While the subconscious mind can run all internal systems and chew gum at the same time, the much smaller self-conscious mind can juggle only a small number of tasks simultaneously. Although its ability for multitasking is physically constrained, the trained self-conscious mind is quite adept at “single-tasking.” It is the organ of focus and concentration. It was once thought that some of the body’s involuntary functions, such as the regulation of heartbeat, blood pressure and body temperature, were beyond the control of the self-conscious mind. However, yogis and other adept practitioners have clearly demonstrated that the mind can indeed control presumed “involuntary” functions. Most of us have experienced how mind controls such functions when we become excited, happy or sad in watching a movie or awaken from a scary dream with our hearts pounding and wet with perspiration. A vivid imagination controls autonomic functions as much as real events.
The subconscious and self-conscious minds work as a marvelous tandem tag team. The subconscious mind’s role is to control every behavior that is not attended to by the self-conscious mind. For most of us, the self-conscious mind is so preoccupied with thoughts about the past, the future, or engaged with some problem in our imagination, that we leave the day-to-day, moment-to-moment “driving” to the subconscious mind. Cognitive neuroscientists reveal that the profoundly more powerful subconscious mind is responsible for 95-99% of our cognitive activity and therefore controls almost all of our
decisions, actions, emotions and behaviors. (Szegedy-Maszak, 2005)
The most powerful and influential behavioral programs in the subconscious mind were acquired during the formative period between gestation and six years of age. Now here’s the catch—these life-shaping subconscious programs are direct downloads derived from observing our primary teachers: our parents, siblings, and local community. Unfortunately, as psychologists are keenly aware, many of the perceptions acquired about our selves in this formative period are expressed as limiting and self-sabotaging beliefs. (Lipton, 1998, 2001)
Unbeknownst to most parents, their words and actions are being continuously recorded by their children’s minds. Since the role of the mind is to make coherence between its programs and real life, the brain generates appropriate behavioral responses to life’s stimuli to assure the “truth” of the programmed perceptions.
Lipton, B. H., Nature, Nurture and the Power of Love. Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health 13:3 – 10 1998.
Lipton, B. H., Nature, Nurture and Human Development. Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health 16:167-180 2001.
Szegedy-Maszak, M., Mysteries of the Mind: Your unconscious is making your everyday decisions. U.S. News & World Report, February 28, 2005.