5 Keys to Health, Healing, and Happiness – Part 4

Key #3 Mental Fitness Training

I spent years studying the unconscious and the subconscious minds, which fascinated me, before realizing the importance of the conscious mind. Winners in life use the conscious mind as the Captain of their Ship, i.e. the Captain of Their Life and Destiny.

The subconscious mind is the filing system of your own experiences – what your learned from your parents, teachers, prominent figures and the media – as well as the experiences of your ancestry. It is NOT meant to “run the show.” Your conscious mind allows you to decide which of these experiences are important. Decisions are, or should be, made with the conscious mind in charge.

The conscious mind thinks and decides. If it is not the captain, you may end up drifting along, swayed by ideas and beliefs stored in your subconscious mind, following a mindset or a pattern your did not truly choose. That’s living by default, on autopilot. It is believed that some 95% of our actions are driven by the subconscious mind. We are “on a track,” and do not deviate… unless we wake up.

How does your conscious mind become the captain of your ship? Awareness is first. Just as an alcoholic may someday realize s/he is a slave to alcohol, you may one day realize that you are heading toward a destination you did not consciously choose. You may see that you are led by habits and beliefs like a bull is led by a ring in his nose. Are you happy with your destination, or is it time to wake up and change direction?

After the wake-up call, you must have a desire to regain control. You must have a desire, AND a strong “why.” Study the strategies and techniques winners use. Knowledge and interest are not enough. You need to act, you MUST act! Here is the success formula:

Awareness + Willingness + Strategies and Techniques + Action = SUCCESS!

For many people, awareness only follows a catastrophic illness or a traumatic event that changes their life. Here is an extreme example of a wake-up call.

Extreme example

A man, let’s call him Mitch, was dragged by his wife to Dr. Martina’s office. Dr. Martina is a physician and a coach. She was quite distraught and wanted the doctor to help her husband stop smoking. Mitch already had both feet and an arm amputated. Would Dr. Martina please make her husband stop smoking? Mitch told the doc, “You’ll not be able to change my mind. I’ve had this habit for years, and I like it.” Dr. Martina answered, “I am not going to make you change. Just answer one question: after they amputate your other arm, do you think your wife will stick a cigarette in your mouth?”

Instant awareness! Change of direction. Mitch stopped smoking.

High performance vehicle or old clunker?

In Key # 1, we talked about taking care of your body, the vehicle that takes you from conception to death, with proper nutrition. Are you eating in a way that leads to health and vitality, or do your habits and social pressure control you? Conscious choice or old habits? What will it take for your conscious mind to gain or regain control of your life?

In our analogy, if the conscious mind is the captain, the subconscious is the first mate. If the captain is absent, the first mate will take over, and then not easily give up. It takes some doing to regain captain-ship. Fighting the subconscious mind is a losing battle. It’s too powerful. 

So, how do we do it? We befriend the subconscious mind. It actually does a much better job as first mate. Once it can trust you, it will become your best friend and partner.

Befriend the subconscious mind? How? We play! Engage in easy, non-threatening games to re-engage the power of the conscious mind.

Here are some easy and quick games you can use anytime during the day to retrain your conscious mind to do your bidding, instead of ruminating on problems, worrying needlessly, and letting the subconscious rule your life.

 While walking, or at a stop sign in your car, notice only the vertical lines in your field of vision, for 30 seconds

 While walking, or at a stop sign in your car, notice only the horizontal lines in your field of vision, for 30 seconds

 Alternate vertical and horizontal lines

 While walking, or at a stop sign in your car, notice what is green with different shades of that color, for 30 seconds, then focus on another color, like blue, yellow, red,…

 Listen to a piece of music and focus on one instrument, for 5 seconds, then 10, 20, 30… until you can listen to the whole piece following only that instrument (or voice). Another day, focus on a different instrument…

 Walk through a garden or at the beach and put your attention on the smells around you, one smell at a time… 30 seconds…

 Put a raisin in your mouth, and focus on its taste, texture for 30 seconds (Jon Kabat-Zinn asks people to focus on a raisin for 30 minutes, in his mindfulness training classes)

Start with small steps. Remember that the turtle won the race against the hare with tiny, steady steps. Soon, your conscious mind will be at the helm, with your subconscious mind whispering from its vast storage memory, instead of leading you in a direction your past experience or your ancestors followed.

You can learn to dialogue with your so powerful subconscious mind. We’ll talk about that in Part 5.

Danielle J. Duperret, ND/PhD

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