What is the Unconscious Mind? (Part 1)May 31, 2022
Sigmund Freud was the first to speak about the idea that below the thoughts that we are consciously aware of, our conscious mind, exists an unconscious mind.
The unconscious is the machinery that is essentially running the show, it is the cogs and drivers that govern our decisions, our thinking processes, our motivations, our filters and our perception of the world and our sense of self.
It is the building blocks that make up our individual interpretation of experience. After Sigmund Freud was another man named Carl Jung, who traversed the landscape of the unconscious, discovering many of the individual as well as collective archetypes that govern most human beings.
Back in their day, the unconscious was not a widely accepted or understood theory. These days it is different, the unconscious mind is an accepted fact in modern day psychology as well as many other therapeutic practices.
The aim of many therapies is to work directly with the unconscious, to change limiting belief systems, to find the unconscious root causes of issues that we are consciously experiencing.
This shift in orientation has had profoundly positive effects in the way we work with mental health. The unconscious exists below the surface as a web of images, words and bodily sensations.
These unconscious patterns are the structure that are developed in early childhood, primarily from the way our caregivers relate to us.
Throughout the formative years the unconscious mind automatically builds associations through the perceived objects that we call our parents, primarily the mother figure. We then spend the rest of our lives relating to the world around us from these fundamental imprints in our unconscious.
As the web builds from these core structures it spreads out, as we grow we become aware of more of the world than just our parents and as our awareness and perception grows, so does the web, but it never leaves the common themes that were planted within us in our childhood environment.
In other words, as long as we view reality through the 'mind', the way we view the world, our partners, our children, our friends, our neighbours, our government and everything else in life is directly filtered and driven by the way we viewed our parents as children.
These fundamental imprints are the core of how we experience reality.
We could say that the strands of this web are the building blocks of what in some spiritual traditions they call Maya, which essentially means the illusory world, or phenomenal world. The unconscious projects outwardly its own world, or more true would be to say its own worldly interpretation.
Maya is projected unconsciously and experienced consciously as the world, hence why in some teachings they say “The world is an illusion”. Let's ask ourselves a question, if I am unconsciously perceiving my partner through the filter of my childhood, am I actually relating to my partner?
Am I seeing the person in front of me, or am I seeing my own unconscious childhood projections?
From this perspective the mind is recreating past experience as a kind of karmic loop, and we are cut off from experiencing the reality of the present moment.
This constant recreation of past experience is what Carl Jung was pointing to when he stated “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate."
In other words we are doomed to act out and experience past conditioning and unconscious patterns until they are brought into the light of awareness. In spiritual traditions this is pointing to the idea of the repetition of karma.
When we become conscious of unconscious patterns we have taken a step toward reality, we have begun the process of unwinding the very fabric of this projection, when unconscious energies are not veiling or controlling our actions we are free to act from a more authentic, spontaneous place based on present moment awareness.
Peace & Blessing,
Matt Kay (Co-Creator of Embodied Processing)