of this course. You’ve been thinking about the way words help build that virtual model in your head, the way they allow you to change the state of your brain on demand with mere utterances. How has this helped you? How has it improved your ability to learn to improve the other spiral skills?
Any species as deeply social and cooperative as ours simply can’t evolve without developing systems to raise the collective karma of societies. To build systems which ensure people help each other, since then they will each, individually, gain far more than they lose from playing their small part in helping others. Emotional systems have evolved in our species to ensure we in general like each other, and are keen to help. You have tried to develop these emotions, to feel increased love and passion for the world and the other people in it. Have you been successful? Have your visualisations helped? If so, how has that affected your relationships with others, and the help they are willing to give you? Has helping others also helped you to develop your social skills, your perception, the other transcendence abilities?
As your empathy skills have improved, have you found yourself with a deeper understanding of others, a desire to improve the lot of not just yourself but the other people around you. Your friends, your family, your nation, your world? Would spreading these kinds of values make your society, and so your life, better? How would that better life affect your abilities to concentrate on and improve the other spiral skills?
As you’ve likely seen from your answers to these kinds of questions, each of the spiral skills leads in turn to improvement in the other skills, twisting you around Transcendence Mountain, spiralling upwards towards the heights of transcendence. Since nobody has even reached a point where improvement in those skills is impossible, we can only assume that even as this course ends you are not yet fully transcended, since there is no “fully” in transcendence.
So where do you go from here? We’ll answer that question next week.