The most influential perceptual programming of the subconscious mind occurs from birth through age six. During that time, the child’s brain is recording all sensory experiences as well as learning complex motor programs for speech, crawling, standing, and advanced activities like running and jumping. Simultaneously, the child’s sensory systems are fully engaged, downloading massive amounts of information about the world and how it works.

By observing the behavioral patterns of people in their immediate environment—primarily parents, siblings, and relatives—children learn to distinguish acceptable and unacceptable social behaviors. It’s important to realize that perceptions acquired before the age of six become the fundamental subconscious programs that shape the character of an individual’s life.

During this time of accelerated learning, Nature facilitates the enculturation process by developmentally enhancing the subconscious mind’s ability to download massive amounts of information. We know this thanks to our study of brainwaves in adults and children.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) readings from adult brains reveal that neural electrical activity is correlated with different states of awareness. Adult EEG readings show that the human brain operates on at least five different frequency levels, each associated with a different brain state:

EEG vibrations continuously shift from state to state over the whole range of frequencies during normal brain processing in adults. However, brain frequencies in developing children display a radically different behavior. EEG vibration rates and their corresponding states evolve in incremental stages over time.

The predominant brain activity during the child’s first two years of life is delta, the lowest EEG frequency range.

Between two and six years of age, the child’s brain activity ramps up and operates primarily in the range of theta. While in the theta state, children spend much of their time mixing the imaginary world with the real world.

The predominant delta and theta activity expressed by children younger than six signifies that their brains are operating at levels below consciousness. Delta and theta brain frequencies define a brain state known as a hypnagogic trance—the same neural state that hypnotherapists use to directly download new behaviors into the subconscious minds of their clients.

In other words, the first six years of a child’s life are spent in a hypnotic trance!

A child’s perceptions of the world are directly downloaded into the subconscious during this time, without discrimination and without filters of the analytical self-conscious mind which doesn’t fully exist. Consequently, our fundamental perceptions about life and our role in it are learned without our having the capacity to choose or reject those beliefs. We were simply programmed.

The Jesuits were aware of this programmable state and proudly boasted, “Give me the child until it is seven years old and I will give you the man.” They knew the child’s trance state facilitated a direct implanting of Church dogma into the subconscious mind. Once programmed, that information would inevitably influence 95 percent of that individual’s behavior for the rest of his or her life.

The absence of conscious processing, that is the alpha EEG activity, as well as the simultaneous engagement of a hypnagogic trance during the formative stages of a child’s life are a logical necessity. Self-conscious information processing requires a working database of learned perceptions. Consequently, before a person can express self-consciousness, the brain must go about its primary task of acquiring a working awareness of the world by directly downloading experiences and observations into the subconscious mind.

However, there is a very serious downside to acquiring awareness by this method. The consequence is so profound that it not only impacts the life of the individual, it can also alter an entire civilization. The problem is that we download our perceptions and beliefs about life years before we acquire the ability for critical thinking. When as young children we download limiting or sabotaging beliefs, those perceptions or misperceptions become our truths. If our platform is one of misperception, our subconscious mind will dutifully generate behaviors that are coherent with those programmed truths.

By now you may be thinking, “Gee, this is great. I’m so relieved to find I am not a victim of my genetics. However, I now appear to be a victim of my programming. What chance does my little 40-bit conscious processor have against the subconscious mega-computer of doom? Where’s the good news?” The good news is, whatever has been programmed can be deprogrammed and reprogrammed. The self-conscious mind is a creative platform capable of mixing and morphing perceptions with an infusion of imagination, in a process that generates an unlimited number of beliefs and behavioral variations. The quality of the self-conscious mind endows organisms with one of the most powerful forces in the Universe— the opportunity to express free will.

Excerpted from Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (And a Way to Get There From Here), Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D. and Steve Bhaerman. Copyright © 2009 (Hay House).

Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., a pioneer in the new biology, is an internationally recognized leader in bridging science and spirit.