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The Meaning of Consciousness

No universal definition of consciousness exists despite numerous attempts by philosophers, scholars, researchers, and even practitioners to formulate it. Defining this concept remains a daunting task because people hold conflicting perspectives on the term (Vithoulkas & Muresanu, 2014). Dehaene et al. (2017) agree by asserting that consciousness has multiple meanings as it is used in widely different senses, including the transitive, intransitive, and reflexive ones. This phenomenon remains utterly complicated to explain despite that all people experience it.

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There are numerous instances when I am conscious in life, but meditating emerges as the most prominent one. In general, meditation involves being mindful of oneself and requires an individual to focus on one’s awareness at a particular moment (Manuello et al., 2016). This state hinges strictly on a specific form of consciousness. I often engage in this activity when I am incredibly calm and relaxed. Manuello et al. (2016) explain that during this process, the mind rests and attains a state of consciousness that is entirely distinct from the normal state of being awake. During this process, I try to comprehend all the levels of myself and finally experience the core of consciousness within me. Meditating and being conscious are not religious activities; rather, they are a scientific process (Vithoulkas & Muresanu, 2014). This statement means that people follow a specific order during this engagement, adhering to definite principles, and realizing verifiable outcomes. Therefore, meditating facilitates a deeper understanding of oneself and the surrounding environment.

An intricate link exists between mindful meditation and the state of consciousness. For instance, when I am most conscious, my mind tends to be clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. Meditating requires being fully awake and alert, which involves shifting one’s thoughts and concentration from the external world or the activities happening within the surrounding environment. In other terms, this practice calls for the attainment of an inner state which is still and focused on allowing the mind to become silent. When this level is achieved and no longer distracts the person, meditation often deeps, and the individual becomes more conscious (Manuello et al., 2016). Therefore, I am more mindful when I am in this spirited calmness.

Reflecting on the above discussion, it emerges that awareness and wakefulness are the major aspects of being conscious. Cognition relates to the content of consciousness or what the mind is focused on, and wakefulness denotes the degree of being aware (Vithoulkas & Muresanu, 2014). Furthermore, there are main types of consciousness – internal (self-awareness) and external awareness. Self-concept is constrained to the inner world, comprising unique thoughts, reflections, memories, feelings and emotions, and imagination (Manuello et al., 2016), while external awareness focuses on the outside world at a specific moment. Consciousness entails being aware of oneself and the world around the individual, and this awareness is subjective and unique to a person (Vithoulkas & Muresanu, 2014). Therefore, when people describe their emotions, feelings, or thoughts in words, this phenomenon is a part of their consciousness.

Finally, the human mind plays a vital role in the state of consciousness. Being conscious is essentially a mental process because it involves receiving and processing information in the brain, crystalizing the data, then storing the relevant cues, and discarding the less useful information (Vithoulkas & Muresanu, 2014). In addition to the five senses, other mental processes (including memory, reasoning, and imagination) enable the process of consciousness through perceiving and manipulating information.

References

Dehaene, S., Lau, H., & Kouider, S. (2017). What is consciousness, and could machines have it? Science, 358(6362), 486-492. Web.

Manuello, J., Vercelli, U., Nani, A., Costa, T., & Cauda, F. (2016). Mindfulness meditation and consciousness: An integrative neuroscientific perspective. Consciousness and Cognition, 40, 67-78. Web.

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Vithoulkas, G., & Muresanu, D. F. (2014). Conscience and consciousness: A definition. Journal of Medicine and Life, 7(1), 104-108.

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