In a nutshell – everything you need to know about the mind

Knowing how our own mind works is crucial for a truly happy and productive life. So what is the mind? Is it not just another word for ‘brain’?

No. The mind is not a physical thing like the brain. It is an activity which extends into every cell in the body and the energy field surrounding it. It contains the imprints that form your personality, including your habits, interests, memories, ideas and beliefs. It is shaped by your learning and the environment, and ultimately fashions the way you live.

The mind operates at many levels, some of which we are aware and others we are not. These levels of awareness include:

  • The conscious mind
  • The subconscious mind
  • The Collective Unconscious
  • The Superconscious

Each influences the others as information constantly flows between them. However, the deeper, subconscious levels are many times more powerful. The deeper we go into the mind, the closer we get to our spiritual core. It’s like peeling away the layers of an onion until we reveal the innate Intelligence that lies at the centre.

Understanding the mind how its various levels interact with each other is important because it enables us to become more effective in our daily lives.

The Conscious Mind

The mind has often been compared to an iceberg, with a small portion floating above the water level and a bulky mass hidden beneath. The conscious mind is the ‘visible’ part. It is the small fraction of mental activity of which we are aware in any moment, and includes the facility of reasoning also known as the intellect.

We know the conscious mind as an ongoing conversation in our heads, one thought following another, and another. When we pay repeated attention to a thought it filters through to the subconscious and produces record-like grooves which play over and over again until the thought becomes a habit.

The conscious mind has only a fraction of the capacity of the subconscious, but it plays a major role in our lives. We can consciously feed new patterns into the subconscious, creating new habits, weakening old habits and replacing them with new. Similarly, we can weaken old habits by withdrawing our attention from them until.

The intellect

The intellect is the reasoning part of the conscious mind. It gathers, sorts and uses information, calculates, decides, analyses and makes judgements.

The intellect is a powerful resource, but is greatly influenced by childhood programming and cultural conditioning. Thinking habits we learned as children do not always serve us well in adulthood. We must be careful: wisdom cannot always be deduced by logic.

The subconscious mind

A vast number of mental activities take place below our threshold of awareness. These include:

  • Regulating bodily functions such as body temperature, absorbing oxygen and nutrients into the bloodstream, waste disposal, the endocrine system (which monitors and controls the hormones), maintaining the immune system and healing. The subconscious normally acts separately from the conscious mind when carrying out these activities.
  • The subconscious has vast data storage and handling facilities which record everything we perceive, do, think, say and dream.
  • An instinctive goal-seeking apparatus, like a kind of automatic pilot which guides us in the direction of the predominant thoughts and mental images. This is the mechanism behind the so-called ‘Law’ of Attraction.

The subconscious prevents the conscious mind from suffocating in its own thoughts. Can you imagine continually being aware of every memory you ever had, or having to remind yourself to digest your food? Life would be intolerable, wouldn’t it?

All the material in the subconscious is capable of being brought into consciousness. For example, when we dream, the barriers between the conscious and subconscious open and subconscious material drifts into consciousness. It also opens up when we are daydreaming or in an altered state such as hypnosis.

The subconscious mind is responsive to the will of the conscious and has no capacity to think independently. Self-talk acts as a form of instruction to the subconscious, and like a faithful servant, it follows its instructions precisely.

The conditioned mind

The term ‘conditioned mind’ describes those mental activities, both conscious and subconscious, which are the result of previous learning, including the patterns which were programmed into us as children. If we allow the conditioned mind to dominate our thinking, we find it impossible to break away from old thinking patterns and behaviours.

Replacing harmful conditioning with new, positive thoughts is vital for personal growth. Once you know the technique, with practice you can eliminate any unwanted habit from your thinking and behaviour.

The Collective Unconscious

Individual minds appear to be part of a ‘group mind,’ a pool of knowledge and wisdom passed down the generations through our genes and cultural conditioning. This is the Collective Unconscious, a term coined by the great psychologist, Dr Carl Gustav Jung.

There is a great deal of circumstantial evidence for this. Throughout history, societies from around the globe who had no physical contact with each other made leaps of progress at about the same time. There is also evidence of this in the animal kingdom. Leading naturalists believe this is evidence of a psychic force connecting them.

There is little doubt that one mind is able to communicate with others. We don’t understand how this works, but it has been investigated and verified many times.

The Superconscious Mind

The Superconscious is the intuitive part of the mind. It taps into a source of knowing and inspiration beyond the world of the five senses. It is not restricted by logical thinking, nor is it subject to the same perceptual errors, nor is it bound by past experiences or cultural conditioning. No known limit can be placed on its activities.


How do all these levels of awareness related to each other and a better life?

  • Take charge of the conscious mind by being aware of your thoughts and deliberately changing negative to positive with intent.
  • Your empowering new thought patterns then permeate the subconscious mind, which reflects back in your conscious thinking and behaviour.
  • You’ll also be able to examine the impact of the conditioned mind and collective unconscious on you and use your intellect to accept or reject ideas you like or dislike.
  • You’ll also learn how to subdue or silence interference from the conscious and subconscious minds to allow the Superconscious to make itself known.

Big stuff! It takes practice, but once you’re mastered it your life will never be the same again!

©David Lawrence Preston, 2.11.2016

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Creativity and intuitive ideas

 ‘Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to look after them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.’

John Steinbeck

There are many ways of generate creative ideas. The first uses the mind as an information and data processing device, reacting to the environment to create new associations, connections and solutions. The others use the deeper parts of the mind as a source of inspiration and ideas.

Here are some ways of coming up with creative ideas by accessing your inherent intuitive capabilities:

1. The stimulus-response method

Place yourself in a sensory-rich environment – one which stimulates and arouses the senses. For isntance, mix with lively people; they spark off new ideas. When stimuli act on the senses, they set off a chain reaction in which each thought sparks off new ideas.

For example, what do you do if you’re stuck for something to buy your mother for her birthday? You could tackle it in a logical way: make a list of the things she likes, cross off the items you know she already has, whittle it down to two or three, and then go to the shops. The chances are, though, your range of items would be rather limited.


  • Wander through your local shopping centre, looking in shop windows and visit her favourite shops.
  • Ask Dad for his ideas.
  • Think about what other people of her age with her interests enjoy.
  • Browse the internet and look through home-shopping catalogues, newspapers and magazines.
  • Recall what gave her the most pleasure when you were a child.

One idea may lead to another and you’ll eventually find something suitable, maybe something you would never have thought of otherwise.

The stimulus-response method works best if you put yourself in a child-like frame of mind and free yourself from rational, adult thinking. Fun and laughter stimulate the brain to come up with new ideas.

2. Ask your Superconscious

Ask your Superconscious for help. Relax mind and body into the Alpha State and focus on a specific question. Be patient; your mind will carry on working on it even when you’ve turned your attention to other things.

3. Sitting for Ideas

Allow an hour for this method. Go to a quiet place. Dim the lighting. Have a notebook and pen ready. Then relax your body and sit patiently, ask a question and wait for the answer to pop into your head. Jot down any ideas that come before you leave the room.

Some of the greatest minds have this and used it to the full. Thomas Edison, for instance, used to sit in a chair clutching as small object. When he was so relaxed that the object fell from his hands, he asked his inner self a question and waited. He claimed the method was virtually foolproof. He remarked, ‘When you become quiet, it just dawns on you.’

In similar vein, when they were stuck for ideas Albert Einstein often sat staring at the clouds and eccentric artist Salvador Dali relaxed on his chaise-longue clutching a spoon. The biochemist, August Kekule, claimed to have discovered the structure of the benzene ring whilst nodding off in front of his fire.

4. Sleeping on it

There’s plenty of evidence that the sleeping mind solves problems more efficiently than the waking mind. To use your problem solving ability this way, write down your problem, read through it just before you go to sleep, and ask your Superconscious to work on it. Keep a pen and pad at your bedside: you may find the answer comes to you during the night.

However, you don’t have to wait until nightfall or put aside special relaxation time to tap into your intuitive mind. Many good ideas may come when you’re walking in the country, relaxing in the garden or lying on a beach. While your conscious mind is idling, your unconscious is busy. Carry a small notebook with you so you can record any precious gems.

5. Tune In!

These and many other examples suggest that there is a deeper level of wisdom which we can access when we quieten the conscious mind by stilling the thoughts. Imagine it as a TV station transmitting 24 hours a day. If you switched on your TV and all you got was a blank picture, would you immediately blame the TV station? No, first you would you check your set and check it’s properly tuned in. Intuition is much the same. Plug in, switch on and listen. Then act upon it.

In truth, what marks out the most creative people is not so much the ideas they come up with but what they do with them. Have you ever had an idea for a product, story, service, play or film etc. and failed to act on it, only for someone else to launch it and make a fortune? Do you ever look at something someone else has produced and think, ‘I could have done/made/written that!’?

What’s the difference? Simple: they trusted their intuition and acted on it – you didn’t!


©David Lawrence Preston, 28.7.2016

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How to access your Inner Power

You have a wonderful power within you.

Consider the moment of your birth. At the instant your umbilical cord was cut, you became a separate human being, full of possibilities, charged with spiritual energy. You had within you the seeds of everything you needed to build a happy and fulfilling life. All you needed was someone to encourage your natural birthright to burst forth.

Then what happened?

Did anyone explain how you could make of your life whatever you willed? Were you encouraged to feel like the wonderful miracle of creation that you truly were? Did your adult caretakers nurture your self-esteem, helping you use your innate talents to the full?

Whether they did or not, your Inner Power is always there, just as it always was. It nurtures and sustains you, but the way you conduct yourself ultimately determines how you use it and consequently the kind of life you create for yourself. Everything you do and say has consequences. Greed, envy, selfishness and cruelty are all too much a part of modern life: you don’t have to be a part of them.

It originates in the way you think, imagine and feel.

What you think, feel, and how you speak originates in your ‘inner world’. They condition your behaviour, and attract events and circumstances into your life according to your state of consciousness. Your life is a reflection of whatever you hold in your mind.

It is non-physical, i.e. spiritual.

It has nothing to do with physical attributes. If this were not true, elderly, impaired or diminutive individuals such as Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa would have made little impact.

You will never realise your full potential as long as you think of yourself primarily as a physical body with a brain. You must go beyond all that to that part of you which ‘knows’ at a much deeper level.

You can access it through your Superconscious Mind

The Superconscious oversees the Conscious and Unconscious Minds and communicates with you through intuition and synchronicity. When you are conversant with it, it endows you with higher-level wisdom, creativity and inspiration, peace of mind, and an exhilarating sense of freedom

There is an ever-present Intelligence that responds when we direct our attention and our thoughts to it. It is the invisible ‘energy’ or ‘intelligence’ that governs the universe; the ‘life-force’ which suffuses everyone and everything, and connects us to each other.

Attune yourself to Higher Consciousness….

The Superconscious is powerful, but only because it has a direct line to something even more significant: Universal Consciousness.

Do I mean God? No. The idea that something or someone is ‘up there’, outside of ourselves, looking down on us, belongs to a bygone age.

Many religious people refer to this life-force as ‘God’, but J. Krishnamurti, a great spiritual teacher from the last century, a man familiar with both the Eastern and Western traditions, said, ‘There is only one God as manifested in you, but I am not going to use the word ‘God’. I prefer to call this ‘Life’.’

God/Life is within you. You can feel it pulsating in every part of your being. It is present in rivers and oceans, it makes the stars shine, the Earth rotate on its axis, flowers bloom, trees grow and fish swim. It heals the sick, and without it, everything dies.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote,

‘Whilst everything around me is ever-changing, ever-dying, there is underlying all that changes a living power that is changeless, that holds all together, that creates, dissolves and re-creates.’

A student once asked the teacher, ‘How can I find God?’ The teacher replied, ‘How does a fish find the ocean?’ You are living in an ocean of consciousness. It is all around you and within you, just as a wave is part of the ocean. Like sunlight, which radiates throughout the solar system, it is available to everyone.

Love, peace and happiness are not to be found in faraway places or unusual states of consciousness, but here, right now, if you are willing to receive them.

…. by having some quiet time to yourself each day….

Make a priority of having regular quiet time for you. When you commune with your Inner Power in silence, your spirituality assumes a progressively greater role in your life. Regular practice of prayer and meditation makes a profound difference.

Affirmative prayer is simply a conversation with your Inner Power.  Many people think prayer is a waste of time, because they have tried it in the past, felt their prayers went unanswered, and gave up. If this is your experience, it is probably for one of two reasons.

  • Either you have not listened hard enough for an answer because that still, small voice within was drowned out by mental clutter.
  • Or your prayers were answered, but either you didn’t notice, or it happened in a way you didn’t expect.

…. then miracles might just happen.

When you make prayer and meditation part of your daily life, everything flows more smoothly. You realise that, from a spiritual point of view, the best thing that could happen to you is happening right now. Learn as much as you can from it and let your Spiritual Self be your guide. Don’t expect miracles to happen, but equally, don’t be surprised if they do.

Allow this power to guide and support you….

The idea of acting ‘as if’ the power of the universe is flowing through you is not an abstract idea, because this energy is as real as you are – indeed, it is you. Until you fully grasp this, you are like a light bulb without current.

You can light up yourself and the world around you, but only once you are plugged in and switched on. You can receive spiritual power whenever you have a use for it.

Universal Consciousness constantly emits creative energy like the sun gives warmth and light. As the Indian teacher, Sai Baba, said:

‘The rays of the sun fall equally on all who are directed in their way. If someone is behind an obstacle, or in a room, he will receive only part of the light. Cultivating the higher spiritual yearnings is like coming out from the confinement of a room into the sun’s rays.’

Your task is to facilitate the flow of this universal energy through you and get out into the sunlight! How? The basic toolkit is in the letters I-T-I-A.

  • Intention: Aspire to your highest potential, aiming at nothing less than completeness and harmony. As long as your intentions are pure and focussed, it’s there for you.
  • Think: Cast off your negative beliefs. Shake off the habits and thinking patterns that have constrained you, clear away the rubbish you have gathered inside you, and raise your thoughts to the underlying Intelligence that governs all our lives. When you look for happiness and fulfilment in a higher way of thinking, anger, fear and anxiety fade into nothing.
  • Imagine: Imagine yourself permeated with this Inner Power, attracting whatever you need into your life as naturally as breathing. Imagine yourself as a giant solar battery absorbing energy from the Source, this energy flowing through you and put to good use in the service of your fellow beings. Imagine that tranquil centre within you radiating energy and drawing others towards you, seeking the same peace of mind and sense of purpose that you have.
  • Action: Put your ideas into action. Allow the invisible hand of Universal Consciousness to guide you. Trusting to this degree may be scary at first, but you know the reason for this is merely your programming and conditioning. The more you use it, the more available it is. Persevere and you will change yourself, your life, and the lives of those around you.

Ironically it is not the achievement of your goals that brings happiness, but the sense of purpose and direction they bring. If you succeed – great! If not, at least you’ve enjoyed trying.

…. and you will be happy, peaceful and fulfilled and have the courage to follow your dreams.

No words can express how you will feel once you have awakened the infinite power within you. You realise that all along there was something wonderful within you, and you did not know it. But now you do know it. You are greater than you knew, and all is well.

©David Lawrence Preston,

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Intuition – your infallible inner guidance

In his novel, ‘Angels and Demons’, Dan Brown writes:

‘Remarkable solutions to seemingly impossible problems often occur in moments of clarity. It’s what gurus call ‘higher consciousness’. Biologists call it altered states, psychologists super-sentience. Sometimes divine revelations simply mean adjusting your brain to hear what your heart already knows.’

A common term for higher consciousness is ‘intuition’. Intuition is an inner sense that can quickly reach accurate conclusions from limited data. It is often referred to as ‘the sixth sense’.

Some argue that it is simply the sum total of all our learning experiences coming to our aid when we need it. This can happen when an experienced doctor immediately pinpoints the root cause of a patient’s problems without having to go through a sequence of steps. They draw on their deep knowledge and with experience an expert’s hunches get better and better.

Others argue that the human body and brain subconsciously pick up signals from the environment which are so small they are not noticed consciously. If someone is lying, for instance, their body language and voice quality are subtly altered.

Many neuro-scientists believe that our minds exist only inside our brains, with consciousness located in the cerebral cortex. However, brain activity cannot account for the overwhelming evidence of intuition, telepathy and other so-called ‘psychic’ abilities. Not even the most rigorous investigators have been able to find a physical explanation for how Uri Geller is able to do what he does, yet his abilities are beyond dispute.

Psychic phenomena are ‘logically’ impossible. They ought not to happen, and yet they do. There’s obviously a lot more to it than can currently be explained by science alone.

How well developed is your intuition?

‘If a man (sic) can quietly listen to the voice of the unconscious and understand that the power works through him, that he is not in control, then he is on the way to a genuine development of his personality.’

Dr Carl Gustav Jung

Intuition is a fundamental survival mechanism. It not a gift that some have and some don’t – it is possessed by everyone. In animals, we call it instinct.

Survival intuition is located primarily the solar plexus, although you can feel it throughout your whole body. If you choose not to follow it, you have to rationalise why not.

The most important thing when developing your intuition is to know you have it. Do you use it confidently? Are you suspicious of it? Do you know you have it and try to ignore it?

The problem is, most of us (especially males) are systematically taught to ignore and/or mistrust it from an early age. We’re encouraged to put names to things, to count, calculate, analyse and intellectualise – all left-brained functions. We are taught to examine the evidence, and if there isn’t any that can be measured, seen and touched, mistrust it.

If you don’t use your intuition, like a muscle it contracts and gets weaker. Our intuitive and creative abilities are a natural part of us, and the more we use them, the more reliable they become.

Intuitive Problem Solving

When your intuition starts to develop, you’ll find you:

  • Improve your decision making abilities
  • Tune in to people, even when meeting them for the first time
  • Solve problems more easily
  • Generate new, more creative/ innovative ideas
  • Become more spontaneous

Let’s suppose something has been praying on your mind. You’ve tried to think it through, perhaps even attempted a few practical solutions, but nothing has worked.

Now try this:

1.      Be clear on the problem

Do your homework. Gather as much information as you can. Consider what is stopping you from solving it. Feed all this into your Superconscious data processor. We tend to have the most reliable hunches about what we know best. Careful homework prepares the ground and stimulates intuition and insight.

 2.      Immerse yourself in the problem

 Discuss it with people who you think may be able to help. Write down all the possible solutions you can think of. Try a few and monitor the results.

3.      Put it to one side

So far, you’ve use purely left-brained thinking, but this can lead you only so far. There comes a time when you have to make a leap of faith. That’s when you put the problem to one side and turn to something else. Affirm that the answer will come at the right time, then let go.

Do something else for a while and see what happens. Go for a walk, read a book, tidy the house, clean the car. Distance yourself from the problem for a while, allow your intuition free rein and the answer will come.

 4.      Ask your intuitive mind to help

If the problem proves really stubborn, consciously ask your intuitive mind for help. Ask a question as you’re dozing off at night, with an air of expectancy that the answer will be revealed to you in your dreams or will pop into your head in the morning. You may find that you wake up knowing exactly what to do.

 5.      Use the Alpha State

If you’re still not getting anywhere, put time aside, relax into Alpha and ask for help. The answer is unlikely to pop into your head there and then, but sooner or later it will come. Keep your wits about you. Intuition is rarely loud and insistent – more like a whisper, a gentle nudge in the right direction.

6.      Write down the answer

When an answer comes, write it down. You may think you’ll remember, but don’t take the risk. Then try it out. Even if it’s not yet 100% correct, action can clarify the issue and lead you to the solution.

7.      Stay open

Be open to the possibility that more answers may come. Trust your experience, but don’t be naive. Check out your intuitions before you go off and do something rash.

‘Pure’ intuition is nothing less than your spiritual self communicating with you. Ignore it at your peril! You cannot stop intuition flowing once you’ve opened the tap, but you have to put your intellectual inclinations on hold and go with your deepest feelings. Once you’ve started, it grows.

Intuitively-intelligent people know that guidance is available and that solutions to seemingly intractable problems come when they have turned their attention to something else.

‘Pure’ intuition is ignored at your peril! Put your intellectual inclinations on hold and go with your deepest feelings. Then it gets stronger.


©David Lawrence Preston, 1.7.2016

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