balanceWHAT AN AMAZING time to be on the planet. We are experiencing radical fundamental changes in the way we know and see ourselves and the world. The pace of change is accelerating rapidly. How do we keep our balance and best co-create who we are becoming during these extraordinary shifts?

As a transformational coach and a lifelong student and teacher of human development, I believe each of us already has what we need to make these shifts with ease, flow and grace: the capacity to advance towards higher consciousness. The answer lies in applying ancient wisdom and modern insight in our present moment. This cultivates our awareness and attention, and it leads to inner peace, balance, tolerance, harmony, vitality and equanimity. All of us, individually and collectively, are invited to intentionally expand towards higher consciousness.

So what is higher consciousness? I understand consciousness as a vast interconnected field of which all life is a part. You can imagine consciousness as a large web of seen and unseen connections that are changing and evolving continuously. Our individual awareness — our ability to perceive, realize and make meaning of our experience — dictates how much of this web we can access. As we realize higher levels of consciousness, our inner peace and worldview transform radically.

So how do you increase awareness? First you assess your current condition. Is my body, mind or emotions out of balance? Is my attention captured by worry, drama, emotional or physical distress, negative self-talk or judgment? Is my mind-body in a state of over-arousal with my fight-and-flight stress response cranked up?

When you find yourself in this state of lower consciousness primarily identified with ego and your small separate self, there are techniques designed to direct attention away from arousal and towards focus. These transformative practices — skills designed to center, quiet, still and open the mind-body-heart and focus attention and awareness in the present moment — will bring you back to balance. Concentrative practices, such as movement in yoga, qi gong, t’ai chi, listening to guided imagery, deep breathing while repeating a word in your mind, and affirmations, can be useful tools. Aromatherapy, biofeedback and art, such as writing, drawing, sculpting and making mandalas and collage, are excellent choices to facilitate healing our holes and moving us towards balance and wholeness.

Transformative practices cultivate conditions to move not only from dysfunction to optimal functioning of health and well-being, but continue to launch us to present-moment awareness and open-hearted wakefulness. Many reading this article are healers, teachers and leaders like yourself. You may have developed some mastery at sustaining calm, ease and flow. If you find yourself in this state of middle consciousness, transformative practices that cultivate wholeness and connection — such as mindfulness meditation, journaling, guided imagery, chant and music — expand awareness. Other techniques include studying symbol, myth, archetypes, practicing ritual or cultivating inner traits and attitudes such as gratitude. As your awareness opens further, you have more access to subtle energies like intuition, synchronicity, discernment, inspiration and revelation.

By continuing long-term transformative practices, you experience unity consciousness and develop a sense of harmony with all that is. That which remains unchanging, the ground of being from which all springs forth, remains the point of reference instead of that which is continuously changing. Often your initial taste is a momentary state of bliss. Any and all transformative practice can lead to this state of higher consciousness. You no longer experience a sense of practicing a technique as it becomes embodied at the fullest capacity. Practice becomes what is and disappears, along with all sense of separation. This process of expanding into higher consciousness shifts your self-identification from having holes to being whole — and ultimately knowing your Holiness.

This higher level of consciousness is essential to create new solutions in our rapidly changing world. Insight and delight arises when we relax, trust, quiet our minds, and generate new paradigms without the filters of limiting beliefs. Fortunately, it is a natural human tendency to move toward ever-expanding levels of consciousness. As our true nature is realized, our capacity to co-create who we are becoming personally, interpersonally, organizationally, in our families, communities, institutions and globally is enhanced beyond measure.

Michele Rae, through The Center Within, offers transformational coaching for personal, interpersonal and organizational growth and development. She has an office in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and offers private sessions in person, via Skype and phone. Join her the second Wednesday of the month from 6:30-8:30 p.m. for her Connection and Attunement classes at her HippHealth Minneapolis office. Michele also teaches at the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality and Healing in the health coaching program.

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