Fig: Like the Earth which consists of the outer crust, the mantle and the core, we can characterize the brain as consisting of the Conscious, the Subconscious and a Core. The Core controls all the autonomous functions, some parts of which are also accessible to the subconscious. For the purpose of this simplified model the brain is considered to include the entire nervous system.
The human brain is an astonishingly complex system, consisting of close to a hundred billion neurons!! Quite clearly it is impossible for humans to consciously control this complex system; we could just as well juggle simultaneously with a hundred balls!
Looking at other lifeforms we can also see that different living things have different levels of consciousness. Only humans have the capacity to actually 'think' and to alter their environment to a high degree. Yet even our thinking is not as 'conscious' as we may think; the very complex processes involved precludes such a possibility.
Our thought process will be subject to a small portion which is truly conscious, which activates processes at the subconscious level, which in turn mines processes at the 'core', about which we can have very little understanding.When we express a desire to reach for a book for instance, our desire which is a feather touch, activates processes at the subconscious level and then at the 'core' to make the movements possible. Similar processes will be repeated when we think - especially when thinking is of a creative nature.
The above information ought to be self-evident and disciplines associated with religious practices and meditation have attempted to more effectively connect with the subconscious to obtain religious and other kinds of insight in the past. There appears however to be no real evidence that in the modern context educators, health professionals and performance experts are really aware of the limitations of conscious thought and the potential to improve human well being, health and creativity by more effectively connecting with our subconscious.
My first hand experience with this problem arose in my attempt to correct my posture (for details please visit my two websites listed below). My interest in correcting my posture was triggered when I came across Dr. Barlow's book 'The Alexander Principle' in the year 1975. Over the next two years I made good progress in correcting my posture following instructions given in the book; after which my progress plateaued and I decided to correct my posture trying to consciously balance my skeletal system with the aim of improving overall flexibility and strength. Being a Mechanical Engineer, I thought doing this should be a piece of cake.
It took me 25 years to discover my mistake, and it is only after I discovered the concept of 'Present Space and Thought Space', that I could make further progress. The human musculoskeletal system consists of a huge number of bones and muscles and it can only be controlled at the subconscious level, using methods and processes over which we don't have direct control.
It is worth pointing out that some other methods of gaining control of the subconscious (for the purpose of posture correction), like 'inhibition' followed by The Alexander Technique and the general idea of 'detachment' promoted by religious disciplines, while useful for calming me down, do not work (for me) for the purpose of posture correction. This brings into sharp focus that different methods may suit different people and some methods may be better than others.
Research connected with the brain is an ongoing high profile scientific activity and much of this research is of a very complex nature. The concerns raised in this article are relatively low tech, yet they are likely to have profound consequences. One important area of application would be the improvement of our educational system.
In a world where we are increasingly distracted by superficial issues, it will be good if we can figure out ways to connect more deeply with our inner selves.