Altered States of Consciousness
& Psychological Growth
By Mark Bancroft, MA
Altered states of consciousness can serve to promote psychological growth in a multitude of ways. Altered states have the ability to change a person's perspective and experience of themselves. Consciousness tries to be objective, but it is subjective [Auerbach, 1996]. By changing one's internal perceptions, reality changes. Altered states provide the means by which the ability to experience a different self-concept is available. This allows a person to potentially manifest new abilities, move beyond limitations from past negative experiences, and break out of socially imposed constraints.
Einstein acknowledged that it is impossible to solve a problem at the level at which it was created. Altered states can serve as a vehicle for a person to move beyond the confines of logical/rational thought. The ability to perceive a situation from an entirely different viewpoint is known to produce insights, creative solutions, and psychological breakthroughs. Rather than being locked into logical assessments, a person can suspend deep seated assumptions (beliefs) through the use of altered states.
The most common form in which altered states serve to promote psychological growth is by opening a conduit for mental and emotional expression. The release of stress, emotional burdens, mental clutter, and negative beliefs is readily possible in an altered state. Dreams offer a healthy avenue for expressing unconscious material. Meditation is a viable tool for the expression of one's spirituality. Mentally constructed boundaries may quickly dissolve in an altered state resulting in gratifying feelings of interconnectedness, peacefulness, contentment, and oneness with the universe.
Auerbach, L. Altered States of Consciousness. Lecture, Orinda, CA. (1996).
Mark Bancroft, MA, CHT
Nevada City, CA