12 Stages of Human Consciousness - a map to growth and evolution


We all like to think of ourselves as conscious. As knowing what we do and why we do it. We are wired to be conscious after all.

I have found through years of self-study and working with clients, that we are capable of being so much more conscious that we think, and the missing link for many people is the body. We tend to think of consciousness as something that comes through the mind, through meditation and self-exploration. I agree that these are great tools, but if your body doesn’t support your mind, you will regularly find yourself dropping to lower levels of thought, emotion, behaviour and yes, consciousness.

In his book, The !2 Stages of Healing, Donny Epstein introduces his thoughts on human consciousness. The book is great, but written 30 years ago, I find that the language doesn’t always meet our current experiences… and humanity is evolving and changing.

So I’m going to summarise, in my words, how I experience the 12 Stages and how connecting to each of these stages can benefit each and everyone of us to grow and heal.

Stage 1: Suffering and Disconnection

We don’t feel our bodies unless they hurt. We do everything to disconnect. We feel numb. Suffering comes because we have lost the ability to listen to the subtle messages and rely on loud messages like pain.

Through Stage 1 exercises we start to reconnect to our body, to find ease, to find resources we had forgotten we had. This starts our journey of healing.

Stage 2: Polarity

Although we are healthier than in Stage 1, we are still not fully connecting to our body. We tend to look for solutions or things to blame outside of us. Things can be very black and white, wrong or right. It supports a blame culture, where we don’t really take responsibility for our body, but instead look for someone else to fix us, or something to blame for our problems.

We need to start to recognise that we have different parts, with different needs and emotions. In Stage 2 we start to connect to the parts of us we like and the ones we don’t. This brings us more into our body and less dependent on what happens outside of us. It starts to move us forwards towards wholeness. It is often the parts of us that we have disconnected from that contain the seeds that will heal us, if only we would listen.

Stage 3: Stuck in Perspective

Here we feel like we have done everything, seen every therapist, tried every diet, done all different exercise plans, yet we are still not where we want to. We are running out of idea. We are stuck in a repeating pattern.

Here we need to really connect to our body and observe how “we” hold ourselves in a pattern. The common factor in every thing we have tried is us. Maybe we have something to do with it. But we are frustrated and often angry.

Stage 4: Reclaiming your Power

Enough of this. I take back my power. Because I deserve so much more than this.

This is actually about taking responsibility, personal power is about taking action and owning the consequences and learning from them. It’s about thinking for yourself, not relying on external forces to tell you what to do.

Stage 5: Merging with the Illusion

We are products of society. We have learnt rules, created beliefs and ways of being from those who love us and all around us. Some of the rules work for us, many don’t. Many of these beliefs limit our progress and keep us small and dismpowered.

Here we merge with all the parts of us we have disowned, we embrace the energy we have used to keep us separate from our wholeness. It is an important step towards authenticity.

Stage 6: I’m Ready

I’m so ready for change. I’m so ready to step up. I’m so ready to resolve this.

The energy is building, we can see the finish line. We know that we have done the work. Now we must go deeper again and prepare to clear out the patterns and beliefs that no longer serve us, so we can step into ourselves.

Stage 7: Resolution

We release our patterns. It could be through sound, emotions, some people even throw up. Whatever is necessary it feels healthy and our bodies clear out what no longer serves.

Stage 8: Emptiness in Connection

Peaceful waiting.

There are no voices telling us what we must do, what we should do. We no longer feel obligated to meet everyone elses needs. We are peaceful. There is space, space to wait and observe and see what unfolds. Space for opportunity to fill, when the time is ready. Be still, wait, experience the peace. Emotions of this stage include grace, peace, expansion, love.

Stage 9: Light beyond the Form

We become aware that we are more than our physical bodies and that there is an energy that surrounds and connects us all.

Our hearts open. We feel so much more than we thought possible. We feel connected beyond ourself. We can often read the energy in others and in situations. We experience love, gratitude, hope, so much more.

Stage 10: Being the Light / Receiving your Gifts

We are not separate. We have unique gifts that contribute to the collective.

Here we connect to our own uniqueness and potential whilst experiencing that we are not separate from others but part of something so much bigger than us.

Stage 11: Sharing your Gifts

I have gifts to give and to share. I give these gifts because I can, not to make me feel special or better than, but because that is what I do. Serendipity becomes part of are daily experience. We experience joy and gratitude

Stage 12: Community

Our smallest community it the cells that make up our body. We then expand this to our family, friends, colleagues, then our village, our county, our country, the world, the universe? How big your community is depends on your consciousness.

As we connect to this stage we start to see where we sit in relation to humanity. We see how our actions, thoughts, emotions affect more and more people. And depending on our capacity to connect to a bigger and bigger community this will change how we act, think and feel so that we can positively influence the biggest possible community.

There is so much more depth to each stage than I have shared here. But we all need a starting point and a flavour to work with. I find as I work through the stages over and over, each time I visit I get more depth, more insight. I discover where I naturally connect and where my body does not support this consciousness. Any stage that cannot be fully experienced can limit my capacity to grow and contribute. I see the 12 stages as a spiral and as Stage 12 ends, I realise that I am still not fully integrated, I am separate. Yet each time I visit Stage 1 I do so with more insight and more knowing, because of the journey I have taken up to this point.

Ask yourself:

  • which stages do I recognise in myself?

  • where do I feel challenged?

  • where are my natural gifts?

  • which stages do I want to avoid?

We all have a choice as to how much work we do on our own bodymind. The associated exercises with the Stages provide powerful tools to connect to your body, transform how you act and awaken to so much more of yourself.