By George A. Boyd © 2021
Q: What cognitive strategies would help me make progress in my personal life? Which cognitive strategies are helpful in spiritual development?
A: Personal cognitive strategies are primarily functions of the intellect. Spiritual cognitive strategies are functions of the intuition and Illumined mind in the Superconscious mind.
Personal cognitive strategies include:
- Goal setting – This visualizes a clear goal image. It determines a plan to achieve it. Then, you execute that plan.
- Empathic listening – This operates when you listen to the words of other people and sense their meaning; this can take the form of internal dialog with subpersonalities to understand your psychological issues.
- Project management – This identifies the steps of multiple activities and scheduling them so they are coordinated, and the end product is delivered on time and within the allotted budget. This can be applied to organizing homework assignments in school, caring for children and family and coordinating each family member’s schedule, and to achieve work objectives.
- Creative listening – This receives ideas from the Subconscious and Metaconscious mind and organizes them in a “presentation envelope”—for example, as music, poetry, an essay, a screenplay, or a marketing proposal.
- Analysis and testing – This subjects hypotheses to rigorous testing and uses specific criteria to determine whether the findings are valid. This is the primary approach of scientific research.
- Introspection – This searches your conscience and notices how you have deviated from your standards and moral values. It looks for solutions to improve your behavior and reform your character.
- Synthesis – This ties together the contribution of multiple factors in a system to enable you to visualize the whole, and to understand the relative influence of each factor with that system. It identifies key factors within the system that can be “perturbed,” to bring about necessary, desired changes.
There are also spiritual cognitive strategies drawn from Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of Intuition; Raja Yoga; and other invocational techniques. These include:
- Yoganidra – This examines the track of one level of the unconscious mind and identifies each issue within it. You then apply methods to work with each issue that you find there.
- Contemplation – This focuses attention on a particular object of meditation. You allow your awareness to open until you are able to become aware of the content that surrounds and arises from your object of meditation.
- Studying Interrelationships – This studies individual elements in an array and notes their interrelationships with other elements in that array. This cognitive strategy plays a role in Pathwork and the intuitive sciences. In Pathwork, you might adopt this strategy in working with an Enneagram, or studying the Tree of Life (Kabala). In intuitive sciences, this is used in doing an astrology reading, a tarot card reading, or in numerology.
- Becoming Mystery – This enables you to penetrate beyond words to become one with the object of meditation. This state of fusion has been called Gnosis, Samadhi, and Oneness.
- Finding the origin – This strategy uses a technique to trace a trace an issue to its origin. Examples of techniques that help you achieve this aim include sustained attention to an issue as a felt sense in the body and opening into it (Vipassana); asking repetitive questions to the unconscious mind (Process Meditation); identifying progressive layers of the issue down to its core (Mandalic Reasoning, the Mandala Method); and dialoguing with the issue and finding its core (Rainbow Method).
- Remembrance and Invocation – In this strategy, you bring your attentional principle or spirit into “center”—this may be the nucleus of identity or the ensouling entity in your spiritual tradition upon which you meditate—and from this location, you invoke the Grace and Guidance of the Divine or the Masters of your tradition. This inner listening—to the voice of the Soul, the Holy Spirit, an angel, or a guide—is called Receptive Meditation.
- Dimensional expansion – This progressively opens the mind to encompass a broader experience of the object of meditation. These dimensions include:
- 0 – the point where attention focuses (focal point)
- 1 – the thread of consciousness that connects focal points
- 2 – the field of perceptual content contained within each focal point
- 3 – The space containing the focal point, which appears as a form or inner body, which we call a vehicle of consciousness
- 4 – The present time experience at that focal point, where you notice what arises in that level of the mind in each moment
- 5 – Integration center; this is the aspect of the mind that contains and operates that facet of the mind. In the Conscious mind, ego is the integrating center; in the Metaconscious mind, the Self is the nexus; and in the Superconscious mind, the Soul ties together the functioning of the vehicles in this zone of the mind.
- 6 – Inner witness; this is the essence of consciousness and intention, which we call the attentional principle. It witnesses each of these dimensional states and can use intention to open the origami-like folds of the mind to expand awareness into these larger perceptual and experiential frames.
Depending on your dominant Personality and Soul Rays, and your training and experience with these different personal and spiritual strategies, you may find that certain of these approaches are easier for you to utilize. These personal and spiritual strategies that are almost like second nature to you are your strengths.
The challenge for the aspirant and disciple is to learn to use these non-dominant strategies when required. This ability to switch Rays and dimensional perspectives empowers you to understand what you currently cannot grasp; to solve problems employing new methods that you do not currently apply; and to find ways to surmount your obstacles through an alternate approach.
See if you can learn to use each of these personal and spiritual cognitive strategies to enhance your ability to function in your life and to receive insight and guidance from your spiritual pole. For those of you who would like to learn several of these evocative spiritual cognitive strategies, we teach them in our intermediate meditation courses, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.