There are very old, rich traditions of higher consciousness around the world, and diverse as they are, they seem to have one thing in common: Arriving at higher consciousness takes time, perhaps a lifetime. Along with this idea comes other, closely related ones. Higher consciousness is exceptional. It requires intense inner work. Only a select few ever reach the goal.
The overall effect of these ideas is to discourage the average person from even considering that higher consciousness is within reach. For all practical purposes, society sets those apart who have become enlightened, saintly, or spiritually advanced. In an age of faith such figures were revered; today they are more likely to be viewed as beyond normal life, to be admired, shrugged off, or forgotten.
Much of this is a holdover from the merger of religion, spirituality, and consciousness. For centuries there was no separating the three. Most traditional societies developed a priestly class to guard the sanctity—and privileged status—of reaching near to God. But these trappings are now outdated and even work against the truth, which is that higher consciousness is as natural and effortless as consciousness itself.
If you are aware, you can become more aware. There is nothing to higher consciousness than this logical conclusion.
No matter who you are or what level of consciousness you think you are in, two things always apply. The first is that you use your awareness every day in all kinds of ways. You think, feel, wish, perceive, etc. The second thing is that you have constricted your awareness, through a process that the English writer Aldous Huxley called the reducing valve. Instead of finding yourself in a state of expanded awareness, you edit, censor, ignore, and deny many aspects of reality. The reducing valve squeezes “whole mind,” another term favored by Huxley, to a small flow of permissible thoughts, perceptions, and feelings.