The three aspects of mind


Namaskaram. What is the difference between the Conscious, Subconscious, and Unconscious mind? Thank You.

—Harish, India


Dear Harish,

Thank you for writing. Yogananda explained that the three aspects of our mind are conscious, subconscious, and superconscious. (The term is “unconscious” sometimes to used to imply “beyond our consciousness awareness.” But “unconscious” can also mean “an absence of consciousness,” which is not useful when describing the mind, which is self-evidently conscious. That is one reason why the term “superconscious” is more precise.)

We use our conscious mind when we are awake (usually). The conscious mind is problem-oriented. It tries to arrive at solutions through reason.

Our subconscious mind is a repository of memories and repeated thoughts. Its power is habit: we can save time by doing a task by habit rather than re-learning it every time. Of course, we can have good (helpful) habits and bad (unhelpful) habits!

The superconscious mind is our soul’s higher awareness. It is solution-oriented. It possesses the power of intuition. Our inspirations and higher awareness come from superconsciousness.

When discussing these three states of mind as they relate to meditation, Yogananda said, “In meditation, try to go beyond thinking. As long as thoughts enter the mind, you are functioning on the conscious level.

“When dreaming, you are in subconsciousness; then you are more aware in the astral body.

“When your consciousness withdraws still more deeply, into superconsciousness, then you are centered in bliss, in the spine. In that bliss-state you are aware in the causal body, the soul.”

Joy to you,