Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Where your mind takes you

This week's required reading is Super Brain by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi.  I'll wait while you order a copy.....

Zip and Cliff will read to you while you wait for your copy to arrive.

Unlocking the secret of mind-over-matter has been a quest that has engaged humans for the entirety of our existence on this planet, no matter how long you believe that to be.  We are desperate to figure out what makes us tick, mostly, I suspect, so that we can prove that each of us ticks better than someone standing on the other side of the room.  That's how we humans roll.

The book is subtitled:

Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being


Who wouldn't want to unleash something explosive in his or her mind?  And if the explosion brought with it any one of the above-named improvements, what a bonus that would be!  This book may not have all the answers, but it certainly holds sufficient wisdom and research-based context to keep anyone busy analyzing the details of an otherwise unexamined brain.

The biggest takeaway for me turned out to be a line I heard repeated the same night in a movie trailer:  "Fear is a choice.  Danger is real."  Whoa!  

So basically, it seems that we, as I used to teach my students (teachers don't learn as easily as students, obviously), make decisions every second of every minute of every day of our lives.  We decide to eat, drink, walk, sleep, frown, smile, hate, love, and on...and on....  Everything we do beyond the unfettered functioning of the autonomic nervous system (heart beating, lungs taking in air, liver functioning, etc) is a conscious or semi-conscious decision on our part.  Our brain and our mind are not one and the same. 

Who knew?

I'm not going to try to rehash the brilliance of these two authors in my feeble way.  I am, however, going to put on the table the idea that the brain functions as a minion to the mind.  The mind (call it whatever you want including the "self") is the controller, the joystick as it were, that gives legs to the actions of the brain.  The brain recognizes things we see, processes our senses, gives us the ability to walk upright, and keeps the machine operating.  The mind picks the trendy shoes we walk in and makes value judgments about the DQ whose pampered equine is gathering steam in the stall next to Fuzzbutt's.

The mind decides to be afraid.  Do the math, carry the one, and it's apparent that the mind can also decide not to be afraid.  It can decide to be sad, or it can decide not to be sad.  It can decide to put aside all the overlaying crapola we've absorbed and cling to and just be aware of reality.  What a concept!

I know I've felt this split on those days when, after a long layoff, I've pondered just how hairy Zip's emotional trigger might be and whether or not there's danger lurking in those rolling eyes.  Most times, I've actually, consciously made the decision to not be afraid.  Looked at objectively, it's generally possible for any scenario to be taken down to its most real level and assessed accordingly, and horses are certainly real. When we stop laying our own emotional stuff on their behaviors and we recognize that horses don't misbehave, they only behave, we have a clue.  And if we also recognize that horses, like very young humans, are very primary-process ("I", "me", "mine", "give it to me!", "cookie?") and far more transparent than we are, we can more aptly judge the reality of the danger vs fear dichotomy we're experiencing in the moment.  

Give yourself credit (a little, at least) for knowing your own horse.  You know what it means when he gives you that look.  You know instinctively what the ears, eyes, nostrils, tail, and breathing pattern of your equine buddy mean.  But many of us will overlook our own intuitive understanding and apply decades of our own silliness before adding that big dose of fear to the equation.  

What if you didn't?  What if next time you just take what Fuzzbutt is telling you at face value?  What if you leave him alone when he's actually signalling danger, and what if you set aside your mind-made fear and just hop aboard if he's not?  What if?

This came up when I discussed (that's how I think of my diatribes, despite there being no one talking back to me) Michael Johnson's Healing Shine.  His big  Ah-HA!  moment arrived at the behest of a Native American mentor who pointed out very nicely that Michael was Shine's biggest problem.  I'm thinking that maybe our minds are our biggest problem, and we have a bad habit of spreading that around.  

Think on, Fearless Reader!  And peel off the layers between your brain and reality.  It might be a whole new world you're looking at.

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