Did you know that though your mind and your brain are actively involved in your consciousness and the terms are often interchanged, they are actually not just 2 words for the same thing? Your brain is a tangible organ that is in control of all of your bodily functioning.
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On the other hand, your mind is in every single cell in your body. More important is that your mind has dominion over your body. Learn more about this concept at MindMasters.
If your brain were a company, the mission statement would be: “Regulating stress in order to maintain balance and promote a high quality of life for the individual.” In order to achieve this process, the brain processes the stimuli that is received from our 5 senses. That is, it observes the environment around us and responds internally.
Your thalamus is the clearinghouse for this sensory information, with the exception of the sense of smell. Once the thalamus has sorted out the sensory info, it is sent to the amygdala and the hippocampus- smell takes a more direct route.
The hippocampus is where learning/memory take place and where the sensory info is compared against your perception of how the world should be. This is much like the function of a quality control expert, ensuring that the products that are being released meet certain industry standards.
The hippocampus will report any discrepancies to the amygdala. The amygdala receives input from all areas of the body and if there is a potential problem at hand, will send the necessary preparations for the fight of flight response of your body.
Your nervous system uses neurotransmitters and your endocrine system uses hormones to facilitate communication between your brain and your body. Your endocrine glands release hormones into the blood stream to carry info to/from the various parts of your body and to communicate with your brain through the neurons.
This is comparable to the communication that takes place between the corporate execs and the department heads in a company. The neurotransmitters in your brain are the chemicals that allow the nerve cells to communicate- which are much like inner-department emails within a company.
The communication between your body and brain, through neurotransmitters and hormones report what is known as interoceptive awareness- that is, how and what you feel- which determines what you do.
Any time there is an intrusion on the balance of the organism, it is known as stress. Keep in mind that stress does not always equal distress- but distress does always equal stress. The role of your brain is to regulate the stress and return the system to a state of balance. When overused, the protective mechanisms such as increased blood pressure which prepare our body for the fight or flight response, cause health to start failing which leads to conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease, and more.
This is comparable to riding the brakes on your car until you wear the pads down and you’ve got metal on metal. Though the brakes are made to ensure your safety, they are suddenly a liability, putting you in danger.
Hormones are critical for the adaptation and protection of your brain. However, stress and hormones such as cortisol (produced by the body in response to stress), can have a negative effect on brain functions, especially learning.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the mind. If you want to imagine the mind’s influence over your brain, imagine execs gathering in the boardroom to determine and direct company policy and corporate strategy. In your mind, the “board members” are your thought processes, belief systems, education, social influences, innate intelligence, and more.
The variables of these individual “board members” along with the dynamics of the group, determine how effective the board is. For example, metabolites from gut bacteria being released into the bloodstream have an effect on neurotransmitters and hormones- which in turn, have an effect on your emotions and mood. Your moods and emotions have an effect on the way you present yourself and the way you perceive the situations/environment around you.
Your brain is always busy, so it anticipates, consolidates, and simplifies information- which is great for the sake of efficiency. However, it also increases your vulnerability. For example, even when you’re sad/upset and smiling, your brain interprets your smile as a signal that you are happy.
Therefore, it’s easy to trick your brain into thinking you are happy by putting a pencil in your mouth and biting down with your teeth because you are using the same muscles. In addition, when cortisol levels slowly habituate, your brain misreads this as the threat still being present, even if it’s no longer there. This is a problem for the brain- but not so much for your mind.
So, as you can see, your brain and your mind are separate- not just two sides of the same coin, as we are often led to believe. Your brain takes things at face value because it’s not as evolved as your mind. Your mind analyzes information and responds appropriately. Check out MindMasters to find out more about the power of your mind.