The Subconscious Mind
Our subconscious is not something we were born with any more than is our Ego. They developed hand in hand, starting from our early childhood. When we were born, we had no frame of reference to base our likes, dislikes, wants, don't wants, safe, unsafe, nor any other mental concepts. As our awareness of the environment began to develop, so too did our ability to judge that environment. Learning to judge and discern our environment allowed us to discern things we liked from things that could bring us harm. The volume of those judgements were too numerous to retain in our conscious awareness, and so we had to commit them to memory in a way that allowed them to resurface when we needed them most.
This repository of judgements is our subconscious. It is also the source of our Ego. Our Ego is really nothing more than a collection of thoughts and judgements we have formed about ourselves, about who we think we are, about how we think we fit into our environment and how we think others perceive us. Since all of these things are constantly changing and evolving, they really have very little to do with who we really are.
As we proceed through life, we continue to deposit judgement after judgement into this repository, and because this special form of memory is intended to help us discern our environment, we are in turn subjected to a constant barrage of prejudgements, resurfacing from the subconscious, to steer us away from harm and toward that which we prefer. It operates like a feedback loop.
The problem we run into is that we are constantly feeding new instructions into this feedback loop system on an ongoing basis, by constantly judging, and re-judging, and we never do anything to empty it out. When these feedback loops, designed to keep us safe, run unchecked, they can quickly spiral out of control and lead to problems like irrational fears, anxieties, and a whole range of unwanted emotions.
Because these judgements are constantly being heaped upon, and allowed to fester and grow without any sort of checks and balances or controls in place, our subconscious can be thought of as a cesspool of mental activity just waiting to bubble up into our consciousness. This is the source of our constant flow of thoughts that seem to continuously pervade the mind. We have allowed it to grow so extensively that it has little choice but to free flow into our consciousness.
While this egoic level of subconscious activity was essential for our early development, discerning right from wrong and safe from harmful, it is not essential in adult life and can even prove harmful. As adults, we know what we like and don't like, what is safe and what is harmful, what we want and don't want. We no longer require a constant onslaught of discursive thought to remind us.
The only way to clean out this cesspool is to create space through quieting the conscious mind, and then allowing this cesspool to bubble forth into consciousness without further adding to it. This is the Self Awareness practice of watching our thoughts. We simply allow the thoughts to surface, see them for what they are, and allow them to pass into oblivion by not indulging them to see where they lead.
When we do not indulge our thoughts and do not judge them, they do not re-enter the feedback loop system. When we stop feeding them, they stop growing, and will eventually shrivel and die. Since this is the source of Ego, the Ego will also shrivel and die, so long as Self Awareness is practised with sufficient diligence. The most important part of this practice is to NEVER JUDGE our thoughts since judgement is the gateway back into the feedback loop system.
|Michael L. Fournier|