This section is from the book "Handbook Of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science", by Henry S. Munro. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science.
Every sense impression, or perception, or idea that has come within our individual experience through education or environment has left its impress upon the brain cells. These brain cells, stimulated by ideas of a similar character, reproduce the memory pictures gathered by experience, and this process is what is called thinking. Thinking, in logical sequence, constitutes reasoning. Thinking gives rise to mental processes, or states of mind, or conditions of consciousness that are constantly changing, so that the conscious mind or ego of one moment is not that of the next.
So interrelated are our psychical and physical processes that much has been learned of our subconscious psychic activities by observing the influence of the mind over the body.
The subconscious self corresponds to all mental and physical processes which lie beneath the stream of consciousness. We often flatter ourselves by believing that we control our thoughts when, as a matter of fact, thinking is but a reflex of the sense impressions that have been made upon our cerebral cells by all that has gone to make up our experience in life. Yet, education, travel, association with people, and all other like experiences, benefit us only as we react to them.
Every impression or idea that is made upon the conscious mind of the individual throughout his entire life has been conserved by the neurons, and is one of the factors that, collectively, constitute the training of the subconscious self. The result of this training constitutes our assets, as represented by body, mind, and character.
Our ability to react upon and be benefited by the experiences of life is dependent upon an inherited quality of brain plasm on the one hand and education on the other. We can be benefited by the experiences that come into our lives only as we are prepared by knowledge gained from previous experiences.
That which influences us most is what most persistently holds our interested attention. The kind of thought or line of endeavor that most receives our purposeful attention, sustained by reason, will, and determination, so reacts upon our bodies and minds that we unconsciously become molded by that particular kind of work.
The mind, like the body, becomes strengthened or weakened by mental and physical action. The blacksmith, who uses a sledge hammer, day by day develops a muscle of steel, while the bookkeeper, who lifts no more ponderous weight than the leaves of his ledger from week to week, has muscles that have become atrophied and shriveled. The man of genius is distinguished from other men only by his exceptional power of attention to one given subject. On any line of work in all professions the individual who becomes most proficient is he who most persistently gives attention to his specialty.
It has been well said that the mind set habitually and strongly in any one given direction loses the power to think upon any other line. The Christian scientist, who ignores the material aspect of disease, and the physician who does not appreciate the psychical, are good illustrations of the above statement. The particular line of thought to which we constantly give our attention and by which we habitually act makes us what we are.
To be strong, capable, and free is the ideal that every individual should strive to attain, but strength in mind and character can not be attained by neglect of the body, for the interdependence of mind and body is such that the highest development of the one quality depends upon the other for its support.
Use your faculties and live, grow, and develop is a decree of nature from which there can be no escaping. Some day. sooner or later, each individual awakens to the realisation that his life is a fight between himself and the entire world. We are so related to each other, however, that the duty of the individual and his dependence upon other individuals and their dependence and relation to the great whole must never be left out of consideration. Yet, the individual must stand upon his own feet, see the world with his own eyes, do things with his own hands, and interpret the problems of life with his own intellect.
To be prepared for this conflict, this contest - this body, mind, and character tryst - is the problem of training the subconscious self. Life itself is the greatest incentive for living, and to attain the highest development and expression of the subconscious self renders the individual capable of enjoying life, not only for his or her own sake, but because to him or her comes a double pleasure of being better equipped to help make life more worth while to others.
Since we are endowed with a little, infinitesimally small portion of the universal life, wisdom, intelligence, and force that exist in the universe, the highest privilege of every human being is that of being a chooser - the privilege of exercising a choice between what shall and what shall not receive his attention. The ideas which we encourage become stronger, last longer, and exercise the greatest influence on our habits of thought and conduct.
Even in the case of what are commonly held to be involuntary mental processes, which crowd themselves upon us unwelcome and unbidden, when we are consciously all unaware of their existence - coming as the result of previous experiences - we can, to a very large degree, encourage those that are desirable and inhibit others that are undesirable. But, while we can only partly inhibit those memory pictures that are undesirable, we can as choosers decide what shall in the present and in the future claim our conscious, intelligent attention.
Everything that claims our conscious attention strongly and persistently constitutes "food stuff" for the subconscious self, which contributes to the remolding and rebuilding of our physical and mental constitutions. Character itself is evolved in accordance with this same law.