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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

OUR MENTAL FACULTY



You can think of this post as outlining a workout at the gym for your mind. It’s like the different muscle groups in your body – they all have different functions, but work together for your health. The difference is that most people can’t even define their mental faculties, much less know how to use or develop them. This post should help.
As our quote from Bob says, using these powers correctly is the difference between having the life we want, or not. So let’s study them carefully. Five of the six faculties have different functions in the conscious and subconscious mind, so we’ll start with the only one that doesn’t – the power of will!
Will is a conscious mind function that we use to focus our attention. Many people have trouble because they can’t stay focused, and they bounce around from one thing to another, and never finish anything. Are you easily distracted? Then utilize your will.
You may not be aware of how hard it is to stay focused, but there’s a simple way to find out. Try a short meditation exercise in which you focus your attention on a candle flame or a pool of water. Get relaxed and see how long you can do it without your mind wandering.
The experienced meditators in our group are laughing already. They know only too well what happens. You have 5 or 10 seconds of focus and the next thing you know you’re wondering what’s for dinner. You can see it in your life, too, once you know where to look. Keep track of your attention on the next project you have and see how you do.
Will, like all the powers, can be built up by exercise. Meditation is a very good practice to build your power of focus. If you’re unsure about how to learn that, there’s lot of info online. There’s even a “Meditation for Dummies” book, which, like most of the books in that series, is actually written by an expert and is quite good.
During your day you can become aware of where your focus is. You use will to choose what to focus on, and you use will to keep it there. The better you get at it, the more you’ll get done. It’s well worth the effort. Lack of focus ruins productivity, and success in anything depends on productivity, so the proper use of will can mean a lot.
“Nothing’s either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – Shakespeare
The next mental faculty to understand is the very important power of perception. Perception controls what we become aware of in our
environment, and how we choose to see it. Perception has both conscious and subconscious mind functions
In the conscious mind we have choice. We can look at any person or situation and decide how we want to see it – good or bad, positive or negative. Obviously the choice we make has a big influence on how we respond and how we feel about it. And Shakespeare was right – our thinking makes it so.
Bob Proctor likes to refer to what he calls the Law of Polarity, which he illustrates by showing the duality in most everything – front/back, up/down, in/out, and especially good/bad. And that’s the choice we exercise with conscious perception – to see the good or the bad in everything, because everything has both.
I sometimes have people argue with me on this, and they’ll call up some tragedy and demand to know how that was good. I point out that the good is not always in the thing itself, but what comes from it. I use the example of a case where a young girl was killed by a drunken driver. Not good, in itself, at all. But out of her mother’s anguish and determination to save others, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was formed, and they have saved many lives.
So we always have the choice of what to focus on. So choose wisely.
The subconscious function is one most people are completely unaware of. In the subconscious mind, perception determines what we become aware of. We’re flooded with billions of bits of information every second, and we can only process a tiny fraction of them. So what determines what gets through?
There are two main criteria – what agrees with our beliefs, and what our mind believes is important to us. That’s all! We’re more or less blind to everything else. That’s why most of us firmly believe that our beliefs are true – we’re blind to contradictory evidence.
That’s also why two people can have such different experiences of the same event. We’re all running the inputs through different filters and so what we perceive is different. You know the new car story. You decide you want a particular car and suddenly you see them everywhere. They were always there, but your filter didn’t know they were important, so you were never aware of them.
That’s why having clear goals, using affirmations, writing gratitude lists
and things like that are so important, because they are programming your mind that those things are important to you! Do you get it? If you don’t program your mind, what you need can be right in front of you and you won’t see it!
So write your goals out, read them every day, use positive affirmations, do your gratitude lists. What you focus on, you’ll get more of, and now you know why. Because you’ll see it! That’s the power of perception. Put it to work for you.
“Everyone has a photographic memory. Some people just don’t have any film.” – Anonymous
Did you ever feel like our quote says – out of film? Let’s see if we can figure out what to do. As you’ve probably guessed, our third mental faculty is memory. Like perception, memory has a conscious and subconscious aspect.
When we get new inputs of information, they get processed by the short term memory of the conscious mind, and while they’re there, they’re easy to remember. Unfortunately, new information only stays in the conscious mind for about 20 seconds – just long enough for us to decide what to do about it. If we don’t convince the mind to save it in some way, after 20 seconds it’s gone! What was that guy’s name??
Two primary tests determine what goes into long term memory in the
subconscious. First – very strong emotion, either good or bad! You likely still remember a few things from your childhood, and every one
has some strong emotion attached to it.
I can still clearly remember being transferred and walking into a new 2nd grade classroom in the middle of the school year and all the strange kids staring at me. My little 6 year old self wanted to curl up and die! Still clear, after all these years, because of the strong emotion.
Many events with strong emotions pass from conscious memory but may still be there in the subconscious. They can be the source of belief systems that control us unconsciously. Every event like that contributed to our developing view of ourselves and the world around us, and is probably limiting us in some way. So it’s worthwhile to take a look at them from that perspective.
The other test for storing information in memory is our “what’s important” filter that we talked about in the section on perception. Things that we’ve trained the mind to know as important tend to stick much better in long term memory. That’s yet another reason to do written goals, affirmations and gratitude lists as I said before. We’re not only telling our mind what to notice, we’re telling it what to remember!
Almost all the memory training courses use some system for making names or information important or memorable to get the mind to keep it accessible. By being clear about what you want, you can use these same tricks to remember what you need to know. You have the power to remember everything that you need to remember, if you know how the mind works and train it effectively.
You do have a photographic memory, if you don’t run out of film! When you train your mind properly, you won’t.
“It is a lesson which all history teaches wise persons, to put trust in ideas, and not in circumstances.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our next topic is about the mental faculty of reason and how to get the best use out of it. Reason is a small part of our mind but it’s the part we’re most aware of and it’s what we usually mean when we say that we’re thinking. Neuroscience has shown that the conscious mind only uses about 5% of the brain, and some important parts of it don’t develop until we’re in our early 20′s. That’s why teenagers do dumb things – one of the last parts to develop has to do with understanding the consequences of choices!
Our faculty of reason works primarily in the conscious mind and its job is to analyze, compare, and evaluate ideas. It’s the primary way we choose and we use it in every choice we make. However, it also has one other really important capability – it can take all the information it has and stir it up and come up with brand new ideas!
That’s important because as Emerson says in our quote, one good idea will beat your circumstances every time! That’s your real spiritual power in life. You’re not limited by what’s gone before, you can create something new. You always have choice, and the power of reason to help you choose wisely.
Your subconscious mind cannot originate ideas, it can only take ideas passed to it from the conscious mind and decide how to apply them. If it’s a big new idea that disrupts the balance between your beliefs and life experience, the subconscious may object by making you uncomfortable. But if you persist, it HAS to move into action with your new idea.
The history of the human race is the story of people with new ideas. Your life is the record of how well you have worked with new ideas, or not. Every person you admire got to where they are by embracing a new idea and the discomfort that goes with putting it into action.
If you have an idea that your reason faculty says, “Hey, that looks good!” but it makes you uncomfortable, that’s a good sign! It’s just your subconscious objecting to change. The bigger the new idea, the more the discomfort. Go right ahead with that new idea. You’ll get used to it.
“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” - Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Our next faculty for study is one that we use naturally as children, but we get it trained out of us sometimes by well meaning adults. That is the faculty of imagination. We get told to quit day dreaming when we’re kids, and then we have to learn it all over again as adults.
Imagination is the way that we can test and experience our future and
our dreams. But you may not know the astounding discovery of modern science about imagination. When we vividly imagine something with emotional intensity in our conscious mind, we impress it on the subconscious mind and produce the same emotional and biochemical reactions in our body as the actual experience!
That’s why almost every Olympic athlete uses imagination in their training program. They know that when they visualize, they are getting virtually the same benefits as actually training, and by visualizing they are doing every routine perfectly!
James Nesmith was a US pilot who became a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Only an average golfer, he played detailed rounds of golf in his mind while imprisoned in a wire cage! Every day he chose a golf course, decided what the weather and wind would be, visualized every detail. If he visualized hitting the ball 200 yards, he took 200 steps in his mind to get to it for the next shot.
After he was freed, and got out of the hospital, he played his first real round of golf in a long time and beat his previous average score by almost 20 strokes!
That’s the power of imagination, used correctly. The sensory detail is very important. But remember, whenever you are imagining something, good or bad, that power is at work. Don’t imagine what you don’t want. As the old Roman, Seneca, said in our quote, dreaming is a form of planning. Used correctly to visualize what you want, it’s one of the most powerful tools you have to create your dreams. It trains your mind in what to notice and what to remember, and it’s free! So put it to work.
“What I am actually saying is that we need to be willing to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that guidance directly and fearlessly.” – Shakti Gawain
Now we cover the sixth and last of our mental faculties – the power of intuition. And it’s very powerful, and very important. I know, some people say that men don’t have intuition, they have hunches! But I don’t care what you call it, we all have it, and it works through both the conscious and subconscious mind.
Remember that the conscious mind is verbal and the subconscious mind is emotional – which means it works with feelings instead of ideas. You know, the “gut feeling” that you sometimes have. So when your conscious mind intuits something, you’ll get an idea, something that you can verbalize. Your subconscious will give you a feeling about whether something is right or wrong.
Where does this information come from? Many people call it a “spiritual power” because it works on information you don’t consciously have. I prefer calling it a metaphysical power, which just means “beyond the physical” and takes some of the woo-woo feeling out of it.
The leading edge topic in modern science today, as I’ve written before, is that the fundamental substance of the Universe is consciousness. We are each individual expressions of that consciousness. Intuition is our connection to the Mother Ship of consciousness, which pretty much knows everything. Some people call it God. You can if you’d like. But it’s not woo-woo, it’s science.
What really matters is not what you call it, but learning to pay attention to it. For those people who’ve ignored the whispers for many years, it’s hard to hear intuition. With practice its voice gets louder and clearer. It’s worth the effort to ask and to listen.
Will, perception, memory, reason, imagination and intuition. These are our mental faculties, and we humans are the only species on this planet that have them all. With them you can build the life of your dreams, or of your nightmares. So use them wisely.