This method of confronting problems in a state of relaxation is widely used in psychiatry, as a method of exhausting a patient’s conflicts, conscious or subconscious. It is called desensitization and will be discussed subsequently. The basic mechanics and idea is the same as in meditational techniques.
Though it may seem no more than playing with words, we would like to make one point clear; namely that subconscious data inherent in mental problems cannot really be removed from the mind. We often say that problems are or should be removed from the mind. This is merely an expression, for in fact all the data in the mind is permanently imprinted there. What we really mean when we talk about removing mental problems is that one’s reaction to inner problems or memories is removed. For the purpose of explanation we can say that a mental problem is composed of two aspects: the actual data (i.e. cows) and the emotional response (i.e. fear) to that data. Therefore, when a mental problem is removed, what is really meant is that the emotional response has been neutralized. The emotional response is in a sense disconnected with the subconscious data. For example, perhaps one reacts with fear when confronted by a cow, perhaps because a big cow chased you when you were three years of age. When the problem is removed, perhaps by meditational techniques, the subconscious data still remains in the mind, but now the fear is no longer associated with cows. You will see cows, maybe even remember when you were chased by the big cow, but now you will no longer feel fear. This is what we mean when we say that mental problems are removed from the mind. The emotional response is neutralized. This may seem a technical point, and perhaps a little laboured and irrelevant, but we have emphasized it so that you more clearly understand the process involved in the cleaning out of the mind. This will also further clarify why it is important to recognize subconscious data with an attitude of detachment and awareness. It is in order to change your emotional reaction to subconscious problems, so that instead of experiencing negative emotions one feels indifference. In other words, the aim is to see your mental problems and in a sense overwrite, replace your usual emotional responses with another response which is devoid of emotional content – detachment. When you have no emotional response to subconscious data, then you have removed that particular problem. The aim is to neutralize, disconnect all negative emotions with all subconscious data.
The reader should not however make the mistake of assuming that all the purging of the undesirable elements of the subconscious mind occurs during the meditation practice. This would be totally incorrect, for the process of cleaning the mind occurs in a nebulous manner and at the most unexpected times in daily life. Somehow meditational practices and yoga techniques in general sharpen one’s sensitivity to associations with outside events. This is a difficult subject to discuss and perhaps the best way is to give a concrete example. The following was an actual experience.