A lot of new age and occult resources refer to the “Higher Self,” though they may not always use that exact language. The Higher Self is variously described as a font of wisdom, a kind of guiding angel, or an idealized version of the self.
What is it, and how can you tell that it’s actually communicating with you?
What is the ‘Higher Self’?
There isn’t really an objective definition of the Higher Self. Some sources say it’s synonymous with the concept of the soul. Others consider it the enlightened or awakened Self, the aspect of the self that’s capable of transcending our base instincts.
In Sanskrit, the concept of Purusha is roughly analogous to the Higher Self, and part of the focus of yoga is to unite the Lower and Higher Selves.
In some modern Western occult disciplines, the Higher Self assimilates the Lower Self through discipline and sacrifice. This allows you to move through the world with Divine guidance and a view of reality beyond the illusion of the physical realm.
In most cases, the Higher Self is regarded as an aspect of oneself that isn’t separate, but also isn’t ruled or constrained by ego and earthly desires.
This part of the self is in contact with the Divine, and therefore aware of things that the conscious mind can’t know or perceive.
A variety of spiritual practices exist in order to allow people to tap into this aspect of themselves, or shed the restrictions imposed by the Lower Self in order to more fully embody the Higher Self.
How Does Your Higher Self Communicate with You?
The biggest pitfall of communicating with any invisible energy or entity is knowing when you’re imagining things, and when you’re genuinely receiving information from outside of yourself.
It’s very easy to interpret unrelated signs as communication from your Higher Self — especially if they seem to tell you what you want to hear.
Your Higher Self can communicate through gut feelings, creative inspiration, and flashes of intuition. You may even experience this aspect of the Self through dreams or one of the “clair” senses, though the messages might initially be very symbolic and confusing.
Journaling is often helpful here. We have the easiest time communicating with the Higher Self when we’re not wholly focused on the world around us. Dreams, meditation, and automatic or intuitive writing allow its messages to come through.
Writing down the sounds, visions, sensations, or hunches you get can allow you to decipher them later. You might even be able to connect these messages to real-world events and see what patterns emerge.
Signs Your Higher Self is Talking to You
The Higher Self is always with you, but it doesn’t really announce its presence in a conspicuous way. Knowing when your Higher Self is trying to come through involves being willing to receive its messages.
When you’re receptive, you may start noticing:
- Angel numbers. These are significant strings of (often repeating) digits that appear multiple times, in several different ways, over a short period of time. If you see the number “1111” three times in a single day, for example, it may be an angel number. Even if you don’t necessarily believe in the concept of angel numbers, just picking up on this pattern can point to something your subconscious mind is trying to consciously express.
- A reduction in anxiety. If you often feel anxious about your job, your environment, or the people around you, this may start falling away. The Higher Self sees past the physical realm, so you might find yourself less intimidated by it.
- A desire for alone time. You might start craving more quiet time alone, whether that’s to write, meditate, or just sit with your thoughts.
- Intense, memorable dreams. Your dreams might become virtually indistinguishable from reality, and you may have a much easier time remembering them.
- Changes in your relationships. You might lose a few friends, and gain several new ones as your energy and Self shift.
- Increased synchronicities. If you suddenly start noticing synchronicity more frequently, this might be a sign that your higher self is trying to get you to notice things in relation to a certain aspect of your life.
All of this aside, there’s also one simple test to determine if you’re communicating with your Higher or Lower Self. Just ask yourself one question: Am I afraid?
The Lower Self is an important part of us, and it shouldn’t be discarded. It’s concerned with survival, and a big part of that involves picking up on threats.
If your internal monologue, dreams, or other messages come from a place of anxiety, they’re expressed by the Lower Self.
Explore these messages and determine if they’re an accurate reflection of your reality. If not, discard them. If they are, try to resolve the problems that they’re telling you about. When you take care of your basic survival needs, it’s much easier to access the Higher Self.
The Higher Self, on the other hand, operates outside of fear. If you receive dreams or messages that are wiser than you usually sound in your head, or don’t come alongside feelings of anxiety, that’s likely the Higher Self.
Connecting with Your Higher Self
Your Higher Self isn’t separate from you. It’s always available to you, as long as you’re able to listen. Out of necessity, most of us spend most of our time embodying our Lower Selves — the Selves that do things like keep us safe when we’re navigating rush hour traffic and remind us to eat regularly.
Connecting with the Higher Self involves being in a place where we can tune out the Lower Self’s voice for a little while.
One simple way to connect to this part of the Self is by writing. Open a journal, pick up a pen, and write down a question you’d like an answer to.
Write down the first answer that comes to mind. Examine it — is it coming from fear, or love and wisdom? The more you do this, the fewer fear-based answers you’ll receive.
You can also do this while meditating. Use any method you wish, with or without visualization. Ask yourself questions, listen for the answers, and explore where they come from.
Another method for connecting with the higher self is the use of sacred entheogenic plants and fungi. Entheogens have been used for thousands of years by shamans to help facilitate connection to the spiritual realms and the higher self.
Entheogens, if used correctly and in the right doses, are known to temporarily wash away the ego, habitual mental patterns, and analytical processing, which can help you to receive direct intuitive messages from the higher self, or receive messages from the higher self in symbolic form through practices like Shamanic Journeying.
The most challenging (and rewarding) method involves lucid dreaming or reality shifting. In these environments, your consciousness is unfettered. You can request that your Higher Self appear to you, and learn whatever you’d like.
Oracle cards may even come in handy. You can use any deck you like here, even regular playing cards. Don’t look at a book of meanings — the cards serve as a way to randomly generate messages and images here, so the actual meanings don’t matter.
Ask a question, shuffle the deck, and draw a card. Allow your intuition to tell you how it applies to your situation. As with the other methods, pay attention to whether or not this answer comes from fear or wisdom.
The Higher Self is a tough concept to describe, and even more difficult to embody. When we’re able to, we live life with confidence, optimism, and love, and no longer feel constrained by the things around us.