Mind your Brain
What is the difference between the brain and the mind?
This is a debatable question. The answer in its basic form would be that the brain is a physical entity whereas the mind is a spiritual aspect of our very being. It is the driving force of our decisions.
The brain consists of grey matter which is measurable, definable and exists physically. Although the brain can be analysed, it tells us nothing about the type of person we are. What defines our personality is our very mind. The mind consists of our intelligence, personality, thoughts and feelings as well as other important factors.
The brain is simply a biological organ and exists as part of our nervous system. Where there are limitations to the brain, the mind is infinite in its range of thoughts and imagination.
Having said this, the brain needs to be in good working order for our mind to work properly to its full potential. If there are areas of the brain which are damaged, that particular part of the mind will be affected. As in the case of brain-damaged people who hallucinate because a certain part of their brain is not functioning properly.
Despite all the knowledge science has accumulated about the mind to date, as human beings we still have so much to learn about our mind. The mind is still a baffling entity and we can only marvel at its splendid powerful abilities. Latest research is always updating us to the beauty and potential of this awesome invisible commander of our lives called the mind.
The mind can be divided into the following three categories:
Conscious / Subconscious / Unconscious
These three levels of consciousness were made popular by Freudian theory. The real image associated with these levels is the submerged iceberg. The visible tip of the iceberg is likened to the conscious. Below the water level lies the unconscious part of the mind, reaching deep into the water. As the water gets deeper, it appears murkier and less visible to the naked eye.
The conscious mind is what we are aware of. It represents a tiny proportion of what our mind is truly capable of. This part of our mind is very present and lives in the moment processing the current information around us. As it is on the surface level, it is more easily identifiable than the deeper levels of consciousness.
The conscious is home to planning, willpower, critical thinking and judgement. This is the place where short-term memory has to be processed i.e. by being repeated or associated with something for it to become long-term memory.
The conscious in a sense protects us from outer views and opinions hence the reason for our resistance to change when alternative views to our personal opinion are presented. We like to have a protective barrier system which keeps out intrusions.
The subconscious is the underlying part of the conscious mind. We can bring out information to our conscious mind from the subconscious. We have better access to our subconscious through our dreams, creative thinking and imagination.
The subconscious also known as the pre-conscious in Freudian terms, is the bridge between the conscious and the unconscious parts of the mind.
This is the part of the mind that is the most difficult to gain access to. This is the place that stores our pattern of habits as well as our everyday body functions. It is the store to our wonderful creative ability.
This is also the home of our beliefs and memories. Everything which has been indoctrinated into us since childhood resides here. We hold on to our belief system here without even consciously knowing where we collected this baggage and how we reached our various beliefs in life. These firm beliefs are kept safe as they are locked deep into our unconscious, it is not easy to change or alter these beliefs.
This part of our mind is the by far the largest reservoir of our life. It is the seat of our emotions. When we have a natural dislike or love of something, this part of the mind is where we can allocate the emotions determining what decisions we will make based on our likes or dislikes.
This is also the part of our mind which constantly replays the lessons learned since our childhood. This is the store which holds much of our negativity. To penetrate positive thoughts right down to this basic level is the difficult transaction and can take a lot of time and self-therapeutic analysis.
If you were treated badly or belittled in your childhood, it is all stored in here. You may have wiped out all the nasty memories from your past, but your unconscious mind knows them and repeats them silently. When you are afraid or react on an impulse, the nature of your behaviour sits here. There is an association with your feelings and thoughts. You may have a deep-seated hatred of something but you don’t know why – but guess what? If you tap into your unconscious mind, you will find the reason there.
You can programme whatever you want into the unconscious and it will follow that order to the best of its ability. If you were told as a child you would amount to nothing by a teacher, guess what your mind will keep repeating that message to you until you act it out through your emotions and behaviour and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For instance if someone tells you that you will never become a success, that internal belief will make you falter and make mistakes to prove to you that you are a failure. You may sell yourself short by behaving negatively when success is so close to achievement because deep down, due to your negative belief, you know you are destined to fail.
Much of our life is spent on autopilot. The subconscious takes care of it all. It is possible to question the beliefs we hold in this part of our mind.
Our unconscious programming within us determines which direction we choose to follow. If we have different information in our unconscious, we cannot actively drive ourselves in the opposite direction to what we truly want. The unconscious is the driving force of our life.
The control we exercise over own thoughts has to be a conscious effort on our part. We cannot expect this deeper part of our mind to be reprogrammed overnight. If we truly wish to change, we need to dig deep within ourselves to achieve our goals.
To do this, we need inner motivation. Your inner desire has to be greater than your old habits which have formed during your lifetime to counteract any external influence on you.
Dominant Left or Right Brain
Although we use both left and right parts of our brain alternatively to suit us, we are either predominantly left or right-brained. (Some people however do have the ability to use either side equally).
The left part of the brain deals mostly with:
- Logic, reason and facts
- Mathematical and scientific
- Practical and realistic
The right part of the brain deals mostly with:
- Images and fantasy
- Ability to take risks
- Religion and philosophy
- Feelings and intuition
The mind can furthermore be divided into 4 sections. Broken down, these 4 parts represent the following aspects:
1. Lower right brain deals with feeling ability
People dominated by this part of the hemisphere are emotional and sensitive. They love to help others.
2. Upper right brain deals with experimental ability
People dominated by this part of the hemisphere are experimental in that they take chances and risks in life. They love to use their imagination.
3. Upper left brain deals with the ability to rationalise
People dominated by this part of the hemisphere are realistic, practical and logical. They love to use their analytical skills.
4. Lower left brain deals with the ability for Safekeeping
People dominated by this part of the hemisphere are well organised and reliable. They love to focus on safety and take precautions.