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
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
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
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
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
“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
“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.