So how does a person open the subconscious? Does this require some deep study, or esoteric ritual?
I don't think so. In fact, it's something we do every night.
My working theory is that opening the subconscious is something we do everyday when we go to sleep. This basically what I think also happens when I experience deeper levels of meditation. While I think all meditation is beneficial, even if it's just relaxing. My experience tells me that there are benefits far beyond simply relaxing and relieving stress.
Most of us have an innate fear of "losing consciousness". It is generally not seen as preferable to pass out during the day.. (ha). Yet, every night we WANT to pass out on cue, and if we can't it can be a source of stress.
So every night when I go to sleep, I go through the same basic process.
I lay down
My body begins to relax and I release muscle tension
I breathe deeper
My brainwavescycle down (Beta--Alpha--Theta--Delta)
Gradually I drift into twilight and off into sleep
My subconscious opens and I begin to dream
So with meditation, I think that this is also pretty much the same process with one major difference. I stay awake the whole time.
I sit down
I relax and release muscle tension
I breathe deeper
brainwaves cycle down (Beta--Alpha--Theta--Delta)
gradually I drift back and become an observer of the thinking or conscious mind
the subconscious opens and I begin to awaken to deeper thought patterns shaping my views of reality
When a person becomes conscious in the dream state it is called "lucid dreaming". Conversely, becoming conscious of the subconscious while in meditation can be like "lucid waking" (or "awakening").
For me this was very much like waking into a dream. I realized that my life was very much like a dream of my own creation. I could see how unconscious thought patterns, core beliefs, etc. had shaped my actions and created my "reality". From that vantage point it can be easier to see that much of life can be lived unconsciously, as in a dream.
I have noticed that lot of meditation practices and trainings suggest meditating for 20 minutes a day...which is a good daily goal. However, I think in order to really open into the subconscious state it will probably take more time to allow the body to relax into gradually deeper levels of release. Based on my personal experience, (and other things I have read) this probably requires committing a few hours to the process. My rough estimate is around 3 hours. I also think preparing the body for relaxation through yoga and maybe using certain herbs can help too. Yoga prepares the body by releasing somatic (muscular) stress and setting deep breathing patterns. Various herbs can also help to alter brainwaves and create relaxation.
By default, changing reality (expanding awareness) means altering (or even losing) the old view of reality. The "old view" of reality was, by default, a set of neural pathways I had built over the course of my life. These pathways formed biases and perceptions I wasn't even aware of. "Losing reality" is something we, as a society, seem to have an innate fear of. Mental Illness, is something that has been stigmatized, in general, by society. No one wants to be seen as insane and so we cling to the same well worn and "safe" behavior patterns. It's easy, however to look into history and see that we humans have engaged in some quite insane behaviors (that were socially acceptable at the time). However, despite our confident view of reality, collectively we are continually trying to determine the nature of it. Science exists for just that reason. In fact, some of the most famous advances in science and our collective view of reality have been met with resistance, and in some cases even violent persecution. (my personal ego did the same) However in order to expand consciousness, it's most likely necessary to let go of the patterns and views from our previously "programmed" consciousness, and embrace a new view. Also by default, during the process of transforming the mind there may be (probably will be) some times when it's hard to feel centered, have bearings, or to know which way is up. At least this was my experience. This may even manifest temporarily in the form of psychosis, or other passing phases that can resemble mental illness. (Neuro-plasticity, describes the minds ability to adapt and change thought patterns, and neural patterns.) Part of the reason that I consistently repeat the phrase "Choose Love, not fear" is that this is the phrase and intention that I clung to as my "grounding force" in these un-centered phases. Sometimes, I didn't know what the hell was happening! My mind wanted to trigger every fight or flight response I had in order to try to "hold on" to "reality". (The "mind" wanted to use fear to stay in control.) During that process I knew that I my stronger intention and motivation was to follow the path of love (and I hoped greater understanding), even if it meant diving into the murky waters of the unknown. I eventually realized that as I followed the path of Love (ie..not reacting to the mind, and staying in the present moment), that this was also the path of sanity. Although, I thought I was "normal" enough before, I realized I was going sane.
Our so called reptilian brain, is tasked with our survival instincts and keeps us in a state of vigilance. To this degree we are resistant of "letting go" of the well worn patterns of the conscious mind. This is also partially responsible for the minds ability to create stress where none needs to exist. So, in my view raising conscious awareness and relaxation are two sides of the same coin. At some level, deep relaxation can open the doors to a richer, and more accurate conscious experience.
I feel that encouraging harmony in the body is also necessary for a deep level of relaxation. Stressing the body with food choices (sugars, processed foods..etc.. -- can cause the body to be less efficient, and feed bacteria that can cloud consciousness) and may also hold up the process of deep relaxation. Also, in my case, I experienced a physical detox as my mind opened. I am still not totally sure whether the detox was from the foods I had been eating (home made water and milk kefirs, and other anti-fungals) or from the deep meditation I had. I have learned that the pineal gland produces some very powerful anti-oxidants (melatonin and pinolene) as well as possible psychoactive chemicals (5-meo-DMT and DMT). I am guessing that the release of these anti-oxidants may also have a cleansing effect. So, if I was giving my past-self advice I would also advise a cleaner diet and cleansing in preparation for any journey towards higher awareness. Fundamentally, our body and brain chemicals are all part of the process, and so I think all of that has to be taken into account. (Since I am starting to discuss some of the psychedelic chemicals here I want to say, I, personally, don't want to seem to endorse using externally produced psychedelic chemicals. There is still a lot of study being done about how these substances work in the body and are best used. While many of these chemicals are produced in our body, I think nature has created system of balance for a reason. Bringing our system into balance slowly through diet, yoga, meditation etc.. seems to me to be the best path to gradually prepare the body and mind.)
Probiotics, can also help create a foundation for expanded awareness. Why? Because 90% of our serotonin is produced in the gut. Probiotics can create a healthy ecosystem in the gut for producing the vital neurotransmitters and brain chemicals that support the process that meditation initiates. Serotonin is the fuel for the pineal gland, which seems to be vital in this process. Serotonin also promotes neurogenesis in the brain, which can have a role in a variety of ways, from regulating stress to relieving depression. Also, the serotonin pathways are key in the active process of many of the "psychedelic" substances (mushrooms, ayahuasca..etc), as well as most anti-depressants. The chemical components psychedelics are known as the tryptamines. Our body naturally produces many of these substances, and I suspect that they also play an important role in experiencing "reality" from another vantage point.
(...the last three paragraphs could be book of their own, and I hope to share more about what I have learned in these areas soon.)
So, sharing a process of opening into the subconscious, I think, is one of the most important things I have wanted to share in this blog. I hope this is a first step at putting it into words. The words here are insufficient of course, as it is something each person must experience and remember for themselves. I see the subconscious as synonymous with our "heart". I believe this can be a window into connecting to the deepest part of our nature...
Here's an idea of what I might do for an extended meditation session:
30 minutes of toning or chanting
30 Minutes of brainwave entrainment while in meditation
1 hour or more of meditation with the Tibetan Bowls.
1 hour or more of meditation in silence (just watching breathing, or with a mantra)
PDF: Meditation Ideas
ps>>>practicing yoga before hand is even better!
Do I have psychedelic/subconscious opening experiences every time? No...
..but I do always seem to feel quite "high", shift perspectives, have deep insights about issues I want to understand, and find a simpler, more joyful and child-like version of myself. Also, experiencing a "silent mind", without the ever present narration of the ego mind is a beautiful thing.
Maybe, the most profound truth is simply that we are here to have fun, and enjoy each other :)
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
And be not conformed to (the behavior patterns of) this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. -Romans 12:2
Just a personal note: There is nothing new under the sun. I am just attempting to present info. here that has helped me. I hope to present it in a clear way based on my experience with anxiety which was a spiritual, psychological and emotional awakening for me. In retrospect of this experience I have been reading as much as I could to come to a deeper and more grounded understanding of this seemingly mystical thing that happened to me (so that I could share it with you). I'm not a doctor or a scientist. Please know this is only my experience. Yours will obviously be different, but since my experience was so similar to others I've talked to, I am hoping this may be helpful or useful to you in some way. It's also a way that I hope to share the love with you. That is my purpose here.