Psychiatrist Sigmund Freud originally described the conscious mind, which consists of all the thoughts that you are aware of, as the tip of the iceberg. And, the preconscious or subconscious mind is more like a mental waiting room, "waiting to seek the eye of the conscious."
I call the preconscious/subconscious mind the "growth edge." The preconscious exists just below the level of your everyday consciousness, and just above your unconscious mind.
In this article, inspired by "Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy" by Eugene Gendlin, I share how to take the journey to your growth edge.
Sensing Into What You Do Not Yet Know
Step 1: The Directly Sensed "Source"
We all experience qualities of things that cannot be immediately spoken or conceptualized. When something emerges from your growth edge, you may not be able to immediately sense its source.
You might have a poignant dream or a surprising image might pop into your mind. You might have strong emotions well up, and not know where they are coming from.
With practice, you can learn how to sense into the "border zone" between your conscious and unconscious mind. If you cry unexpectedly, for example, you can sense into the body for the "crying place" and pay attention to that place in your body for a period of time without thinking.
Step 2: The Initial Lack of Clarity
Your conscious personality resists what feels unknown, spontaneous and unstructured. Your ego tries to keep you controlled and safe. However, you can learn how to get used to "living on your growth edge."
Your emerging growth edge will always be unclear at first. This sensing into what is unclear differs from experiencing a known emotion. You know what it feels like to feel angry, sad or joyful, for example. These familiar emotions are easily explainable.
When you feel vague discomfort, you likely cannot immediately name this quality within. The edge of this discomfort is felt but unclear. This discomfort is the edge between your known (conscious mind) and your unknown (subconscious and unconscious minds).
Silence is often required at this stage because you will likely try to explain your discomfort. Yet, when you talk too soon, the subtle bodily growth edge can be lost.
Step 3: It Occurs in a Bodily Way
Most people try to figure out everything logically. Many even sense intense emotions as "all-around" or in the head. Yet, your growth edge forms a unique bodily sense, and this sense is unclear at first.
A direct sense of the border zone between the conscious and subconscious occurs as a physical sensation. It is usually sensed somewhere in the middle of your body. Yet, many people cannot sense their bodies from the inside without practice.
An unclear body sense at the border zone of your conscious and subconscious mind is not quite yet a usual bodily sensation. It is not quite yet an emotion. It is not quite yet a thought. It does not quite yet have definable content. You can have a very distinct feeling that has not yet opened to reveal what it contains. This is called a bodily felt sense.
Turning away from your familiar thoughts and attending to your body in a deeply meditative way will help you to see the next layer of subconscious material that is coming up for healing and integration.
And, it should be noted, that if you do not pay attention to your emerging growth edge every day, it is possible to become emotionally accumulated and increasingly overwhelmed.
Step 4: The Felt Sense is a Whole
A felt sense of your emerging growth edge is experienced as part of an intricate whole. A felt sense includes many intricacies and strands of information. It is a whole complexity, a multiplicity contained within a rich single sense.
With the emergence of your next growth edge, a sense of relief comes, as if the body is grateful to express this way of being whole. The subtle felt sense of your next emerging growth edge becomes the object of attention to which you can attend to and meditate upon until it becomes clearer.
Step 5: Change Steps Arise From the Felt Sense
When you attend to your growth edge for a period of time, it reveals information in the form of inner pictures, poetry, songs, phrases, metaphors and colours.
After a period of focusing on your growth edge, a forward step is often revealed. When a step forward comes into your conscious mind and you follow it, it transforms the whole constellation of your inner being.
A bodily felt sense of your growth edge might occasionally offer you a big dramatic step, but most often it offers a very small step. And, it always asks for a change that will lead to more wholeness.
Step 6: A Step Will Bring You Closer to Yourself
Each felt sense of your emerging growth edge reveals a new way to move forward. When you sense the forward step you need to make, you will feel more whole. When you tune into your growth edge every day, you will become more deeply yourself.
Step 7: Steps are in the Direction of Growth
You likely have many parts inside that have remained silent and inert for many years. With deep attention to your body, things can stir inside that have long been immobilized. When you pay attention to what is emerging from your growth edge, your life energy will flow in fresh new ways.
A forward step that emerges from your growth edge has its own surprising direction that you cannot control through logical planning or goal setting. This growth step becomes clear when you offer deep attention to what wants to emerge from your growth edge.
Step 8: Steps Can Only Be Explained Retroactively
You can wait for each growth step to become more concrete through the process of daily deep inner attention.
When you choose to sense into your growth edge every day and take your forward steps, you will unfold into greater wholeness, healing, and harmony in ways you never could have planned.
Your Growth Edge - A Summary
1. Your growth edge forms at the border zone between your conscious and unconscious mind.
2. Your growth edge is unclear at first - although unique and unmistakably present.
3. Your growth edge is experienced in your body.
4. Your growth edge is experienced as a whole.
5. Your growth edge moves you forward. It reveals how to progress in your life - step by step.
6. A forward step brings you closer to your soul.
7. The forward step that emerges from your growth edge has its own surprising direction.
8. Explanations of the forward step that emerged from your growth edge can only be understood retroactively.
Sensing Into Your Growth Edge Daily
1. Sit quietly with a journal on your lap.
2. Sense within for any discomfort in your body. Focus your attention on this discomfort for 10-15 minutes.
3. Say to your discomfort, "What would you like me to know?"
4. Write down any images, phrases, words or feelings that arise. They do not need to make sense.
5. Often a vague discomfort will simply want acceptance in the beginning. It might say something to you. It might make a request.
6. Allow whatever intuitive answer comes, and follow through with an action step.