I went and saw the movie “Limitless” this weekend and I got to thinking about the “subconscious mind”. The idea behind the film is that as humans we only utilize approximately 20% of our brain power, but imagine if were able to use 100% and what we could accomplish. The movie briefly touches on the patterns that are embedded into our subconscious mind and how they can govern our lives. We also refer to the subconscious mind in yoga and meditation and how these practices can help us to uncover the patterns and thoughts that lie there.
This idea of the subconscious mind is not a new thing, nor strictly linked to yoga, and has been brought up and researched by the likes of many scholars throughout history. If you google, “Subconscious Mind”, you will find many articles on how uncovering these patterns can help us to be more successful and happier.
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalytic theory, divided the mind into multiple categories, including the conscious, subconscious, ego and super ego minds. But for our sake, we will just look at the subconscious mind; also referred to as the unconscious mind. The subconscious mind contains all of our feelings, urges, memories or our thoughts that are outside of our awareness, all of which can influence our behaviours and experiences even though we are unaware of their influence.
The images of the unconscious place a great responsibility upon a man. Failure to understand them, or a shirking of ethical responsibility, deprives him of his wholeness and imposes a painful fragmentariness on his life. – Carl Jung
As yogis, we know that by practicing yoga and meditation we can begin to train our subconscious mind and discover the patterns that lie there and perhaps do a little “housekeeping.” Many of you may have discovered, through an intense practice or a meditation practice, you feel lighter “more free”, shed a tear or two, or find anger boiling you to the point that you want to scream. These are elements of our subconscious that we have ultimately “stirred up” and can begin the process of dealing with, cleaning out and then moving on!
The patterns that lie in the subconscious, have been there since the day we were born. These feelings and thoughts have influenced our decisions and have played an important roll in who we are, however they may have also steered us away from things that we want, due to fear and anxiety that “we cannot” do something for risk of failing. Take for example an example from the book Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power;
“Think about an elephant. They say elephants never forget (neither do people). Have you ever wondered why a huge two thousand pound elephant will stand so obediently in one place, tied to a short stake in the ground, held only by a thin chain around its ankle? The elephant doesn’t try to move, because he has been programmed to believe he can’t. How? Simple. The baby elephant is tied to the stake when he is very young. Whenever he tries to move, the chain bites into his leg. He can’t get away, because he’s not strong enough. Every time he tries to move, he gets hurt – a lot. The elephant very quickly catches on to the fact that moving is painful. In order to avoid getting hurt, he gives up trying. Even after he has grown to full size, and could easily tear out the chain, along with the post, and probably the whole circus tent, this gigantic, powerful elephant doesn’t even try to get free, because he believes he can’t.”
When the book The Secret was released, it focused on the fact that we can access our subconscious mind utilizing the Law of Attraction. The Law of attraction briefly states that; like attracts like! You attract yourself to whatever you give your focus, attention or energy to whether wanted or unwanted. While this isn’t a new philosophy and tends to be pretty self explanatory, it makes us see how our thoughts and beliefs can manifest our lives.
The subconscious mind makes no distinction between constructive and destructive thought impulses. It works with the material we feed it, through our thought impulses. The subconscious mind will translate into reality a thought driven by fear, just as readily as it will translate into reality a thought driven by courage or faith. ~ Napoleon Hill
If we look at both the scenario of the elephant and the Law of Attraction and back at our lives, we may notice similar “ideas” or “perceptions” we may have about our own reality. Our yoga and meditation practice helps us to battle our stresses and to “unlock” the ideas of our subconscious mind and by doing so we become more aware of our “self” and begin our journey to the ultimate goal of yoga; enlightenment!
Back to the movie, while it has nothing to do with yoga & would certainly not be the best way of discovering the patterns in your subconscious, it shows you that by unlocking your potential you can become everything you want to be and so much more. The power of thought, and the power of believing in our true selves can help to make us bountiful, beautiful and blissful and live the life that we have always imagined!
What patterns have you unlocked in your subconscious mind through your yoga and meditation practice?