Doorways to the Subconscious (part 1/2)

The subconscious can seem like such a mystery. Even though most of us know we are highly influenced by it, not many try to explore the subconscious deeply. But when you do get to know the 95% that influences why you act or think in certain ways, you become so much more empowered.

Doorways to the Subconscious (part 1/2)

The subconscious can seem like such a mystery. Even though most of us know we are highly influenced by it, not many try to explore the subconscious deeply. One of the reasons for that is that one doesn't know where to start. It seems so big and broad, so it looks like such a daunting endeavor.

And it is daunting indeed. Yet it is also worth it. Because when you get to know the 95% that influences why you act or think in certain ways, you become so much more empowered.

You won't be able to dig through it all in a few weeks, months, or even years. But you can set yourself into motion. You can train yourself so that parts of your subconscious will start to surface. In order to do so, consistency is needed. It's a muscle you can train.

Training the muscle

There are ways to activate the muscle and train it so that it can partly continue the work without you actively pushing it. Just like when you train an actual muscle, the muscle continues the work after your workout all by itself. To help set you into motion, I defined four doorways that allow you to enter and explore your subconscious. All four are mentioned below, and in this part, we'll discuss the first two.

1. The mind

2. The body

3. Actions and reactions

4. Fears and desires

Doorway 1: The mind

The first doorway is the mind, the entry point to the subconscious most of us will think of first. The subconscious is even explicitly described as being part of the mind. That part of the mind we are not consciously aware of.

The most obvious way to explore the subconscious through the mind is by looking at your thoughts. I'll set out two less well-known, fun methods that may give you a ton of insight into what goes on underneath the surface.

Method one: Weird, funny, or questioning thoughts

Write down only the weird, funny, or questioning thoughts that arise during the day. Do this immediately when you have them, and continue this for a few days. You can use your phone or keep a small notebook in your pocket at all times. This way, you are always prepared to quickly jot down a few words or sentences.

Funny, strange, or questioning thoughts could be very diverse. But to give you some idea of what these could be, here are a few examples:

I feel old today
What if we wouldn't be this busy? Would we get bored?
Why is grass green?

Method two: Thoughts about your life

After some days, shift gears: Write down only your thoughts about yourself and/or your life. For this one, pick two moments in the day. Otherwise, you could be writing all day long... Choose the moments beforehand or pick them based on moments you notice there often is a stream of thoughts flowing through.

Very often, when you are thinking or are caught up in thoughts, these thoughts will be about your life. You'll think about yourself, about what is happening, what may happen, what needs to be done, etc.

Examples of times that could work well are: In the first hour after waking, when you are preparing dinner, during the commute to work, or the first hour after getting home.

Thoughts about you or your life could be anything from a judgment, a response to fear or stress, to a full-on story you create around yourself or your life. Some examples could be:

I should really talk less (judgment)
I really need to rest (a response to fear or stress)
I am very healthy. I go to the gym all the time. My life is very well organized. Maybe this is why I don't experience stress as much. I'm lucky. (story)

Don't dismiss the monkey-mind

These two exercises help you to become increasingly aware of your thoughts. You will get to know what is often referred to as the monkey mind. The monkey mind is shaped by the chatter in your head that goes on all day in the background.

Many of us practice meditation these days to reduce the ongoing chatter of this part of the mind. This is indeed helpful. However, attempting to silence it is less effective when you do not pay any attention to where it's coming from. Because that way, you may need to continue doing that forever.

Therefore, we want to see what is feeding the monkey mind to begin with. The monkey mind chatter is not as random as it may seem. It is actually trying to help you.

The monkey mind is attempting to help you in the following ways:

  • It attempts to make sense of the world around you and the world inside of you.
  • By doing so, it attempts to constantly prepare you for what may come. It tries to avoid certain situations or events and control situations or feelings.

Generally, we could say the monkey mind wants to ensure:

  • You don't risk encountering anything hurtful (like rejection, loss, or pain).
  • You do not / others do not do things that occurred in the past and led to something painful.
  • Your life is in control; you know what to expect.

Once you start looking at these random thoughts, knowing the attempt the monkey mind is making, you instantly become more aware of your subconscious. The top level of your subconscious, you could say.

You can also start to see how much of your thoughts are directly dismissed by you and sent deeper into your subconscious. You label them irrelevant, a waste of time, weird, or meaningless. While they are there for a reason.

Monkey Mind Function

Shaping the thoughts

Once you understand the monkey mind's motivation, the most important thing to know is: How does it gather information to create these thoughts that are supposed to help you?

The information used to feed the monkey mind is:

  • Everything you do, experience, and encounter
  • What you have previously done, experienced, or encountered

This means that everything you see, hear, taste, touch, or smell is being used. Every impression, feeling, and experience. Plus, a balance of previous experiences and impressions. This means that all day long, your mind is being fed by:

  • What you read
  • What you listen to
  • Conversations you have
  • Conversations you hear
  • What you see/watch
  • What you do, what you choose

This is why simply dismissing the monkey mind is pointless. All you do by doing this is push it further down in your subconscious, where it keeps going. The monkey mind is not going away as it's paying attention all day.

So paying attention to the chatter can give you a high-level insight into what is going on in the subconscious.

If you want to know more about how to influence the monkey mind, sign up for my blog @ where more on this topic will be published soon.

Discover your stories and themes

By looking at these thoughts, you will be able to see how much impressions are impacting you. You can see how your mind tries to make sense of it all.

You will also see how you talk to yourself, about yourself, in your own mind. Therefore, you'll see how easily your mind creates all kinds of stories that impact you more than you may think. You may be able to discover recurring themes showing up. Recurring themes can point you toward a deeper level in your subconscious: Your beliefs, fears, and doubts, which we will get to in the doorways that follow.

Method two: Active inquiry of the subconscious

A great way to move deeper into the subconscious is to actively seek what is hidden from you. One way to do so is to let someone ask you questions in a specific way:

  • Do this exercise with someone you trust and can be fully open to.
  • Close your eyes throughout the whole exercise.
  • Let the answer surface without thinking. To do so, it helps to repeat the question aloud, focus on sensations in your body for a few seconds, and then start speaking until you feel you are done.
  • Have the other ask you each question three times, keep answering the same question, and don't be surprised if the answer is different each time.
  • Let the person asking the questions write down all the answers you give. Or record the whole session on your phone.

Direct the questions to parts of yourself you'd like to know more about. Formulate them in a way that ensures your subconscious needs to get involved in answering them. To do this, it helps to include feelings. I will give you 6 examples you could use to get started.

1. What is it about myself I feel; if I would change that, I would be a better person?

2. What makes me feel this is so? Why would this be better?

3. How would I feel if that thing changed?

4. What do I feel most annoying or hurtful in/about other people?

5. Why is it annoying or hurting me? What feeling does it give me?

6. How does it make me feel about myself?

Beyond the monkey mind

Asking yourself questions in this way helps because:

  • By letting someone else ask the question, you are less likely to get caught up in a whirl of thoughts in your own mind.
  • By hearing the question being posed out loud, you pay more attention to what is asked and are more likely to provide space for something to come up. Your monkey mind tends to be less active in protecting you.
  • By answering with your eyes closed, you are more likely to allow something to come up from the subconscious (instead of thinking your way through it).
  • By answering with your eyes closed, you are less sensitive to adapting your answer to something acceptable or wanted by the other person.

Answering the same question three times allows you to:

  • Have more than one answer come up. There is not always a straightforward answer to a question, even though the mind may wish there was.
  • Move deeper to reach answers that normally don't have the chance to come up as they are overtaken by the monkey mind.
  • Feel emotions that may be hidden underneath the surface.
  • Feel safe to pay attention to what goes on underneath. You are showing yourself you are willing to hear yourself. This creates trust and demonstrates care (to yourself).

Finally, by inquiring about feelings attentively, you allow yourself to move beyond the usual 'quick answer and dismiss' happening in your mind. A mechanism that is actually hurting you, even though it aims to protect you.

Doorway 2: The body

The body holds many treasures.

We just explored two fun ways to explore the subconscious through the mind. Another place to start is the body. It is not the first entrance that comes to mind to most, yet the body can be one of the most powerful tools to explore the subconscious. Especially when you are just starting out.

The body can give clear signals of what's going on in the dark space of the subconscious. So let's dive right into a few great ways to use the body to explore ourselves.

Posture and movement

There are countless ways in which the body can reveal to us what is hidden. One very simple one is looking at the body's posture and movement.

Pay attention throughout the day to how you walk, sit or stand. Try to feel what the body portrays in these postures or movements throughout the day. Don't think about it; focus more on how it feels. So, for example, I see that I stand with my shoulders leaning a bit forward. This seems to give me a feeling of safety/anxiety/protection/tension.

Changing position

Now that you have noticed it change your posture and note how you feel. Suppose that means you are now standing up straight. In that case, you may notice you feel, i.e., energized/afraid/cocky/arrogant/powerful/vulnerable. As mentioned, don't move into thinking or analyzing it too deeply. Just notice how it feels and how you feel.

If you want to explore more of the subconscious through the body, you can create the habit of asking yourself regularly: How is my body feeling?

This way, you start to train yourself to pay attention to what happens in the body. It is a simple way that requires nothing but your willingness to do it. The body often provides a less clouded view of the subconscious than the mind does.

Stay tuned for the second part of this article later this week. Sign up for my blog and newsletter by clicking on the button above.