Higher Self: Personal Power, Layers of Consciousness & Identity

We are borne upon this Earth as beings of great potential. Each one of us is a vessel for universal energy, able to channel our intent for constructive or destructive, positive or negative, receptive or projective.

We are all born with power and awareness, and it is up to us as individuals whether we use our experiences, knowledge and skills for “good or evil” purposes- as reluctant hero Spider-Man famously says: “With great power comes great responsibility.” The comic book world portrays super powers through characters that struggle both with external forces (such a nemesis or crisis) having to save the day whilst battling with their own inner demons (like guilt for risking their own family’s safety in by being a hero, or anxiety of having their secret identity exposed). We may not literally have “super powers” like X-ray vision, or fly, or run at sonic speeds, but I believe that as a species, human beings are equipped with certain abilities and talents that make us unique as individuals, and can help us to cope with internal and external struggles throughout life.

Growth and Development

When we are babies, we learn how to operate our bodies, tuning in to our physical senses of sight, sound, and sensation in order to experience the world around us, learning to walk and talk- how to use our bodies to be able to explore and communicate. We are learning about our immediate environment of the family home and learning about relationships through primary care givers and siblings, learning to form emotional bonds and social roles as daughter/son, brother/sister, mother/father, aunt/uncle, cousin, grandchild. This is a delicate time of “Self”, where as babies and toddlers we are discovering that we are both separate and part of our universe through curious exploration and forming emotional attachments.

As children, we continue to develop all of this which is greatly effected by our individual environments, a concept that is demonstrated by the theory of nature vs nurture: the theory that some behaviours are instinctual, while other behaviours are learned. It is commonly mis-thought that the majority of children’s learning takes place within a school classroom, and parents often undervalue the skills and knowledge that they can share with their children- that of life skills (such as domestic responsibility), ancestory (through traditions and family connections), and self-care (personal safety and managing own needs). Some children thrive in a loving, supportive home while sadly others are left to develop in a home that does not encourage or nurture them.

Children are drawn to what they are naturally interested in which manifests through their talents and passions- often things like:

creative pursuits (such as dancing, drawing/painting, crafting models)

sporting hobbies (like running, swimming, biking, or skateboarding)

academic (a keen student with good grades, reading and creative writing)

tech (including computer skills, video games, science and maths subjects)

environmental (engaging in outdoors activities, interested in animals, camping)

empathic (a good babysitter for younger children, role play family games, a socialiser)

These are just some examples of the infinite ways in which children explore and develop their own natural talents and gifts. With encouragement and room to grow, we gain confidence and joy in expressing ourselves with our own unique abilities. These energies are manifestations of creation and imagination, of time and love and commitment to see a project through, to take the time to practice, to have reasonable standards for ourselves and healthy pride in what we do.

As adolescents, depending on how supportive and engaging our primary care givers are and also factoring in events within our lives thus far, we continue to grow and explore the world and our talents. This is also a time for major physical changes within our physical and mental bodies as hormones activate us for adulthood. As teenagers, we now test our identities and place within the world, able to explore things further afield outside of the school and home environment, eagerly seeking new experiences and horizons, and quite often taking an interest in deeper levels of relationships beyond the bonds of family and friendship through first crushes and dating. With all this going on, our natural abilities can sometimes take a back seat to the exciting world of young adulthood; for others, this is a time of discovery where we are opened to exploring ourselves.

As adults, our focus can be directed generally by providing for ourselves and our own families, usually involving some kind of paid work in order to take care of the household bills and domestic responsibilities. We may be exploring new identities as being primary caregivers within a parental role ourselves if we have children. With the responsibility and pressure of adulthood, some of us may not feel like they have the time or energy for themselves, for further developing our gifts- it is simply blessing enough to have respite periods!

Other people may have abandoned their special talents due to neglect or ridicule or trauma that may have happened in their past, although their gifts do not disappear entirely, they simply lay dormant within the psyche, their potential capped by the individual or circumstances of life.

The benefits of healing through forms like art therapy, meditation and hypnotherapy are becoming more widely recognised as effective treatments of trauma, allowing one to get back to their “inner child” or to channel hurtful energies into their work in order to express those feelings within, transforming negative energy into something inspiring.  Some adults have worked out a balance of their work, family with personal leisure, where they can extend their hobbies with the resources and freedom of a grow up, such as being able to travel around the world, or investing in kit for their hobby or craft, or being legally allowed access to more adventurous activities. The really lucky adults may be able to incorporate their working life with their hobby or passion, and they enjoy a fruition of their gift by earning a living from what they love doing, or volunteer their skills or services so that others may benefit from and appreciate their talents.

Some of us may grow in a spiritually aware environment, or be brought up within a family religion which can help or inhibit our awareness of what is within and around us, depending on how we personally view and connect with our own spiritualities. Discovering a spiritual side to life can feel for some like discovering another limb, another part of themselves, another perspective of the universe. Some people also describe spiritual development as a feeling of being re-born or as more like a sensation of “coming home”.

Physical Self

One way of describing spirituality is having awareness of, or being receptive to, other dimensions of existence which are beyond that of our physical, tangible earthly reality. If it is widely acknowledged that the majority of people only actively use 10% of their brain using the five “main” senses to interpret the world around them, perhaps in becoming aware of our other senses and learning to be more receptive to our surroundings we can increase the active capacity of our mind. The brain is, after all, a muscle of our physical bodies, and in by exercising our natural abilities, we can develop a stronger mind and sharper senses, feeling connected with the world physically, mentally and spiritually. This modern age of convenience and comfort has dulled our senses. We don’t have need to rely on a flight-or-fight response on a daily basis in order to survive to the next day, and our gut instincts (some call this intuition) have become weakened.

The general emphasis in development is that of only five senses (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling) but what of that of our other senses? We have a sense of balance, a sense of adventure, a sense of humour, a sense of rhythm, sense of duty, sense of direction, emotional sensitivity and even common sense just to name but a few…what other senses can you think of? If we feel physically tired or hungry then our need for rest and nourishment will affect our concentration and performance. This is our physical body’s way of energy replenishment. The first part of learning to recognise our intuition is to learn the language of our physical bodies. Drink when you are thirsty, eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired, cry if you need to, go for a walk if you are restless, have a bath to relax,- these are ways in which our physical body expresses its needs and balances your physical energy flow, through its actions of replenishing and releasing.

Everyday/Mental Self

Similarly, our mental bodies also need to be harmonised and balance. If we are feeling extremely emotional, the emotions can often affect our perception of the cards and we project what we want to see rather than seeing what’s being shown. Negative emotions such as hate, anger, grief, sadness, jealousy are normal human mental states that counter-balance the positive mental states of happiness, love, joy, pride and compassion.

Our everyday selves can distract and disrupt our “extra senses” or intuition. If our thoughts are occupied by the schedules, errands, lists and tasks of our every day life, then this internal mental chatter can detract our present focus away.  This is why it is important to have time and a space where you can allow your everyday mind to let go and become more receptive to allow your subconscious to flow.

Once our physical and mental bodies are satisfied and balanced, the combination of the harmonious vibrations of our energy strengthens our Higher Self. Our human instincts and impulses do not cloud our spiritual perception. Our intent is charged and cleansed. We become a pure channel with a clear, steady frequency.

A lot of people refer to having a “sixth sense”, a way of gaining information about situations and surroundings without realising how they are receiving or processing the information. Most people can relate to having an intuitive sense- like a feeling in our gut or a voice the back of our mind that helps us to make decisions (for instance, in game shows what sense do people use in order to choose which mystery door to look behind?). Extra sensory perception can be described as that which we can perceive through our “extra senses”. “Extra” is Latin for meaning “outside”, and in the case of ESP, this could be taken to mean “outside of conventional perception”. The term “psychic” originated in the 16th century, one of its meanings being “of the mind/soul”, or to refer to phenomena that can not be explained by conventional means. Like the any kind of physical senses, the strength of psychic senses can vary from person to person depending on how attuned they are. Those who become aware of their intuitive sense can work with it, exercising and exploring it to help them further engage and enrich their lives.

  Intuition (in•tu•i•tion)

NOUN ORIGIN- From late Middle English (denoting spiritual insight or immediate spiritual communication) and from Latin (“intueri” meaning ‘consider’)

•…the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning

•…a thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning

The key to allowing your intuition to come through is to quieten the everyday chatter in your mind. By shifting our focus from the conscious present to our timeless subconscious, we allow our intuition to channel through more clearly. Our spiritual Higher Selves are more apparent when our physical and mental bodies are cared for.

Layers of Consciousness

Our “everyday selves” are often occupied with the insistent needs of our primal and material selves. The stress and chaos of everyday life can distract us from reflecting on our subconscious, inner world. Our active consciousness, which is what we function with most of the time, tends to be an outer-projective energy, made of our thoughts and feelings which we are actively aware and effects our perception of the world around us.

The psychologist Freud theorised that there were different layers of consciousness awareness within us. He proposed that these different states of awareness were sometimes at peace and sometimes at discord with one another, creating feelings of internal conflict or inner harmony.

Super-Ego: Higher reasoning, guardian/parental archetype, inner boundaries (self control, inner discipline), looks upon self externally

Ego: Conscious self, acts as the mediator, negotiating between the wants and needs of the Super Ego and the Id

Id: Primal instincts, raw feelings, “animalistic” needs (to eat, sleep, procreate, personal comfort, flight/fight responses), focused on self

Freud theorised that the Id and Super-Ego were part of our subconscious, influences of thoughts and feelings that come from internal sources within our psyche. We may not actively be aware of our subconscious thoughts and feelings, which can be expressed through our creative works or presented to us in dreams. Our Ego is the eternal mediator, acting as a referee between meeting the needs of the vastly opposite Id and Super-Ego.

Freud saw the Id as our raw, uncensored, survival instinct which reacted purely on meeting our immediate needs of comfort, protection. It is like the toddler of the psyche- our inner child- which makes its demands known, craving nurture and stimulation to satisfy its wants and needs, like how a baby may scream to be fed, or a young child yearns desperately for a toy. The Id is all-feeling, fuelled by raw emotion, it pushes us to where it wants to be.

The Super-Ego, in contrast, is all-reasoning, like a parental guardian. This is the voice of our conscious reasoning, influenced by those who have impacted our sense of morality. It is like the spirit of the cricket featured in Pinocchio, attempting to guide us in right and wrong. It has the ability of being open and aware of all possibilities by remaining unemotionally attached, able to take into consideration the needs and impact of others our actions and choice may affect. The Super-Ego pulls us to where it thinks it should be, ultimately being more cautious when influencing our decisions.

Within following my own spiritual path, I have thought of this Freudian model of the psyche as our Id being our physical body, the Ego as our every-day self and the Super-Ego as our Higher Self. Our physical body needs food, shelter, rest, exercise, and all of our needs which are vital for our physical wellbeing. Our every-day self needs emotional support, mental stimulation, and communication. Our Higher Self aims to get these two parts of our selves- the physical and everyday self- to harmonise with each other. The Higher Self has its own needs to express, often coming through creative works, or in our dreams from our channeled subconscious.

Some people who have faith in a particular deity or chosen pantheon, may place a “third party archetype” within the role of their Higher Self such as their patron deity or “guardian angel” acting as the inner voice of our conscious.

Higher Self

Many faiths and cultures have their own versions and theories about our personal spiritual energies- our “souls”. A soul can be described as a kind of life force, a unique energy of spirit. The animistic nature of paganism acknowledges, respects and honours this essence of life in all things, attributing spiritual energy with humans, animals, plants, the Earth, the elements, weather, etc. Our bodies are generally seen as a physical shell that our spiritual selves- our souls- inhabit, until it is released into the afterlife through death. The soul is confined to a physical body and seen as becoming active upon our physical death, where some believe it will travel to a spiritual realm (such as “heaven” in Christianity, or the “Summerlands” in Wicca, or “the Underworld” in Hellenic traditions); and there are others who believe that our soul is re-born in another physical life through cycles of reincarnation upon the ending of our current physical life.

Another common theme for the idea of a “soul” is that it is defined as “good” or “bad” by our thoughts and actions. But for me, these conventionally accepted theories do not present a holistic approach to being attuned with ourselves. The “soul” is presented almost as a distant, separate being to us, seemingly only active upon the physical physical death of our bodies. Modern medicine also supports the dissection of our beings as a whole through offering treatments of the mind (psychology) as well as physical treatments (physiology) and offering cures for both in the form of medicine (pharmaceuticals). This is not to say that modern medicine does not have its uses- simply that the modern approach to medicine separates the human condition into presenting symptoms, instead of offering insight into how the wellbeing of our bodies and minds are linked as a whole. Complimentary, natural remedies such as aromatherapy, reflexology, crystal healing, Reiki, colour therapy can be very beneficial and can support a more holistic approach to our condition.

Our soul, or “higher self”, is who we really are (for better or worse, “warts and all!”), who we want to be, have been and will come to be. It is the essence of ourselves, our unique spirit. Everyone has a Higher Self within them- the soul does not have to be earned; it can be accessed to those who are aware of themselves. Those who explore and work with inner and outer boundaries learn that becoming “aware of self” is not limited to awareness of ourselves in the external, material world, but also involves learning to look at ourselves internally, being in touch with our thoughts, feelings, desires and “shadow self”.

Our Higher Self is the active presence we aspire to be. It has no inhibitions or doubts, as it supports our highest potential, drawing us towards people, actives and places that brings out the best in us. Our very best qualities are inspired by our Higher Selves. The Higher Self reacts to the best interests of both ourselves and others, and promotes trust, kindness, and universal love. It inspires us to go beyond our call of duty, to be open and compassionate with others. Our Higher Self is not limited on labels imposed on us by others as it is our core identity. The Higher Self is not bound to earthly matters like our social attachments with people or status, nor physical attachments concerning materialism or bodily health. It supports our higher intentions and ambitions, protecting our consciousness as best it can by acting for our ultimate best interests.

Our soul, our very essence is made of universal energy, the connection which flows within and around each and every living thing. It is in touch with our ancestral and spirit guides in the realms beyond our earthly existence, and retains knowledge of the experiences and lessons of our past lives. Our Higher Self is filled with love, trust and compassion, and protects our conscious as best it can. It strengthens our resolve and intention when we are being tested throughout life, giving us inspiration and insights to ourselves, others and situations. Fear, anger and self-doubt can clog and block our conscious connection to our Higher Self, which observes our emotions instead of actively being effected by feeling them. It is in tune to that which goes beyond our active self-consciousness.