What is Subconscious Mind?
One can think of the subconscious mind as a data bank, the hard drive in the computer, and the conscious mind as the working memory of the computer. The subconscious mind has a huge pile of memory, ideas, information about everything that we experience in the world. It is the part of the mind that receives the largest amount of information about what we perceive. When our conscious mind requires something, it unearths that particular data from our subconscious mind. The efficacy of our conscious mind depends on our ability to communicate with the subconscious mind. For example, when we meet someone, all of sudden, while walking down the road after many years, we have a hard time recollecting their name. Somehow we feel that we know the name, but it just doesn’t surface out. What just happened here is that your conscious mind couldn’t access your subconscious mind effectively.
The conscious mind is highly limited in its capacity compared to the subconscious mind. The working mind is concerned with making things work, as it is limited in its capability, it has to expend all its energy to maintain our life. Our everyday activities are controlled by the conscious mind, and any information that it finds irrelevant to run the everyday life is erased, as it has to free up its limited space. This is what we often call memory. Just to clarify, the conscious mind, i.e. memory is to an extent communicating with the subconscious mind.
Resolving the Subconscious Mind.
The subconscious mind is vast, it has great power to hold experiences, ideas, and information. Everything that leaves an impression in our life, anything that we perceive in this life finds a place in our subconscious mind to be stored. But its accessibility depends on a few factors, the first one is the cluttering of the subconscious mind, there are a lot of unresolved emotions, experiences, ideas, and information in our subconscious mind. For example, you might have noticed the difference in the struggle when we try to recollect or reminisce a well-understood theory versus while we try to recall something that we have hardly understood. Although on the surface, both of these are completely erased from the conscious system, there is a significant difference, one surfaces out easily without much effort whereas, in the other case, it becomes almost impossible. A hint as an anchor is sufficient enough to fish out the chain of knowledge from our subconscious.
The manner and level of our comprehension of a subject matter determine the organization of knowledge in our subconscious and vice-versa. A thoroughly understood knowledge is knowledge that is well assimilated and integrated with other knowledge. It kind of forms a node in the complex web of knowledge, and is concatenated with other nodes (knowledge) even though these nodes lie far off from the newly learned one. What essentially happens is that when we need to exteriorize data from the data bank, i.e. the subconscious, the speed at which we get what we need depends on the swiftness and the acumen with which our awareness moves towards the target. So the process of retrieval is a dynamic play of pace and direction with which our subconscious awareness moves in the complex knowledge web in our subconscious.
In every one, the subconscious mind and conscious mind are always interacting, but the interaction in most of us is shallow like the shores; if we want to get near the treasures lying in the depth of the ocean i.e. subconscious mind, we must be willing to equip ourselves with some superpowers. What is there in that depth, what is the treasure hidden in the subconscious mind that we are not aware of? Well, it is not all la-la land. There is a lot of what can make you a superman, but it is lying around covered with gunk. There are our experiences that need to be resolved, hurt, anger, jealousy, pain all of which are buried deep down in the subconscious mind. This resolution in our subconscious mind can open the doors to a new paradigm of human abilities. When there is clarity in the subconscious mind, when it is immaculate, when it is well organized and our past is resolved, it becomes a crystal through which light can shine. The yogic tradition lays extreme importance in the subconscious mind and establishing an express high way between the subconscious and the conscious mind.
Subconscious mind and Spiritual Journey
The spiritual journey of an individual depends a lot on the subconscious. The clarity in our thought happens when we have an undisturbed spontaneous flow of knowledge into our conscious mind, and when this happens we are functioning at another level of consciousness, which is called superconsciousness. We, therefore, become superconscious.
Accessing the superconscious mind requires us to put our subconscious mind in order. Our experiences such as suffering, pain, momentary pleasures, loss, anger, envy, perturb our concentration and muddy our intelligence. The experiences that deviate us and guide us to the rabbit hole of incessant thoughts must be harmonized. The unresolved issues cloud our minds, keeping us away from being superconscious. In the yogic texts, the superconscious is known as the “Karana Chitta”. It is the intelligence, not of the mind but of the soul, it is what puts us in front of the infinite knowledge, the source. It dissolves the frame of our directional and orientational perspective and puts us on a pedestal from where we can have the all-encompassing knowledge.
Many spiritual practitioners and yogis have laid the gravity of the subconscious mind. Sri Aurobindo says,
The subconscious is a fact of our mentality. It is not the fact that our whole being, even our whole mentality, is on the surface. There are concealed heights, there are hidden gulfs, there are crowded spaces behind the front wall, below the threshold, in the unseen mental environment. There is a vast inconscient below us, an infinite superconscience above us. All these are part of a secret consciousness in the world, but also part of our own hidden being of which we are not aware or only intermittently and ignorantly or only, in our ultimate evolution, eventually aware.