Consciousness Studies

For many years I have wanted to continue my education but I have not been able to decide on what. A few years ago I was thinking about getting an MBA. This was when I was still struggling with ideas about “making it” and “being successful.” Not to say I still don’t struggle with those ideas, but at the time, thoughts about getting an MBA were definitely being driven by my ego (security, professional status) and the internalization of societal and parental norms (coming from an intellectual family where advanced degrees are the norm; that it’s the “right” thing to do for an ambitious young person and not doing so means you are a slouch).

My next higher education fantasy came when I was in a miserable job at a law firm supporting the marketing department. I was doing stuff in my career field (writing, editing, web technologies) but it had become so divorced from anything I cared about that I started to feel destined for a bland corporate livelihood, sculpted in part by my skill set, which at the time I felt would only lead to wretched jobs like the one I was in (the poor economy definitely contributed to my outlook where I struggled against hating my job yet feeling grateful to have any job).  So I thought about changing my career completely and looked into veterinary school. Being a vet was one of those early “what do you want to be when you grow up?” answers I’d give. I love animals and figured it was a secure career path, as vets are always in need. I did the research and even went as far as asking my mom to ask our family’s vets for perspectives on career changers into veterinary medicine. I found out that there are a lot of people who enter veterinary medicine as a second career, and the typical age of first years in vet school is typically in the 30s.

I didn’t end up pursuing it, but if I had to do my life all over again, I think I would either become a vet, or more likely, a zookeeper. I would love to work with animals and one day, maybe I will find a way to bring this into this incarnation.

So, now for my latest higher education fantasy, and this one feels like something might be up. I am currently in my 200-hour teacher training, being led through an amazing experience by Reflections

Alex Grey's art explores themes of human consciousness

Yoga’s Paula Tursi, and consciousness studies is something I’ve been reading about a lot more lately. So this morning, the idea just popped into my brain. Consciousness studies, which is basically an inter-disciplinary approach merging psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, physics, the history of religion, spirituality, and the arts to understand human consciousness seems like an area of study perfectly suited to me.

All my life I have been fascinated by human consciousness. My mother told me that the first time she ever heard me read out loud, it was from the book she was reading at the time: Elisabeth Kubler-RossOn Death and Dying. This seems so prescient in retrospect, and may have cemented my love of a) reading and b) reading about human consciousness. My mom said I was about 3 or 4 years old. I hadn’t entered school yet. She said her jaw dropped when she heard this little girl voice reading about the process people go through when confronting death. She asked me where I learned to read. I said “The Electric Company” which was my favorite show.

Going back to that memory, and my lifelong fascination with human emotion, psychology, and philosophy (I was reading Jung at 11 and Betty Friedan at 12, random encounters due to a friend of the family whose house my mom and I would go visit having these books at her house), combined with my growing experiences in yoga, meditation, the chakras, energetic work and my own personal explorations in these realms, Consciousness Studies seems like a perfect place for me.

There are not many academic programs in this area at the time. One of the more established, UC Santa Cruz’s History of Consciousness program, is not taking any applicants for 2010-2011 due to California’s budget crisis. The John F. Kennedy School offers an MA in Consciousness and Transformative Studies (ironically the link to request information does not work; what is one supposed to do? prove your worthiness for admission by psychically contacting an admissions officer?). Goddard College in New Hampshire has a master’s in Consciousness Studies and I was able to request more information from this program the good, old-fashioned way.

In another interesting “coincidence,” today, the great astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said that alien life forms most certainly exist in other galaxies, however, we shouldn’t be so gung-ho about contacting them because they may see us as ripe for conquest, or as he so subtly put it, it might be like Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas, “which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.” Perhaps if more earth beings developed their consciousness into a powerful force for good and planetary harmony, we could go exploring in deep space without fear of contacting mean aliens because, presumably, the equally conscious benevolent aliens would find (feel? sense?) us first.

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~ by Lola/Dakini's Bliss Yoga on April 26, 2010.

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