The Brain vs The Mind, by Doro Bush Koch

I’m fascinated with all things relating to the mind. And when I think of the mind I automatically think of the brain. There is much debate between the mind and the brain, and if they are one in the same. I am from the camp that believes the brain and the mind are separate and distinct. My perception of the mind, which cannot be physically described, is that it’s the part of the person by which one feels, perceives, thinks, remembers, desires and imagines. And what I think is most important about the mind is that it can be a critical factor in shaping the quality of our lives. 

Have you ever heard of two people who have experienced the same exact thing, describe their experiences in two completely different ways? I recently read a wartime story about two soldiers who were captured and put into the same prison camp. Both were in identical situations -- conditions were miserable and their treatment was brutal. One of the soldiers experienced extreme mental torment due to the horrible physical conditions and ended up bitter and broken in spirit: the other soldier managed to rise above his surroundings, even becoming a source of strength for the other prisoners. True stories like these aren’t rare, so how do we account for the different experiences? I believe it has to do with the condition of our minds. 

It’s interesting to examine the number and nature of our thoughts. As human beings, we have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. According to research as many as 98% of them are the same thoughts we had the day before. And even more significant is that 80% of our thoughts are negative. I have a friend who decided to count her negative thoughts one day with a tally counter just to see if this statistic might be accurate for her. She started the count first thing in the morning and by mid- morning she had already tallied 2,000 negative thoughts, at which point she gave in. 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama often says “A happy mind is a healthy mind, and a healthy mind is good for the body”. The health of the mind is so important and someday soon, taking care of our minds will be part of our personal hygiene. And just as physical exercise is a staple in the lives of many people who understand the benefits of moving our bodies, meditation, mindfulness, breathwork and taking the time to pause will also be part of our daily routines. And just as we see and feel tangible results with exercise, we will also see and feel tangible results with mindfulness and we now know from research that the mind and the body work together for optimal well-being. Gratitude plays an enormous part in keeping our minds healthy. When our minds are focused on what we are grateful for, there is less room for the negative to seep in. In a world that gives us plenty of reason to despair, when we cultivate gratitude, things don’t just look better, they actually get better.