Awareness and consciousness are sometimes used interchangeably. It’s important to distinguish the two things.
Janov referred to the flow of sensation and emotion as first and second line consciousness. Third line consciousness refers to the flow of ideas. Sensation, emotion, and ideas are all forms of energy….information.
We privately experience a flow of information, which occurs in a “field” that we call consciousness. We don’t know what this field is, but we all experience it.
We also experience something even more extraordinary. Through an act of will on our part, we can dip into this stream of consciousness anywhere in our body that we begin to sense information presenting itself. We can visit multiple sites, simultaneously.
This act of volition…of making a choice or decision… slows the stream down so that we can experience its content. How we do this, and who or what is doing the examining is a complete mystery. Yet…we all have…and use… this experience.
These areas of mystery are the primal workshop. We are experts at dipping into the personal world of the intellect. What makes our workshop different is that we try to dip into the realm of sensation and emotion…our feelings. This requires leaving the world of ordinary conversation behind. This is no easy task! We are creatures who are most comfortable when swimming, dolphin-like, through the realm of symbols. We are what Janov called third-liners. What makes the primal process doubly difficult is that we unconsciously use language to make the rising discomfort go away.
If we have suffered debilitating trauma in our lives, we begin to experience anxiety as soon as we leave this world of ordinary language behind. Sometimes our discomfort makes us take pain blockers…whose only purpose is to repress the rising trauma signals. This is, in fact, the primary treatment choice in the mental health field.
Learning how to “stew” a while in the world of our traumatic feelings, paradoxically, begins to de-energize the trauma signals. Then healing, as opposed to symptom treatment, can occur.