Dec 16, 2014
Beyond the Brain to the Mind
Philosopher, Rene Descartes, coined the statement, “I think, therefore I am”. One of Descartes’ main philosophies was that the only sure thing that existed was the mind and everything beyond that was secondary and therefore, less reliable. When Descartes talked about the mind, he was not necessarily referring to the brain, but something more immaterial than that….something that was non-organic, unseen and beyond mere experience.
Most of my life I have endured the challenge of wrestling with a brain and body that has fierce amounts of potential but has difficulty being honed. As a child I could not sit still, had difficulty focusing in class and struggled with a variety of tics up until the age of about 12. I also struggled deeply with obsessive compulsive tendencies (mostly obsessive, which in the “OCD” world is labeled “Pure O”) that wreaked havoc on my peace of mind, my sense of self, my ability to relate and my self-esteem. Add abusive, fear-based religious teachings on top of that and you have a “fire meets gasoline” type of situation.
As God has brought people into my life to help me sort out these struggles and bring me a sense of stability and internal direction, I am able to grasp more and more the importance of truth and holding to what is “real” rather than anchoring myself to emotions, fears, body sensations, etc. Though these things are important and are valuable tools to living a full and successful life, I cannot use them as my “ultimate reality” as they have the tendency to take me for a ride when I’m not looking.
Descartes deduced that everything comes from the immaterial mind and because everything is born out of the mind, the mind must be the ultimate reality. As somebody who has a tendency to get caught in nasty, obsessive “thought traps” and who can be internally triggered by notions otherwise benign to the objective onlooker, it is important for me to ground myself in something deeper and more true than what my brain or my physical body tells me. Due to my inability to have a “quiet brain” and body (I include body because we are discovering that memories and sensations from past events are physically stored in the body as well as the brain), I have the good fortune of knowing that I must reach beyond the physical to something internal that seems to understand truth more than my earthly faculties could. Though the will and our ability to think rationally is extremely important and must be practiced (as I have been exercising the last few months), I find that my truth must come from a deeper place of stability, peace and assurance if I am to train myself cognitively. Because my physical brain, along with the rest of my physical body can respond to stimuli in ways that reflect past programming, I must reach into my “knower” as a friend of mine calls it, for truth and the knowledge that I am ok, that God sees me as ok and that the triggers that I am experiencing are physical responses to past damage done and do not need to reflect what is true in the core of my being.
I call this “good fortune”, because if I were to possess a physicality (brain, body, etc.) that did not struggle and was content as it was, I might not reach for something better or richer. I might not reach beyond “the seen” to discover “the unseen” which is where truth and fulfillment are found. My frailties have given me the insight to know that since I cannot simply rely on my brain and body chemistry (though these are very real and wonderful tools), I can anchor myself to the simple truth that I am ok, that I am not going anywhere, that I am love and that I am loved. When I choose to get up in the mornings and practice these truths, my rational brain is ignited and I have a base – a foundation – to discover the rest of me and the rest of life.
by Aimee Dassele
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