# 11 (b). Navigating Through the Layers of the Mind (Part 2): Clearing the Subconscious

The mind is like an iceberg. Just as an iceberg, 90% is submerged and is what we call the subconscious with 10% being the ‘surface’ conscious mind. The 90% is most influential and is where our life scripts are stored. These are electro-chemical impressions in the brain created by events that define our self-identity; our likes and dislikes and motivate what we consider to be our ‘conscious’ behavior. In yoga science these subconscious conditionings are called ‘samskaras’: the mental impressions that cloud our awareness of our true nature as divine being.

To clear the subconscious follow these steps:

Acknowledge the Truth

1. First and foremost always acknowledge, remember and understand that you are one with divine being, flawless, perfect and pure at your core.

Do an inventory. Resolve memories of past negative experience:

2. Face and neutralize uncomfortable and difficult memories by diffusing the emotional reaction to the memory. You will know when you are done as the physical reaction to the memory, such as anxiety, remorse, insomnia, addictive cravings, depression, rapid heartbeat, cold sweats, etc., will cease. When you no longer have a physical or emotional reaction to the memory then the memory has been neutralized.

If you suspect there are things you cannot recognize in yourself, or that you do not remember from the past, then over a few days reread this sutra. Talk less, observe yourself more and your subconscious will begin to release and reveal to you memories, repetitive patterns, wrong beliefs and unproductive behaviors that come from past incidents and subconscious conditioning.

Throw out the trash: Use the ancient Vedic ritual known as Vasana Daha Tantra*:

3. When memories emerge from your subconscious of past hurts, hurts towards others, mistakes made, regrets, trauma, guilt, fear, anxiety, worry, self-doubt, unworthiness, etc., write them down in as much detail as possible. If there are ways these memories are influencing your life now and there are certain behaviors in your life that you know are not your best, write them down too. Do not type but write in cursive – this is important as this encourages access to deeper brain regions. Be specific and give as much detail as you can. Be honest with yourself. If there is a lesson to be learned, face it, learn it, make a commitment to end any unacceptable behaviors and then allow yourself to let it go and move on. Then burn the paper. This is an ancient method used to clear the subconscious using the symbolism of burning the accumulated negative ‘mind-stuff’ in written form. Your subconscious will recognize the symbolism here – it may require several attempts to clear the conditioning but eventually you will experience the desired changes. Be diligent and write out those things you want to release when you are aware of them. Don’t give up! Be aware too that this is not an auspicious ‘sacred fire’ ritual. The instructions are to use an appropriate container to burn the paper, such as a trash can!

*Vasana means ‘subliminal/subconscious traits that are manifesting now’.

Daha means ‘to blaze’.

Tantra means ‘technique, instrument or method of applying higher knowledge to tie/weavetogether’.

Why do we resist change?

We may inadvertently hold onto much of our subconscious conditionings for a number of reasons. It may be that they are the ‘known’ and define and support our identity. Most of our behaviors are simply re-action: mechanical responses to life that are laid down in our brains software – determined by our past. Many of the conditionings are not in line with our highest good: they were perhaps imposed upon us by people who taught us, cared for us and/or who we respected. There is often a feeling of safety and protection at the root of many of our conditionings and releasing them (at first) can make us feel less safe. Instinctive areas of the brain are programmed for survival and can have enormous resistance to surrendering to an unknown future. We may have received negative messages in our early childhood which can create deep impressions and be the most challenging to release because they have become so much a part of our identity.

Addictions too have subconscious roots and are tied to neuro-chemical forces that drive the addiction. Addiction to a behavior is not really due to the behavior itself but rather to the rush of brain chemicals associated with the behavior – the neurotransmitter dopamine is the primary pleasure/motivator in most addictions – in this sense our subconscious learns to self-medicate by using a substance or a behavior as a source of relief from negative or uncomfortable feelings. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also a ‘conditioning of the subconscious’: the result of trauma triggering primitive areas of the brain that afterwards cannot turn off the surveillance, remaining hyper-vigilant, to be ever on the alert to any threat of danger. The severity of conditioning that occurs with PTSD requires a much more comprehensive approach. Currently there are very successful therapeutic programs using meditation, neuro-biofeedback, yoga and similar supportive tools to gently turn off the subconscious conditioning.

If you cannot understand why you have trouble releasing something, such as a behavior, attitude or relationship, ask yourself, “What does holding onto this particular conditioning do for me?”.

Many of us have resistance to growth, and to emotional maturity. Resistance to emotional maturity is perhaps the number one obstacle to our spiritual growth. There are many people walking around in bodies that are many years older than their emotional age, sometimes decades. We can get emotionally stuck at developmental levels and have the emotional maturity corresponding to those ages. We may have experienced a trauma, parents divorce, separation, or other unsettling circumstance that slowed or shut down our emotional growth. We can break the chains to the past by practicing being present, conscious and awake here and now.

In time, through honest self-inquiry, the answer to the question, “Why do I resist change and what is holding me back?”, will reveal itself enabling you to face it and move on.

Many times the realization is surprisingly simple: moving on (or not) is basically a choice.
Be clear though, that this is not a process of psycho-analysis, psycho-analysis can be an endless loop. Rather, this is a process intended to allow your consciousness to rise above, or move beyond, this level of the mind in order to access the superconscious level. This gives us a higher view and a ‘pure’ understanding.

By making the subconscious transparent, by recognizing and exposing its’ contents and their manifestation, both good and bad in our lives, we can then begin to consciously experience the unveiling of the superconscious. Ever increasing glimmers of light, of a higher way of knowing and being will shine forth from the superconscious. This ultimately brings about liberation and freedom from all that restricts and all that clouds the radiance of the soul.

Affirm the truth:

4. Create an affirmation that is the truth, the reality at the soul level. Affirmation is not meant to reprogram the subconscious but rather to give the subconscious accurate and enlightened information. Affirmations should be short, positive and have motivational significance. Think of your affirmation as an antidote to any negative conditionings you identify and word it accordingly.

Three important and crucial ingredients to successful affirmation:

1. Focus, think and give full attention to the affirmation as you repeat it. Do not let the mind wander.

2. Visualize a mental picture with as many sensory components as possible to illustrate your affirmation. What colors are present? What sensations? What sounds? What odors? What are the physical feelings?

3. Feel it! Bring all the positive emotion, gratitude, joy and appreciation into your realization and conviction of the actualization of your affirmation.


Practice your affirmation for a few minutes after waking, again before lunch, before bed and if you awaken in the night. When you meditate bring the affirmation in at the end of your meditation session. Do this for a while and then if inspired try a new affirmation. A good goal is to repeat your affirmation for at least 50 repetitions per day.

Favorite affirmations:

Everything in my mind, everything in my consciousness, everything in my world is in divine order.

I am healthy, vital and radiantly alive.

I am calm, confident, and serene.

The radiant purity of my essence of being continuously illumines my mind and consciousness.

I am alright, right now.

“You can either walk through a city full of fog or climb above it.”
– Subramuniyaswami

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