We are often shown brain scans of criminals who have faulty areas of their brain. Equally, did you know that the brain scan of a devoted Buddhist monk will show heightened areas in the pre frontal lobes which are linked to compassion? The assumption is that we are our brain.
Who’s in charge?
If you believe this, then the brain is in charge of you. It has evolved to give us certain behaviours like knowing when – and how fast – to run away. Some responses seem to be already programmed in such as the ‘fight or flight’ reaction. It makes men want to compete for the attentions of a beautiful woman. Most of the articles and book give us the same message. Your brain is using you – you’re not the one in charge.
Hang on… that can’t be right…
There are obvious flaws in this argument:
• Activity seen in the brain is not the same as feeling. It’s an electrical impulse caused by feeling.
• No one has ever proved that simple molecules have the qualities of the mind.
• It’s impossible to build a theory on how the mind works based on a material object that has somehow gained consciousness i.e. your brain.
Cause and effect
When a brain lights up on a scan it’s just like the TV lighting up when you turn it on. And yet you couldn’t say that the actual television makes the programs that you watch. That would be crazy. In the same way, that brain scan is showing a physical correlation. It’s not showing what caused it. The theory of our brain using us is humiliating to our potential. It’s true that if your brain has some faulty wiring you can end up with depression, phobias and addictions. In these cases, it may seem as if your electrical circuits have taken control.
Who fixes problems? You or your brain?
However, people can and do stop bad habits, stop their addictions and overcome depression. Has the brain suddenly fixed its’ own wiring? No – the mind takes over. Why do we say ‘make up your mind’? It’s because it’s your mind that dictates to your brain what you’re going to do.
The best news ever
It’s great news that we are not our brains. When you use the very real power of your mind, you can heal, find inspiration, gain insight, become more self aware, make discoveries, be curious and achieve enormous jumps in personal growth. The brain can’t do these things on its’ own. Try and view it like a hard wired machine. That machine will do what it does. It won’t suddenly offer you a mind blowing insight. Your mind does that. A brain that is depressed cannot heal itself. However, if your mind goes looking for answers – like deciding to see your Doctor for medication to help your depression – you’re telling your brain that is what you want.
Something to keep in mind…
Neuroscientists are amazing at finding out how neural paths and circuits work. Due to studies on neuroplasticity, we know that the brain can adapt. The wonders of brain activity are fascinating. However, we must not glorify the brain and ignore the miracles of the mind and what it can do for us. That is where the real power lies.