Although medicine has evolved over thousands of years, many scientific questions remain unanswered. Surprisingly, one important question still remains a mystery; We know the subconscious exists, but, where is it?
A simple definition has perplexed even the most renowned scientists. Freud, Pavlov, and many others have tried to locate precisely where the subconscious mind lives within the brain, without much success. However, the only thing we can be sure of is that within the subconscious mind lies great power.
The subconscious is an intimate state of our body. Not only does it allow us to perform common and innate (unconscious) basic functions, but it also frees our body from the psychological burden that we live with every day, according to Freud through our dreams.
In the last decade, we have come a little closer to understanding how this “invisible” state of our mind really works. We have learned that within it lies an incredible power, allowing us to indirectly control our body without having concrete evidence on how it all works.
The virtues of the “unconscious mind” can be used to empower our body and free it from certain harmful states, such as stress. This mental process is what has helped us survive human evolution, and will surely be the key to our permanence in this world.
What is the Subconscious?
Inside the Subconscious
According to the great minds of psychology, the subconscious is everything that lies below the threshold of conscious awareness or perception. All rational, logical, and analytical thinking would be part of this conscious perception. At the same time, the information we perceive through our senses, and process unconsciously, would be the subconscious.
It is important to note that this is a partial definition and does not encompass the true potential of the subconscious. However, no one has been able to describe correctly this mental capacity, not even the most renowned scientists.
The subconscious is linked to almost all our body functions, even to complex processes such as motor and cognitive control (1). Thanks to this broad capability, which has been studied for years, we can say that there are unique qualities trapped within our subconscious.
Where is the Subconscious?
This is one of the best questions, which -at present- has a rather disappointing answer: we do not know. We already know where to find many of the vital processes of our brain: language, motor function, pain perception. However, we still don’t know where our subconscious lies.
The best example perhaps comes from a typical question: where is thought? When a neurosurgeon performs brain surgery, can he/she determine what you are thinking? Of course not! That’s also part of the subconscious, we know it exists, and we know of its importance, but we really don’t know where it is.
The True Power of the Subconscious Mind
Creativity, passion, dreams, impulses, talents; these are qualities that are trapped within our subconscious. Even the way we treat and respond to our personal environment is almost entirely determined by our subconscious.
In fact, it is so powerful that big companies are constantly trying to tap into your subconscious, forcing you to buy things you don’t want or need.
Yale University conducted several studies and experiments trying to better understand the powerful effect the subconscious mind has on our decision making. They did a short test that consisted of a person, (the assistant) who gave volunteers a cup of coffee, which could be either hot or cold. The volunteers had to describe the assistant’s personality based only on that gesture. Those who received the cold cup of coffee described the assistant as being distant and selfish. In contrast, those who received the hot cup of coffee, thought the assistant was warm and caring. (2)
These kinds of details, at first glance, seem to be insignificant, though our subconscious interprets the results as being very important. This sector of our mind, (the subconscious) influences the way we behave and what we seek and desire.
Controlling our subconscious would mean that we could interpret all signals and stimuli consciously and make decisions based on those facts. Can you imagine if we could process everything we hear, see, and feel simultaneously? Can you imagine being able to analyze your current situation in a matter of milliseconds, and make the best decisions possible immediately? We could all be professional athletes, painters, artists, scientists, etc.
What are the 3 levels of the mind?
The mind, different from the brain, is structured in three levels with different characteristics and functions, responsible for maintaining our daily lives.
- Conscious mind: This is everything rational and related to the perception of reality, which is easily reproduced and explored.
- Subconscious mind: Linked to all the functions we have described, especially the processing of information that is perceived automatically and without control, and the response our body has to them.
- Unconscious mind: This is the primary or reptilian brain, in charge of survival and an “animal” or “primitive” state, where we only seek to satisfy our needs.
Are dreams your subconscious?
Freud, an important pillar of psychology, said that dreams are the product of the unconscious, as a way of processing and releasing our burdens. The truth is that dreams are not entirely rooted in the subconscious, although certain aspects may be.
Our subconscious uses stored thoughts, manifested through our dream process, as maintenance for our psyche. When we sleep, the alternation between REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-rapid Eye Movement – sleep that is dreamless sleep), is the only thing that promotes biological rest. At the same time, dreams are the only way to achieve psychological rest.
Subconscious mind exercises
Your subconscious mind is the part of the brain that is on auto-pilot and performs tasks you are not conscious of, automatically, and at the same time. This includes things like; recalling memories, tying your shoelaces, blinking your eyes, pumping blood to your heart, regulating blood pressure… and so much more.
Although there are several different exercises, we will mention some of the most common ones to access and reprogram your subconscious:
- Meditation and Self-hypnosis: These are powerful techniques for accessing the subconscious. Many of the great successful personalities, like Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey, practice meditation.
- Visualization: We think in images; therefore, when we create positive, powerful thoughts to form imprints on the mind, we can transform these mental pictures as our reality, thereby creating positive outcomes.
- Positive Affirmations: Positive, daily affirmations are simple, yet, short, and powerful statements said to ourselves, and designed to manifest a specific goal. These affirmations reassure positivity and gratitude and can be as simple as “I am grateful for my health,” or “money flows easily and effortlessly to me.” Repeating these short affirmations daily, reinforces the subconscious mind to believe they already exist, therefore allowing our situation, habit or goal to come to fruition.
What is Subconscious behavior?
Psychologists often access the subconscious mind in search of relevant information, especially related to the past.
This level of the mind can be directly related to the way we behave unconsciously. “Tantrums” or progressive/radical changes in behavior may be linked to problems that are lodged in the subconscious. Therefore, sometimes we are not able to know – consciously – what the real root cause of our discomfort may be. Even depression and other mood disorders can also be linked to our subconscious.
Since 2003, Sentis Market Research Inc., has provided psychological and innovative solutions to everyday business challenges. They have created a short video comparing the conscious and unconscious mind that you may find interesting.
Do thoughts have energy?
How does this work? Simple, a player who thinks “I’m the best, and I can score goals” will be significantly more productive than one who thinks negatively about himself and who has low self-esteem. Training your mind to visualize a positive outcome allows your body to follow that plan.
If we are aware subconsciously that we excel in certain areas of our life, or that we are strong enough to overcome adversities that impede our success, it is more likely that we will achieve our goals.
Let’s be clear about one thing: it’s not a matter of fooling ourselves. What we are doing is unlocking most of the available information and qualities that are stored in our subconscious.
The subconscious is an incredible area of our mind, which can process information by providing specific answers without telling the conscious mind. If we could fully capture the true capability of this powerful tool, we could gain significant insight into a wealth of information that could be called upon instantaneously.
We all process information differently and each of us operates from our unique point of view or perspective. By understanding that we can consciously alter our desired outcome through visualization, meditation, and positive affirmation, we have the power to shift perception in reality. Learning how to tap into the subconscious mind that rewards you with positive outcomes requires patience, time, and practice. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort.”
David Velasquez is a medical doctor practicing family medicine at the Ambulatory Padre Vicente Irrazábal in Santiago, Chile. David’s decision to become a physician stems from his passion for neurology and psychiatry and will be obtaining his postgraduate degree in Neurology at the University of Chile.