By George A. Boyd © 2022
Aspirants who learn to live in an altered state of consciousness in religious or spiritual cults often withdraw from their lives. For them to recover, they have to re-own their lives.
The embodied ego, which is an aspect of what we call Life Consciousness, consists of the following layers:
- Behavior – These are the actions you do.
- Assumed identity – These are the roles or functions you perform that drive your behavior.
- Motivation – These are the desires or dreams that underlie your behavior and drive you to inhabit the different roles you play in your life.
- Beliefs – These are the reasons you give about why you pursue your desires or dreams.
- Meaning and purpose – This is the core meta-motivation that animates your dreams and desires—this is the reason you tell yourself you are alive. [For some, this might be to take care of their family. For others, it might be to serve their country in the military. For others, it might be the expression of their creative gifts. For others, it might be to pursue a spiritual Path.]
- Decision – This is the choice to enact your dreams and pursue your worthy desires.
- Core identity – At this level, you discover the embodied ego, which is the actor in your life. Uniting your attention with this center grants the perception of where you are in your life right now.
Here are some examples of these life layers:
You normally do not perform random behavior, or act upon a whim: you perform actions for a reason. For example, you take out the trash, because you don’t want to attract insects or rodents. You brush your hair before going out of the house, because you want to present a good appearance when you leave your home.
You subsume a group of associated behavior under the rubric of a role you assume. The role, “I am a homeowner,” contains sets of related behavior. This might include cleaning, repair, and maintenance of your home; paying bills and taxes for your home; and selecting furniture, appliances, and design elements to furnish and beautify your home.
Something motivates you to want to own a home and take care of it. There are motivations that underlie each of your roles.
You tell yourself a story as to why you want to own a home: this is the layer of beliefs.
Underlying these stories you tell yourself as to why you are motivated to pursue the objectives you consider important, there is a core element of meta-motivation—the purpose why you are alive. [When people don’t discover this for themselves, political and religious leaders, spiritual cults, hate and terrorist groups are only to happy to tell you what your purpose is, so you can follow them and serve their agendas.]
Your life is founded upon the decisions and choices your make. This determines the direction your life takes. [When you own your choices, you are capable of being responsible and accountable.]
The core identity of the ego perceives the results your choices have made in your life, and judges whether you are successful and happy—you have achieved what you have desired—or you are a miserable failure, because you have not achieved what you want or been able to define and act upon what gives your life meaning. This core ego identity has been called your self-image.
The art of re-owing your life
When your attention is fixed in an altered state of consciousness, you dissociate from your life experience. Dissociation leads to:
- Not feeling your feelings (emotional numbness or deadness)
- A sense your life is not real (depersonalization)
- A perception that the world is not real (derealization)
- A loss of desire for personal objectives (demotivation)
- A belief that your identity and your life no longer exist (ego death)
In order to restore normalized functioning, you need to bring your attention, awareness, and energy out of the altered state of consciousness and return them to the fully grounded state—what we call the waking state of awareness. Some ways you can do this are:
- Bring your attention back to the waking state of consciousness and keep it there until your awareness returns to this state.
- Visualize the energy that is fixing you in an altered state of consciousness is moving down a tube, and is becoming fixed in the center of the earth.
- Do activities that activate the centers of the Conscious mind, such as walking and exercise; paying attention to your immediate sensory experience of the environment; relating to others as human beings, not a spiritual essence; solving problems that require analytical thinking; performing an inventory of your life’s goals and defining your purpose for being alive.
When you function in the Conscious mind, your ego’s integration re-emerges, and you regain the sense of having a unique human life. Getting your attention, awareness, and energy back to the ego and the Conscious mind can help you restore normalized functioning and again experience that you have a life.
These dissociative states are commonly experienced during Kundalini syndromes and after sustained periods of deep meditation. You will also find them in groups that admonish their followers to demonize their personality and their ego, casting them as illusory (Maya), as an agency of the evil world mind (the Matrix), or as the embodiment of evil (the carnal man, the man of sin, or the spawn of Satan)—and urge them to remain in an altered state of awareness.
We have written in greater depth on the consequences of remaining in altered states of awareness in our book, Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing? Those who are struggling with the aftermath of being involved for an extended time in a religious cult—or other group that has kept you in a altered state of consciousness for a sustained period—may find our Cult Recovery Coaching Program helpful.