What are they?
Subliminal recordings are a consciously audible sound such as relaxing music, rain or waves playing over the top of a recording that is just below the conscious threshold of hearing.
How do they work?
First off, let’s distinguish between two categories of sounds - subliminal and supraliminal.
Subliminal refers to information that is below the level of conscious perception.
Supraliminal refers to information that is available for conscious perception even though it may not be noticed.
If we take a moment to focus attention on the sounds around us, we might notice many background sounds that we had been completely oblivious of before. We might find ourselves aware of conversations, traffic noise, machinery, conversations, birds, insects, etc that we hadn’t heard previously. These noises are supraliminal in that they are available for conscious perception when attention is drawn to them. This is the reason for the ‘cocktail party effect’ which states that if someone says our name in the hubbub of conversation we will instantly hear it above all other words because attention is more wired to perceive our name.
Subliminal sounds, on the other hand, cannot be heard consciously even when attention is placed on them. No matter how much we listen or concentrate, they cannot be heard. Yet study after study shows that these messages are still being perceived by the auditory system, are entering the subconscious mind and are profoundly altering experience and behaviour. In fact there is concrete, replicable evidence showing that subliminal instructions will be followed while the same instructions, provided consciously, will not be.
The importance of the subconscious mind
The conscious mind experiences reality as though it is external, objective and independent and it experiences the ‘Me’ as a fixed entity, as the decider and controller of behaviour and thoughts, separate and independent of that reality.
But this is a false belief. The reality is that all conscious experience is being generated by the subconscious mind. Perception is a function of the brain. All decisions and behaviours originate in the subconscious mind. How reality appears is because of the meanings, concepts, labels, beliefs held in the subconscious mind.
In other words, the subconscious mind is the source and origin of all experience and behaviour. For profound change to occur in our experience of self and reality and in how we act, it has to take place first in the subconscious.
What can you expect to happen when you listen to a subliminal recording?
I have recorded over a hundred subliminal recordings - either bespoke recordings for individual clients, based on detailed responses to specific questions or universal recordings that are applicable for everyone.
Responses vary from no response, to feelings of deep peace and calm to feelings of resistance. It is the last two responses that I am particularly interested in and which signal to me that the subliminal is either reinforcing the deep felt sense of wholeness or it is challenging an identity of lack and separation.
When the response to a subliminal is resistance, my advice is to scale back on the amount of time it is listened to and increase it by small increments daily. This is the recording that will ultimately prove to be the most transformational.
Evidence for subliminal impact
In 1917, Otto Poetzle, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, was the first scientist to demonstrate the close relationship between subliminal stimuli and posthypnotic suggestion. His discovery, now called the Poetzle Effect, states that subliminal (below the level of conscious perception) stimuli influence dreams and actions days or weeks after the original exposure.
Since then, hundreds of scientific studies have provided further evidence for this effect and deeper insight into how information perceived subliminally affects the subconscious mind.
One such study by Zuckerman (1960), showed that when the instructions “Write More” or “Don’t Write.” were superimposed on ambiguous pictures they were followed by the experiment participants. When the instructions were consciously visible they had no effect.
Dr. Norman Dixon, a psychologist at University College in London, England, summarised 748 scholarly research studies on subliminal perception. He favoured the term ‘Pre-conscious Processing’ which he defined as any perceptual or memorial process for which there is no awareness of conscious experience.
He concluded that because the capacity of conscious experience is far less than the capacity of both the senses and long-term memory, entry into it must be determined at a preconscious stage of processing. He also showed that the meaning of a stimulus is processed preconsciously and that even when this processing does not lead to conscious experience, the products of this processing may affect conscious perceptual or memorial processes.
An article in TIME magazine in 1979, reported that nearly 50 department stores in the U.S. and Canada used subliminal messages in the music systems to reduce shoplifting and employee theft. One East Coast chain reduced theft by 37% over a nine-month period. Subliminal messages found to be effective were statements like, “I take a great deal of pride in being honest. I will not steal. I am honest.”
Dr. Lloyd H. Silverman, a psychologist at New York University, has shown in over 40 groups of subjects how exposure to subliminal messages can bring about healthier behaviour and habits. In a 1980 study, he incorporated a subliminal message into a treatment of half of a group of smokers trying to quit smoking using behaviour modification therapy. One month after the treatment ended, 66% of the group exposed to the activating subliminal stimulus were still non-smokers, compared with 13% of the control group.