The influence of the unconscious mind on mental health has played a huge role in psychology since its introduction in the early 1900’s. Sigmund Freud theorized that the mind is made up of three broad categories that appear like an iceberg. These three components of the mind include the conscious mind, that of which we are aware of (I feel thirsty, that dress is ugly, this feels good, etc.); the preconscious mind, that of which we can readily pull from (memories, stored knowledge, images) and the unconscious mind, that of which we are unaware of (violent motives, unacceptable sexual desires, shameful memories).
Based on Freud’s model, we can see that the preconscious and unconscious minds play a huge part in how our conscious lives manifest. This is also the concept behind psychoanalysis, to surface repressed wounds from the unconscious mind in order to bring about healing. Unaddressed wounds in the unconscious mind often manifest themselves in our conscious lives through a wide variety of forms; anxiety, depression, anger, body image issues, etc. On the positive side, the unconscious mind also has an almost supernatural ability to reshape our lives if programmed correctly.
So how can we reprogram our unconscious mind to attain more mental peace, material wealth, a happier family and/or increased life satisfaction? There are a variety of ways to do this, but as an introduction, I will introduce to you four different methods. All of which are free and can be done at home.
Meditation is a great way to explore your unconscious mind. If done correctly (learn to meditate) you will often notice that memories and feelings from your distant past will begin to surface themselves. This phenomena is nearly identical to undergoing psychoanalysis, except rather than a psychologist doing the work, your brain is conducting the process for you. Once these repressed memories and feelings surface, you can acknowledge them and let them go.
This process can be seen as clearing out the weeds of your mind’s garden. Our brains have a natural ability to overcome suffering and meditation is an exercise that allows us to embrace this innate power.
Another powerful tool for reprogramming our minds is through the use of visualization. This concept has been around for a very long time, and even dates back to the earliest roots of Buddhism. Visualization can even be seen in the majority of “new age” self-help books such as “The Secret” or in other content relating to the “Law of Attraction.” While these ideas do hold some validity, it is important not to trust them whole-heartedly. Simply imagining things will not bring them into being; imagination is only a pre-requisite to manifesting your desires.
In reality, visualization can be used as an aid for bridging our conscious mind to our unconscious mind. The most effective method of visualization is to sit still (ideally in a meditative state), and imagine having completed a goal; how life feels without anxiety, having successfully painted a masterpiece or purchasing a private jet. We must imagine our goal so perfectly that we can feel it, taste it, smell it, hear it and see the world in relation to having it.
This process of visualization has the ability to reshape our unconscious mind and better prepare us for achieving our goals. But remember, visualization is only a prerequisite for success. Even if an artist can visualize a sculpture perfectly, they must put forth a large physical effort to manifest it in reality.
Writing about our days comes with many benefits, it even allows us to see trends in our behaviors. These trends could include specific triggers for anxiety, occurrences that promote joy, or things that make us feel most complete. In recognizing these causal factors of our feelings, we can more readily understand our unconscious mind and dictate between the things that we are repulsed by and the things we are attracted to. This will allow us to live in closer alignment with our true nature.
Journalling not only provides us with a window into our unconscious mind, It is also a very effective therapeutic method. It aids us in uncovering and addressing underlying issues or contributors to psychological ailments. For example, a “journal-er” may recognize that blue cars instigate their anxiety. That person could later trace the blue car to a traumatic event when they were younger that was strongly associated with a blue car. This understanding would then serve as a catalyst for helping them conquer that specific suffering. If it weren’t for journaling this person may continue to suffer without understanding the cause of it!
4. Dreamwork (Dream Journaling)
As a natural extension of journaling, dream-journaling is an excellent way of getting in contact with your unconscious mind (see interview with psychologist about dreamwork). If you are able to write your dreams down every morning, you will gain another extraordinarily clear window into your unconscious mind. This will provide you with abundant creativity, tremendous insight and an increased capacity for healing. You will also be able to spot trends in your dreams which may closely associate with your feelings during waking life.
Often times dreams will present symbols that serve as messages or guides that are there to help us overcome specific obstacles in waking life. Through dream-journaling, we can become intimately acquainted with these symbols and better communicate with them in order to overcome the obstacles that they are presenting. Although it is recommended to undergo dreamwork with an experienced guide, you can still derive a lot of the benefits from dream-journaling alone. There are many artists, inventors and doctors that credit their dreams for their greatest discoveries! Explore yours, you never know what you may find.
Getting in contact with your unconscious mind will bring with it many blessings. Ultimate liberation comes with living in accordance with your true nature, we just have to work to get there. These four methods serve as a very brief introduction to unconscious exploration. In the future, we hope to explore these in more depth.
If you would like to share any other methods not mentioned here, please feel free to do so below. And as always, I am more than happy to read your suggestions, constructive criticisms and remarks. Thanks for reading!
Cohen, G. L., & Sherman, D. K. (2014, January 3). The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention. Retrieved April 28, 2018, from The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention
Journaling Clears Out the Bad, Builds Up the Good. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/beyond-abstinence/201505/journaling-clears-out-the-bad-builds-the-good
McLeod, S. (1970, January 01). Saul McLeod. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/unconscious-mind.html
Self-affirmation. (2018, April 03). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-affirmation