Change your mind

What do we mean, when we talk about having a ‘mind’? Our brain, our self view, our life force? Read the full words that are in me series here

Messy mind by Laura Eades and Elba Lloyd

Messy mind by Laura Eades and Elba Lloyd 2015

What do we mean, when we talk about having a ‘mind’?

Our brain + our subjectivity?

Our interpretations of experiences. Thoughts. Plus our capacity to be conscious of how squiffy they are. The squif plus the knowledge that it’s squiffy.

But then, I find we run into loads of other things that require definition. Because our thoughts aren’t just straight messages, they are not all factual, they have qualities, attitudes: opinions (we have a liking mind, and a mind that wishes things were different), value judgements and moral judgements, which lead to their own stresses and pressures, feelings, a sense of our past and our future, and if we can ‘clear our mind’ then we can also sink into the present. Our mind is often forward-reaching and intentional: Hopefulness, inspiration, urges, impulses, desires. Or is that our heart?

What do we mean when we talk about rewiring our brain?

Changing our mind. Means coming to different conclusions, making different decisions.

We’re talking about altering our inclinations, our thought patterns.

If we make different decisions and draw different conclusions, we might behave differently. So if there’s a behaviour that’s troubling my life (like, overeating, say, or withdrawing from my love relationship, or becoming workaholic about my creative stuff), then I might want to look into my mind and unpick the mechanisms that lead to it. Or just set the thought part aside and see if the rest of my mind has anything to contribute.

In our mind, we have a sense of ‘self’

A way of seeing ourselves. It seems pretty important, this kind of consciousness, since it draws our experience into line with it. What I mean is, we like to have our sense of ourselves backed up. Even if it’s pretty negative – we’d rather have the comfort of confirming our sense of ourself than the discomfort of having it contradicted.

So we seem to seek and create experiences that confirm our sense of self.

I can sometimes see this, I think, in my 3-year-old.

OK, so I’m kind of playing her psychologist here which is a little arrogant and speculative, but then, parenting a toddler kind of makes a guessing/mindreading child psychologist out of all of us.

What I see is this: Sometimes she deliberately makes a bid for negative attention. For example, she makes as if to hit the baby, with a big grin on her face, looking at me, and saying “Mama, I’m hitting my sister”, but she’s actually only patting her experimentally. She just wants something from me. So I try to ignore her bid for the negative, and to get her back onto seeking a positive. I tell her, “Hey, is this a picture you did? I love the colour! Well done!” and then she shouts at me: “Noooo!”, because she can’t handle the Well Done, it doesn’t fit, it contradicts her self-view.

Some take a more expansive view of ‘mind’

Like the ‘Mind’ as described by Three Principles, for example, (been reading a bit about that thanks to Lisa Esile) which appears to be more like the sum total of the life force within us, as well as something that connects us all. Kind of reminds me of the homoepathic notion of the ‘vital force’. The Buddhist ‘Big Mind’, maybe? I’d be way out of my depth explaining that, but here’s someone who attempts to, Genpo Roshi. He makes it sound pretty rad. Because in the end, the idea of this life force is redemptive – you can peek outside your squiffy view and get a bit of perspective.

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