Nature facilitates the enculturation process by developmentally enhancing the subconscious mind’s ability to download massive amounts of information. EEG readings from adult brains reveal that neural electrical activity is correlated with different states of awareness. Adult EEG readings show that the human brain operates on at least five different frequency levels, each associated with a different brain state:
EEG vibrations continuously shift from state to state over the whole range of frequencies during normal brain processing in adults. However, brain frequencies in developing children display a radically different behaviour. EEG vibration rates and their corresponding states evolve in incremental stages over time. The predominant brain activity during the child’s first two years of life is delta, the lowest EEG frequency range. In the adult brain, delta is associated with sleeping or unconsciousness.
Between two and six years of age, the child’s brain activity state ramps up and it operates primarily in the range of theta. In the adult, theta activity is associated with states of reverie or imagination. While in the theta state, children spend much of their time mixing the imaginary world with the real world. Calm consciousness associated with emerging alpha activity only becomes a predominant brain state after six years of age. By twelve years, the brain expresses all frequency ranges although its primary activity is in beta’s state of focused consciousness. Children leave elementary education behind at this age and enter into the more intense academic programs of junior high.
A profoundly important fact in the above timeline that may have missed your attention is that children do not express the alpha EEG frequencies of conscious processing as a predominant brain state until afterthey are six years old. The predominant delta and theta activity of children under six signifies that their brains are operating at levels below consciousness. Delta and theta brain frequencies define a brain state known as a hypnogogic trance, the same neural state that hypnotherapists use to download new behaviours directly into the subconscious mind of their clients.
The first six years of a child’s life is spent in a hypnotic trance. Its perceptions of the world are directly downloaded into the subconscious during this time, without the discrimination of the, as yet, dormant self-conscious mind. Consequently, our fundamental perceptions about life and our role in it are learned before we express the capacity to choose or reject those beliefs. We were simply “programmed.” The Jesuits were aware of this programmable state and proudly boasted, “Give us a child until it is six or seven years old and it will belong to the Church for the rest of its life.” They knew that once the dogma of the Church was implanted into the child’s subconscious mind, that information would inevitably influence 95% of that individual’s behaviour for the rest of their life.
The inhibition of conscious processing (alpha EEG activity) and the simultaneous engagement of a hypnogogic trance during the formative stages of a child’s life are a logical necessity. The thinking processes associated with the self-conscious mind’s processing cannot operate from a blank slate. Self-conscious behaviour requires a working database of learned perceptions. Consequently, before self-consciousness is expressed, the brain’s primary task is to acquire a working awareness of the world by directly downloading experiences and observations into the subconscious mind.
HOWEVER, there is a very, very serious downside to acquiring awareness by this method. The consequence is so profound that it not only impacts the life of the individual, it can also alter an entire civilisation. The issue concerns the fact that we download our perceptions and beliefs about life long before we acquire the ability for critical thinking. Our primary perceptions are literally written in stone as unequivocal truths in the subconscious mind, where they habitually operate for life, unless there is an active effort to reprogram them. When as young children we download limiting or sabotaging beliefs about ourselves, these perceptions become our truths and our subconscious processing will invisibly generate behaviours that are coherent with those truths.
As an important point for personal reference, it should be noted that acquired perceptions in the subconscious mind could even override genetically endowed instincts. For example, every human can instinctually swim like a dolphin the moment they emerge from the birth canal. This might prompt you to ask, “Why is it that we have to work so hard at teaching our children how to swim?” The answer lies in the fact that every time the infant encounters open water, such as a pool, a river, a bathtub, the parents freak out in concern for the safety of their child. However, in the baby’s mind, the parent’s behaviour causes the child to equate water as something to be feared. The acquired perception of water as dangerous and life threatening, overrides the instinctual ability to swim and makes the formerly proficient child susceptible to drowning.
The following is further reference to the fact that our unconsciously acquired cultural beliefs control biology and behaviour. Through our developmental experiences we acquire the perception that we are frail, vulnerable organisms subject to the ravages of contagious germs and disease. The belief of being frail actually leads to frailty since the mind’s limiting perceptions inhibit the body’s innate ability to heal itself. This influence of the mind on healing processes is the focus of psychoneuroimmunology, the field that describes the mechanism by which our thoughts change brain chemistry, which in turn regulates the function of the immune system. While negative beliefs can precipitate illness (nocebo effect), the resulting dis-ease state can be alleviated through the healing effects of positive thoughts (placebo effect).
Finally, the third source of perceptions that shape our lives is derived from the self-conscious mind. Unlike the reflexive programming of subconscious mind, the self-conscious mind is a creative platform that provides for the mixing and morphing a variety of perceptions with the infusion of imagination, a process that generates an unlimited number of beliefs and behavioural variations. The quality of the self-conscious mind endows organisms with one of the most powerful forces in the Universe, the opportunity to express freewill.
Taking Personal Responsibility
The conclusions of the “new” biology provide a radical departure from our conventional beliefs of how life works. In contrast to the notion that we are biochemical automatons driven by genes, the new insights reveal that it is the mind that controls genes, which in turn shape our biology and behaviour. The self-conscious mind, associated with our individual identity and the manifestation of thoughts, is guided by our own personal desires and intentions.
While we generally perceive that our self-conscious mind is “controlling” the show, neuroscience has established the fact that 95% of our behaviour is under the control of the more powerful subconscious mind. As most of our personal and cultural problems arise from the fact that behaviours derived from the subconscious mind are essentially invisible to us, we rarely observe our automated behaviour.
Compounding the problem is the fact that fundamental programs in the subconscious mind are derived from others, people who generally do not share your personal goals and aspirations. While ourconscious minds are trying to move us toward our dreams, unbeknownst to us our subconscious programs are simultaneously shooting ourselves in the foot and impeding our progress.
The subconscious mind is simply a “record-playback” mechanism that downloads experiences into “behavioural tapes.” While the self-conscious mind is associated with creativity, the subconscious mind’s function is to engage previously recorded programs. Unlike self-consciousness that is overseen by an entity (you), the subconscious mind is more closely related to a machine, meaning there is no thinking, conscious entity controlling the subconscious programs.
We have all been shackled with emotional chains wrought by dysfunctional behaviours programmed by the stories of the past. However, the next time you are talking to “yourself” with the hope of changing sabotaging subconscious programs, it is important to realise the following information. Using reason to communicate with your subconscious in an effort to change its behaviour would essentially have the same influence as trying to change a program on a cassette tape by talking to the tape player. In neither case is there an entity in the mechanism that will respond to your dialogue.
Subconscious programs are not fixed, unchangeable behaviours. We have the ability to rewrite our limiting beliefs and in the process take control of our lives. However, to change subconscious programs requires the activation of a process other than just engaging in a running dialogue with the subconscious mind. There are a large variety of effective processes to reprogram limiting beliefs, which include clinical hypnotherapy, Buddhist mindfulness and a number of newly developed and very powerful modalities collectively referred to as energy psychology.