Every once in a while someone says just the right thing at the right time, and suddenly a lot of isolated and perhaps inexplicable facts and experiences link up and make sense. The new way of seeing things then becomes a powerful new tool. It happened to me at the “Intention Heals” conference in Norfolk, Virginia, in mid-October, 2006.
At the conference, Dr. Edgar Mitchell and Dr. Bruce Lipton explained enough of quantum physics and cellular biology to show their revolutionary implications for energy work. In a sense, they provided people with scientific reasons to believe that they were not the slaves of their heredity, but the creators of their own lives and health. Then young Adam (DreamHealer) helped the audience to access the same energies that he uses. The theory, the work, the group energy, was valuable. But as it happens, one statement by Bruce Lipton would have been worth the trip by itself, because it started so many rabbits running. The longer I pondered it, the more stray items fell into place.
Before I give you the fact, I will list the items it suddenly linked for me, so that perhaps you will have an “aha!” moment too.
* If we aren’t consciously directing our thoughts, they tend to become an endless train of associations, one word or image suggesting another, connected not by logic but by similarity. This seems to go on in the background far more than we usually realize.
* Might that not be a description of what happens in dreams? Something (and it hardly matters what kind of something) starts a train of associations that continues until diverted or halted by a change of mental state.
* Meditators learn that their first task is to silence the “monkey mind” whose annoying habit of continually generating associations prevents true mental quiet. How do they do that? What’s really going on when they do?
* Bob Monroe’s Hemi-Sync tapes help the listener to synchronize the left and right halves of the brain (hence the name Hemi-Sync). Monroe maintained that his voice on the tape giving instructions acted as the listener’s “surrogate left brain,” but now I can see another way to understand what is happening here.
* Sometimes I lie in bed, not asleep, just comfortably day-dreaming. When my consciousness shifts, in the way it does when we wake up, instantly the day-dreaming is gone, and the memory of what I had been day-dreaming about is gone! But I had been awake, not asleep. So what had changed, and what was now different?
* I have learned to go into a mentally quiet, receptive state and talk with what I call The Guys Upstairs. Sometimes I’ll get someone else to ask questions while I remain in the receptive state, other times I work alone, moving back and forth, now active, now receptive, a delicate trick that required some practice to acquire and get myself accustomed to. What’s actually occurring?
* Writers will sometimes tell you that they had to write their book “to find out how it came out” or “to learn what it was about.” And artists of any kind know that their creativity cannot be willed but must be courted. What does it mean?
* Athletes function at the speed of light, to so speak. If they had to think about what they were doing before they did it, they couldn’t do it. This is a clue, too.
* People who retrieve “past life memories” (which may or may not be memories that are actually from a past life; perhaps they are in resonance with someone’s life for whatever reason) are not making up the information that comes to them! Where is it coming from? That is, how does it come? What is the agency through which it comes?
The connection between these items suddenly polarized for me when Bruce Lipton described how much faster our subconscious minds are than our conscious minds. I think he said that in one second, the conscious mind processes 42 bits of information, and the subconscious processes 42 million bits. The disparity is enormous.
He gave a vivid example of the disparity in speed. Say you open up a newspaper. You find yourself looking to find something that caught your eye, though you have no idea what until you find it. What had happened? As you opened the paper, your subconscious mind took in everything on both pages, compared what it read to its list of “things you’re likely to be interested in” and sent you a message saying “look over on the left hand side, about half way down,” etc.
That disparity in speed told me, simply, that the function of the subconscious is to observe everything, remember everything, and serve up anything requested by the conscious mind. The function of consciousness, conversely, is to hold the focus, to choose. Neither one can do the other’s job very well if at all. But when each performs its function, all goes well.
And look what light this shines:
* The association-machine that is our subconscious mind loves comparing and contrasting data. In the absence of direction, it runs on automatically. That’s what happens in dreams. Without a consciousness to direct it, the subconscious starts a train of associations that continues until diverted or halted by a change of mental state.
* What is the “monkey mind” but the automatic undirected functioning of the subconscious mind? What is stilling it but reasserting control and then refusing to provide new suggestions for it to generate associations to?
* Bob Monroe’s voice on the tapes may serve less as “surrogate left brain” than as surrogate conscious mind! The voice is there, and the intent is there (having been established by the listener prior to starting the tape). The person using the tape moves into a receptive, somewhat passive state, and the unconscious is able to send a flood of information and experience related to whatever intent was established.
* What is day-dreaming but a passiveness of consciousness observing a stream of associations sent up by the subconscious mind? When consciousness shifts, the stream of associations ceases as the subconscious waits for the next instruction.
* What is talking with The Guys Upstairs, but deliberately putting the conscious mind into the receptive state and remaining there while the subconscious mind brings “their” response from wherever they are, whoever they are?
* How could an artist attain depth of feeling and insight without being able to remain active enough to hold intent and receptive enough to allow and recognize the feedback from the subconscious?
* How could athletes function at the speed of light if they were required to be directed by a conscious mind that functions at the speed of snails?
* And finally, it should be obvious that information that is not retrieved through conscious processes cannot – by definition – be created by a conscious process. “Past life memories,” whatever they may be, are retrieved by the conscious mind setting intent and the subconscious mind returning the data.
Knowing just this much and no more, it is clear that we can do vastly better by using each part of the mental mechanism in the right way. The conscious mind should set intent – and then get out of the way of the returning data! Sending request after request, some probably mutually contradictory, guarantees frustration. But knowing what is there to work with, and knowing how to work it, offers tremendous power to direct and reshape our lives. As I say, the more I think about it, the more the implications expand.