Saturday morning study is my favorite study time. I usually wake up relatively early after the work week, not so well rested yet, but enough to have the time for contemplation.
This morning I stumbled upon my thoughts about the unconscious mind. I haven’t given the idea much thought in a long while. I remember that when I begun writing my journals around 2009, I was quite interested in what’s going on in my head and I did record dreams quite meticulously. I had zero idea what to do with them and as I begun journey of curiosity and learning I became quick to dismiss the idea of interpreting dreams as pseudoscience and I did not see the matter in hand to have any connection to real science.
Now I’ve opened my mind for another kind of perspective through the book that I’ve almost now finished: Road Less Traveled. This book was actually a second or third push for me to consider this topic, I remember first two pushes have come from Jari Sarasvuo, who has talked about the power of unconscious. However, I’ve not had much anything to grip on.
Inspired by the book and the coaching by Jari, I decided to study on my own a bit about the topic. I did not even need to go far in order to get some thoughts of my own. Merely got beyond definition and a bit about the background of the unconscious mind when actually some ideas were thrown to my awareness.
Does there have to be an unconscious mind? I started to think this from the point of biology and “hardware” what we are equipped with. So our conscious attention span is really limited, only around 110 bits which means we can barely pay attention to two people talking to us. I wrote more about this conscious attention, flow and everything before, when I was considering how we should invest our attention.
So our conscious mind has limits and we know it. Our sensory input, which is essentially everything that sends information to elsewhere in the body is huge network and it has huge capacity. From the sensory input from outside world alone, and there is massive amounts of data alone: hearing, vision, smell, touch, speed, balance etc.
Based on these observations I decided to do a simple model like this:
Essentially in from the biological standpoint everything that comes into our bodies sensory system is at first data, potentially useful so that has to be first processed into information. So who is gonna do this, if not the conscious mind? Well, I guess we could call it whatever, but let’s stick with unconscious mind.
To the image above I also put some things that the unconscious mind has to do from information processing standpoint.
Prioritizing is a no brainer, when our very basic survival is at stake, some things are more important than others. Prioritizing is also about task division, what can be done automatically and which require conscious attention. With conscious practice I’ve come to understand that it is possible to reorganize even the deepest unconscious priorities. This gives me some sense of belief that with training we are quite a conscious being around of iceberg of unconscious influences. We’ve the potential of awareness in us, yet it’s mastery over ourselves that the awareness demands.
Filtering I decided to leave with question mark for now. It’s hard to say if the unconscious mind in the long run does filter anything or does it merely wait for better moment?
Categorizing makes essentially data some kind of information and it’s also related with packaging, making information more effortlessly process able. It takes less effort to move a loaded truckful of stuff than for example stickful of individual pieces of items without any tool to aid.
Finally there is editing which I know happens with vision and hearing. For example the vision from two eyes is combined into an binocular vision, which is partly illusion. If done the right way for example some things such as your nose in your field of vision is edited out. I’ve got stratibismus since I was a child. I got treated really early so it’s mostly okay, however it has made me quite conscious about the connection between the brain and the vision.
Since most of the input and stuff that’s happening in our bodies, cannot be processed by our consciousness, there is something taking care of all that. It’s our unconscious mind tirelessly at work.
Could we improve our own life and the lives of other people around us, if we would listen more of our unconscious mind? Undoubtedly yes. And what I mean by listen, is of course just listen and considering what is the link our own conscious experience?
As I studied this morning this topic and considered what are the ways unconsciousness communicates with as. I turned just to the quickest source and most reliable source of information, Wikipedia. According to Sigmund Freud main three ways the unconsciousness mind represents itself are in dreams, slips of tongue and jokes. Of course any kinds of thoughts that intuitively slip to our minds are also messages from the unconscious.
In my mind, I’ve often admired and been awed by the creative genius in me who comes up with jokes. So far, I’ve only seen glimpses and glances of that side of me. That unconsciousness is in all of us and it represents our potential.
Today I realized it’s a conscious power to start to listen to the unconsciousness.
Also somehow, the field of thought who tries to expand our consciousness seems to be a wrong approach. How about just try to work better with what we have already? When I started to look at the amount of work that the unconsciousness is doing (Image 1), it was another awe moment. In Road Less Travelled, Scott Peck says unconsciousness represents 95% or more of us and that image certainly fails to represents that scale.
One more thought from my unconsciousness this morning I want to share, in the form of the question: have you ever heard of the Moominvalley?
Exactly that question, in Finnish thought, popped into my head earlier. And what connection I made of that when thinking about this very topic of consciousness and unconsciousness.
For Tove Jansson, the author of Moomin, the Moominvalley was a special place of imagination. Artists have been the artists of unconsciousness for long, we’ve a lot to learn from them on our journey to understand ourselves better. We are really blessed to be the end users of really sophisticated user experience called consciousness, however to change our world to better we must learn to listen our unconsciousness as well as only unconsciousness has more information about ourselves than anyone else alive.