Our animal brain bases its instinctive decisions on polar perceptions: Threat or prey? This is under the radar of our frontal-lobe mind. Freudians would call it the Id. Threat-or-prey mentality extends to sexuality as well as simple survival. The libido is based in this primal brain system.
Part of becoming an intelligent and compassionate human being is learning how to intentionally integrate animal-brain instincts with frontal-lobe ideals. Part of becoming a secular humanist is adding a layer of inquiry and science to this integration. Personal practice entails trying to do all this in the moment through the development of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to be, observe being and steer oneself through behavioral decisions and actions toward a becoming, based in ethics and compassion.
Talk is cheap, especially among privileged academics. Being a practicing humanist, as I see it, is walking the talk in daily, moment-by-moment mentality and behavior. Commitment to this practice forms what I call a practical humanism, a humanism in practice.
Consciousness is a presence of mind which must be developed with practice. Contrary to popular notions about the brilliance of children when they emerge from the womb, children do not come packaged with consciousness. Consciousness requires years of education and self-development. Consciousness requires educated honesty with oneself and others. Consciousness requires physical well being.
Regular meditation is a path to consciousness. Education is a path to consciousness. Open human interaction is a path to consciousness. Consciousness cannot be bought or sold. Consciousness is a personal creative process within the mind. Consciousness is not gained by mouthing conformist morality. Consciousness begins with a deep silent peace within.