QUESTION: I have been struggling with the whole “conscious manifestation” thing. Is it real? As in, can we consciously create our reality by spending time and thinking about it? Funnily enough, most people around me that spout this stuff are having a hard time financially or emotionally. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. There is merit to visualization, though - I know the brain doesn’t know the difference between what it sees and what the body actually experiences, so it is often good to visualize doing something before doing it. I’ve done this for jumps while snowboarding and find that it’s much easier to land if I do. So, would you agree that visualization can help as a practice run? I’m not suggesting it affects external factors, just the mind/body relationship and producing results that are within our control.

A therapist had once pointed out to me that there was some self-hatred going on with me. I felt compelled, and still hold, that I absolutely do not hate myself. Consciously, I really enjoy who I am and find myself amusing (albeit imperfect). This is why I truly cherish time alone. I also understand that 90% of my physical body is comprised of other organisms (to which I speak during meditation, as I thank and tell them I love them). 

Lastly, I know that “I” (which sometimes blends with everything else and becomes difficult to even define or locate) am a creature of God. I don’t understand how I could unconsciously disrespect the Higher by hating an expression of It. This is something that I am obviously examining, but am struggling with accepting as truth. I don’t feel hatred for anything, so I can’t find a way to see this as part of my reality. It’s confusing because I trusted this therapist, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to work on something I don’t believe to be true. Can you shed some light on all of this?

ANSWER: Yes, of course. There is much merit to visualizations in terms of affecting the bodymind. The body can not distinguish between thoughts and reality and, as such, can and is influenced by thoughts. Professional athletes have used visualization to keep their game at its peak for many decades now. The issue at hand is whether thoughts can affect things that are outside its domain. And this ties to my next point. Even if that was/is true to some extent, there is always a battle between what we desire consciously and what we fear/desire unconsciously.

The "you" that is asking these questions is not aware of the part of you that I am about to speak about. The unconscious is called that because we are not aware of it directly. We only become aware of it via situations in our lives, which are constantly recreated, that are opposed to our conscious desires. Read that again several times. This sounds obvious, but our conscious mind never fully grasps this fact. We hear such things and nod our head without fully recognizing this truth in our bones. The confusion comes up because we all talk about the unconscious as if it is something that we are aware of or can control. We are not aware of it nor can we control it. We can only heal the split throughout many years of hard psychological work.

The unconscious rules supreme. Let’s take the example of relationships, a place where we all have baggage, whether we are in one or not. Most everyone at some point has a desire for or has been in one. We all have experienced the initial moments of bliss that can last weeks or months. Once the proverbial honeymoon is over, we butt up against the unconscious issues and terrors of intimacy that we all carry. The conscious mind wants intimacy, but the unconscious mind is busy projecting out its issues. Those of us who have been in more than one intimate relationship soon realize there is something at play within us, as we push up against the same issue with different partners over and over. That is the unconscious at work. We say we want one thing and we experience something totally different. Repeatedly.

To your other point: never, and I repeat, never give your power to someone else, no matter how much you trust them. Always go inside and check yourself for your truth. But at the same time, sit with what is being said. Now, the same point that I discussed above applies here. When you say, “I love myself”, that is the conscious mind speaking. Emotionally, on an internal level, we are all like a tree with branches pointing to many different directions. We all have levels of self-hate, just to different varying degrees. Just thinking or saying we love ourselves does not touch the unconscious that holds these beliefs. Look at the state of the world. That is a direct reflection of our own split. Yes, there is much beauty and serenity, and at the same time we can not neglect to see the immense internal split that is exaggerated into despicable acts of violence globally as well as personally. (Important to note here that this has always been so and is nothing new, even though the powers that be want to scare the shit out of all of us for their own purpose of social control. Brutality has always been with us, just that the tools of mass media and social control were never so centralized.)

So you said it beautifully: “Consciously, I really enjoy who I am…” The keyword being: consciously. True work is to dig under that and see what else lies there. The problem, and in fact danger, with this whole New Age-y “think and it becomes reality” fallacy - is how all the deep work necessary to clean up our shit is conveniently pushed aside. Make no mistake, waking up is hard, hard work. There are no shortcuts. There are many wonderful tools on the path; all should be examined, and appropriate ones applied. But always with the conscious awareness that the unconscious is running the show, regardless of what we consciously think or believe.

To your last question of how does one work with all of this: we start by taking an honest inventory of our lives. What are the things that we consciously desire but are not what we are experiencing? I am not just talking about money here, although that is something that is certainly affected by our unconscious. Finances are so loaded for almost all of us, rich or poor. But examining situations or relationships is a good place to start. Remember that we can not see the unconscious directly, but by the shadow that it casts over our lives. We need to examine without judgment and with utmost love and care towards ourselves. This exercise will point us to the issues that need to be addressed and integrated. A wonderful intent for a New Year’s resolution is to start a daily relationship with ourselves - where we can sit quietly for a few minutes and just be without distraction or manipulation. This internal compass is always true and present for the asking.