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On Using Your Complete Mind

Woman walking along she ocean engulfed in watercolor-like strokes of every color.
Image by Midjourney

I like the word "complete" because if all the parts aren't present, you can't use it without saying something else. "Nearly complete."

The Irony of Me Using the Word Complete

Several decades ago when I was getting my doctorate, we were just beginning to talk about the mind as something different from the brain. Everyone was all: oooo, the nervous system! It's responsible for an awful lot of information. It's part of the mind!

Then the person next to you joined your mind, in that the affects of those around you on the way you think and perceive and feel became undeniable, making interpersonal neurobiology an official field of study. But we can't stop there, because the environment you're in affects your mind — is your mind, as well. And that includes pretty much everything in your environment. Including technology.

It's ironic to use complete, because there could be something we haven't discovered yet that should be included in our definition of mind.

It's humbling, I know.

But that shouldn't prevent us from moving forward with our current understanding of mind, which is dramatically more expansive than it was in the 20th century (and doesn't putting it that way make it sound so far in the past? It's 24 years ago).

What This Means For You

If you have an awareness practice, over time you realize your sense organs connect you to the world. Intellectually you always knew that, but feeling it is different. And to be clear, this is a scientific phenomenon; there's nothing woo-woo about it.

And when we talk about our senses, we include interoception, which is related to the feeling tone that is the precursor to our emotions. Our guts are filled with neurons, and all kinds of cells are involved in sensing our world and being affected by it. This means awareness practices need to take a multi-sensory approach to be most useful.

What Does Useful Mean?

If there can be said to be a goal of awareness practices, that goal is insight. If you want to learn the most about your human experience and then take the next step of relieving yourself of your patterns of thought and behavior that cause you suffering, insight is the way. Awareness practices show you your life, but they don't alone relieve your suffering. For that, you need to do the hard work of asking . . .

What's here now, and what does it remind me of? When do I tend to feel/think this? What is the lesson here?

Last night was the first class for a group of Edward Jones financial advisors, and those questions, for me, were the crucial moment. We must move toward what makes us uncomfortable so that we can gain insight and create a different future for ourselves.

We need to study our present moments (which are a byproduct of our past), to be able to imagine and craft better futures.

May ease find you.



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