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Your inner wisdom… your intuition… the mind-body interface… your guiding spirit… all these are definitions of the subconscious mind. Your subconscious is the part of your mind responsible for mental operations that seem beyond the purview of normal consciousness—dreams, hunches, intuition, moments of insight, flashes of creativity, precognition—even self-sabotage when we act upon motives of which we are unaware.
If you learn to trust, understand, and communicate with your subconscious you can tap into dimensions of thought that may be new to you. Your subconscious mind can serve as a source of inner guidance, self-knowledge, creativity, better health, and the motivation to accomplish goals.
How do I know? I am a certified master clinical hypnotherapist as well as a licensed counselor with over 20 years of professional experience. For many years I applied hypnosis to help people manage emotions, improve health, eliminate bad habits, sleep better, reduce chronic pain, relax, develop confidence, visualize goals, and overcome phobias, fears, stress, and anxiety. Today I am a communication coach, helping my clients become better communicators and speakers. A large part of my job is teaching people how to access their strengths by using both the logical, conscious mind as well as the elusive, magical, subconscious. In this article, let me tell you how you can access and strengthen your connection with your subconscious to enhance the quality of your life.
Definitions of the Subconscious Mind
The concept of the subconscious was developed by psychologists early in the 20th century. The subconscious, sometimes called the “unconscious” mind, is a catch-all construct describing mental workings that don’t seem to be under conscious control. Freud theorized the subconscious to be a dark place of inner drives and demons, a repository of childhood fears and frustrations, and the storehouse of repressed memories that spawn seemingly inexplicable fears, obsessions, compulsions, and psychosomatic illnesses.
Freud’s colleague, Jung, theorized that the subconscious mind is every individual’s link to the cosmic consciousness—the universal intelligence, the shared mind of the human race. His theory explains how disparate cultures develop similar symbols, beliefs, and rituals, and why similar inventions and innovations appear in various locations across the globe, yet all at the same time.
Some psychologists characterize the subconscious as naïve and child-like–with no awareness of good and bad, right and wrong. This definition explains why we persist in unhealthy habits, such as overeating and smoking. Logically, we know these habits are destructive, but we feel compelled to do them anyway because the subconscious seeks only instant pleasure and gratification. Being child-like, this version of the subconscious doesn’t understand the difference between real and imaginary–thus the theory that the subconscious mind can be influenced by story-telling, guided imagery, and visualization.
Other theorists describe the subconscious as a source of wisdom and healing–an inner genie that grants insight, intuition, spiritual guidance, and recovery from illness. To those who believe in metaphysics, the subconscious mind is a direct connection to the universal creative mind that brings ideas into physical reality.
With its many attributes, perhaps it’s no wonder hypnotherapists and psychologists seek to engage the subconscious to help their clients toward self-improvement. One stated purpose of hypnosis, in fact, is to “bypass the conscious mind,” in an effort to reach the part of the mind that holds the key to real, lasting change, healing, and motivation.
So what is the subconscious mind? The subconscious mind is a construct. We cannot see it, touch it, or measure it, because it is not a physical thing. It is an abstraction that describes functions of the human mind that are unlike the conscious, cognitive functions we can perform at will, like spelling, arithmetic, typing, reciting, recalling facts, using logic, and following instructions.
The subconscious seems comprised of somewhat mysterious mental operations that seem to operate beyond conscious control. Here are the functions of the subconscious mind.
oStored Memory: A repository for long-forgotten memories that may be a source of inexplicable fears, preferences, and idiosyncrasies.
o Creativity and Intuition: The ability to pull together seemingly unrelated bits of information and arrive at new conclusions and possibilities, which we’ve never before formulated.
oIntuition: The ability to sense cues and patterns of activity in the environment of which we are not consciously aware, and yet, which alert us to events that are about to happen—a near accident, for example.
oMind/Body Monitoring and Healing: As the link between mind and body, the subconscious seems to exert an influence over personal sickness and health. The mind is the true healer, fueled by the power of belief.
oThe Dream Weaver: Hypnotherapists believe that the subconscious remains active during sleep, processing the events and emotions of the day via dreams, while the conscious mind rests.
oThe Connection to Cosmic Consciousness: In sleep, meditation, quiet contemplation, or prayer, and sometimes in what some have described as a blinding flash of enlightenment and insight, the subconscious opens up a link, an interface, to universal knowledge and understanding. The result might be a religious conversion, an epiphany, innovation and invention, a solution to a previously unsolvable problem, or a miraculous and spontaneous healing.
oThe Inner Spirit and Higher Wisdom: There are those who say that the subconscious is very much a part of our spiritual nature—the essence of God, the kingdom of heaven, within ourselves.
Accessing the Subconscious
By accessing your subconscious, you might become more creative, intuitive, healthier, and insightful, with more control over thoughts, emotions, habits, and motivation. It doesn’t happen overnight. This level of self-understanding, mental discipline and personal empowerment can take years to develop. Yet, there are ways to facilitate the process. Begin with the intention to increase your awareness of your subconscious and establish a communication with it, and cultivate a desire to learn what it can teach you.
How the Subconscious Mind Communicates
The subconscious mind communicates its guidance in often unexpected and creative ways. That communication might be an intuitive hunch, a flash of insight, or a creative idea. It might be a dream or an image, seemingly irrelevant at first, yet, after a while one that begins to make sense. Some say the subconscious is that still, small voice within that speaks to us in quiet moments of curiosity, wonder, awe, or reflection. Sometimes the subconscious mind warns us of danger or threat with a sensation—a tightening in the stomach, a chill down the spine, a feeling of physical discomfort. I have often had the experience that when I am searching for something I’ve misplaced, I get an intuitive push to look in a certain place, and I usually find the lost item.
Strengthen Your Connection
To increase your connection to the subconscious and foster its participation in your daily life, turn off the radio, the computer, the television and put down the magazine and the newspaper and take time for quiet, solitary reflection. Here are a few more recommendations.
oGet comfortable listening to your own thoughts and traveling your interior landscape. Stop thinking of everything you have to do and all the things you worry about and communicate with your inner spirit. Learn to occasionally exist fully in the moment. Figure out who you are, what your life is all about, and what brings you fulfillment and inner peace. Think deeply about these things and perhaps your inner wisdom will begin to listen and guide you to conclusions.
oGive attention to your dreams. In Conscious Dreaming, Robert Moss, shaman and professor of philosophy, writes that dreams are spiritual tools through which we can learn about the future, receive guidance, and resolve unfinished business. Moss recommends keeping a dream diary, to understand the symbols, patterns and themes of dreams. He advises us to ask of our dreams: “What do I need to know? What do I need to do?”
oEngage the services of a board-certified hypnotherapist who can help you understand more about your subconscious. With hypnotherapy, you can eliminate undesirable habits, resolve inner conflicts, enhance your motivation and self-confidence, heal traumas, and surmount irrational fears and phobias.
oTake time to relax, quiet your mind, and develop an inner focus. If you have trouble relaxing, purchase a relaxation training CD–you can find them on Internet web sites such as The Hypnosis Network. Relaxation will help you with reflection, meditation, sleep, and self-hypnosis, all of which will enhance your ability to access your subconscious.
oEliminate fear-based, negative self-talk. Your subconscious listens to every thought you think and carries those messages to your body, and out to the universe. Monitor your thoughts and start thinking positively about the things that really matter in your life.
oDevelop a capacity for curiosity and creativity; states in which the subconscious is most likely to be attentive and responsive. These states allow you to open your awareness and engage in possibility thinking.
There are several “tools” that will help you communicate with the subconscious. They include journaling, mind-mapping, treasure-mapping, affirmations, focused thinking, and prayer.
oJournaling: Keep a diary to capture feelings, dreams, goals, impressions, and insights. In this way, you become more aware of your patterns of thinking and feeling.
oMind-mapping: Choose a project you want to carry out and then create a pen-and-paper diagram of your thoughts. The diagram starts from a central point on the page and then branches out in all directions, as new ideas occur. Describe each idea with a few key words. The branches will develop “twigs” as you think of the details that accompany each major idea. Mind-mapping allows for creative, non-linear thinking that lends itself to planning and problem solving.
oTreasure-mapping: Assemble a collage of pictures of the things you want in life, so that the images are more easily communicated to the subconscious. The pictures can come from photos, sketches, and clippings from newspapers and magazines. Look at your treasure map often, for reinforcement.
oAffirmations: Get into the habit of positive thinking about the things you are accomplishing in your life. Affirmations are the “slogans” you say to yourself that keep you optimistic and focused on your goals, and motivated to achieve them.
oFocused thinking and visualization: Take some time each day to dwell on your future. Visualize that you are accomplishing your goals and dreams.
oPrayer: Become a co-creator of your own reality, by meditating and conversing with the Deity, according to your spiritual beliefs. Ask for guidance, affirm that your needs and wants are satisfied, and express gratitude.
Perhaps Dr. Joseph Murphy sums up the ideas in this article best in his writings:
You can bring into your life more power, more wealth, more health, more happiness and more joy by learning to contact and release the hidden power of your subconscious mind… Within your subconscious depths lie infinite wisdom, infinite power, and infinite supply of all that is necessary, which is waiting for development and expression… Your subconscious mind takes the orders you give it based on what the conscious mind believes and accepts as true… Remember, your subconscious mind does not engage in proving whether your thoughts are good or bad, or true or false, but it responds according to the nature of your thoughts. (From: The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, Prentice-Hall, 1963)
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