For the first blog in this section, I thought it was important to lay the foundation for future blogs and further exploration on this tricky and interesting subject. As it turns out, there is little consensus on how to define the mind. It would seem that there are two camps: those that define the mind as the brain and those that align it more with the spirit.
If we consult our good friends Merriam and Webster this is what they have to say:
- The element or complex of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons
- The conscious mental events and capabilities in an organism
- The organized conscious and unconscious adaptive mental activity of an organism
In psychological terms the mind is seen as the personalization of the brain. Each individual mind depends on the unique patterns of brain cells, which build up connections over our life as we grow and develop according to our individual experiences. Common attributes of mind include perception, reason, imagination, memory, emotion, attention, and a capacity for communication. Some say that the mind also extends to every cell in the body.
Then there is the question of the apparent division between the conscious and the subconscious mind. This is where some people ascribe the mind to the spiritual.
As we go about our lives, we are usually aware only of our conscious thoughts. But we are also influenced by our subconscious drives. From the urge to survive, eat, avoid danger, and interact with others, through the triggering of emotions, the development of habits and behaviors, to the complete management of every cell in the body, the subconscious is often responsible. Some spiritual teachers suggest that these functions are more of an ‘energy’ rather than an actual identifiable entity like the brain. They believe the brain and mind are two separate and distinct creations; the brain is a biochemical organ while the mind is a psychic organ that is attached to the human soul.
They suggest that human beings are dual in nature, physical and psychic. Within the physical body are physical organs. Within the psychic body, which is contained within the physical form, are psychic organs like the mind. It is the mind that gives you all of the sense of cognition and a sense of beingness. The physical and the psychic are linked so closely together that one does not function without the other.