Consciousness is the quality of being awake and aware of one's mind and surroundings.
There are five natural states of consciousness. You are undoubtedly already familiar with the first three, but likely unfamiliar with the fourth and fifth.
The important thing to keep in mind is that meditation and mindfulness training teaches us how to be more conscious during the three ordinary states that we are all familiar. When we become more conscious during these ordinary states they transition into the fourth and fifth advanced states.
The following are the five natural states of consciousness:
1. Waking state
The waking state is our everyday state of awareness. Unfortunately, we consider this the waking state when in fact its a sleep state in comparison to the fourth and fifth states.
The waking state is considered a gross state. Gross meaning concrete.
2. Dream state
The dream state is the state we emerge into when we when we go to sleep. Its a subtle form of the waking state.
The dream state is considered a subtle state.
3. Deep dreamless state
The deep dreamless state is the state that provides the deepest rest during our dream cycle.
The deep dreamless state is considered a causal state, meaning it causes the other states.
4. Empty witnessing state
The empty witnessing state is also referred to as the turiya state. Turiya simply means fourth. During the turiya state total awareness is maintained 24/7.
The empty witnessing state is considered an absolute state.
5. Nondual unity state
The nondual unity state is also referred to a turyatita state. Turyatita means beyond fourth. In the turyatita state stable witnessing strengthens and evolves until all separation between the witness and that which is witnessed dissolves. The sense of separateness between the "experiencer" and the "experienced" disappears.