Can you change your mind?
Most neuroscientists believe that we are our brain, and that when our body dies, along with the brain, so do we. Through functional MRIs neuroscientists attempt to determine which parts of the brain, and even which neurons, are responsible for such things as thinking, emotions and belief in a higher being called God. At the same time, the same scientists are telling us that we, whoever they mean by “we,” can change and control and mould our brain. Because of neural plasticity (the ability of the brain to grow new neurons and axons and synapses) we can break bad habits and form new ones, heal ourselves, control our blood pressure, temperature and breathing … Wait a minute! If we are our brain, how does the brain decide to change itself, and why would it ever want to?
On the other hand, if we were separate from our brain – let’s say as a mind or spirit – it would make sense. If our brain were just a part of our body – a sophisticated computer, for instance – it would make sense that we would be able to control and use our brain as required or desired.
The problem and the reason the neuroscientists are stymied – is that they, like most scientists and physicists, do not accept the fact that everything in this world is not physical – composed of molecules and atoms – that can be tested and measured or put in a test tube.
This may change; but now most scientists do not acknowledge the mind, soul, spirit or anything that cannot be seen, measured, tested, weighed, prodded or scanned. To the scientist, the mind is just another word for the brain or simply a function of the brain.
Looking at the brain and assuming it is responsible for our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and intelligence, is like looking at a radio and assuming it is responsible for the music, or seeing a light bulb and assuming it is responsible for the light. They are both merely instruments being used to produce these things. The emphasis these days seems to be pinpointing what parts of the brain are responsible for our thoughts and actions and feelings. With functional MRIs neuroscientists can see sections of the brain light up and conclude that part of the brain – or specific neurons – are responsible for decision-making or compassion or fear and so on.
Well, we can say a TV speaker is responsible for the sound since it vibrates whenever the noise is heard and the picture tube produces the picture since it lights up whenever an image appears; but pull the plug and suddenly you realize there must be something else involved. What I suggest is that the brain is simply a part of the body. It is connected to the body and is programed to control the essential workings of the body such as the circulatory system, body temperature and breathing. But it is basically a sophisticated computer that can be further programmed by the mind. Not only can the mind program the brain, through neuroplasticity it can also change the hardware.
While the brain connects with the body, the mind connects with all things – the brain and the rest of our body, nature, our environment, one another, and God. Everyone is born with a mind, and at death, the body and the brain die and return to the earth; but the mind cannot be destroyed, and returns to God.
In holistic time management, when we speak of the body, mind and spirit, I am assuming the brain is part of the body and that the mind is a spiritual entity that cannot be destroyed. But common practice refers to the brain as the mind, and it becomes confusing. Certainly we can change both body and brain, and change ourselves in the process. But it is we, the mind, soul or spirit that is initiating the changes, not our brain. We are not our brain.