The Conscious Mind, The Subconscious Mind & The Non-Thinking Mind

The MindYou are what you think right?

Well, maybe not.

Have you ever found yourself walking down the street and suddenly you catch yourself talking to yourself…out loud?

If so, you were being controlled by your thinking mind.

The thinking mind is that part of us that decides, judges, makes decisions, strategizes’ and ‘acts’.

It is in a constant state of chatter and judgement, it is the incessant dialogue going on inside your mind, re-enforcing habitual modes of thinking. Buddhism sums it up in one word = Ego.

Psychologists call it ‘The Conscious Self’.

I like to simplify it further and call it the ‘Thinking Mind’.

I guess the traditional way of interpreting the Thinking Mind from the Non-Thinking mind is through the Freudian/Jung interpretation of the Conscious and Sub-Conscious mind.

Through this interpretation, the Conscious mind is the part of us that has its focus on things such as the current sensations, perceptions, memories, feelings and fantasies that we are currently aware of.

Your Subconscious mind is like a reservoir of thoughts, feelings and memories that you are unaware of, yet which continually influence your behaviours and experiences.

The Conscious mind is associated with the frontal cortex of the brain highly. It is highly creative in all aspects of perception. It can even access the future (i.e. it will attempt to perceive what a future event will feel like) or delve into the past in order to access or re-experience an event. It can also engage in complex problem-solving.

The Conscious mind is where we live most of the time. It is a highly addictive place to spend ones’ time because there is so much going on there. But it does have flaws.

A psychologist will tell you that the Subconscious mind is where habitual thoughts, long term memories, conflicting beliefs, values and repressed emotions are stored.

I suppose psychotherapists tend to focus on the negatives of the Subconscious mind because they are regularly encountering people who are experiencing problems with it and who want to be cured of its ill effects. Psychotherapists attempt to cure people by engaging with the troubled individual’s Conscious Mind. This is an exercise that can take years to reach any kind of breakthrough (if at all) as there is a Conscious Mind standing in the way defending itself and blocking access to the Subconscious Mind.

Rather than trying to cure an upset Subconscious mind through communication with the Conscious Mind (the ego), I feel it far more beneficial to communicate with the Subconscious Mind directly.

It is important to recognise that the Subconscious Mind is still Consciousness, it’s just a different layer, it’s a deeper, quieter layer of Consciousness.

Through certain techniques one can get in touch with ones’ Subconscious and find out what it really wants from you and life.

With practice, you can even go beyond the Subconscious Mind and reach an even higher state of consciousness – The non-thinking mind.


The Thinking Mind – The Ego

This Thinking Mind of ours can sometimes extend its usefulness to the detriment of the host’s ‘overall mind’.

In a stressful environment it often takes the lead and begins to work overtime. This can often cause us to experience suffering and unhappiness.

The perception of the Thinking Mind, is that reality is independent of one’s own experience and that it’s the ‘world out there’ or circumstances that cause us to suffer, when in more cases than not, it’s in fact our own Thinking Mind that is the cause of our suffering.

The Thinking Mind has the ability to make us unhappy by taking a stance over certain opinions and judgements. These judgments and opinions are constantly reinforced via an internal dialogue that goes on inside our heads.

The dialogue can become so incessant and over-extended that in some cases this ‘internal voice’ can drive some to insanity or even suicide.

For some of us, the dialogue inside our heads can be useful (providing it is a positively reinforcing dialogue that is being played out) and can benefit us. It can drive us on to succeed at something.

But for some of us, it gets out-of-control and works against us.

I am one such person for whom their mind got out of control.

It got so bad at times that it produced suffering.

I used to call my Thinking Mind my ‘Drunken Monkey’. This drunken monkey was metaphorically perched on my shoulder whispering its judgements permeating my mind, often humorous, it was for the most part, a contributor to unhappy thoughts and a misery maker.

I came to learn that this was just my ego, and once recognised, I began to find ways to control it.

The ego is a master at being judgemental. It can persuade you that you are the master of universe as much as it can convince you that you are a worthless human being.

The key is to recognise this dialogue for what it is and for the most part ignore it, or filter it from the rest of your mind.

Keeping control over the Thinking Mind without specialist tools is extremely difficult.


Tools that can be used to control the Thinking Mind:

    • Meditation
    • Drugs/Medication/Ayawaska
    • Music/Trance
    • Prayer
    • Make physical changes to the brain. i.e. Surgery



The Subconscious Mind is far more subtle than the Conscious Mind andis hardly ever heard (except in dreams maybe) because the Thinking mind is always so incessantly loud.

The Non-Thinking Mind is subtler still as by its nature, it doesn’t think.


The Conscious Mind, The Subconscious Mind and The Non-Thinking Mind

So what’s the difference?

Simply put; The Conscious and Subconscious mind make up the Thinking Mind. The Thinking mind is Thought and the Non-Thinking mind is not thought.

The Conscious Mind is thought, thoughts you’re aware of. The Subconscious Mind is also thought, although you may not be aware of these thoughts as they are not being consciously accessed in your state of present awareness. The Non-Thinking mind is not thought – it’s an experience.


The other day I was sat watching nature documentary on TV. In this particular episode the film makers were focusing on birds of prey.

In this particular episode the camera was following three recently hatched eagle chicks who were sharing a nest. The parent bird frequently returned to the nest in order to feed the chicks.

The parent bird was always drawn to the chick that made the most noise.

With more nourishment, the noisy chick grew stronger than the other two quieter chicks. It began to dominate the nest and as it grew ever stronger, it pushed the quieter chicks to the edge of the nest where they became marginalized.

The two smaller chicks couldn’t compete for their parents attention because the bigger noisier chick was dominating its parents attention. The smaller quieter chicks began to give their struggle for survival and their fate was eventually sealed by the bigger, noisier eagle chick pecking them to death.

As sad as it was to watch, this witnessing of nature at work gave me a great insight ~ In the case of the mind, it is nearly always the Ego that makes the most ‘noise’ hence the attention of the overall mind is drawn to it and the Subconscious and Non-Thinking Mind are ignored.


The Non-Thinking Mind

The Non-Thinking Mind is pure consciousness. In order to access pure consciousness, one needs to disengage the Thinking Mind and then drop through the realm of the Sub-Conscious. Only then will one enter a state of Non-Thought.

Accessing the Non-Thinking Mind is the practice of gaining an ever purer form of Consciousness and in practical terms, the most difficult thing to do in trying to reach this state – is trying too hard to reach it.


Interpreting the Non-Thinking mind

The transformational properties that the Non-Thinking Mind gives people is so profound and so life-changing that once humans come into contact with it, they feel the need to interpret it, speak about it and write about it (just like I’m doing now :)

As the Thinking Mind (the personal ego) is unique to each individual, the Non-Thinking Mind feels more Universal.

An interpretation of the Non-Thinking Mind can only be made from the Thinking Mind, so I’ll try not to define it too much, rather I’d prefer to encourage you to experience it for yourself.

If you haven’t experienced it already, then I don’t want to pre-judge it for you by giving my personal experience of it.

All I will say, is that when you come into contact with the Universal Non-Thinking part of yourself – Pure Consciousness, you will find a moment/position of ultimate truth. The truth you find will be an experience, not a thought or an explanation.

Your Thinking Mind may feel compelled to rationalize the experience and once it does, your outlook will change.

The Non Thinking Mind is infinitely more vast than thought. Once regularly accessed, the constant stream of thought you took yourself to be, is partly replaced with an observer – Awareness itself.

The Non-Thinking Mind is the space from which thought and emotion emerges, but is not thought or emotion itself.

It is an altogether different dimesion of consciousness, a higher state of consciousness if you like.

Through the practice of Meditation, one can access the Non-Thinking Mind.


Getting in touch with the Non-Thinking Mind

Once you have accessed the Non-Thinking Mind, you come back with something that you didn’t have before.

It almost feels like one has come in contact with a source of energy or a natural intelligence outside of the brain or body. The Buddhists have coined a great name for it… ‘oneness’.

Pure Non-Thinking Mind feels like it has no locality. When accessing the Non-Thinking Mind the physical world drops away, you aren’t even aware of your own body.

The only way to access and connect to the Universal Non-Thinking Mind is through one’s own portal – The Mind.

Awareness through the Non-Thinking Mind brings about a quality of attention unlike anything you get from thinking. In the process of non-thinking, there is obviously no effort involved. It is entirely different from concentration.

Once you have accessed the Non-Thinking Mind and come back to your Thinking Mind, choices can be made without effort as the path of truth appears without resistance or effort and solutions to problems become obvious. You bring wisdom back through your encounter with the Non-Thinking Mind

Under a complete state of awareness there is neither a thinker, speaker nor listener, there is just an observer.

There is just being.

Awareness without thought.

Once you have been in contact with the Non-Thinking Mind you will develop an Observer


What is an ‘Observer’?

The Observer is essentially a part of the Non-Thinking Mind that you have become aware of.

Once you have been in a state of Non-Thinking pure consciousness, you bring something back. That something is an Observer.  Simply put – it acts like a mirror. It reflects your Thinking Mind back at you.

The Observer doesn’t think or judge, but you can feel its presence.

The mirror it holds up to your Thinking Mind allows you to see your Thinking Mind more clearly. It allows you to see it for what it is.

Proof that an observer exists is that we can be aware that we are thinking. We can monitor our own thoughts. If there wasn’t an observer within you, you would never be aware that you were thinking, there would just be thoughts in your head and that would be you. Nothing else. The Observer goes beyond thought. It observes thought.

Remember – There is more than one eagle in the nest.


Why I don’t like to interpret the Non-Thinking Mind to much…

Regardless of how rational one believes one to be; when you have a good Meditation and obtain a deep level of transcendence, it’s hard to rationalize the experience as anything other than a spiritual one.

However, the Thinking Mind seems compelled to interpret the experience and that leads to inconsistencies of interpretation.

Because interpretation is done using the thinking mind, it is based on thought and reason. If the reasoning is acceptable as fact to other people and if enough people agree to the interpretation as truth, then a cult or religion can easily form around such an interpretation.

For those who do not interpret the experience for themselves, then there are many ‘off-the-shelf’ religions out there who are willing and able to give you their interpretation. This in turn introduces an element of control, dogma and ritual worship over the interpretation – the collective thinking mind has intervened in a process which it shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with.

The thinking mind will only serve to take one away from what one is attempting to get close to.

Rationalizing the Non-Thinking Mind using the Thinking Mind is inevitable because that is what we come back to. But to dwell on trying to interpret it is to miss the point of trying to access it.

The Non-Thinking Mind emanates from a different place to that of your Thinking Mind. Whether this is a different place within your own brain, or whether it comes from a different realm outside your brain; matters not.

What matters is that it comes from a place that is not your Thinking Mind.

The best explanation I have for the Non-Thinking mind is a presence or an observer.

Others may describe the experience as having jesus in their heart or having been touched by the hand of God.

I think people should be encouraged to have the experience for themselves and then if compelled (it’s hard not to be), label the experience as they wish.

It doesn’t matter how one interprets the experience, the important thing is to find a technique in which to access the experience.

In order for you to have an authentic experience, you must first cancel out all notions of God, Essence, Spirit or Soul or it will be impossible for you to have an authentic experience.

If you are just starting out with Meditation as a method, the best piece of advice I can give you is to have no expectations at all and keep at it regularly. Don’t give up. You will get there!

Attaining higher states of consciousness will not turn you into some kind of super human, but it will allow you to understand yourself and the situations you find yourself in much better and it will make you a happier person.

Gnothi Seauton


Thanks for Reading.

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