We could pretend that there is a little person who manages the index system in the libraries of the sub-conscious mind. She is the librarian and her job is to find the most appropriate piece of information that is available when she is asked. She does her job well if you let her. She always knows either where the information is stored or where to look for it.
If a certain subject is already active and current the librarian usually can give an answer immediately. If it is an unexpected question it might take longer. It is the librarian who suddenly brings something to your attention that you had forgotten about, but wanted to know. For example, if you had forgotten a phone number or somebody's name, you decided that you needed to remember, but then you don't think about it for hours or days. Then suddenly the answer pops into your mind. That is the librarian who had been working on the problem and who now presents you with the answer.
For processing purposes, the more immediate answers are usually what we are after. And the answers needed are usually close by if a subject is already active. Like, if the client is concerned about an unwanted feeling, then the related information will already be in the active file.
Usually we will be looking for some data that the client doesn't consciously know or realize. If she already knew the answers consciously then she would probably have sorted out the matter herself long ago and she wouldn't need a processing session.
One of the pre-suppositions in transformational processing is that the person already has all the answers she needs. However, she might not consciously know that she has them or what they are. If she tries to figure things out consciously and looks for answers by going through what she already knows that she knows, then she usually doesn't get very far.
To get useful data out of the sub-conscious, the client needs to learn to be able to let go and just let material appear automatically. She needs to let go of her sense of logic to some degree and not try to figure things out logically. If she can do that we will move much faster, particularly in re-experiencing, but also in other processes.
The client needs to use her auto-answer ability. Everybody has it, everybody can do it. However, the thing is that one needs to get one's conscious mind out of the way for a moment so that one can allow a sub-conscious impulse to come through. One needs to be able to trust one's intuition and just let something appear.
Let's say we have identified a specific unwanted feeling that the client has. Now the next step is to locate an incident that includes that feeling. The client might consciously know about a few incidents, and sure we can start with those to warm up. But, the real results would come from what the auto-answer mechanism will give us. When the client doesn't remember any other incidents with that feeling, and we still ask "Is there a more fundamental incident with the feeling ___?", and then something pops up -- that is much more valuable.
The resolution of the unwanted feeling will not be found within the material that the client already consciously knows about. It will be found among the material that she has forgotten, but that is stored in her sub-conscious. The sooner we can get to that material the better. To get to it, the client needs to relinquish conscious control, and allow the sub-conscious to supply material.
If we have identified that the client has feeling X and you ask her to "float back in time to an incident that has feeling X in it", then it doesn't do much good if she starts figuring "Well, let me see, in '37 I was living with my aunt, and then I was in high school, so then it must be ... bla, bla, bla." That is when she tries to figure it out consciously with what she already knows about. It would be preferable if she just blanked out her conscious mind, and went wherever the auto-answer mechanism would take her. She might say "I see a green wall, I don't know where I am, but my neck hurts." She takes perceptions that pop up out of the sub-conscious through the auto-answer mechanism. They might make very little sense at first, they might be partial and sketchy, and they might not relate to anything she remembers consciously, but that is fine, that is what we want.
The auto-answer mechanism isn't a little person of course. It isn't really a librarian, it doesn't have any kind of personality. It is a totally neutral mechanism that will just do its job as best it can. For that matter, it is really not a mechanism, but an inherent ability, an ability to channel any information from wherever it is. But often it might appear more comforting to treat the auto-answer ability as a mechanism, a piece of machinery that you just have to trust.
The auto-answer mechanism works neutrally and willingly even when the person is otherwise in bad shape. That is why we want to deal with it. It is not aberrated in itself. However, it will hand out the basis for the person's aberrations quite willingly if you will let it. In other words, it provides a much more direct access to the key material in the mind than the conscious person would ever come up with. In that way we could say that it is a kind of intuition.
We could say that the auto-answer mechanism is a personification of the sub-conscious as a whole. Generally speaking, the sub-conscious knows much more and is much more un-biased and sensible than the conscious person usually is. It is for good reason that much material is hidden from the conscious person. It is often because she would mis-use it, or mis-understand it, or get overwhelmed by it.
The auto-answer ability also includes a safety mechanism. It only hands you material that you are capable of dealing with. It only gives you a little bit at a time, enough so that you can comfortably digest it and learn from it. There might very well be more important or more revealing information available, but the safety mechanisms might keep it from you if you are not ready for it. But, if you keep asking for more material and you deal with what you find out, then gradually you become more able to handle more deep stuff, and it will all gradually be resolved.
In other words, the auto-answer information provides a safe path to the resolution of issues and to increased knowledge and ability. Watch out for any violation of the auto-answer mechanism. It is possible to force someone to look at some things she isn't ready for, by pretending to be an authority or by demanding it insistently enough. However, that can be damaging and is not advisable.
There is a fine line between encouraging the client to examine what is there, and coercing her into dealing with stuff that she isn't ready for or that isn't her. That is why it is a strict rule that a process facilitator is neutral and non-judgmental. It is vital for the facilitator to develop a sensitivity for whether she is helping the client discover new choices, or whether she is limiting her by imposing undesirable information on her.
To some degree the safety mechanism of the sub-conscious mind is what caused the problem with unprocessed incidents in the first place. The mechanism will attempt to shield the conscious person from anything she is not ready to deal with. And there are certain experiences in life that might be too much for the person. So, instead of allowing the person to cave in and break down, the sub-conscious hides the unconfrontable material from her until she becomes ready to deal with it. The problem enters if she never gets around to being ready for the material. That is what we are remedying in re-experiencing. We are making the person more able to deal with what she is experiencing in life.
The sub-conscious apparently will always take the best choice that it has available. In a less than optimum situation it will choose the lesser of two evils. So, if the conscious mind is being overwhelmed by a traumatic event, the sub-conscious cordons off the record of the event and only makes it available to the degree that the person can handle it. There are drawbacks with that plan of course, but it is essentially done to protect the person.
The "bad" stuff, unwanted feelings and other aberrations, are only there because they are the lesser of several evils. Or, said differently, there is something else that is more important than avoiding those annoyances. Either there is something positive that the person accomplishes by having them or she is avoiding something that would be worse. What we are doing isn't getting rid of the unwanted stuff, as much as it is examining the situation and finding some more choices and awarenesses so that more harmonious conditions can prevail.
So, the sub-conscious auto-answer mechanism is very important in processing. It needs to be the ally of both the client and the facilitator. It has the client's best interests in mind and it knows more than both the conscious client and the facilitator.
The only rule the client really has to know about the auto-answer mechanism is this:
Take what you get!
That is, as long as you notice what comes up, and you trust that there is some meaning to it, then the processing will run smoothly. There are no other complicated mechanics one has to keep track of.