The gym isn’t like a barber shop or a beauty salon where we walk out after an hour or so with an upgraded look. Same goes for yoga. It’s not a session or class or a “fix”. It’s a way of being.
Same goes for our subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind serves the conscious mind. If the conscious mind says we’re happy and grateful and content, then our subconscious mind follows that programming, perpetuates it, and protects it.
If the conscious mind says we’re angry, irritable, negative, untrusting, and ungrateful, then our subconscious mind follows that programming, perpetuates it, and protects that just the same.
When we’re surrounded by divisiveness, 24-hour news that only reports on tragedy, racism, politics, war, violence, loss, drama, and negativity, we consciously absorb it and it’s stored in our subconscious. We become reactive, aggressive, sad, argumentative, mean, and miserable. Not on the surface though for the most part, because we can be very good at playing the part of a nice, happy, pleasant human.
A sleeping volcano.
When Will Smith slapped Chris Rock it wasn’t in response to a joke. The joke wasn’t even the trigger. It was his wife’s response to the joke that triggered the volcano to erupt in violence. I won’t get into their relationship issues, but we’ve all heard the stories by now.
Will got very good at playing the role of a nice, happy, pleasant human, but it’s not real. Something’s very wrong.
No yoga session will fix that. Going to India on a retreat will not fix that. In fact, it’s even more complicated and difficult than we’d think, because our subconscious mind will fight to protect it’s programming to support the conscious mind. “Love will make you do crazy things” as Smith said.
Even if we recognize we have a problem and want to try something to help; maybe it’s yoga, our subconscious mind will make us feel uncomfortable about going in the first place. Or even if we do manage to get on the mat, our subconscious finds negativity within the experience. It might even manifest as pain or a tweaked muscle and we have an excuse to stop and leave.
It’s that powerful. It will do crazy things to protect the mindset that was set.
How powerful is it? Well, Our subconscious mind processes about 11-million bits of information every second. Eleven-million. Meanwhile, our conscious mind can only process about 40 bits per second.
That’s 40 vs 11,000,000
But, conscious processing involves a higher thinking capacity; we’re mindful and considerate in what we think, feel, and do. We can use our conscious thinking to reprogram our subconscious to change our thoughts, attitudes, psychological and emotional responses, general outlook, and habits.
However, affirmations won’t do it. Repeating “I’m a happy person” in the mirror each morning doesn’t actually change anything. Neither does saying, “Namaste”, wearing mala bracelets, or getting an ohm tattoo.
Real change takes addressing things, acknowledgement, being honest with ourselves, deciding what we really want (for real), take action, and continue with action.
Maybe we need to upgrade our circle of influence outside of the mat, turn off the news, change jobs or careers, quit watching crappy television shows based solely on tragedy, despair, and violence. Maybe like Will, we’re in a hellish relationship and we believe it’s “love”, when it’s just crazy. Maybe the slapper is the one who needs the slap. Like Cher in Moonstruck, “Snap out of it!”
We can reprogram our subconscious, but it’s not like wiping a hard drive. Those old file memories and habits can still be accessed or triggered, however dormant. To build and strengthen the new way, it takes immersion, not just a yoga fix, hitting the gym, or going for a run. We have to want it, embrace it, and live it.
We’re not trapped. Only in the most extremely rare situations are we truly unable to make a change. I know some people will read that last sentence and think, “that’s me”. No … it’s not.
The subconscious mind is strong and once it’s programmed and reinforced over time, it will protect that and convince us that we’re trapped; that we’re stuck. It’s a hell of a trickster. But, its just doing what the conscious mind told it to do.
Maybe it’s time to tell it to do something else.
Photo by Barbara Olsen