The Role of the Subconscious
The subconscious creates the baseline of our experience. Things like how worthy we believe we are, how safe we feel, how much we feel loved, how much we trust ourselves and each other – these are all the things that we build our experience on.
These things arise from the felt-sense of the world that we have absorbed in to our beings over time; our subconscious is what we trust to be true in the world. It is also the space that we give ourselves to be, think and feel in.
When we aren’t aware of them, thoughts disappear, but when we aren’t aware of emotions and felt-senses, they still continue to shape our experience and change our behaviour.
How we feel about things subconsciously, whether we realise it or not, is the prime cause of our behaviour. Our thoughts and experience will be created on the subconscious base of how worthy and loved we feel we are. If we feel loved, we will tend to think well of ourselves and other people, if we feel unloved, we will be justifying ourselves and attacking others more often.
If we are rejecting emotions and feelings as not welcome, then they become shadows – rather than expressing them cleanly we push them down and they come out in ways that are harmful to ourselves or others
It is not until we are in an environment where we feel we can open to them that we are able to let them express themselves more freely.
The freedom that spirituality buys us is this freedom of expression. We don’t get to be free from suffering or from the responsibility of showing up for our lives, we get to be free from the inhibitions that stop us from freely expressing what we feel, whether it is pain or happiness.
If we were to enter a monastery as a child or young person, this environment and upbringing would form our subconscious beliefs about ourselves. There is a story where the Dalai Lama is asked how to deal with self-hatred and he doesn’t even understand it as a concept – the environment he was brought up in didn’t create that within his subconscious.
If we live normal lives where we are connected with the world, subject to its difficulties and interacting with parents and other people who are also flawed and human, then our subconscious inevitably gets shaped in some ways to feel that we are not worthy or loved, for example.
Spirituality needs to include the space to open to and explore these assumptions that we all have about ourselves, so that we can heal them and engage with the practice of experiencing the things we are aware of from a more loving, sincere and worthy way.
In order to do this we need to feel that sense of safety, love, worthiness and trust between each other so that we can start opening to and expressing these parts of ourselves.
This all sounds quite obvious, but we’ve only developed this level of understanding of ourselves and the subconscious over the last few hundred years, so any spiritual frameworks or practices that were created before this will omit this understanding.
It feels important for us to recognise this and address any shortcomings or misunderstandings in spiritual teachings or frameworks.