These spiritual practices (or life in general) is to "raise your level of consciousness". The term "raise" simply means to place above. The term "level" expresses that there is a hierarchy that is climbable. Hence, to "raise your level" is simply to take another step above where you are currently presiding. "Consciousness" is something that is not typically defined, nor expounded upon through the majority of the pundits. Consciousness is simply "conscious". For there to be "conscious" there must be a subject (with the ability to perceive) and an object. The subject perceives that object. From that perception, the subject has an "awareness".
"Awareness" is the key to understanding the "raise your level of consciousness". It is through the awareness that the subject percieves it's own individual parrallel universe that is defined by that subjects experiences, thoughts, and belief system (including knowledge). Hence, the subject creates a whole experience filled with thoughts, emotions, judgments, all from simply perceiving and creating an "awareness" of the object.
To further the point, take as an example of boy (subject) perceives ball (object) and is therefore conscious of the "ball" where an "awareness" develops to define the experience including the ball is black, round, etc. To "raise your level of consciousness" would be to not only perceive and have a simple awareness, but to extend the awareness into new ideas/thoughts, such as the ball can bounce, can be thrown, can develop into a game, etc. Suddenly, there is a whole new way of "perceiving" the ball, based on a belief system (one that includes sports).
Hence, to "raise your level of consciousness" simply means to perceive things differently than you normally would have, and in a higher/lighter manner. Another words, with circumstances remaining constant, raising consciousness would mean you perceive those circumstances in a different manner. When you perceive things differently, you are expanding your view of the circumstances to include more ideas, more thoughts, more solutions, etc. Basically, you're getting smarter. And to be smart like Buddha, like Christ, like Krishna, would mean you perceive life with their level of perception. The world, the problems, the circumstances can all stay the same, however, its the subject (the perceiver) that changes.
Provided that Krishna, Christ, Buddha are titles given to individuals who are able to perceive reality in a "godlike" manner, they understood life to the degree where they were able to choose the best options in proceeding through life. To proceed knowing the best option would mean you have the ability to know all of the options in order to choose. Such options are created by all of our experiences, which are then added into our Collective Consciousness aka Unity Consciousness, which then individuals like Krishna, Jesus, Siddharta can tap into and proceed with a higher level of awareness.
To begin to master the concept of mental disciplines it is necessary to examine the self. The polarity of your dimension must be materialized. Where you find patience within your mind you must consciously find the corresponding impatience and vice versa. Each thought a being has, has in its turn an antithesis. The disciplines of the mind involve, first of all, identifying both those things of which you approve and those things of which you disapprove within yourself, and then balancing each and every positive and negative charge with its equal. The mind contains all things. Therefore, you must discover this completeness within yourself. -Ra, The Law Of One (Book One).
So, in essence, our spiritual practices are really tools to tap into the collective consciousness the way Krishna, Jesus, and Siddharta did. Again, the collective consciousness is really the databank of the infinite expansive number of conscious levels/beings, the many experiences possible for an infinite being. Once the level of consciousness changes, "as within, so without" dictates the external manifestation changes also. As said differently, the self-realization process of the inner world has a self-actualization reflection in the outer world. Cheers to that!
Overly educated and continuously exploring and revealing more behind the veil.
"It cannot be too highly emphasized that the mystic swims in the same waters in which the psychotic drowns."
-James Wasserman, The Mystery Traditions