Inviting the Unconscious to Reveal Itself

Many of us treat the gifts of our unconscious as if they were errant children. We scold, shame, and dismiss the thoughts, feelings, images, and visions that our unconscious mind produces. Just like children who learn to hide from the critical eyes of their parents or teachers, our unconscious learns to hide from us.

In order to have our unconscious reveal itself, it is most beneficial to treat it with loving kindness. When an image or a thought arises, rather than shame, blame, or criticize ourselves (which makes the unconscious go back into hiding), treat it with curiosity. This is the focus of today's practice.

But first, a lesson that was emblazoned in my mind when I was 18 years old.


While spending time with a new male friend, I told him about the experience I had earlier that day while in an intensive course. I felt a lot of shame about the thoughts that had arisen in me while doing an assignment.

His response surprised me completely. Quite matter-of-factly, he announced that every student in the course had a similar experience to mine. They either covered their response with clever artwork or denied it. Due to his age and experience, his conviction was believable to me.

Relieved, I began to get curious about my experience. Hence, I learned a lot.


There is a saying that 'curiosity killed the cat.' However, with the mind, curiosity is key to understanding. That understanding, when met with loving self-compassion, turns into deep acceptance and then appreciation. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Applying curiosity to the fish that jump from the vast sea of the unconscious is our focus here. This practice is done best as it happens. If that is not possible, then at the earliest possible time.


Part 1:
When a thought, image, or sensory experience arises, notice it and then get curious. Rather than attempt to hold onto it or push it away, simply notice it.

Then, begin to ask yourself the following kinds of questions regarding this thought, image, or sensory experience. Note the answers that arise without judging them.

  • What associations do I have?
  • What does this mean to me?
  • How do I feel when I think of this?
  • If I take away all negative judgment about it, what might it be wanting to tell me?
  • If I treat it as a symbol, what might it be symbolizing for me?
  • If I regard this image, thought, or feeling in the most positive light, what is the message?

As you engage in this practice, it is most important to open yourself to whatever emerges. If judgment arises, notice it and let it go, imagining that it takes wings and flies away.

Thank your unconscious for giving you gifts. Treat each thought, feeling, sensory awareness as if it is a gift from beyond, opening doors to the storehouses of gems inside you. Remember that when something has been locked away for a long time, it doesn't always look shiny and beautiful at first. It must be dusted off so you can see and know it's true value.

Part 2: Write notes about your discoveries and your associations. For right now, it does not matter if the associations make sense to you. As you treat your unconscious with curiosity and loving kindness, more will be revealed to you.

Enjoy, and please write about anything that is of interest to you in the blog or send me a private email.

Sign up for PeRLs of Wisdom

Our newsletter, PeRLs of Wisdom, will be emailed to you with resources related to the monthly topic such as additional activities, practices, discussions, quotes, and announcements of upcoming programs. You can unsubscribe from PeRLs of Wisdom at any time.