You deserve a more fulfilling life. How many times have you found yourself on the brink of that fulfilling life, only to inexplicably find yourself once again in another old familiar pattern? … The relationship starts off so perfectly, yet eventually this too unravels into the familiar stuck dynamics you swore you’d never repeat again. This, my friend, is the working of the unconscious mind. It’s the deeply buried beliefs we carry that are rooted in our earliest functioning and guide much of our behavior. What we consciously want and what we believe in our unconscious can often be quite different. This is the split that trips us up — the difference between our conscious thoughts, who we want to be / how we want to behave (example: calm and relaxed) versus our unconscious beliefs, often distorted beliefs based on early fears that came into being when we had needs that went unmet (ex: “I’m all alone in the world and am therefore unsafe.” This could be a common early belief for someone who was born into an overwhelmed household in which the parent(s) was unable to adequately show love and nurturing to the infant / child.) The person in this example is going to appear to be both the calm and relaxed person up front, and also the uptight person who is craving attention when the going gets tough, depending on whether or not she is functioning from the conscious or unconscious mind.Surprisingly, much of our behavior is a product of the unconscious mind. We are often functioning from our unconscious once we relax into a relationship and stop following preconceived ideas of how we ought to behave, or functioning from our idealized self. We are also quickly thrown into unconscious behavior as well as thought processes the moment we get triggered by a person or situation and drop into old functioning patterns.What exactly is our unconscious mind? Basically the individual mind is made up of three storage containers, consciousness — what we are aware of, subconscious — what we could become aware of with the right reminders or shift of focus, and unconscious — what we are not consciously aware of and is difficult to access with our conscious mind. (For more information on states of consciousness, see our blog from 8/7/15).A large part of psychotherapy is about becoming conscious of our patterns of behavior that block us from living life in the context of healthy, satisfying relationships and being able to successfully achieve our goals. Therefore, emotional / relational healing involves diving down into the unconscious in order to retrieve material that guides us in our healing. How do we access the unconscious mind in order to learn from it? Interesting question with a variety of answers… The unconscious mind is communicating with us on a regular basis, the trick is learning how to listen and read its cues. It does not speak to us in our everyday language of words. The unconscious mind speaks to us through symbols, dreams, images, emotions, felt memories involving our senses, relaxed awareness and triggers.Learning to interpret the cues of unconscious mind is a process, and requires only a little confidence in your creative ability to interpret symbols and practice. There are a variety of well-worn paths to tuning into your unconscious for healing. Meditation is among the best, as it is a practice that teaches you to move into a relaxed awake state in which your awareness shifts out of your thinking mind into your expansive mind, and is thus an easy place to receive messages from your unconscious in the form of symbols, physical sensations, etc. Meditation is also a great partner to pair with any of the following practices you can do on your own: art in any form, free flowing journaling, dream journaling, or simply being in nature. Once you open yourself to receiving messages from your unconscious, you’ll be surprised at how easily they come. In addition to this do-it-yourself-style of increasing your awareness and learning from your unconscious as a path to healing and wholeness, professional assistance on this path is also available through psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, art therapy, etc, and is often incredibly helpful.At our practice, Sacred Healing Journey, we offer a monthly group meditation in which we assist participants in processing symbols and messages. Join our Facebook community for more tips on this and similar topics.Lynn Bos, LCSWContact us at CherylandLynn@sacredhealingjourney.com if you have questions or would like more information.