Everything Worthwhile Depends upon Consciousness

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Authored By: Academic Program Director, Craig Chalquist, PhD

Imagine if you were a fish who could study water. You could then swim where the current best carries you while avoiding turbulence and toxicity. You could know why some waters are warm and some cold, and what difference that might make to how you live. You could understand why other fish swam as they did. You might even be able to track the course of the entire body of water that carried you and everyone else.

We swim in consciousness, personal and collective. We can’t measure it, quantify it, or even see it. But its quality makes the difference between disaster and safety, helplessness and empowerment, despair and fulfillment. A change in consciousness can ruin a life or uplift it.

“Know thyself” is an ancient recommendation that echoes in every culture on the planet. It is tantamount to: “Know how your consciousness works.” If you haven’t explored yourself beyond the limits of your daily mind, how will you know if what you do for a living aligns with your deepest yearnings? How to see through illusions? What unconscious weaknesses need healing? What do you really want from life?

Kinds of Consciousness

It often surprises people to learn about the Consciousness and Transformative Studies (CTS) program at National University. The bigger surprise is that consciousness studies are not offered throughout our entire lifespan. What could be more essential to knowledge, productivity, creativity, and well-being? Yet ours is the first accredited Master’s in Consciousness Studies in the U.S. We break new ground.

Sometimes we think of consciousness as a single overall capacity, something we just start doing when we open our eyes. But CTS studies many kinds of consciousness, from many viewpoints. Immersion in a creative flow of activity is different from detailed planning, which in turn is different from being in love, which is different from dreaming, where our nightly theater offers symbols to unpack that link us both to our own depths and to shifts in communal and global events.

Speaking of dreams, consider an example of the practicality of understanding them. Years ago, I applied to a psychotherapy internship as part of my training. Everything seemed fine to my conscious self, but when I turned in while holding the question, “Is this a good fit?” I dreamed of finding myself at the top of a tower that was on fire. I escaped just as it collapsed. A few months later, the practice was closed down. My dreams have often kept me aware of subtle workplace dynamics. Dreams even reflect the health of our environment, as years of terrapsychology investigation have shown.

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Myths and Storytelling

What about myths? Archaic remnants of pre-scientific explanation—or a vital source of wisdom?

Myths don’t stay in the myth books. Because they express in storied, symbolic form deep processes in collective consciousness, their motifs and characters sprout up all the time, and not only in days of the week (Happy Wednesday) or space programs (Apollo, Diana, Chang ‘E). Even the supposedly objective world of finance brims with mythological terms: bulls and bears, witching hours and castles in the sky, angels and unicorns, Invisible Hand of the Market. You might find yourself reliving a mythic tale without knowing it—unless you study the old stories for what they might convey.

In addition to studying consciousness from six perspectives—psychology, philosophy, spirituality, the new sciences, culture, and professional development—our work in CTS is informed by the power of storytelling. Research shows what the corporate world is now taking seriously: that an ability to tell a good story—an anecdote, a relevant bit of myth or folklore, an inspiring tale—binds the audience to the speaker, builds trust, empowers imagination, enlists emotion, and activates more of the brain than facts or debates. Telling tales helps build relationships.

A Practical Path of Study

Consciousness and Transformative Studies (CTS) classes include a strong applied component focused on skills like writing and publishing, promoting your work, facilitating groups, teaching, resolving conflicts, managing emotions, and coaching. This applied approach is reflected in our specializations in Transformational Leadership, Life Coaching, Consciousness and Healing, Engaged Spirituality (a nondenominational approach), and Dream Studies.

Because the program isn’t built for a single career path, our graduates customize the skills and material they learn to become what they most desire in a variety of ways: entrepreneurs, workshop leaders, teachers and trainers, meditation and movement instructors, coaches, community organizers, advocates for social change… Once you know your deepest strengths and what you feel called to give, the options open before you.

Join National University to explore the story behind your story and learn more about what the world calls forth from you.

Master of Arts in Consciousness and Transformative Studies

This program is the first accredited Master’s in Consciousness Studies in the U.S. The experiential learning offered by this program, and the spiritual perspective runs as a thread through much of the coursework.

Graduate Certificate in Consciousness & Transformative Studies

The Consciousness & Transformative Studies certificate has been created in response to a growing demand for continuing education that can be completed in conjunction with today’s fast-paced lifestyles and demanding work environments.

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