Many people wonder why we have a conscious and an unconscious mind. What is the purpose of the unconscious mind? Does it perform any important function?
In the simplest of terms, our conscious mind is aware of what is happening to us at a set point in time. On the other hand, our unconscious mind is everything else that is going on inside our body – things that we are not aware of in specific terms.
For example, when you are walking, you know where you are walking and at what speed you’re walking. You can envision the surrounding landscape. It is your conscious mind that allows you to do this. But at the same time, it is our unconscious mind which is controlling our heart rate, our thoughts, our breathing, our ability to sense the cold or the heat, our pulse rate, the amount of sweat, etc. One is usually not aware of what the unconscious mind is doing but believe it when we say, our unconscious mind is always busy and performing multiple functions without which we would not be able to live a normal life.
Unlike the unconscious mind, the conscious mind has a limit on how much information it can process. The conscious mind follows a certain basic logic or a map as a reference. Your conscious mind will express itself as a short commentary on what is happening to you at a moment in time. For example, when you read a sentence, your mind will process it, and you will hopefully understand the meaning. The conscious mind helps make sense of what is going on; everything is simple, sequential and logical. With the conscious mind, everything has a name; every action has a label, and every event has an explanation.
But the unconscious mind knows everything about you, but you don’t know anything about it. The unconscious mind operates without you even knowing what it is doing. The unconscious mind is like a computer, but you just do not see what is happening on the screen. Think of it like this. Everything that goes on beneath the screen of the computer is what your unconscious mind does. The unconscious mind is always learning and can absorb a massive amount of information– even things that you may not be aware of. It will remember names, places, people and distant memories which you never even knew existed.
If you read Dr. Sarno’s book, The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mind-Body Disorders, you will understand the relationship between our reasonable and logical conscious self and our hidden unconscious self that accumulates our repressed feelings of emotional pain, sadness, anger, and hurt. These repressed feelings are responsible for a wide range of psychosomatic disorders, one of which is TMS. It is unfortunate that healthcare providers have yet to recognize the prevalence of mind-body disorders. But for you, it is important that you understand the psychosomatic phenomena as this understanding and this awareness can really help you heal the pain.
When you develop an unpleasant experience like pain through your conscious mind, you may not like this feeling, and you may want to forget about it. This will send nerve signals to your unconscious mind, and these signals will trigger it to suppress the bad experiences. The unconscious mind will suppress this feeling, and at the same time, it will trigger the body’s autonomic nervous system to decrease blood supply to the muscle or tissues. However, this reduced blood supply also decreases the oxygen supply to our tissues, and this will cause even more pain. The problem is that the unconscious mind is doing only what you wanted. But the unconscious mind’s suppression results in a conscious feeling of pain.
Once you understand the cause of your pain and the role that your unconscious mind plays, you have to take steps to unravel this body-mind connection. Once you regain control of your brain, it stops sending signals to the nerves, and your pain starts to subside.