Without diving too deep into Jungian theory, describing the subconscious mind is like trying to unravel that web of twine that you’ve had burrowing its way to the bottom of your junk drawer. Really we have to ask, where does it begin, and does it actually end with our conscious mind?
There are many intricate layers to the puzzle of the subconscious, that it is hard to put a particular definition onto a clean slate, because the subconscious is the slate that is really never clean.
From the moment gestation begins in the womb, the subconscious mind begins, imprinting behavioral patterns that make up the framework of your survival. Essentially, it acts as data storage, and when a particular trigger calls for response, the imprinted subconscious pattern is pulled for use. It is the written program of your behavioral make up, which in turn, affects everything we do and all of who we are. It is the identifying concept of self preservation.
It is responsible for maintaining equilibrium in the body, making the subconscious the controller of our autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for all of the involuntary bodily responses, such as your heart rate, digestion, urinary output, sex drive, and fight or flight response. This homeostatic behavior throughout physiology is also applicable to our psychology. The subconscious attempts to maintain the equilibrium of our thought processes and emotions based on our habitual psyche.
However, in order for the subconscious mind to receive information, the conscious mind must process external stimuli, and plant the seed for the subconscious to base its patterns around.
This is where the realm of ‘trauma’ behavior comes in. From our early childhood until our older years, we still experience trauma, emotional and painful, sometimes even abusive, but most of the time we are completely unaware of trauma experiences. In our childhood, we don’t have much control over the type of reaction that we display, based on the lack of an experiential narrative. As we age, we experience enough of the trauma to exhibit more awareness in how we internalize particular events in our lives. But as a young child, the conscious mind experiences the trauma, internalizes it, and sometimes, because the event is too stressful or debilitating for the mind and body, it burrows itself in the junk draw of your mind, the hypothalamus. Those memories are stored, and not often recalled, because the subconscious remembers that particular stress and doesn’t want your body to experience it again. It wants to maintain this homeostasis of the mind, keeping it stress free. Although the memory of said trauma is evasive, our behavioral patterns are still indicative, that indeed, the memory is still there.
In one sense, humans are a blank slate, or tabula rasa. Our behavior is a response to every event in our lives, which debatably, could be justified as a mass makeup of traumas. However, there is the case of morality, but thats a discussion for another time.
So, here’s the point.
Most of us don’t want to be a victim to our traumas. We don’t want our behavior to indicate that we are wounded or emotionally unstable. It's just not fitting for the progression of the human mind. Nevertheless, it is imperative that we generate enough awareness around these patterns that no longer serve the identity of who we envision ourselves to be, the best version of ourselves. Once we can gather enough awareness in the conscious mind around our repetitive behavior or response, we can make a concerted effort to break the habit and change our conditioning within the subconscious.
This absolutely takes experience into account. The more we experience ourselves, the more we know ourselves. Knowing yourself is seeing your behavior, accepting your reaction, and cultivating a change that fits the idea of who you want to be. We expect and know that a particular behavior will ensue when a trigger response is noted by the psyche, however, if that behavior is brought into the conscious mind, we have the awareness and ability to alter its course of direction, stop it dead in its tracks, and rewrite the narrative.
The more we practice this awareness of action, and ask ourselves if it is serving the best version of ourselves, the more we can implement it into every action that we do. This makes each conscious, waking, action more sincere and meaningful.
Personally, I feel I’m a pretty analytical individual, with my actions and thoughts being at the forefront of my analysis (both a blessing and curse). This has certainly helped me in cultivating awareness within my habitual responses, but of course, it has taken a bit of emotional turmoil to break the patterns. The reason I wanted to bring up the cultivation of awareness within the subconscious mind, is because around the time of the latest equinox, I started to recognize the same cognizance in my dreams. My dreams weren’t attempts of lucidity, but rather, I had extreme consciousness of what was happening and exactly what they meant for my subconscious mind. My traumas were being played out in the subconscious, which in turn, sent my conscious mind the message, all through an absurd dream. Whether it was watching babies being born, rekindling love with an ex, or having my period in jail cell (those all really happened), they all played out as memories upon waking. Message received.
My next question to ponder is this, does the subconscious end when the conscious mind dies, or is it the extension of the soul that continues on?
Is then the subconscious imprinted with our past lives and samskaras?
Is the subconscious actually the unit mind, striving to reach the cosmic mind, the ocean of universal omniscience?
Is this where morality actually stems from?
The rabbit hole deepens.