Q. You mentioned the unconscious in one of your articles. What is the unconscious mind and how can we know about it if it is unconscious? You seemed to suggest that we can communicate with our unconscious and vice versa.
A. The unconscious is a division of our psyche or mind. Psychic material not in our immediate awareness is in our unconscious mind. When it is somewhat easily accessible it is said to be in the “pre-conscious” mind. We can perceive, think, feel, remember, decide and act, all unconsciously. Every experience of our life is stored within our unconscious mind. All we have learned, thought, felt and experienced is recorded, yet not available consciously. This enables us to remember how to drive a car without thinking about it.
Throughout history, the complexity of human nature has been noted along with a variety of theories to explain or make sense of our nature. Freud was the first to theorize about a vast unconscious mind with warring factions creating a variety of problems for us. He discovered that slips of the tongue were often breakthrough thoughts from the unconscious mind. Similarly, being accident prone and managing to fail when on the brink of success were noted as due to unconscious feelings or desires. Our unconscious mind is some times more in charge of our behavior than our conscious mind is!
Someone has compared our mental functions and the contents of our minds to a landscape at night. A search light plays over the landscape. Whatever appears in the searchlight is conscious, the rest that is hidden in the darkness is unconscious. Until recently, little was known about how the brain stores our experiences or about how a memory from the past is evoked to influence our current life.
In 1951 Dr. Wilder Penfield, a neurosurgeon, made some new and exciting discoveries. During brain surgery Penfield conducted experiments on patients who were fully conscious. He used a probe and touched the temporal cortex of the brain. He found that this forced recollections from the patient’s memory. His most significant discovery was that not only were past events recorded in detail but the feelings associated with the events were recorded as well. The event and the feelings were recorded together and one could not be recalled without the other.
Does this matter? Yes, it does. We all carry with us wounds from our past, buried in our unconscious minds. These wounds affect our daily living. They affect our marriages, the way we treat our children and they affect our self-esteem.
We can learn about and heal our unconscious mind by training ourselves to remember our dreams. Daily meditation and prayer can also open the door to our unconscious mind and help us face and heal our wounds. The more we become acquainted with our unconscious minds the more integrated our personalities become.
Our unconscious minds are a vast resource of wisdom that can be tapped into and used. Often inventors will dream about a solution to a problem they had struggled with unsuccessfully during the day. Our unconscious minds can be used to help solve daily problems as we face them.
Similarly, athletes often visualize a perfect performance while in an altered state of consciousness. We can reprogram our minds using positive images as we meditate or pray. I hope these ideas will help you learn to use the power of your unconscious mind and also the power of prayer.
“I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me; because he is at my right hand I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:7-8