Friday, June 29, 2018

Still More on the Brain-Aware Mind

There is actually a lot of evidence that the mind is not the result of physical brain states but is instead the producer of physical brain states. While our brains can and do influence our mental states, the opposite is the more important situation.

We are not merely who and what our brains tell us we are, because our minds can tell our brains that we reject the brain's idea or belief. The most powerful example of this two-way influence comes from people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In such cases, the brain constantly tells the mind that, for example, the person needs to wash his or her hands. At the same time the person, the mind, can know and realize that this compulsion is a false belief by the brain. Thus, mind and brain are not the same.

Even more dramatic is the fact that the mind can change the brain. Work with OCD patients revealed that patients could reduce their compulsions by telling their brains to stop the false urgings. When the brain told the patients that  they needed to wash their hands, the patients rebuked their brains and said something like, "No, I don't need to wash my hands." Realizing that their compulsions are not who they are, the patients separated themselves from the thoughts presented to the mind by the brain.

Our minds can move beyond both the brain and the current mind by committing to change and growth. Our minds can have vague thoughts, involving  future hopes, intentions, fears, plans, doubts, uncertainties. But our brains, if they produce brain states that involve fight or flight, or immediate or delayed action, cannot produce vague or future or doubtful states. Brain states must be definite.

The fact that we can analyze and criticize our brain's thoughts and suggestions causes us to realize that we are not our brains. We can say, "That's a dumb idea," when our brains suggest an unworkable solution to a problem. We can understand logically that we are not really in danger when we face an optical illusion that makes it seem as if we are walking a narrow beam over a deep chasm. And yet our brains generate a hysteria and shoot adrenaline throughout our bodies, crying, "You're going to fall and die!! Be careful!" And we think, "Shut up brain. You're wrong."

So, don't let your brain tell you what to do. It's speaking from its physical substance. Listen to your mind. That's where your soul and spirit live.

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