It's hard to explain how I ended up in this busy, polluted city for two whole months but something told me a visit to Pune was absolutely the right thing to do.
It's hardly "typical India"; there's not a great deal to see, there are too many strange people (foreigners more so than the locals) and, for much of it, I felt I was wasting my time by apparently not doing much toward my goal of understanding happiness. Regardless, I trusted my inner voice and rented a flat and it turned out to be a great learning experience!
See, as well having met a truly wonderful man, taking a life-changing course (more another time), and writing and recording a song (I'll make you hear it soon!) because there wasn't much to do and nobody I wanted to make friends with, I spent a good portion of my time on my own. This made me realise some things about myself which has led to a more solid understanding of the basic requirements of different levels of consciousness.
OK, I'll put my plain English head on...
Consciousness is NOT about how intelligent we are, how good we were at school or how well we do our job. Consciousness is our awareness; it's the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. The most conscious people are called "enlightened" and they include people you might have heard of like Jesus, Buddha, a spiritual leader called Osho and a writer called Eckhart Tolle. There are probably LOADS more of them but enlightened people don't usually like to mention it...
So, yeah, what I figured out is that people at different levels of consciousness have different basic needs:
The lower levels need constant stimulation in the form of gossip, shopping, smoking/drugs/alcohol, TV, and other similar types of entertainment and addiction. They often aren't aware of the benefits of good nutrition and exercise; either that or their diet and exercise become an addiction. They don't know the extent of their ability to change their own lives and believe they have to "follow the herd". They usually live in the past or the future (in their head) and are rarely "present", making them dissatisfied, bored, depressed or anxious. When things "go to plan" they experience extreme pleasure and conversely when things don't go to plan they suffer enormously.
The mid-levels, although often give in to one or two addictions, can usually manage without constant stimulation but still need five basics otherwise their well being suffers: enough sleep, exercise, nutrition, the company of friends/family, and a purpose. They're aware of the benefits of meditation, often know that they have the power to change their lives and have a thirst for knowledge about the mind and the universe because, once they start learning there's more to life than what's on the surface, they need to know more. Although occasionally they get excited about the "good" stuff and struggle with the "bad" stuff they're conscious enough to realise it's all in the mind and can usually get by without too much drama.
The highest levels need none of the addictions and stimulants required by the lower and mid-levels. They live in a state of meditation - that's not to say they're always sitting in the lotus position but that they are present in all they do making them content. Their focus is clear and, although they feel and express happiness and sadness, they don't get overly-excited or upset. They have their minds and behaviours under control: when things don't "go to plan" they're able to accept it because they know that everything is perfect whatever happens. They deal with life without getting shaken up because they can see the bigger picture.
So, the higher our level of consciousness the more content we are and the great news is that it's entirely possible to move upwards..!
Want to know more? Maybe start by putting "consciousness" into Wikipedia and see what occurs...