We don’t understand everything immediately at all levels. In a culture that is often very mind-centric, it seems important to emphasize this reality again and again.
As usual, I love the metaphor of dance in regards to spiritual integration. How quickly can you intellectually understand the steps in a dance? Pretty fast. Depending on your mind, you may only need to read and watch the moves a couple of times, and then boom, you got ’em in your mind. But can you dance?
Probably not or at least not very well. And can you dance with all your heart and soul in the steps? Definitely not.
In this way, we learn to appreciate that the mind, heart, body, and energy need time and practice in their own ways to fully integrate with any spiritual realization.
So too does the subconscious mind. On this topic, I wanted to spend some time helping everyone to appreciate the depth of the subconscious and the ways it processes to fully come to terms with any shift in your life.
The subconscious is kind of like the underwater part of the iceberg while the conscious part of us is like the top of the iceberg that we see above the water. As the old phrase goes that “something is just the tip of the iceberg,” we must appreciate that a lot of issues and understandings are below the “waterline” with us. When I talk about working with the body, heart, and subtle energy, I am talking about ways to deal with the subconscious, although not all the time. There are many things going on with the body, heart, and even our energy that we are conscious of–that are still part of the tip of the iceberg.
Additionally, there are plenty of things that have been submerged and repressed into the subconscious that we can make conscious again. These types of repressed and forgotten emotional memories, body, memories, and of course mind memories are varied, but if they can be brought to the surface, that’s part of a different topic than the one I am exploring today. Today, I’m most interested in the subconscious aspects of ourselves that never really come into our conscious guidance. So it’s not about finding something that we’ve forgotten, it’s about learning to engage with a very primal aspect of ourselves that defines a lot of how we feel and think about life and ourselves.
Dreams and Beyond
Some time again, I talked about dreams, and you can read more about that in the following blog post.
But I’m not interested in dreams, and I’m not interested in lucid dreaming here. Lucid dreaming–for many people–just becomes another way for their ego to try and exert control. Certainly, some interesting inner work can be done with lucid dreaming and different forms of hypnosis. But as I said earlier, I’m not really interested in pulling out old memories and other realizations when I talk about subconscious processing today. You can get plenty of interesting information in there, but this post isn’t about trying to correct any of that. This post is about appreciating the subconscious for being:
- totally honest to how you feel at deeper levels,
- a reflection of how integrated or at peace you are, and
- a glimpse into when you need to make time for the subconscious to process.
Slowing Down to Process on the Subconscious Level
Human beings respond to life in two main ways:
If you want to dig up old forgotten memories in your subconscious, lucid dreaming and different types of hypnosis are a form of action. They help you to actively find something. However, to make space for the subconscious to work through what you’ve already learned, something like meditation or sitting quietly in a park would be a form of rest. And it’s been my experience that the subconscious needs the space of rest for it to process things.
It’s kind of like there is a hierarchy inside of people in terms of how things work. At the top of the hierarchy is if we’re under a serious threat. A whole bunch of other systems gets shutdown while other parts of our biology are amplified to help us run or fight our way out of the situation. Everything not involved with that process of saving our lives is ignored or unsupported. But let’s say that that event is over. Now you have to process it, and let’s say the event was a charging buck that for whatever reason thought you’d invaded his territory. Now you’re in the car, and you’re physically safe. Your mind comes back online, and your mind is going through its processing. Here’s some sample inner dialogue:
“What just happened?”
“A deer just charged me.”
“Am I okay?”
“Why did the deer charge?”
“I have no idea.”
“Should we go back to this park again?”
Pretty soon though, most people will be intellectually okay with the event. Then the heart has to resolve feelings of fear, and the body may need to go back to this park to make sure the person doesn’t hold onto any fear/tension in their bodies so that they are completely at peace with it. Yet, three months later, the subconscious may play out similar fears and feelings of being attacked to what was just experienced. Clearly the subconscious has not finished the processing it needs to do, and clearly, the subconscious is slow.
Processing Love in the Subconscious
Let’s look at a more typical lesson that gets processed: love. Many people discover that what they consider to be love is generally very conditional. This mental realization alone can be rather shocking for many people who otherwise believe that they know what love is and perhaps feel that they are very loving. However, the sincere spiritual seeker gradually comes to terms with their realization and starts to open their heart more. The process of integrating this love realization continues into the subconscious.
Sometimes, the subconscious will more easily explore an issue like love than others. It depends on the person’s ego, and it depends on the beliefs and pain that have gotten stuffed down into the subconscious. If it’s easy for a person’s subconscious to accept the realization, different expressions of love that were not allowed may be moving in someone’s dreams with different players and scenarios associated with love. Other times, there may be more conflicted or confused dreams as the subconscious struggles with reconciling old beliefs and images of love with the reality that the conscious self has now acknowledged. So perhaps, a person is having an argument with a loved one or family member. Or maybe the person is having loving feelings towards someone that they feel they can’t love. The literal interpretation isn’t important so much as the feeling of conflict that the subconscious is working through.
In general, these conflicts are fine. They resolve themselves in time.
Awakening and Churning the Deep Waters
A spiritual awakening transforms all levels in a person, and that includes the subconscious. In the first couple of years after awakening, my dreams and sleep were heavily disturbed. At times, it felt like my subconscious was doing triple-time to catch up to all the things that were flowing through in my waking life. Awakening is powerful stuff.
Having those deep waters disturbed draws up all kinds of things, and while you can journal about such things, the further you go on the spiritual path, the more processing really is sitting and being. By slowing down physically, it’s like you can give the subconscious time to “digest” what has been consumed without giving yourself more experiences to engage with and process. And let’s be honest here; there are some rather huge revelations that people experience as they open up after awakening. Even if you aren’t having an awakening, the realizations that people have can be significant as they move towards spiritual freedom. It is important to allow space to fully integrate all of this.
Nothing New for Now
If you feel like your subconscious is particularly tumultuous and you are doing significant inner work, then now is probably not a time for doing new stuff. By not doing new things, it’s a way to finish digesting the experiences you already have. Slowing down, once again, is also important to help calm down the conscious levels of the mind, heart, body, and energy. As they go into a rest state, the subconscious can become active in its own way to work through what it needs to work through.
Sometimes just lying on your couch is all the “spiritual technique” that is needed. I know I spent a lot of time in the initial years after awakening being laid out on my couch, although a lot more than just the subconscious was being worked on at that time.
In general, you need to understand that you are not going to control the subconscious space. You can only make space for it to take care of itself.
Meditation, Time in Nature, and Finding Spaces for Quiet
As I said, there’s not much to be done. The subconscious seems to like to get to work when we aren’t doing things. That means things like meditation, time in nature, and finding quiet spaces to just sit are about as much “technique” is needed. Giving yourself time to rest, in general, is very healthy and important. Furthermore, in today’s highly agitated Western Society, resting in places with minimal input is helpful.
What do I mean by “minimal input?”
Media (phones, computers, televisions, etc.) excite the chemicals of the mind. There are lots of places where there is a lot going on, and all of that triggers certain levels of agitation and “inner action.” If you want to give the subconscious space to work things out, the less agitation the better. So turning off the computer and television and only checking the phone when absolutely necessary are ways that you can help yourself calm down and make room for the subconscious to process.
Breathing Less (Guided Meditation Video)
Leaving Interpretations Alone
As I wrap up today’s topic, I would encourage you to leave interpreting the subconscious alone. Some people have more literal images and dreams that the subconscious surfaces than others, and the need to “define” subconscious content is not usually that necessary to processing as accepting whatever comes up. In surrendering to the subconscious and the different feelings, sensations, and thoughts that surface, the subconscious adjusts itself. It lets things go, and it comes to peace with all kinds of shifts and experiences, including the really powerful ones.
And if you’ve had an awakening, you know how much can get thrown into upheaval for awhile. That means the subconscious has its work cut out, but as it does its work, the deeper states of peace and clarity gradually become more and more accessible.