Enlightenment and Modern Psychology

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I want to wrap this series up with a discussion of how consciousness integration actually works, based on the model of modern psychology that Ananael presented in these comments and this post. (By the way, I also have a degree in psychology, and I can confirm that what he’s saying is essentially correct.)

And, having already thought about this model before writing the post, it does lead to good questions for future work. Which is what models should do: Suggest new ways to use and improve a technique. I’ll start with the model, then apply it to consciousness integration, and finish with the questions.

Ananael’s Basic Model

To paraphrase Ananael’s comments and post, there are 3 main parts of the psyche:

  • The thinking system, which handles your conscious thoughts. When someone asks you what’s on your mind, you report the contents of the thinking system.
  • The feeling system, which handles emotions.
  • The conditioning system, which processes classical and operant conditioning.

When I talk about the conscious mind, that’s probably the same as his thinking system. (Which is totally different than my term “thinking mind,” which encompasses all of these parts. Just so you’re aware.)

When I talk about semi-conscious areas, those areas live inside either the feeling system or the conditioning system.

(For more, read Ananael’s post.)

Consciousness Integration in that Model

Let me start with a few examples:

  • Starting simple: When I updated my behavior to brush my teeth earlier in the evening, that seems to live at the intersection of the thinking and conditioning systems. Conditioning because it’s a behavior pattern, and thinking because I had to focus on some logic of why this was good.
  • When I made myself more confident that people like me, that updated ingrained emotional responses, but also updated how I interpret situations and which clues I pay attention to. So, ingrained means it uses the conditioning system, but this pattern involved the other two, also.
  • When I increased my patience, that was a combination of eliminating triggers that made me impatient (conditioned emotional responses) and establishing a new emotional pattern based around the idea that staying calm reliably produces better outcomes. Again, all 3 systems.

So, consciousness integration seems to involve all three systems. But it does it in an interesting way:

The main technique involves magickally supporting your conscious mind while causing it to interact more heavily than usual with your conditioning and emotional systems. The support is so you can ensure that your conscious mind stays the same, while the other systems update to align to it. (Optionally, you can focus on a particular change you’d like to make.)

Now, what I’m about to say will sound strange, because we normally think of our conscious mind as ourselves. But when we’re talking about areas of my mind interacting, it’s most correct to say that my entire mind is me, and that my conscious mind is one component of that mind-as-a-whole.

Now, the strange-sounding observation: My conscious mind mediates the changes for me. See, I don’t connect directly to the conditioning or emotional systems and try to rewire them. Instead, I just help my conscious mind interact with them by exposing conflicts between the systems, and I make sure my conscious mind wins those conflicts. Unless I particularly try, I’m not even conscious of what the particular changes or disagreements are about.

That’s the key: You’re engaging the normal updating process of your mind — various systems conflicting and updating one another — while making sure the one you want to win, wins.

Future Work

Now that we have a better model of consciousness integration, I see new questions:

Should I use a different technique for updating the emotional system vs the conditioning system? My gut says yes: They operate quite differently, so they probably respond to different techniques. The differences might not even be magickal, it might just be a change in the thoughts you focus conscious mind on as you run the update.

Should I update my conscious mind? What system would I update it against?

Is it better to network all the emotional areas together before networking them with my conscious mind, or is it better to network each emotional area to conscious mind separately? Same question for the conditioning system. And, is it best to integrate the emotional and conditioning systems with each other, or just integrate each of them with conscious mind?

Are there other systems that require updates? Or other parts of each system that I haven’t networked into the integration yet?

Those are questions I’ll come back to next time I do enlightenment work.

At this point, I’ve spent roughly twice as long writing about enlightenment as I did actually doing the magick. Largely because of all the backstory, and all your great comments. It’s been fun, and educational, and a great growth experience for me as a writer. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Next, I think I’ll write some beginner-focused posts. Any requests?

Other posts in this series: If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

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