A helpful analogy for understanding consciousness is to consider a human being as a highly advanced computer. In order for a computer to know what to do, software needs to be installed on the hard drive.
The computer faithfully listens to and performs the functions the software tells it to do without questioning, even if the software is sometimes a bit faulty. Now imagine, for a second, that our consciousness is something like a computer hard drive and all our beliefs, habits and reactions are like the software…
Over our lifetime (beginning very early in childhood) we accumulate mounds of software; programming us to act and think a certain way, as defined by the culture we grew up in, our parents, our friends, the media and so on. We took on this conditioning automatically. We did not ask to be programmed. Just like the computer hard drive itself has no say in which programs the user puts on it, we didn’t choose which ones were thrown onto us.
The challenge here is that the innocence of the human mind cannot determine whether a program (conditioning) is beneficial or detrimental to its well being. Our hardware (the mind) easily installs these programs without hesitation or discernment. We may observe this in our automatic, unconscious reactions to certain situations or people and think ‘That wasn’t very nice, I wish I could have responded differently to that…’.
The reality of the matter is that we can wish all we want but if we are still running the same outdated programs in our subconscious mind then we will continue to see the same result. Certain thoughts and actions will repeatedly pop-up without us consciously choosing them. At times, it is as if we are being run on auto-pilot.
When I see my computer consistently giving me the results which are not desirable, I decide it’s time for an upgrade. We can do the same thing with our consciousness.
What is necessary in this instance is to uninstall these automated ‘software’ programs. A useful tool that works for computers is the anti-virus program. The function of the anti-virus program is to search the hard drive for unneeded or harmful programs, viruses, or outdated software. Once the anti-virus program has identified all useless programs, it deletes them and reboots the computer. The result is a fresh operating system that runs faster and more efficiently.
This is a helpful analogy when describing the subconscious mental patterns we encounter in our lives. There are many approaches to canceling subconscious mental conditioning: various meditative techniques, self help programs and other methods. One of the most beneficial ways is remarkably similar to the antivirus software program. It involves observing the thoughts which manifest in our minds and identifying beliefs which are no longer serving us.
The tricky thing when exploring consciousness is that we are dealing with energies which we can not see and which are hard even to feel. However we can observe the signs that there are programs running in our minds which are outdated. These signs come in the form of the thoughts we think. Once we can observe that negative thoughts are occurring within us we can rest assured that they are coming from subconscious programming which needs to be addressed.
With observation, we can see that these negative thoughts are stemming from a limiting belief we bought into, oftentimes long ago and without knowing any better. We actually thought that if we believed it, then it would help us to be happier.
Sometimes there is a regret over this and an unwillingness to let go of it. This is when we must remember that we had no say over this belief when we bought it. When it is realized that holding onto negative thoughts and feelings is actually making us sick, we can be courageous enough to forgive ourselves and let it go.
We can apply this technique of searching ourselves for limiting beliefs and bad programming to all areas of our lives and at all times. We can apply this unceasingly to the thoughts which run through our heads. We do not need to be run by that which no longer serves us. We can start to reprogram the mind on a deep level and consciously choose to positively condition ourselves. With practice and vigilance, this technique helps to clear away everything which obscures our true Self.
We are not what we think of ourselves; we are not our thoughts. Once the clouds of disillusionment fade away, whats revealed is our radiant Self. And it is this True Self which was there all along.