Habit #2: Dynamic State Training

12/01/2011 12:46 pm ET | Updated Jan 31, 2012
  • Willow Dea Change Management Consultant, Author, Coach, Speaker

One of the fundamental practices for expanding one's capacity to bring ourselves fully to the tasks of teaching lies in the commitment to marshal one's attention for a predetermined amount of time on a single point of focus. Be it the breath, the sensations of the body, a mantra or an inquiry, meditation is an essential part of building the capacity to embody the awareness that one naturally encounters in the interiority of a daily practice. Remember states are temporary aspects of phenomena that arise in our direct experience.

Three general categories of states include narrow, phenomenal states of body or mind. Waking, dreaming, and deep sleep are examples of broad, natural states of consciousness. Non-ordinary and altered states are found during meditation, while consuming drugs or alcohol are altered types of states.

As there are an array of meditative practices from which to choose, many people find one to which they gravitate. Some find that tai chi, qigong, aikido, various forms of martial arts, and/or physical yoga facilitate a state change that assists one to access higher or deeper states of consciousness -- while still others may find that they prefer to ski, run, cycle, train in a gym or surf. The speed of movement is less important than the experience of a definitive state shift.

Alternately, the great wisdom traditions offer yet another plethora of practice opportunities for state training, by means of meditation, in a seated, standing or lying down posture. One might feel more drawn to contemplative Christian practices or Zen, Advaita Vedanta, or Vipassana, Tibetan Buddhist or Hindu. Essentially these practices are done in stillness, with specific techniques for the focal point of attention.

As you may have gathered, the point is: pick one. Commit to it. Allow yourself to be transformed by it. Receive the daily nourishment from your practice. Bring that fullness with you, wherever you are. Be that silent aware presence.

What are the Benefits?

Though research has yet to establish a causal link between the ability to stabilize access to higher mystical states of consciousness and a faster rate of growth into higher stages of awareness, there are many benefits to practicing daily.

The intentional practice of cultivating deep meditative states, on a regular basis, has been found to increase our capacity to demonstrate resilience -- to tolerate the stresses that life presents.

Resilience is particularly increased when we marshal our attention to that which is arising in our bodily experience -- directly. Employing our attention to bear witness to our direct experience facilitates a deep shift in the body, mind and spirit. As Ken Wilber put it, "...there is a big difference between naturally occurring states and trained states. As we said, natural states are always available to us, and do not follow any strictly sequential nature. While trained states almost always do, leading the practitioner over many years from the 'densest' states (gross states) to less dense states (subtle states) to formless states (causal states) to nondual experiences.

• Generating an overall sense of calm and well-being
• Managing your stress and its impact on your body
• Deepening your self-understanding
• Sharpening your focus, concentration, and insight
• Upholding your core values in your personal and professional life

Improving your relationships with others:
• Enabling you to treat people with compassion and wisdom
• Helping you to see conflicts from different angles, opening up creative possibilities for
problem-solving and resolving disagreement
• Improving your listening skills

Enriching your relationship with the world around you:
• Increasing your global awareness and appreciation for the interconnection of all life
• Developing the ability to question, explore, adapt to rapid change, and deal with

The practice of mindfulness (living in the present moment) offers an opportunity to reduce stress, increase concentration, enhance relationships, and find more peace and joy in one's personal and professional life. As an educator, you have one of the most important and challenging jobs! The relevance of state training is as simple as enabling you to better teach who you are, on an essential level.