The Power of the Sub-conscious Mind
I posted an introduction to the sub-conscious mind in The Sub-conscious Mind. In this follow-up article, I wish to briefly introduce some of the methods I have used and explored for the purposes of "Mental Programming", or programming my sub-conscious mind. A comprehensive list of the resources I have tried, and applied, can be found on the Integrated Success Program blog.
The sub-conscious mind is, potentially, a very powerful, yet generally under utilized tool for dramatic personal change. Most people are unaware of the power lying dormant, yet readily available, in the sub-conscious component of the mind.
A variety of methods have been utilized to access the sub-conscious mind, through one (or more) of the five senses, comprised of Auditory (sense of hearing), Kinesthetic (sense of touch), Visual (sense of sight), Olfactory (sense of smell) and Gustatory (sense of taste). Personally, I have used predominantly "Auditory" and, to a lesser extent, "Kinesthetic" methods.
Once you have reviewed the brief descriptions of the various methods below, you will note that most of them appear to be very simple. The mistake here would be to assume that because they are so simple, they must have little value. Far from it!
The sub-conscious mind is very simple and responds very well to very simple, basic and literal instructions. (See "Fetch My Future" for more information on a simple, introductory text to the sub-conscious mind).
The Sub-conscious Mind
Analogous to a computer
The analogy of the sub-conscious mind being similar to a computer is very powerful. A computer has tremendous potential for processing and storing data, however, it is useless without an operating language to provide basic operational capability. This information needs to be programmed into the computer to enable the functionality. Furthermore, specific software packages must also be installed (each of which has been individually programmed) to enable very powerful and highly specific functions and abilities inherent to the computer. For example, one must install Word or WordPerfect in order to have access to these very powerful word processing packages. One might desire SPSS to enable access to a very powerful statistical analysis package. These examples of very powerful functionality available through a computer are not available through the operating system and have been programmed and installed separately.
To take the analogy even further, this high level of functionality is made available through programming code. Although the specifics of code can be complicated and complex, it ultimately reduces to a simple binary code, a series of 1's and 0's representing an electronic "switch" being either "On" or "Off". How much simpler can it get?
Accessing the Sub-conscious Mind
Through the Five Senses
In order to program the mind, one must first access it. Intentional access to the sub-conscious (as an Induced State of Awareness) has been achieved through a variety of methods, and through each of the body's five senses, examples of which include the following:
1. Auditory (hearing) - chanting, auditory story telling, mantra, overtone singing, drumming, music, etc.,
2. Kinesthetic (feeling and movement) - dance, story telling by movement, mudra, embodying rituals, yoga, breathwork, oxygen deprivation, sexual stimulation etc.,
3. Visual (sense of sight) - yantra, visual story telling, mandala, cinema, theater, art, architecture, beauty, strobe lights, form constants, symmetry, etc.,
4. Olfactory (sense of smell) - perfume, pheromones, incense, flowers, pollen, etc., and
5. Gustatory (sense of taste) - including: starvation, herbs, hallucinogens and drugs.
The Methods I have Used
Auditory and Kinesthetic
The methods I have used and / or explored can be predominantly categorized as "Auditory" techniques and include:
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
- Self Affirmations
- Silva Method
- Subliminal Messages
In addition, I have used Biofeedback, breathwork and heart rate monitoring, which would be categorized under "Meditation" techniques under "Kinesthetic" techniques.
Note that there is considerable overlap between many of the techniques. For example, Affirmations could be considered a light form of Hypnosis. Similarly, Self Affirmations might be considered a light form of Self Hypnosis. Auto- suggestion might be considered a light mantra and, therefore, a meditative technique, however, it is also considered a form of Self Hypnosis. The Silva Method incorporates a deepening exercise, with a series of affirmations as part of its algorithm.
Affirmations / Self Affirmations / Auto-suggestion
Affirmations are simple statements of fact or desired intent (a goal or goals) repeated on a regular basis as a form of mental programming. The Coue Method was, arguably, the first example of the use of affirmations for improvement of health using Autosuggestion (alternatively considered a form of self hypnosis). As originally formulated, the Coue Method consisted of the phrase "Every day, in every respect, I am getting better and better". It has since been revised to "Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better".
In his book "Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion", Emile Coue claims, from his own experience, that "Every illness, whatever it may be, can yield to autosuggestion ... I do not say does always yield, but can yield, which is a different thing".
So, in order to clarify and distinguish these terms:
Affirmations are simple generic statements, generally in the form of goals, one might find on the Internet and in many Self-Help, New Age or New Thought books. Many audio programs have been developed with such affirmations put to music. The idea is that the desires of many can be reduced to a number of generalized, generic statements, as follows:
- "I am Successful, Rich, Healthy and Happy."
- "I love myself unconditionally."
- "I am a loving, forgiving, gentle and kind person."
Self - Affirmations are, similarly, simple statements of fact or desired intent. They may differ from affirmations, however, in that one might formulate them for a specific circumstance or individual goal. In addition, rather than have a pre-recorded affirmation message, one speaks the affirmation(s) out loud (orally) to oneself.
There are some general guidelines to follow when formulating one's own, individual affirmations:
Use the Present Tense, not the future tense. The subconscious mind tries to literally bring about what it is asked of it, so one would phrase an affirmation in the form "I am rich" or "I choose to be rich".
Be POSITIVE. Only positive statements work. The sub-conscious mind is literal and simple and cannot, therefore, understand negative affirmations. For example, if you were to use the affirmation "I am not fat", the subconscious mind would interpret it as "I am fat"!. This, obviously, is not the intended goal.
Affirmations should be SPOKEN, WRITTEN DOWN or, ideally, BOTH. Repeat them emphatically, preferably throughout the day, at least twenty times when you first get up in the morning and twenty times in the evening just before you go to sleep.
Writing your affirmations down is a faster way of imprinting the affirmation into the subconscious mind. Napoleon Hill, in "Think and Grow Rich" suggested writing your affirmation on a 3" x 5" card and keeping it in your pocket. Throughout the day, whenever you get the chance, remove the card and look at it or read it. Do this several times a day. In keeping with the modern age of technology, you might want to save your affirmation in your iPhone or Blackberry.
Repetition. In order to bring about significant change in your life, affirmations must be repeated many times a day. As stated above, as a minimum, try to repeat your self affirmations twenty times a day in both the morning and evening. The objective is to get your affirmations past your conscious mind and embed them in your sub-conscious.
The technique is potentially very powerful if a program of repetition of the affirmation(s) is maintained over a period of time. The phrase "period of time" is, of course, very ambiguous. One might consider repeating the affirmation until such time as the affirmation has been realized.
Hypnosis / Self-Hypnosis
Again, the main difference between hypnosis and self hypnosis is with regard to whether one is being hypnotized externally (using an audio program or a certified hypnotist) or by an individual using a learned routine.
Auto-suggestion is, to a large degree synonymous with self hypnosis ( ... the act of administering hypnotic procedures on one's own, in that it consists of repetition of a specific phrase over a period of time - Wikipedia - Hypnosis"). With regard to the original CouÃ© Method, auto-suggestion is utilized to effect a health change or to maintain a level of health. Auto-suggestion has since been expanded to include desired goals, outcomes and possibilities based on repetition of the appropriate affirmation or self affirmation.
In a seminal paper entitled Three techniques of autohypnosis" Andrew Salter described methods of teaching self-hypnosis through:
- 1. Autohypnosis by post-hypnotic suggestion,
- 2. Autohypnosis by memorised trance instructions (Scripted suggestions), and
- 3. Fractional autohypnosis (Part learning)
- Hypnosis (or hypnotherapy when administered for therapeutic purposes) can be defined as follows:
- "Hypnosis typically involves an introduction to the procedure during which the subject is told that suggestions for imaginative experiences will be presented. The hypnotic induction is an extended initial suggestion for using one's imagination, and may contain further elaborations of the introduction. A hypnotic procedure is used to encourage and evaluate responses to suggestions. When using hypnosis, one person (the subject) is guided by another (the hypnotist) to respond to suggestions for changes in subjective experience, alterations in perception, sensation, emotion, thought or behavior. ... If the subject responds to hypnotic suggestions, it is generally inferred that hypnosis has been induced. Many believe that hypnotic responses and experiences are characteristic of a hypnotic state. While some think that it is not necessary to use the word "hypnosis" as part of the hypnotic induction, others view it as essential ..." (Wikipedia - "Hypnosis").
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a technique developed by Richard Brandler and John Grinder as an ... approach to psychotherapy and organisational change based on "a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behaviour and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them" and "a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour" (Wikipedia - Neuro-linguistic Programming").
The fundamental premise behind NLP is that it is a method with which to program the mind (Neuro-) within a verbal (Linguistic) context. The following has been taken from a pamphlet accompanying "Success Mastery with NLP" by Charles Faulkner and Robert McDonald:
"Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) studies the structure of subjective experience. That is, it studies the experience of self that everyone has within their own minds. NLP holds that people think and act based on their internal representations of the world and not on the world itself. Once we understand specifically how we create and maintain our inner thoughts and feelings, it is a simple matter for us to change them to more useful ones. ...
Described as "software for your brain", NLP allows you to automatically tap into your thought patterns and change them". (The assumption is) that your mind is made up of different parts - that all people talk to themselves in different voices or attitudes depending on which "part" is conscious. There is a serious part of you and a fun-loving part, a part of you that is confident and a part that feels self-doubt. Having different parts is a normal and healthy expression of your multi-faceted personality. Naturally, there are parts of you that you are very satisfied with, and parts that you would like to improve".
There is a considerable amount of NLP material available, both in the form of books and audio material, from Anthony Robbins, one of the best known proponents of NLP (see below).
Recommended Reading - Anthony Robbins
The Method I Personally Prefer
The Silva method was developed by Jose Silva, again, as a method for programming the sub-conscious mind. The basic premise behind the Silva Method is for one to attain the Alpha Level of consciousness through a process of meditation (relaxation). Once at "Alpha", affirmations for health and self improvement are repeated, followed by mental programming. As such, the Silva Method can be separated into it's component parts in analogous fashion to a computer algorithm, comprised of the host program and component modules depending on requirements.
The host program is simply a countdown from 3 to 1, to take you from the outer conscious levels to the Basic (Alpha) Level by relaxing the body (3), relaxing the Mind (2) and entering the Basic level (1).
After a 10 to 1 deepening exercise, the "Affirmations" module is implemented, using either generic affirmations or more specific self-affirmations. The final component might be called "The Control Module", which consists of the actual programming you desire. Examples of such modules might include: Sleep Control, Healing, Dream Control or any other of a diverse set of mental programming. Once finished the "module, you may either re-enter the Cconscious level or pass on to sleep.
For more information, see my lens The Silva Method
The concept of subliminal suggestion is embodied in the wide range and variety of subliminal recordings available. The idea is that a message, typically consisting of a single affirmation (or suite of affirmations), is overlain by a relaxing recording, usually of various sounds of nature such that the affirmations are just audible or even inaudible.
"Hypnotists who believed that responses are mediated primarily by an "unconscious mind" made more use of indirect suggestions, such as metaphors or stories, whose intended meaning may be concealed from the subject's conscious mind. The concept of subliminal suggestion also depends upon this view of the mind "(Wikipedia - "Hypnosis").
Subliminal suggestion "... is any sensory stimulation below an individual's absolute threshold for conscious perception. Visual stimuli may be quickly flashed before an individual may process it, or flashed and then masked thereby interrupting the processing. Audio stimuli may be played below audible volumes (Wikipedia - "Subliminal Stimuli").
Accessing the Sub-conscious Mind
The sub-conscious mind can be accessed and programmed through a variety of well established methods, only a few of which I have touched on here. These are the methods I have evaluated and used myself and, therefore, can recommend. Other methods I strongly discourage, such as "Gustatory" (or ingestion), specifically of illicit, illegal and/or unknown substances.
The critical message I wish to convey is that although the methods seem simple and even basic, they work. The sub-conscious mind is simple and basic, and extremely literal, and so simple and basic methods work best. By taking control and consciously programming your sub-conscious, you can reasonably expect to see dramatic changes in your life and lifestyle.
I strongly encourage you to explore these (or other) methods for your own use.
Integrated Success Program - Available Resources
The Integrated Success Program consists of an integrated set of resources, comprised of a web-site featuring the original, classic texts of classic authors, a blog site with a wealth of supporting material, a Yahoo Group and a Forum to provide forums for discussing the myriad of topics under the "Personal Development" theme.
Please feel free to leave your comments on this site (above) and make use of the other resources provided. I would sincerely love to hear from you, your opinions (Pro and Con) on my posts, thoughts, opinions and interpretations. I would love to initiate a dialogue in either or both of the forums.
Your input will only serve to improve this site, as well as the other resources provided.
I look forward to hearing from you.
The sub-conscious mind is a fascinating and, at times, controversial subject. I have posted a brief Introduction to the subject and will be posting more in the future.
Please feel free to leave your comment, either pro or con. My hope is to generate discussion on the topic.