The power of the subconscious mind
The subconscious vs. the conscious or self-conscious mind.
The subconscious is the aspect of self that dictates our life experience that we don’t consciously think or know about. It is hidden slightly below the surface of our conscious mind and controls the majority of our lives. The subconscious mind dictates our automated stimulus-response, quick reactions, instincts, impulses etc. The subconscious mind requires neither conscious observation or attention. This is why organisms unable to express self-consciousness are able to operate a body and navigate their environment.
Our conscious or self-conscious mind which incorporates our reasoning individual self allows us to be co-creators, not just responders, to our lives. Our conscious mind allows us to process information think and rationalize before just reacting. It allows us to choose our actions.
The subconscious mind is an amazingly powerful information processor that records perceptual experiences and plays them back to us at the push of a button. Many people only become aware of their subconscious programs when their “buttons are pushed” by actions of others and their reaction to it.
It has been estimated that the subconscious minds function has the ability to interpret and respond to over 40 million nerve impulses per second. The conscious mind can only process about 45 nerve impulses per second. So it would seem that the subconscious mind is ONE MILLION times more powerful than the self-conscious mind.
The subconscious mind has only a marginal aptitude for creativity, it is comparative to a five year old child. While the self-conscious mind can express free will. The subconscious mind primarily expresses “habits”. Once learned, things such as driving a car, putting on pants, walking etc these programs become automatic habits in the subconscious mind, meaning you can carry out all of these functions without paying any attention to them.
While the subconscious mind is running all the internal systems at once, the smaller self-conscious mind can only juggle a small number of tasks at the same time. The self-conscious mind is the organ of focus and concentration. It was once thought that certain functions such as the heartbeat, blood pressure and body temperature, were beyond the control of the self-conscious mind. However, this has been disproved by yogis and adept practitioners who have demonstrated that the self-conscious mind can control presumed “involuntary” functions.
A vivid imagination controls autonomic functions as much as real events.
Both the subconscious and self-conscious mind’s work strongly together. As the subconscious mind’s role is to control behavior that is not attended to by the self-conscious mind. For most people the self-conscious mind is so preoccupied with thoughts about the past or the future, or engaged with a problem in our imagination, they leave the day-to-day “driving” up to the subconscious mind.
“Cognitive neuroscientists reveal that the profoundly more powerful subconscious mind is responsible for 95-99 percent of our cognitive activity and therefore controls almost all of our decisions, actions, emotions and behaviors.” ~Szegedy-Maszak, 2005
The most powerful subconscious behavioral programs were acquired during the formative period between gestation and six years of age.
“These subconscious programs are direct downloads derived from observing our primary teachers: our parents, siblings, and local community. Unfortunately, as psychologists are keenly aware, many of the perceptions acquired about ourselves in this formative period are expressed as limiting and self-sabotaging beliefs.” (Lipton)
Most parents are not aware their every word and action are being recorded by their child’s mind. The role of the mind is to make coherence between it’s programs and real life and compose appropriate behavioral patterns and responses to life’s stimuli and to assure the truth of the programmed perceptions.
“Let’s apply this understand to real-life behavior: Consider that you were a five year old child throwing a tantrum in a department store over your desire to have a particular toy. In silencing your outburst, your father reprimands you with his often repeated response, “You don’t deserve things!” You are now an adult and in your self-conscious thinking mind you are considering the idea that you have the qualities and power to assume a position of leadership at your job. Remember, while in the process of entertaining this positive thought in the self-conscious mind, programs in your more powerful subconscious mind are automatically managing all of your behaviors. Since your fundamental behavioral programs are those derived in your formative years, your father’s rebuke that “you do not deserve things” may become the subconscious mind’s automated directive. So while you are conjuring up wonderful thoughts of a positive future and not paying attention to the current moment, your subconscious mind automatically engages self-sabotaging behaviors to assure that your reality matches your program of “not deserving.”
The self-conscious mind rarely observes the automatic behaviors generated by the subconscious mind. Because of this most of our personal and cultural problems arise from the belief that we are running our lives with our conscious desires and aspirations. We think “this is what I want from life, these are my goals, and this is what I will get” Yet, our lives don’t match our intentions, and then we react by thinking “I can’t get the things I want, the world is against me” etc. etc. Usually, the reason we fail to get what we desire is not because the Universe doesn’t want us to have it, but because we undermine our own efforts with “invisible” limiting behaviors and beliefs. Most of our fundamental subconscious programs were learned by observing the behavior and belief systems of others who may not share our personal goals and aspirations. So our conscious minds are trying to move us toward our dreams, while the subconscious mind may be simultaneously shooting us in the foot.
“The subconscious mind is a simply a “record-playback” mechanism that downloads experiences and programs them as “behavioral tapes”. There is no thinking, conscious entity controlling subconscious programs: this autopilot mind is basically a stimulus response reflex. Using reason to communicate with your subconscious mind in an effort to change it’s behavior would essentially have the same influence as trying to change a program on a cassette tape by talking to the tape player. In neither case is there an entity in the mechanism that will respond to your dialogue.”
Positive affirmations and positive thinking are not that effective in reprogramming limiting beliefs because positive thoughts are generated by the conscious mind which is only in charge about 5% of the time. Because of the power behind the subconscious mind, it is most likely that the subconscious programs will win 95% of the time.
Of course, positive thinking is better then negative thinking but while you are engaging in positive thoughts, the subconscious mind is still running the show. Because of this, positive thinking does not always improve the situation alone.
A very important point is that the subconscious programs are not unchangeable. We CAN rewrite our limiting beliefs and take back our lives.
One of the more ancient processes of re-formatting your subconscious mind is to be fully present and use your conscious mind to control behavior, rather than rely on habitual programs. This requires being present and thinking through your automatic response patterns.
If you were to stop and become the observer of your thoughts you would most likely realize that most of the rambling going on in your mind is negative. Psychologists suggest that 95% of the “monkey mind” thoughts arise in the programmed subconscious mind. When you have the opportunity to “listen” to your thoughts, realize that their content is greatly influencing your future expectations. Increasing consciousness by being an observer of your thoughts is a powerful principle in Buddhism.
Quantum physics also recognizes the power of thoughts. As it has proven the participation of the observer in the creation of reality.
“The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual. Live and enjoy” (Henry 2006) It is a scientific reality that thoughts influence the material world.
“When the subconscious mind provides for most of our thoughts, then our lives are primarily shaped by our developmental experiences, including behaviors and attitudes acquired from others (Lipton 2001). However, if we keep our self-conscious mind focused upon the present moment, rather than letting it wander into the past or future, we can actively control our mind by using thoughts that empower ourselves and lead us to our desired intentions and aspirations.”
These new discoveries in biology and physics provide scientific recognition of the powerful benefits of the Buddhist spiritual practice known as mindfulness.
The self-conscious mind associated with our individual identity and our thoughts is ruled by our beliefs, desires and intentions. When we recognize our ability to change our programming, we can evolve from passive victims to co-creators of our lives. We can learn to respond to life instead of react to it. As soon as we realize that our past behaviors were build on the invisible operation of the subconscious mind we are freed to forgive ourselves. It was not us, our parents, or our grandparents that made a conscious decision to program certain traits within us during childhood, as no one was aware that this download was happening. It’s good to understand that most people, if not all people respond using these invisible behavioral programs downloaded into their infant subconscious mind. So they were also personally unaware of their own invisible participation they may have had on our lives.
This scientific insight should help us to heed ancient prophets advice to forgive all of those who have transgressed against us.
“We have all been shackled with emotional chains wrought by dysfunctional behaviors programmed by the stories of the past. Through forgiveness, we unshackle ourselves and others, allowing us all to let go of the old story.”
Be present. Be mindful. Act don’t react. Observe your thoughts. Know thyself.
Reference: Measuring the Immeasurable, A Scientific Case for Spirituality Tami Simon(Bruce Lipton Ph.D.)