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Mind vs. brain vs. consciousness
The difference between your mind, brain and consciousness is a question that has eluded scientists, sages and scholars for millennia. The terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are important differences in meaning:
The brain – a physical entity
Of the three terms, ‘the brain’ is the easiest to define. The brain can be seen, photographed and even dissected. It can be physically described and the function of its’ various components can be tested and recorded. The brain is the center of your nervous system and receives input from your senses and various other parts of your nervous system, processes these inputs and acts in response.
The mind – more than your brain
Unlike a brain, you cannot ‘see’ a mind. Just ‘where is’ the mind is difficult, if not impossible to ascertain. Your mind comprises the aspect of you that is the ‘self’. It is your thinking, your awareness, your perception and judgment. Your mind uses your brain but is more than your brain.
Consciousness – the great mystery
The nature of consciousness is one of the great unanswerable questions. We all know that we are conscious beings, but what is the nature of this consciousness? How are we aware of our own nature? How does your consciousness differ from other people’s or other animals? Philosophers and neuroscientists continue to struggle with these questions, but there are some things you can be sure of.
Your mind is part of your consciousness but your consciousness transcends your mind. Consciousness has many levels from your upper most day to day awareness to the layers of deep wisdom, memory and knowledge that you possess, even if you are not aware of it. Most of us typically access only the tip of the iceberg of our potential consciousness, leaving so much of our mind power untapped.
There are ways to develop your ability to access the deeper layers of your consciousness – they are easy to learn and can be developed with persistence. These are some of the most effective ways to tap into the depths of your consciousness:
• Your subconscious mind is less logical and linear than your conscious mind and responds best to the languages of art and music. Expressing yourself creatively in any format that resonates with you will give your subconscious mind a voice and using that voice regularly will help to strengthen the role of your subconsciousness in your life.
• Meditation– this is one of the most effective methods for tuning into and deepening your consciousness. With practice meditation allows you to access your deeper consciousness much more directly and regular practice has many benefits. Meditation works by changing the patterns of brain activity from the normal waking beta pattern to the alpha pattern, and deepening further into the theta and delta patterns. In these states your thinking becomes much more creative and you are able to discover patterns and solutions to problems that were not apparent in your normal waking state. Meditation also causes the release of a number of beneficial brain chemicals that enhance your wellbeing, stabilize mood and decrease stress and anxiety. Many people who begin to meditate find that daily meditation becomes indispensable to them as they start to exist on a deeper plane of consciousness, enhancing their feeling of life contentment and fulfillment.
• Using a dream journal. It is in the realms of dreams that your mind, brain and consciousness really overlap. Deep dreaming uses all aspects of your conscious and subconscious mind, allowing connections to be made and aspects of your personality and life experiences to resonate in ways that you are not aware of in your waking life. Keeping a dream journal can help you find strengths and direction in your life.
The nature of brain vs. mind vs. consciousness is a question that may remain unanswerable but the important thing to remember is to live in awareness of how interconnected each of these aspects of yourself really are. Using these tips you will grow in self-awareness and strengthen your connections with the deepest parts of your consciousness.