Unfortunately human beings are not wired to be conscious of more than one thing at the same time. People can multi-task, but they can only be conscious of one task at a time, while the other tasks remain in the darkness of the subconscious. So for instance, while you are reading these words, consciously, your senses are still receiving information from other stimuli, which your consciousness is completely ignoring. Your clothes are touching your skin. Isn't your sense of touch perceiving stimulus caused by your body's contact with your clothes and firing up electronic messages to your brain to make it aware? It appears as though your skin and your sense of touch can be switched off by you. But what happens is, because your clothes are still on you, and because your sense of touch continues to report the same message to your brain incessantly, your brain redirects those messages to your subconscious – the part of your self that can be conscious of more than one thing, hundreds of things, at the same time, but you yourself are unconscious of it. For if you were, it would no longer be in the subconscious.
To explain it another way, consider these words your eyes are looking at right now. The words in the line above and in the line below to this line you are reading are still being captured by the cameras in your eyes. But only this line is being transmitted to your consciousness, while all others above and below it are automatically directed to your subconscious. So let's say you want to beat the system and be conscious of several lines at the same time. Go ahead and try. You simply can't. If you shift your consciousness to the above or below lines, you will lose consciousness of this line. Moreover, your eyes are not only seeing these words, but so many other objects within the scope of your biological cameras – colors and shapes that your eyes do perceive, but which are sent to your subconscious bin. These colors and shapes, in addition to the sounds and smells all around you, enter your subconscious simultaneously and they have an effect on you. The mood you are in is created by chemical compounds, which in turn are manipulated by your subconscious as well as the way you have been wired (your DNA code). But you wouldn't notice unless you were able to shift your consciousness towards them.
The subconscious is constantly open, receiving (stimuli), and running, even while we are asleep. Although it may appear convincing that we are able to switch off our senses, like say the sense of touch when it comes to our clothes or a wrist watch we are wearing, in fact our nerves continue to fire up the neural messages that are then interpreted by the brain, such as the texture, weight, friction, and temperature of our clothes or bracelets. So what actually happens is that the conscious side of the brain quickly ignores repetition. Repeating neural messages gradually fade away, as they get transferred automatically to the subconscious. A new and different stimulus, however, such as the landing of a fly on my arm, will fire up a new message to my brain, which would then be received by my consciousness ministry; resulting in me getting distracted from whatever else I was busy being conscious of. This is proof that the senses don't get switched off by the will.
To explain it even more clearly, take Alice for example. Alice's most favorite mall to shop at is the one called Z Mall. When asked how many times she had been there since its opening, she couldn't recall, but guessed it must have been in the hundreds, probably closer to a 1000. But when asked if she recalls the color of the tiles near the escalators area, she went blank for a few seconds, as her eyes began to look inward searching in her memory files, trying to recreate the entire escalator area scene. She then began to guess out loud with a rising tone, indicating uncertainty: "Green? Dark green? I want to say dark green, I don't know why. I think it's dark green, or like a gray, greenish gray." Why was Alice not able to remember the white tiles around the escalator area, when she had passed them hundreds of times? The reason is very simple: her consciousness was directed at shops, people, sounds, smells, and flavors... but never at those white tiles.
If you drive a car, you will recall a certain day when you seemed to have been driving on auto-pilot, where you were originally heading to your friend's house, only to find yourself arriving at your work place. Or you get up and walk to another room in your home and when you get there you can't remember why you wanted to go there in the first place. Or how about the time you walked into your house to quickly use the bathroom and grab a DVD you left on the coffee table, but then on your way out you couldn't find the door keys. "But where did they go? I just had them with me two minutes ago! I opened the door with them!" You check your pockets about twenty times, while you try to replay the movie of you coming into your house two minutes ago to see where you might have put the keys. You even go back to the front door and re-enact the entire scene and scan with your eyes where you could have put the keys. Obviously you did not put it in the freezer because you clearly remember you did not enter the kitchen! Or did you? "Maybe on the table?" No. "Must be near the DVDs or... in the bathroom?" You think of this, while your hands are checking your pockets for the eleventh time. As a matter of fact, the door key was in your door. You had unlocked the door but did not remove the key from the lock as you rushed in.
The explanation to all the above examples, once again, is that you were unconscious of your actions. When you were driving, your consciousness took a long ride through memory lane, and it was your subconscious that was behind the steering wheel, heading to the most impressionable destination. And when you entered your home, your consciousness was busy searching for the DVD, while the task of opening the door was delegated to your subconscious. This also happens to be the reason why whenever we try to remember the past, we are overwhelmed by the feeling of how fast "time flies." In fact, the past is just as long as it really has been, but our conscious minds have a hard time recalling every minute of it, because there were too many relatively insignificant minutes that our conscious minds decided it was worthless to store in our long-term memories. The subconscious records everything it receives, but how much of it is saved in short-term memory and how much of it in the long-term? It is really hard to say. For example, can you recall what you had for lunch last week? Try last month. But then on the other hand, one day a floral smell could jar your memory of something you haven't thought about for decades. It was forgotten, but then magically remembered upon being properly stimulated.
It gets more magical than this. People who type relatively fast are not consciously thinking of which key to press. In fact, if they were to consciously think of each key they are pressing, they would be typing at a much slower pace. The act of fast typing is assigned to the subconscious, which is clearly far more potent, while consciousness is cleared for thinking of what to type. Musicians, too, cannot perform so well if they were to consciously move their fingers on any musical instrument. But after a certain point, a creative writer or a great musician would frequently reach a level of flow where not only are their fingers moving subconsciously, but so are the tunes they choose to play and the words they choose to compose. This is what artists call inspiration; as though the words and the music are coming from something outside of them, when in fact they are coming from the subconscious. People who try to think hard of what to write, end up writing poorly, or nothing at all (writer's block). To improve one's writing, or music, all one has to do is write/play more, until the subconscious takes over. That's what's meant by "practice makes perfect."
The same happens in sports. The main strategy is consciously thought out before the game begins. But once they are in the game, most of what happens is determined in the subconscious. Consciousness is too slow to win a game of ping pong or football. You notice that those who perform poorly in a friendly game of basketball are those who, when they get the ball, don't know what to do with it. Pass it? And pass to whom? Aim and shoot? They just stand there, with the ball in their hands, looking around in every direction and not knowing what course of action to take. It's not that they lack the fast reflexes, but the experience gained from practice. Thus, their subconscious fear of being ridiculed or yelled at for making a mistake bubbles up to the surface (to the conscious) until it paralyzes them.
If you have been coached in any sport, whether it was tennis or karate, you would know very well that becoming better involves repetition of certain moves. You repeat a particular move, over and over, a hundred times, a thousand times, until it becomes a natural reflex, i.e. until it becomes a part of your subconscious. So when you are in a competition, you don't have to consciously think of what to do. Rather, your body does what it's supposed to do without your conscious instruction. This is no different from learning how to type or write, how to play a musical instrument, how to paint, or how to read. Although your eyes are focusing on this particular line right now, your subconscious is still playing a major role: the role of decoding these fuzzy arrangements of the 26 alphabets. In fcat, you can stlil cotniune raeding and udnersatnding all tehse msipleled wrods here bcaesue yuor brain is dceoding the wrods using yuor subcnosouis based on preivous laerning. A young child would have a problem reading the previous sentence because they haven't read enough; haven't practiced enough to read using their subconscious, which is clearly faster and certainly necessary to understand deeper context. The more books you have read, the more you are going to understand what you read next.
Our fears, our hopes, our desires, and our memories are lodged in the world of the subconscious. Consciousness is simply the act of directing the spotlight on any particular thought. When one says that a certain thought is buried deep in the subconscious, it means that the person is unlikely to visit that particular thought. Nevertheless, that thought, whether it's a memory or a feeling, is awake, active, and affecting our behavior and the way we think and feel at any moment in the present. We are, of course, unaware of this, unless we consciously think of it. But like I said earlier, since you are only able to be conscious of one thing at a time, to turn your consciousness to the cogs and wheels of your thoughts would make you unconscious of those thoughts.
June 15, 2013.