I’ve had some very interesting chats with my colleague in Medicine, Psychiatry, Consciousness and Metaphysics, Dr. Charles Raison. Dr. Raison says that often people who have a spiritual orientation become frustrated or guilty when they have negative thoughts.. Why can’t they get control of their mind? Do we instantly put a negative outcome into motion because we have a strong feeling of fear or apprehension associated with a recurrent negative thought? Why does it take so long for our “power of positive thinking” to manifest in our lives? We have been discussing in prior blogs how we can’t keep up with the speed of thought. As comically portrayed in the movie Bruce Almighty, a lot of chaos happened when thoughts manifested instantly! Thankfully we are not blessed or cursed with that power.
However, our bodies do respond quite nicely to our predominant thoughts and feelings. The tremendous filing system in our brain tracks all these events and gives us ideas, urges, or cravings in response to how we are feeling. We want a drink or food that makes us feel better. We may have remembered the comfort it provided as a child. These activities are part of the “back office” of the mind. We convert physiological needs such as hydration into a desire for a flavored drink when we only needed water. These activities are part of that primitive system assuring our survival. The point is that physiologic processes, from the immune system to the way our gut processes food to how our stress systems operate, all signal the brain. There is a lot of evidence that bodily processes will signal the brain to feel certain ways and do so in a manner that we are not conscious of. This bidirectional function is another part of the back office.
Dr. Raison mentioned that we are masters of our ship but we are only partial masters. It takes years of practice for the mind to get real mastery over bodily processes. I have found that we can take advantage of the bidirectional function and accelerate this process by practicing better control of what we focus on in consciousness. Consciousness also provides an inner space where we can create the conditions in thought and in emotion to stimulate the body to change. The fact that it’s a bidirectional thing is very powerful, because, for full mental health, it is increasingly clear that you have to take both directions seriously if you want to optimize your well-being. That begins by being more aware of what you take in during your daily activities, from food to smoking to other mood altering substances. Are you also surrounding yourself with positive intellectual and emotional influences, or just numbing & dumbing down the mind with food, substances, media, or vicarious living through the lives of others? Consciousness will drift through life on a sea of these thoughts and emotions unless you actively decide to take control. You don’t have to be an ascended master to make it happen. There are daily activities we will discuss. Just like undertaking a new exercise program, mastery starts with small steps taken consistently. Consciousness works the body.
What about stress? What about that thing called “healthy stress?” We’ll discuss that next time!