Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Subconscious Mind

One of the things that I have been studying while taking a break from this blog is the subconscious mind. This is the part of the brain that is not under our conscious control. This means that we have little to no say in what is occurring. Things like our heart rate, blood pressure, and salivation would all be examples of functions that are carried out subconsciously. However, we can influence these things consciously and indirectly. Heart rate and blood pressure would be both increase if we listened to stimulating music for example, and if for whatever reason we wished to salivate, we could think about our favourite food when we are feeling hungry. But the actual process of increasing or decreasing these parameters is done by the subconscious, though we can place the necessary stimulus in our environment or ourselves in close enough proximity to the stimulus, or even imagine it within the confines of our own minds, and it will affect the subconscious' functioning.

Breathing is a good example of a function that is carried out by both the subconscious and conscious mind. If I were to tell you to start consciously controlling your breath, you could do it immediately and control each one as you pleased, yet it could just as easily keep on going without your slightest thought, if you were consciously absorbed in another activity.

Where this gets interesting for me however, is in our thoughts, feelings and emotions. If we are involved in a daydream about some past or future event (we cannot daydream of the present moment in front of us), then our subconscious mind takes over and replays existing beliefs and 'recordings' to any stimulus we presently encounter. What this means is that if you are an angry individual but do not wish to be so, then if you daydream of some other past or future event while doing housework or gardening etcetera, then you will probably get annoyed or upset if you drop something or for whatever reason if something you are doing "doesn't work out". This is because your subconscious is operating under the belief that if something goes wrong, then it should produce a response based on anger in that circumstance. The more present (conscious) that you are, the less your subconscious mind will take over the show. There are stories that I cannot verify the validity of regarding yogis or advanced meditators who are able to control otherwise unconscious / subconscious bodily functions, such as the passge of water through the digestive tract (they can move a column of water from left to right along their intestines) or control their heart beat to some extent or 'decide' whether to react to a loud noise instead of instinctively jumping in fright. Such people are also much more composed and much less likely to react subconsciously to any given situation. This is because they have trained themselves through many meditative practises to be fully present. I imagine that this would then allow their brain to re-wire itself in such a way as to give more power to the conscious mind, and less to the subconscious mind. If the aforementioned angry person were to be more like these people, then upon something going wrong, he would feel less angry, get over it much more easily and it would take more extreme circumstances to produce any such effect upon him.

The difficulty is in remaining conscious. I believe that each individual would like to be happy and feel fulfilled all the time and not engage in self-sabotaging acts. The question is; why is this not the case then if it is what everybody wants?

The trick is in the recordings I touched on above. The subconscious mind is estimated to be around 1 to 2 million times more powerful than the subconscious mind, which means it has much more oomph at its disposal. Any ordinary individual trying to experience positivity consciously while within an adverse circumstance has as much chance of remaining fully conscious as a wheelbarrow has of out-racing a Ferrari, if that wheelbarrow is being pulled by a dead cow... uphill. That's a little bit of an exaggeration, but my point remains, it isn't easy. I will cover this topic more fully in a later post though.

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