The mesmerising mind
For achieving our goals and being successful in life we say we should begin with the end in mind. But little do we know about the theory of this mind which is responsible for a whole lot of how we feel, respond or act in life. Does the mind feed us with something or can we provide food for our mind? Is it our mind that catches our imagination? Can we alter our attitude by altering our mindset? A flurry of questions on mind, isn’t it? Well, let’s go for a walk through this limn on mind, by taking a few simple strides.
It all begins with the broad division of mind into two-the conscious and the sub-conscious mind. The conscious mind accounts for nearly 10-12% of our mental capacity where as the lions share; 88-90% is accounted by the subconscious mind. Each of them has their own role to play. Let us initially pick up the conscious mind and also keep our eyes peeled for knowing about the subconscious mind. The mind is often considered as the memory box of the human beings, but it has a far more role and meaning.
The conscious mind is that part of our mind that is responsible for logic and reasoning. If someone is asked about the sum of one plus one, it is the conscious mind which is going to be used for the addition. Also, any voluntary movement like moving our hand or leg is taken up by the conscious mind. The conscious mind has a short term memory and is responsible for our will power and creativity. It is associated with rules and principles.
The sub-conscious mind is sealed and gated by critical factors of the conscious mind. It is the part of your mind responsible for all our involuntary actions. Our emotions are controlled by the sub-conscious mind. That’s why we sometimes feel afraid, anxious or down without wanting to experience such a feeling. It contains all permanent memories in great detail, beliefs, habits and programming to generate emotions, intuition and so on.
Let us try and understand the conscious and sub-conscious mind by looking at the example of a person who wants to learn how to drive a car. At the very beginning of learning, the person while driving is very much focussed on the different voluntary moves involving the steer, the gear, the break and the clutches, and finds it nearly impossible to pick up a ringing mobile phone on the drive. This is because he is still using his conscious mind to drive the car. After a few months of driving, the person has found that driving has become a natural habit that happens automatically and he does not have to think or focus much on the process. Also the person was able to use one of his hands to pick up a ringing mobile phone on the drive on a later occasion. This happened solely because the driving agility was transferred from the conscious to the subconscious mind as a skill or habit. The skill which got embedded in the subconscious mind is highly resistant to be forgotten. So the actions for driving the car seem to be like involuntary movements from the sub conscious mind and the conscious mind is now free to pick up the ringing phone.
Let us continue our journey through the territories of the mind by getting introduced to further concepts regarding the primitive mind, the critical mind and the conflicts which take place within one’s own mind and how decisions are made in the mind. Have a look at the figure below which shall aid us to elucidate more about the theory of our mind.
The primitive area or mind is often associated with our birth and early childhood. We were born with two fears, the fear of falling and the fear of loud noise. The little babies we were, had learned from identification and association in order to respond. Also in our early childhood, we would have had countless experiences that formed who we are today. We cannot recall most of the experiences and memories, but they have become unconscious forces that drive our behaviours. It is worth understanding that the primitive area comprises of two instincts reverted to when over overburdened, overwhelmed or threatened. Those are Flight-Trying to run away or escape and Fight– Stay and Fight. Usually certain phobias like the fear of fall or fear of fire which is part of the primitive mind can be fought back and won over through certain mechanisms. However, in several cases, people remain succumbed to such fears throughout their life and see the only option as flight. It is the fear of pain that prevents us from breaking a brick. However, it needs to be known that we break the brick with our mind and not with our hand.
The figure also lets us know that there is a portion of the mind, which we call as the critical mind. The critical area of the mind was developed from birth to approximately 8 years. Before the critical area of the mind was developed, everything we experience is just as it is for us. We accept it all as truth. Once, the critical mind (also called critical filter) has developed, it acts as a guard at the gate between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. It has the power to accept or reject suggestions from entering the sub conscious mind. The critical filter is really a protector.
The critical portion of the mind is sub divided into the critical conscious mind and the critical sub conscious mind. Anything (thought, idea, concept) in the form of a message normally enters our mind through the conscious mind, and if not immediately rejected, can percolate to the critical conscious mind and stay there for 1 ½ hours. If it is further not rejected, it goes into critical sub conscious area of the mind. The thought, idea or concept can stay in the critical subconscious area for about 24 hours. These messages could either be vented through dreams or else the same could go down and get accepted by the sub conscious mind.
Remember that we are also loaded with messages from the body, the environment, the conscious and sub conscious mind. We feel overloaded when we receive excessive information at any point of time. Such an overloading situation may lead to break down of the critical mind. If the critical filter is weak, we are vulnerable to taking the information into our subconscious mind.
The sub conscious mind referred to as the modern memory is the home of both positive and negative memories. The feeling of pleasure is associated with positive memories or the known. It’s the negative emotions attached to the negative memories which manifest from our mental to physical bodies and take the form of physical, mental, emotional illnesses as well as blocks in relationships. The manifestation would also be one of pain if the information that reaches the subconscious mind is something unknown and cannot be correlated to the existing memory of the subconscious mind.
Can there be conflicts in the mind? Well let us explore this. Whenever, there is a need to make a decision, the conscious mind first looks at his own logics and principles and then compares it with the experience or the recorded memory of the sub conscious mind. If the logics and principles of the conscious mind are in congruence with the experience of the sub conscious mind, then it is leading to the same decision and the mind acts upon it. However, if there is a conflict between the logics of the conscious mind and the experiences of the sub conscious mind, then the conscious mind first tries to stick on to the logics, but over a period of time, generally the experiences win as they are stored in the sub conscious mind which is more than a thousand times more powerful than the conscious mind.
Illustrating the same with an example, let us take the case of a smoker, who hankers to quit smoking. The logics of his conscious mind know very well that cigarette smoking is injurious to health. Despite this, the past experience dwelling in his subconscious mind, reminds him about the pleasure of smoking. So even though the smokers in our society know very well the harmful effects of smoking, they find it very difficult to dissociate themselves from smoking.
Well, knowing the theory of mind, there is a whole lot we can do to alter our mindset, to change our perceptions and have an excellent attitude. There are umpteen ways to push in the positives to the sub conscious mind and there are also mechanisms to drive out the negatives, to defeat the fears and to free our mind from all fetters. So let us now get ready to break free our mind and relish life with wisdom and purpose.