Conscious Unconscious

Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud believed that behavior and personality is created from the constant and unique interaction of conflicting psychological forces that operate on different levels of awareness: the conscious and the unconscious. Psychoanalytic theory of the conscious and unconscious mind is often explained using an iceberg metaphor. Conscious awareness is the “tip of the iceberg” while, the unconscious is represented by the ice hidden below the surface of the water.

Only a small percentage of the whole iceberg is visible above the surface. In this way, the iceberg is like the mind. The conscious mind is what we notice above the surface while the unconscious mind, the largest and most powerful part, remains hidden and unseen below the surface.

The unconscious mind holds all awareness that is not presently in the conscious mind. All memories, feelings and thoughts that are out of conscious awareness are by definition 'unconscious.' It is also called the subconscious and is known as the dreaming mind or deep mind.

In the west we tend to focus our attention on what is conscious, visible, physical. This kind of attention keeps us very busy and preoccupied with what is going on, on the outside of us. In this scenario the majority of our efforts, energy and participation is at the whim of whom or what we give our power or allegiance to. Think about it. What is important to you? Are you focusing your precious energy on the manifestation of your own dreams, health, and happy relations? Or, are you tuned in to a mainstream media milieu watching other people’s ego battles, i.e. bachelors; bachelorettes; political hopefuls; fashion and celebrity icons; or fictional programming welling up from someone else’s unconscious mind… calling it “entertainment”?

Many metaphysical and quantum physicians are referring to life as an illusion. It’s not difficult to perceive this notion when you actually look out upon what’s being called “reality” in our culture.  It’s often difficult to believe what ‘s being called reality. “Reality” TV has been hot for some time - “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”, “Honey Boo Boo”, “You’re Fired!” and there are other TV dramas being created in the same voyeuristic vein as reality TV, “Orange is the New Black”,  “The Story of Us”, “Walking Dead,” to name a few.

Voyeurism is often described as the “peeping tom” disorder. Where an individual derives gratification from spying or watching the intimate details of someone else’s life. It is listed as a “psycho-sexual” disorder in the DSM V (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA)).

And, Facebook – isn’t it just another opportunity to peep at the ego or “portrayed” self of another? Is it real?

It occurs to me that this is what we are all consciously or unconsciously subscribing to when we sit in waiting rooms, restaurants and airports, where unavoidable large televisions are blasting human dramas in indiscreet and intimate detail, either real or imagined, at a frightening pace. What does this say about us as a culture? What legacy are we bequeathing to our children? Is it conscious or unconscious?

As part and parcel of our modern décor, televisions are now being given center stage over thoughtful art pieces, contemplative sculpture and soul soothing music. Art calls for interaction with the viewer, triggering a personal perception, opinion, reaction or memory and engaging us in a relationship of gift and receipt – the energy of a healthy heart/relationship. The origin of most televised material is a blur. One-sided, our only option is to tune in – “in agreement”, unless we opt for conscious and intentional tuning out. It seems to be designed to create heightened sensation, sexuality and violence eliciting negative emotions like fear, anxiety and dread – which all stimulate the adrenal cortex. Over-stimulated adrenal glands are the cause of much of our cultures’ catastrophic illness - Obesity, Insomnia, Chronic Fatigue, Hypertension, Heart Disease, Allergies, Diabetes, Cancer and the list goes on…

Are you living your dream or living the nightmare of another?  Do you need to recreate your story? Could there be more time and energy available to create our own dreams if we were not engaged in “spying” on the outworking of other souls’ karmic journeys?

Acknowledging the good aspects of life and giving thanks have a powerful impact on emotional wellbeing. In a landmark study, people who were asked to count their blessings felt happier, exercised more, had fewer physical complaints, and slept better than those who engaged in the chronic listing of hassles.

Brené Brown has found that there is a relationship between joy and gratitude, but with a surprising twist: it’s not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful. 

Dr. Andrew Weil describes resilience as being like a rubber band - no matter how far a resilient person is stretched or pulled by negative emotions; he or she has the ability to bounce back to his or her original state. Resilient people are able to experience tough emotions like pain, sorrow, frustration, and grief without falling apart - in fact, some people are able to look at challenging times with optimism and hope, knowing that their hardships will lead to personal growth and an expanded outlook on life.

Resilient people do not deny the pain or suffering they are experiencing; rather, they retain a sense of positivity that helps them overcome the negative effects of their situation. Positive emotions have a scientific purpose - to help the body recover from the ill effects of negative emotions. Thus cultivating positivity over time can help us become more resilient in the face of crisis or stress.

Becoming conscious of what is unconscious affords us the opportunity to loosen hidden negative emotions and behavioral patterns. Deep and effective healing requires the conscious release of counterproductive beliefs, past hurts and victimhood.

So dig in! Develop your attention as a skill. Your unconscious mind is running your “reality show”.  Bring it into the Light. Liberate emotional energy stored in your body. Find freedom and joy as you take your life into your own, gentle and conscious embrace creating a life that you love to live.  Namaste’