A concept that helped me out a little bit:
If we're talking about "increasing" consciousness, we will also need a way to measure it.
Let's focus on that moment of reflection and awareness ("Self remembering"). Recognize that in that moment, our level consciousness is higher than normal: We're able to see our own thought processes and incorporate them into our decision making. We're able to self analyze. (some would say: that's the nascent Real Self)
But it doesn't last! It quickly gets forgotten as the habitual mind grabs the reigns again.
- We can measure Consciousness in terms of frequency - how frequently do you have these moments?
- We can measure consciousness in terms of length - how long did you manage to stay conscious and hold off the habitual mind?
- We can measure consciousness in terms of depth - while self remembering, how much more were we aware of? What were you able to do while in that space?
Once you have the language to measure consciousness, you can start thinking about how to increase it.
Yesterday, I talked about increasing frequency of consciousness by giving yourself "shocks", little surprises which remind you to focus. This is very familiar to we zen-absurdists who like knocking people out of their routine through humor and absurdity. Little did you know, this is 'the way of the sly man'.
Next, let's talk about length. If you want to increase length of consciousness, you have to fix a goal in your mind. Aim the bow. Next time you are in the 'conscious space', just try to stay there just a moment longer.
You will fail... you will inevitably be distracted & fall back into the mechanical self. But with concentration, you can preserve it, insulate it against the habitual mind. Try it out.
Do the split attention exercise. Take a moment to recognize the feelings in your body, your intellect, your emotions. The moment of distraction is coming. See if you can anticipate it. Focus on what that moment is like, what happens to you. Develop a conscious experience of that moment.
It gets easier with practice.
In general, I would recommend that the level of complexity of and time-span set aside for the goals you have at the time should be inversely proportional to the frequency and length of consciousness (Using this term in the context used in the above selection).
Let me expand by first pointing out that the brain has different complex structures and neural networks that excel in very different areas. And some of these areas are very deeply inhibited during certain levels of concentration and consciousness.
Social goals, for example, tend to be complicated and very hard to complete with long periods of deep consciousness. Social skills fall apart in moments of extreme self awareness because self-awareness stresses the ego. It's best to have yourself consciously reminded of your social goals some time before relevant personal interactions so that you still have the intent sitting in the back of your head, but so that you don't get so deep into it that you psych yourself out and lose confidence. In fact, if you require confidence, consciousness is rarely acceptable.
Edit: Making a bit of a correction here, as I've deeply oversimplified conscious socialization. One can be confident and conscious in social interactions, especially if the topic of the interaction, or the environment of the interaction is familiar. Hence, the increase in confidence and mental flexibility of those increasingly involved in public speaking.
If your goal is physical, and involving motor skill building, one should limit direct awareness of the action if it's within your direct field of vision. For example, when I was learning Lennart Green's Top-shot card trick, I found that I was much more accurate at catching the card when paying direct attention to something else. Conscious awareness of the trick itself was frustrating and stressful, and didn't increase my chances of success at all. But my chances of catching the card were increased by 300% if I watched a TV show while doing the trick.
Edit: Adding to this as I was in a rush. This increase in accuracy is due to the specialization of the subconscious on peripheral perception and motor calculation. You only start including deeper levels of consciousness when you want to expand on the trick. But only do so for short periods of time to remind yourself of the goal of the expansion of the trick. The goal to quick learning is always keeping the current conscious goal just on the edge of your reach, and allowing the subconscious to figure out the details of getting there (Mainly only applying this to motor-skil based goals).
If the goal is work related, complicated, and over a long period of time (Maybe months long), one should attempt only short periods of deep consciousness in between each major interaction or action that is relevant to confirm that the direction of your environment/life variables falls in line, and to confirm whether or not the actions you've taken have put you closer to your goal. The depth should vary based on complexity of the work, as some people require more complexity for their jobs. In this case, I would say the depth is relative.
Edit: As was said before by others, keep the depth of consciousness limited if the actions in between each major event are boring. Maybe, before big work related projects/goals, spend some time planning fun activities to go in between the events during which you can be conscious and appreciate unrelated things and not lose sight or interest of your goals.
Depth of consciousness will likely vary from person to person as some people feel more pain and are generally more sensitive during periods of deep consciousness. If you are one of these, then I might recommend that you smoke weed, as it seems to allow for longer periods of deep consciousness/awareness while also numbing the ailments of the body. The problem with this is, it limits your thoughts and ideas to a certain range of complexity. That complexity tends to be centered higher than usual, but it's hard to have the simple thoughts that actually function/apply in the real world. Therefore, that's mostly only useful when you have no goals