The subconscious mind is nothing but the “neural pathways” that have been established in your brain as result of your past beliefs and conditioning.
During your unconscious existence, when you weren’t aware enough, you ended up imbibing a lot of limiting beliefs, negative conditioning and misguided perceptions about life, that you took to be “true” and hence believed in them enough to create strong neural pathways in your brain about them – causing these patterns of thought to become “subconscious”.
Neural pathways are physical links, they are real and they are no different from a strong rope made from interweaving several layers of strings. Once you consciously see through a negativity, or a negative belief, within you, the neural pathway associated with that negativity will take time to come down, even when you are no longer supporting it consciously. It could well take a few months for a neural pathway, associated with a pattern of thought, to come down fully.
A lot of people who realize certain truths, and gain clarity, feel frustrated that their brain is not able to sync up with this understanding. The basic deal is that your conscious mind has gained the understanding, but your subconscious mind is yet to get programmed in it – it still has strong neural pathways associated with the old beliefs, conditioning and thought pattern.
The conscious mind can get it immediately, and you can feel a sense of relief and elation on getting the clarity, but the very next day you can come up against the subconscious mind that starts churning out the old patterns.
When you lack an understanding of how the subconscious mind works, you can easily start beating yourself up for being “slow”, or for regressing back to negativity after a day of being enlightened/clear about it – and of course this behavior of feeling bad about yourself just reinforces the old patterns of negativity.
Bringing down the past neural pathways
To program your subconscious mind, with the present “conscious” understanding that you’ve gained, will take time, and you need to make an allowance for it, understanding that it’s a physical process of bringing down the old neural pathways in your brain.
In fact these neural pathways are constantly reinforced by your current reality, because your present reality is by itself a web that you’ve interwoven through your thought patterns. So for a while you would need to create a rift in this unconscious reinforcement by consciously dis-identifying with the negativity in your present external reality.
The word “dis-identification” is confusing to a lot of people, but all it really means is that you stop buying into the negativity – stop showering it with your belief, stop finding identity in it and stop defending it.
Let’s say you’ve managed to create a disconnected/negative reality for yourself through the various negative thoughts patterns you are holding subconsciously, and now you’ve become conscious of it and want to break out of this pattern, so that you can change your reality into positive. Your brain, however, will subconsciously want the “negative reinforcement” because its neural pathways are vying for the same to sustain themselves. It’s like a creature wanting food to survive.
It’s just like how a smoker is addicted to nicotine because his/her brain is so used to the presence of nicotine in the blood stream, over the months of smoking, that it takes it to be “necessary” for survival. So when you quit smoking, cold turkey, the sudden absence of nicotine can make the brain go into a panic, creating a strong sense of survival fear within, and it takes a few weeks of conscious abstinence before the brain can readjust to the absence of nicotine.
It’s the same for negativity; the brain gets so used to a certain pattern of negativity that when you start dis-identifying with it, there is a period of “withdrawal” (If you want to understand this mechanism in a more detailed manner, you can read this post – The Brain, The Heart, and the Law of Attraction).
The reason why staying in a space of relaxed awareness works at bringing down patterns of negativity is because,
1. You stay consciously relaxed instead of reacting/panicking to your brain’s negative cycle, this ensures that your inherent vibration is one of being “fearless”, or open, which ensures that you are not fueling negativity (through your fear of it), thus breaking the cycle.
2. You are not trying hard to sort out the brain’s noise, instead you are just allowing of it, this ensures that you are not buying into the loop of trying to solve the mind’s problem with the same pattern of thinking that created it. This state of allowing causes you to connect with the space of being, or space of your life-stream (or your inner being, whatever you want to call it) that allows for true solutions/understanding to come through to bring a lasting transformation to your mind and reality.
3. You develop the ability to consciously hold a space between your brain’s reactive movement and your awareness. This ability, as it grows, is what allows you the feeling of “freedom” from being a prisoner to the mind’s pull.
4. As you develop a stability in this space of awareness, you start understanding that the mind is not a “big deal”, it’s just a machine which can be worked with, instead of being fearful of it. You realize that you need to understand your mind, get to know its natural makeup and align with it, while letting go of negativity/resistance that keeps you from living your expression, or which resists the unfolding of your desired reality.
Staying in relaxed awareness automatically re-programs your subconscious mind to align with your conscious understanding. This is because, your awareness holds your conscious understanding and thus just staying in a space of awareness allows you to not only let go of reinforcing negative patterns but also allows you to register this conscious understanding into your subconscious (to build new neural pathways that contain this new understanding).
The gap between realization and the living of it
Realization, or a moment of awakening, can happen as soon as you have a conscious understanding/insight coming in. However, a realization does not automatically ensure that you start living it immediately.
For example, you can realize that you don’t have to fight with the “outside reality”, and that all you need to do is align within yourself to attract the reality of your choice, but your past behavior may be of struggling against the outside and this behavior is present at a “subconscious” level, and thus your realization may not immediately create a shift in your behavior – you are not yet living your realization.
You can only truly live your realization (at a 100%) when it gets programmed into your subconscious. This is the reason why people who have a low awareness may have a moment of realization but fall back into unconsciously reinforcing their old patterns quite soon – this is because they lack a stability in their awareness to sustain a gap between their mind’s subconscious pull and their conscious understanding.
Developing a stability in awareness is the prerequisite, for anyone who has a low awareness of their mind, before they can re-program their subconscious patterns.
By “low awareness” I just mean the tendency to be lost in the mind’s conditioned pull without ever having the space to question it, or observe it – a lack of self-awareness. Some people naturally have a high awareness, where they are observant of their mind, and have a tendency to question its conditioned movement. Some people need to develop their power of awareness – the best way to do this would be to spend time just observing your mind as a “detached witness”, as if you were watching a movie or listening to a radio station, you can do it as a practice for 20-30 minutes a day or you could just do it every time you are self aware.
It’s one thing to understand that you don’t have to struggle in life, and that struggle by itself is just a “mindset”, while it’s totally different thing to really live this understanding, so that your life is an example of it. The mindset of struggle is so ingrained in our “subconscious” that it almost feels like a sacrilege to question it.
A lot of spiritual traditions, or self-development resources, still enforce the mindset of struggle by asking the seekers to keep working on self-discipline of living a “regimental” life of forced discipline, instead of allowing them the freedom to align with their natural expression. Self-discipline when enforced becomes a force of suppression, however when you start aligning with yourself by letting go of the mindset of struggle you notice a natural discipline coming up on its own (because now you are aligned with the inspiration coming from your life-stream’s intelligence).
This discipline is not “rigid”, but has a leeway based on wisdom of the moment and hence ensures that you don’t end up “over working” yourself or do unnecessary/unproductive/counter-productive work.
If these understandings don’t take you towards a struggle free life, then there is no real point to it. Experiencing a struggle free life, in this physical realm you are existing in presently, is the bottom-line of understanding life, and if your realizations are not taking you towards this mindset, you could well be holding on to your subconscious patterns of struggle through your fear of letting go of it.
May be you are yet to gain a clear understanding of the well-being inherent to your life-stream (thus you don’t trust it), or you are not staying true to your understanding and succumbing to your mind’s fear-based pull. Unless you stand true to your understanding, consciously, you would not be able to deconstruct the subconscious patterns of negativity operating in your mind.