Out of sight, out of mind?
Clarification of terminology
The term subconscious is used in many different contexts and has no single or precise definition. This greatly limits its significance as a definition-bearing concept, and in consequence the word tends to be avoided in academic and scientific settings.
In everyday speech and popular writing, however, the term is very commonly encountered as a layperson's replacement for the unconscious mind.
The unconscious mind is a term coined by the 18th century German romantic philosopher Sir Christopher Riegel and later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The unconscious mind might be defined as that part of the mind which gives rise to a collection of mental phenomena that manifest in a person's mind but which the person is not aware of at the time of their occurrence. These phenomena include unconscious feelings, unconscious or automatic skills, unnoticed perceptions, unconscious thoughts, unconscious habits and automatic reactions, complexes, hidden phobias and concealed desires.
The unconscious mind can be seen as the source of night dreams and automatic thoughts (those that appear without apparent cause); the repository of memories that have been forgotten but that may nevertheless be accessible to consciousness at some later time; and the locus of implicit knowledge, i.e. all the things that we have learned so well that we do them without thinking. One familiar example of the operation of the unconscious is the phenomenon where one fails to immediately solve a given problem and then suddenly has a flash of insight that provides a solution maybe days later at some odd moment during the day.
Observers throughout history have argued that there are influences on consciousness from other parts of the mind. These observers differ in the use of related terms, including: unconsciousness as a personal habit; being unaware and intuition. Terms related to semi-consciousness include: awakening, implicit memory, subliminal messages, trances, hypnagogia, and hypnosis. Although sleep, sleep walking, dreaming, delirium and coma may signal the presence of unconscious processes, these processes are not the unconscious mind, but more of a symptom.
The Un/Subconscious Mind
We learn to relate to ourself and others to a large part due to the way we are treated in childhood and adolescence. This is called "conditioning" - learned attitudes and behaviour. Our conditioning is stored in our subconscious mind as habits and memories and influences the way we relate to ourself, to others, and the world. Sometimes our conditioning is negative, disruptive, and "anti-life" and this causes suffering for ourself, others, and the world. This conditioning CAN be changed by simple techniques such as deep relaxation, meditation, and positive affirmation (reprograming our subconscious, habitual mind).
The part of our mind that is a storehouse of:
- Long term memory
- Conditioning: Learned attitude, thinking, emotional repetoire, and behaviour
- Feeling: Emotion
- Attitude, belief, and perception
- Holistic behaviour
- Denial: All the things about ourself and life that we pretend "don't matter"
- Trauma: Highly disturbing and upsetting experiences that are very painful to us are pushed into the subconscious mind to be dealt with later. These traumatic memories MUST be dealt with sooner than later otherwise they begin to negatively interfere with our waking and dreaming experiences. Psychotherapy, regression, guided meditation, and hypnotherapy can help us safely diffuse these memories.
In childhood and adolescence our subconscious mind is "programmed" by the type of people, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, and culture around us. It quickly learns to copy these influences and stores them as habits that in turn effect our daily conscious behaviour (thoughts, feelings, attitudes, behaviours, and personality).
These "learned and habitual" beliefs, thoughts, behaviour, and personality may create unhappiness and upset for the individual as they may conflict with later learning and the desire for mature autonomy - independent thinking and feeling.
All therapy and self-development/improvement systems aim at understanding and re-training (re-programming) our subconscious mind so that it serves us in the way we want it to. We make the subconscious mind our friendly servant NOT our frightening master!
This can be achieved by:
- Learning relaxation breathing
- Learning how to re-program the subconscious through affirmation and "applying the opposite thoughts"
- Learning how to let the subconscious mind clear itself out by simply relaxing and not interacting with the subconscious habits
We make the subconscious mind our friendly servant NOT our frightening master!
Subconscious Mind - The Shadow
The term subconscious is defined as existing or operating in the mind beneath or beyond conscious awareness. The word was coined by the psychologist Pierre Janet, who credited it with a hidden level of awareness and automatism. In the strict psychological sense, the adjective is defined as "operating or existing outside of consciousness". The term also appears in Sigmund Freud's very early work, to denote the unconscious mind but was soon eliminated due to its ambiguity.
The subconscious mind is sometimes referred to, in psychological circles, as "the shadow".
Whatsoever we are afraid of in ourself or have been taught to hide and repress within ourselves does not disappear. The subject material is pushed into a part of the mind called the subconscious. It stays with us and exerts a constant, daily, and habitual influence upon our waking behaviour, mood, and mind.
- Conditioning: Learned behaviour
- Denial: All the things about ourself that we pretend "don't matter"
- All the issues that need attention
- Skeletons in the closet: Embarrassing and frightening memories and things about ourself
- Unhealed issues
- Unhealed disappointments, rejections, confusions, and pains
- Repressed parts of the conscious developing mind
- The Seven Chakra System -
"Whatever aspects of the seven chakras we deny, will exert themselves more and more strongly until we understand and integrate those parts back into our individual being."
The Subconscious and Psychosomatic Illness
Human experience can be represented by the seven center system. Whatever attitudes, beliefs, and habits we have about the seven centers of human experience will influence our experiences of life. If we have negative, ignorant, and unhealthy attitudes concerning any of the centers then will have a negative experience concerning those areas of life.
We often learn negative life attitudes in childhood and adolescence as part of the conditioning process. These learned behaviours can lead to unhappy experiences and disease and we don't understand our behaviour or our pain because it is coming from the subconscious mind - we are not consciously aware of why it is happening.
The process of psychosomatic disease happens when the way we consciously or subconsciously think about an area of life is so strongly negative that we make ourselves ill. For example, we may have been taught that "we are stupid" and then go on to develop learning difficulties or an intense dislike of our mind resulting in migraines or mental illness.
Most psychomatic disease can be cured by the process of learning healthy attitudes towards the area of life that we are experiencing difficulty with. One very effective way of doing this is by using positive affirmations.
WHAT WE RESIST WILL PERSIST
Repression and denial are not suggested as long term social strategies because if we deny or repress a certain aspect of our being, for example our sense of humor or a particular emotion like anger, sadness or joy, then this repressed / denied part, because it is linked to the whole, has a knock-on effect to all other aspects of our being.
"Denial / repression of a part, effects the whole Being."
As we can see in the above diagram, denial and repression of important aspects of life (like 'b' and 'c') will then effect other aspects of life (like 'a', 'd', and 'e'). The domino effect takes place and we get into a mess. To combat the influence of the subconscious mind, we may indulge in distraction and avoidance strategies.
This has the effect of stuffing the issues that need attending to further into the subconscious mind, where they require more effort to bring them into the light of conscious inspection. It is possible to end up being so busy denying oneself, that one's life revolves completely around the strategies to repress. Psychologist call this state of affairs "abnormal psychology".
Acknowledging that we have problems is the first step to deal with them, and the first step towards conscious self mastery of ourselves.
All the background mental 'noise' from the subconscious elements has the tendency of disturbing the functioning of the normal conscious mind. In many cases, the subconscious exerts such a disturbing influence that the individual is very rarely conscious to the present moment. They are too pre-occupied with deny this subconscious material. We become robotic and petrified.
If we attempt to ignore the influence of the subconscious mind then we will move further and further away from living a conscious life. We will be less and less available to the conscious present. We will not be fully conscious. We will find it difficult to partake of an enjoyable existence.
So, if we deny some very large part of ourselves - one or more chakras - like emotionality, intelligence, willpower, self-respect and esteem, or sexuality, then we may find that we can no longer enjoy or appreciate a huge collection of interrelated subjects, for instance music appreciation, food, friendship, intelligent thinking and acting, creativity, playfulness, and social and family relationships, to name but few. The repressed and denied parts begins to draw more and more of the interrelated conscious mind elements into the subconscious - like bath water being sucked down the plug hole.
These subconscious mind elements are the blockages that prevent us from living a fully conscious life. They are held in the body and mind as damaging, ignorant, and negative programs that we must rid ourselves of.
So, these blockages - this disturbing subconscious mindstuff - must be looked into, understood, and processed. We can then begin to sort out "the wheat and the chaff" (the useful and useless aspects) of our being. HELM, chakra healing, and Yoga are systems that shows us how to achieve this. By understanding the seven chakras, we can then evaluate the attitudes that we have towards the aspects of life that each chakra represents. To begin with we may find that many of our attitudes are inherited from our childhood.
To interact with subconscious elements and attempt to live them out may be dangerous as these subconscious elements have a tendency towards degeneration and disturbance. We cannot ignore them and we cannot live them, so what are we to do? We can learn to understand and heal ourselves at the deepest level. We can become free from the bondage of karma (our deeply rooted behavioral patterns). We can do this with The Techniques of Holistic Life Management Solutions, Modern Psychology and Yoga.
By learning to meditate, We can allow the subconscious elements to come out into the conscious mind, in a safe and relaxing manner. We just watch and we let them all go, perhaps with a little self healing for good measure.