vol. 46: good vibes and maps of consciousness
on the importance of vibe checks
Welcome to Wellness Wisdom - A newsletter for the thoughtful by Patricia Mou. A medley of resources and thoughts on wellness start-ups, personal development, mental health and philosophy.
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Hi dear readers,
Long time no talk :) I recently moved from NYC back to the Bay Area, and am currently staying at the Genesis House.
In the last 2 weeks I went from just living with 1 other person to 15+. In the multiplying of minds, the edges of my reality and imagination have been stretched accordingly. During the crevices of leisure that fill each day, spontaneous conversations pull me into new worlds; artificial wombs, books that write themselves, preserving human souls. The vibes are immaculate. My soul and mind feel nourished. And lately, I’ve been reflecting on why that is.
Part of it is because i’m making good on my goal this year to not surround myself with people who are smarter, but rather people who are free in ways that i’m not. People who are operating off of completely different scripts. In other words, I want to expand the map vs. find the local maxima of its current territory.
Another reason is good vibes. For me that means on a net basis, I feel positive and energized after an interaction vs. drained.
Today’s essay is my rabbit hole on what ~*vibes*~ actually entail.
What are vibes? What do we mean when we say “the vibes are off”? There’s something deeper here beyond just a catchy phrase.
I’ve recently been reflecting about communities i’ve been a part of. Which communities and people within these communities gave me energy? Made me feel good? Why do some stay for multiple chapters vs. just a page?
At an earlier point in time, I used to think I was intuitively drawn to people who had “gone through some shit”. There’s a certain kind of thoughtfulness and spiritually that arises when the ego is annihilated and a life is rebuilt amidst the ashes.
But then I realized that couldn’t be it. Some people rebuild their lives from a foundation of fear. Closing themselves in protection and externalizing blame. Others transcend their victim mindset and move into authorship of a more humble and love-imbued narrative. An even subtler set use their adversity to bolster the ego - whether that’s through hate against their perpetrators or savior complex towards future victims.
Basically, when people encounter difficulty, they can either choose to fall or ascend in levels of consciousness. And so I realized that I am naturally drawn to people who have both grappled with their demons and chosen humility and love in the process. When the vibes are “just right”, it’s led by that mix-shift of energy.
Which led me to this epiphany: vibes are just energy in motion.
When I use words like love and hate, what I really mean is more like attract and repel in the energetic sense. No-flow places and ego-bound people repel me, as do ego-saturated places where the greed and vanity of the people seem to permeate the air.
Whatever doesn’t repel me is either neutral or attracts me. This is true of everyone, but most people drown it out. It’s much subtler than love and hate; it’s at the level of energy, and when your energy is distorted, you’re distorted.
So what people really mean by “vibes”, is energy. Energy permeates everything in life - from the microcosm of an everyday interaction to the abstraction of a nation. Its ambient nature falls below our conscious awareness. It is intuited through the channel of the gut as opposed to the mind.
Good energy or vibes attracts what’s in its likeness, and repels what pulls it downwards. Negative energy also attracts what’s in its likeness, yet repels what pulls it upwards.
Because energy doesn’t exist concretely in the realm of language and physical form, you could go an entire lifetime without understanding how its manifestations play into seemingly self-driven decisions. Until now.
In 2020, Dr. David Hawkin’s published the book, The Map of Consciousness Explained. He was a psychiatrist, physician, and consciousness researcher in the 70’s. Towards the ends of his life, he dedicated himself to the pursuit of integrating his own sudden transformations of consciousness into “scientific” discovery, in a format that was understandable to the left brain of Western readers.
The Map of Consciousness, in brief, lays out the whole spectrum of consciousness:
from the “lower” levels of Shame, Guilt, Apathy, Grief, Fear, Desire, Anger, Pride (that is, levels of force dominated by egotistical drives)
to the median levels of Courage, Willingness, Acceptance, Reason (that is, levels of power dominated by personal integrity)
to the more expanded levels of Love, Unconditional Love/Joy/Healing, Ecstasy, Peace, and Enlightenment. These “higher” energy fields are a carrier wave of immense life energy.
Here’s another version of the map based on a logarithmic scale. For example, “the energy of Mother Teresa (cal. 710) was very different from that of Adolf Hitler (cal. 40), and most people calibrate somewhere between them”.
And another view for those who like shapes:
Hawkins’ work resonates with common sense. Negativity drains, positivity uplifts. Positive energy fields (Courage, Willingness, Acceptance, Reason, Love) are more powerful than negative ones (Shame, Apathy, Fear, Anger, Pride) because they are aligned with the energy of life itself.
Love heals; Fear constricts. Courage moves us forward; Grief holds us back.
Living things all react positively to what is life-supportive and negatively to what is life-threatening; this is the fundamental mechanism of survival. Inherent in all life-forms is the capacity to detect change and react correctively—thus, trees become smaller at higher elevations as the oxygen in the atmosphere becomes scarcer.
Human protoplasm is far more sensitive than that of a tree. If you use your body as a pendulum, you will notice that you automatically fall forward when holding in mind a truth, and you fall backward when holding in mind a non-truth.
If we were to re-brand Hawkins’ map today, it would be a “vibe” map. And if we look back in time, we can see that similar maps have been suggested by philosophers, sages, and mystics throughout the centuries.
Fom Christian tradition there is The Ladder of Divine Ascent, by Eastern Orthodox desert monk John Climacus (c. 579–649) of Mount Sinai, in Egypt, and the Interior Castle (The Mansions), by Catholic mystic St. Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582 A.D.), in Spain.
In Buddhist tradition, the 10 ox-herding pictures showing the steps on the path of awakening from ignorance to Enlightenment have been a staple teaching tool since their origin in 12th-century China.
Though I question the “science” behind his numerical calibrations at each threshold of consciousness, I do believe the map helps us make the intangible a little bit more known. It also reaffirms what we intuitively already know.
If we understand the topography of the land better, we can identify our current positioning and route to higher grounds to alleviate our suffering.
The consciousness level denotes a locus on a learning curve and a stage of the evolution of consciousness. The joy of life comes from fulfilling one’s potentiality at any given level.
Each level has its rewards, and they actually feel the same to each person. A life dedicated to a higher purpose is endlessly self-fulfilling—whereas, in contrast, a life devoted to personal gain is full of pitfalls and suffering.
Or, put in other words for you tech nerds:
The individual human mind is like a computer terminal connected to a giant database. The database is human consciousness itself, of which our own consciousness is merely an individual expression but with its roots in the common consciousness of all humankind.
The database transcends time, space, and all limitations of individual consciousness. This database is the realm of genius; because to be human is to participate in the database, everyone, by virtue of their birth, has access to genius.
The unlimited information contained in the database has now been shown to be readily available to anyone in a few seconds, at any time and in any place. This is indeed an astonishing discovery, bearing the power to change lives, both individually and collectively, to a degree never yet anticipated.
According to Hawkins, the fastest way to plug into this genius or move from the bottom to the top of the map is by aligning with truth and love. We change the world not by what we say or do but as a consequence of what we have become. Even the tiniest increase in our own consciousness benefits the world at large. And that is echo’d by all the great teachers throughout the history of our species.
All have said, simply: Give up weak attractors for strong attractors.
Just as physical things you eat sustain your body, the environment, content, and people around us dictate our energy:
News, articles, books, TV
Internet content (why I created Rabbit Holes 🕳️ 🐇)
Communities - built and virtual
Cities we live in
Daily rituals and activities
Throughout all the energetic corridors of life, we must make sure to always ask ourselves: does this increase or decrease my energy?
In other words, conduct a vibe check, always.
Thank you for being part of The Wellness Wisdom newsletter today.
I’m Patricia and have a full-time job but curate this newsletter in my free time as a labor of love.
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