To develop higher consciousness it is mandatory to take responsibility for one’s own feelings of suffering and alienation rather than blaming misfortune on a Higher Power.
As a soul, you existed before this life, you chose this life for learning purposes and you will take these lessons with you when you leave this Earth. Yet, you are not alone in this journey. You are part of the One, as everything is interconnected. This is one of the most important realizations in raising your conscious state.
Methods of achieving higher consciousness often are based upon cultural conditions. Traditionally, both in the Eastern and the Abrahamic spiritual traditions, persons seeking spiritual transformation came under the tutelage of a Master – a Rabbi, Sheikh, Guru or Acarya – who would oversee their progress. In the past, as today, this education would often involve periods of retreat in communities, such as ashrams, monasteries or meditation centers, whose sole purpose is the cultivation of awakening.
Spiritual approaches to consciousness involve the idea of altered states of consciousness or religious experience. Changes in the state of consciousness or a religious experience can occur spontaneously or as a result of religious observance. It is also maintained by some religions, religious factions and some scientists that the universe itself is consciousness.
In shamanic practices, changes in states of consciousness are induced by activities that create trance states, such as drumming, dancing, fasting, sensory deprivation, exposure to extremes of temperature or the use of psychoactive drugs. The experience that occurs is interpreted as entering a real, but parallel, world. (Please note: I am not advocating the use of drugs to achieve higher levels of consciousness.)
In many polytheistic religions, a change in emotional state is often attributed to the action of a god; for instance love was ruled by Aphrodite and Eros in Ancient Greek polytheism. In Hinduism, the change in state is induced by the practice of yoga. Yoga means union and is intended to produce a state of oneness between the practitioner and the divine.
In Islam and Christianity, the change of state can occur as a result of prayer or as a religious experience. The change in state of consciousness in Hinduism, Buddhism, New Thought (or New Age), Christianity and Islam is reported to be quite similar. The pursuit of yoga and the Buddhist Jhanas involve feelings of oneness with the world that give rise to a state of rapture. This is also reported by those undergoing some forms of Christian (or Islamic) religious experience.
Meditation is used in some forms of yoga, such as Raja Yoga, Hatha yoga, Transcendental Meditation, the Buddhist Jhanas, in the practices of Christian monks and Islamic mystics (Sufis). Meditation can have a calming influence on practitioners, as well as changing the state of consciousness.
Theravada Buddhism views the Jhanas – the cultivation of which is similar to practices in Hindu Yoga – as a preliminary, in which it is demonstrated that states, such as rapture, are not ultimately satisfactory. In most types of Buddhism, serenity meditation is followed by insight meditation in which one uses the sharpened mind to penetrate the true nature of all mental phenomena.
In a secular context, higher consciousness is usually associated with exceptional control over one’s mind and will, intellectual and moral enlightenment and profound personal growth. In a spiritual context, it may also be associated with transcendence, spiritual enlightenment, and union with the Divine.
Source in part: Wikipedia