You may have heard of peak “states” of consciousness, or perhaps also the state a sportsman, say, is in when he is “in the zone” of his natural best and right on key.
The three most basic states are the waking state, the dreaming state, and the deep sleep state. At the moment, you are in a waking state of consciousness, and therefore awake to be able to read this page.
Whilst Stages (Levels) are inclusive, and new Stages “transcend and include” the one(s) that went before, States are exclusive – for example, you cannot be drunk AND sober at the same time!
Whilst Stages are permanent, acquired traits, States are temporary, and passing.
“One of the most interesting areas of current research – and a ripe arena for practice – is states of consciousness. States come, stay for a while, and then pass. They are temporary and changing. We cycle through states every day – states of elation, boredom, fear, disappointment, irritation, arousal, curiosity. . . and these states go on and on.” – Integral Life Practice
Perhaps one of the best-known proponents of state training is Anthony Robbins, his work helping tennis star, Andre Agassi, to utilise peak states work to win further championships being a prime example.
But you and I can use States in our everyday lives, too. They are not just the reserve of sports champions and the famous.
“Have you ever played tennis in the zone and could hit the ball anywhere you chose? While walking in the forest, perhaps you have experienced a radical oneness with the lush tapestry of radiant greenness surrounding you…
“Think of the last time you had a peak experience that carried you beyond your normal perception of reality and gave you a snapshot of what’s possible. These states are sometimes even intentionally cultivated by meditators and mystics, who learn to stabilize freer access to high states of consciousness.” – Integral Life Practice
“Peek” Experiences: A Lot of States May Add Up to a Stage
The quote above talks about how one may “stabilize” peak states. We have talked about Stages – Levels – of development, and it may be possible that a series of peak state experiences over time may eventually add up to – develop into – a permanently acquired capacity, or Stage.
In this sense, States can be thought of as “peek” experiences, giving us a peek, a glimpse into deeper and higher Stages of our own potential and consciousness.
“One of the key benefits of Integral Life Practice is that it helps you develop your capacity for these trained states of consciousness.” – Integral Life Practice
States Are Not Stages!
So States are not Stages. The State / Structure Fallacy makes the critical mistake of assuming that these states of consciousness are the same thing as stages or structures of consciousness. But they’re not.
This is a very useful piece of understanding to have indeed.