What Are The Different States of Human Consciousness?

Did you know that there are different states of human consciousness? In this article, we want to tell you about them because they're very interesting.
What Are The Different States of Human Consciousness?

Last update: 23 September, 2022

Until now, you may have only known the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness. However, within the category consciousness, did you know that there can be different states? This is very interesting, don’t you think?

Of course, we’ll first delve into the definition of human consciousness before going into its different states. Are you ready to discover this topic in depth?

What is human consciousness?

From the point of view of psychology, human consciousness is that state in which all our neurocognitive functions are active. The definition provided by the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) is also adequate, but falls somewhat short: “the capacity of the human being to recognize his or her surrounding reality and to relate to it.”

It’s true that thanks to consciousness, you can recognize the reality that surrounds you. However, behind this, there are a series of functions that are activated, such as perception, language, attention, memory, and coordination, among others. All of these functions are essential for the different states of human consciousness that we will see.

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The states of human consciousness: Low consciousness and mindfulness

states of human consciousness
Mindfulness can be worked on through meditation, among other practices.

We’ll now take a closer look at the different ordinary states of human consciousness. In reality, there are only two types that fall under this category: what’s known as low consciousness and mindfulness. Doesn’t the latter sound very familiar to you? It’s one of the most used states of human consciousness when talking about meditation or yoga. However, you can learn more about both of them here.

Low consciousness: Our instincts

Have you ever woken up in the morning and realized that you’d pushed the blanket that covered you away? Even though you were asleep, your body was still able to send a signal to your brain that you were hot and you acted, even though you don’t remember doing so. When you did this, you were in a state of low consciousness. Another similar circumstance can occur when you find yourself at a party surrounded by people talking and shouting.

Without quite knowing why, if you hear your name called, your attention is focused squarely on it. Never mind all the noise that could be dazing or confusing you. The lower consciousness is active and is helping you to act, on many occasions, instinctively. This is quite different from what will happen to you if you practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness: Focused consciousness

Mindfulness is considered a state of higher consciousness. Here, the consciousness no longer acts in a free way, but you’re the one who controls it in some way. For example, you can put all your attention on your thoughts to manage them, observe them from a viewpoint similar to that of a spectator and let them flow like the clouds in the sky.

This type of attention needs to be worked on in order to develop it. In fact, if you’ve ever done meditation, you may have noticed that it’s not easy to maintain mindfulness. However, it has certain advantages. Thanks to it, you can limit your impulsive actions, reflect on your thoughts, know yourself better, and live a much calmer and more peaceful life.

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What can alter the states of human consciousness?

Hypnosis therapy
States of consciousness can be altered qualitatively or quantitatively.

The states of human consciousness can always be altered. Sleep is itself an altered (or alternative) state of consciousness. When you dream, for example, you’re in a state of low consciousness that can be altered if you interrupt a natural sleep cycle, for example.

This causes you to feel more tired and irritable later in the day. These are the consequences that this type of disturbance has on your consciousness. In this sense, it’s worth noting that consciousness can be altered quantitatively and qualitatively

Another element that can alter the states of human consciousness is hypnosis. During hypnosis, a person will appear to be asleep, but this is not the case. Although you’re probably familiar with hypnosis from television shows, you should know that there are some therapists who use it to combat suggestions, thoughts, or behaviors that have become automated.

Drug use also has an important effect on altering the states of human consciousness. In some cases, they can stimulate it, but in others, they can cause a deep state of sadness and depression. Also, there are drugs that can cause hallucinations. The ways in which drugs alter consciousness are many and diverse.

Subjectivity in human states of consciousness

Consciousness is subjective because it’s about how you perceive yourself and the world around you. When this consciousness is altered by taking drugs or by being in a state of hypnosis, for instance, it expands, goes out of its common patterns, and overcomes physical barriers. This is very interesting, because knowing how the mind works is something that still surprises us.

Did you know about these types of states of human consciousness and what factors can alter them? We encourage you to enter the interesting world of mindfulness, where you will discover hidden corners of your consciousness that you likely didn’t even know existed and skills that will be very useful for your day-to-day life. Mindfulness is incredible!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Kotchoubey B. La conciencia humana: de dónde es y para qué sirve.  Psicología frontal . 2018;9. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00567
  • Rossi, E. L., & Rossi, K. L. (2008). La nueva neurociencia de la psicoterapia, la hipnosis terapéutica y la rehabilitación: Un diálogo creativo con nuestros genes. California: Instituto Milton H. Erickson de la Costa Central de California.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.