“When you begin to realize your past only exists in your imagination, you hold the key to transformation.”
The Conscious Mind
When we talk about “thoughts,” we are normally referring to thoughts that seem to come from the so-called conscious mind. I say “so-called” because we rarely conscious of our thoughts. Our conscious thoughts are whatever our mind happens to be thinking at any given moment. For example, your conscious mind is reading and understanding these words. Perhaps you have noticed that your conscious mind can only deal with a few things at the same time.
Since your conscious mind can’t see below the surface, it doesn’t realize it’s only a small part of a whole. The conscious mind is the tip of the iceberg while your subconscious mind which contains the largest part of your consciousness, lies beneath the surface of conscious awareness. You could also think of the conscious mind being similar to the screen of a computer displaying whatever you are focusing on, while the subconsious mind is more like the hard drive where all the files (memories) and applications (habits) are stored.
Because we don’t realize that the subconscious is the source of most of our thoughts, the conscious mind often rebels against the idea that change can happen without its understanding how or why. This can make it difficult to change the way we think and especially the way we behave. The conscious mind wants to change but it doesn’t know how, and it’s reluctant to relinquish control, or more accurately, the illusion of control.
The Subconscious Mind
The subconscious mind encompasses almost everything that’s not conscious. Many desires, beliefs and emotions are subconscious, although often they may be noticed and expressed consciously. Memories, dreams, daydreams, and images, both real and fantastic, live in your subconscious mind. The subconscious is also where your creative resources lie. Normally, most of the information your conscious mind uses to formulate conscious thought is filed away in the subconscious. Think of your phone number right now. Go ahead say it out loud. Where was that phone number before I asked you to recall it? It was stored in the data base of your subconscious..
The important thing to remember about your subconscious mind is that it’s not very skilled at telling the difference between an imagined experience and a real one. For example, think of a lemon right now. In your creative imagination, see, sense, and feel a ripe, yellow, juicy lemon. Now imagine taking a knife and cutting into that lemon. Imagine the citrus aroma. Now imagine taking a piece of that lemon and biting right into it. Feel the sourness of the juice puckering your mouth and smell the lemony aroma as it floods your nostrils. Close your eyes and really do this. If you are like most people, you will notice that your mouth began to salivate as you imagined biting into that lemon! But where is the lemon? It exists solely in your imagination.
Your Imaginary Past
Your subconscious mind learns things in two primary ways: intensity and repetition. It learns best through a combination of both. One of the reasons you were able to salivate as you bit into an imaginary lemon is because the first time you bit into an actual lemon it was an intense experience. And if you repeated that experience, it was intense each time.
Remember some other intense experiences from your life and notice the way your physiology responds. Think of your first kiss, maybe. Or remember a recent argument and notice that you may be feeling just a little more upset than you did before I reminded you. Yet just like the lemon, that argument now only exists in your imagination. When looked at from this perspective, your entire past is imaginary!
When you begin to realize your past only exists in your imagination, you hold the key to transformation. This is why the present moment is so powerful. Much like that lemon, the thoughts that are “running” you in any given moment are just an imaginary “rerun.”
If for just one moment you stop rerunning your past your awareness will be free to experience what’s actually happening in the present moment. There you may discover that the real you is much more vast than the rag-tag collection of reruns that up until now you’ve thought was who you are. The real you is so much more powerful than your personal history.