“I admit thoughts influence the body.” – Albert Einstein
This week, I’d like to cover the subconscious and the role it plays in directing our bodies, including how it can help or hurt our ability to get pregnant. I’d like to cover the definition of the subconscious and how the subconscious impacts our bodies. Stay tuned for next week when we talk about suggestions to apply this information to your TTC efforts.
To put it simply, the subconscious is and what creates our pre-programmed perception of a situation. Every single life event – especially when we are young and our brains are like sponges – gets stored into our subconscious. Such information form our perception of our current life events, based upon these memories – both good and bad.
Perceptions or “mindsets” can be dangerous – like the one we probably learned at a young age, that our bodies and minds are completely separate from one another. Because of this “dangerous” mindset, we hear stories of patients who improve when they move to the more “hopeful” part of the hospital, and die when they move back to the “hopeless” ward. The failure to thrive syndrome is another example that the mind and body are not separate. This is seen played out in institutions where babies without adequate cuddling and stimulation are physically stunted in their growth.
The context and “mindset” play a key role in this mind and body connection…and I believe this is where the subconscious comes into play. As we talked about last week, our cells are directly influenced by what our senses perceive. If there is danger, our cells instantly change as blood is rushed from our viscera (body cavity) into our limbs to quickly move.
But here is where it gets interesting. If something happens in our life that is neutral – like seeing a red car driving down the street – most of us perceive that with little or not consequence. But if someone was in an accident with a red car, seeing that same exact red car could stimulate a whole host of biochemical reactions from the stimulus in our subconscious. The subconscious in this case learned that red cars are dangerous, and the flight-or-fight stress response took over. What could have been received by the body as “neutral,” mixed with our subconscious it becomes reclassified as “scary” without you even being aware of the difference.
There are some researchers who call the subconscious the “software” that runs our brains and bodies. It has memory and it has been coded in a certain way from our experiences, thoughts and past actions. However, if that software has been encoded improperly, or inhibits us in certain ways, then what can we do about it?
How many times – while in the depths of my TTC despair – would I see women pregnant (they seemed to materialize overnight!). The pregnant woman is “neutral” for most people – but of course mixed with my perception of the information (or my subconscious) – it gets reclassified as jealousy, anger and other negative emotions filtered down throughout my entire being. Like the patients moved to the “hopeless” ward, this negative reaction had a biochemical result in my body and in my cells.
Ellen Langer in her book Mindfulness, reports on endless studies showing that when you change the perception (subconscious memory) of a situation, then the brain and body change as a result. She has completed numerous studies on the effects of aging and her results are astounding. If you change the subconscious patterns of an elderly patient for example, by telling them they are in greater control over their lives, they literally live longer (Ch 6, Mindful Aging).
I hope to next week cover what we can do about changing – or improving – our levels of perception and our subconscious which can literally improve our health, well-being and – YES! – improve our fertility!
What are your experiences? What comes in as neutral but gets translated as scary, threatening, or something quite different after you subconsciously react to a situation?