First Conscious Shock

First conscious shock is an effort to transform incoming impressions in oneself — to see/hear/assimilate something in a new way, as opposed to the way we mechanically receive an impression when asleep in life.  Applying first conscious shock to oneself is a way of Self-remembering, and thereby creates new energies (hydrogens) in oneself. In transforming impressions, we are transformed, because our feeling of I is not invested in everything we see, hear, feel, think and experience. We are freer to receive higher influences.


“[I]f impressions come in and ring up the usual place [in you] there can be no digestion of impressions at all. … Now suppose you are sufficiently interested and sufficiently conscious to notice how these impressions fall on you mechanically, and suppose that you have sufficient valuation of the Work to wish to transform these impressions, which means not letting them simply fall on their usual place, exciting your usual dislikes and hatreds. In order to do this you must have some power of digesting impressions, and this is where the Work comes in. You know that the Work says that people are mechanical. Now suppose you apply a Work idea of this kind at the moment when you notice that someone is making a customary negative impression on you. If you understand something of what it means when it is said in the Work that people are mechanical, then you will not accept the impression so easily. You will realize that it is not the person’s fault. You will realize that the person always does this, always says this, because he is a machine. But of course you all know already that you will never really see in the right way the mechanicalness of other people unless you see your own mechanicalness and how you are constantly doing the same thing. Perhaps you will see what I mean by these illustrations of transforming impressions. If you have these Work-thoughts in connection with this person the impression will fall in a quite new place in you. It will be digested. But first of all you must have a new kind of thinking, some degree of metanoia, before you can transform or digest these impressions.”

– Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, “The Digestion of Impressions,” Vol. 1, pp. 338-39


Related to the Work octave, first conscious shock is applied at the Mi-Fa interval; it is the shock necessary to transcend recurrence (do-re-mi, do-re-mi) and evolve in being and understanding. Some examples of practicing first conscious shock are remembering one’s aim, using a Work idea to see a situation or person in a new way, and practicing inner stop. In short, anything that makes us more conscious belongs to the practice of first conscious shock.


Have you applied the shock of the Work to yourself?