Mind/Body – What is the Connection
Since the dawn of man, it has been puzzling as to why we have thoughts in our mind and how our body functions. What is the connection between the mind and body? This has dumbfounded man and this has been a problem in philosophy and psychology.
Experts from all fields and different aspects of life are becoming progressively more aware of the concept of Consciousness. Our oldest beliefs in the nature of physical reality, our health, and the workings of the mind are being challenged by the day and we are realizing that something needs to change. There is something very important in this concept that we need to understand and apply to our daily lives.
What is the realm of mind and consciousness? Once it was thought that the mind is a product of the brain; that our own self-awareness is some accident of evolution. This is no longer the issue. The suggestion that our awareness, our consciousness, is not the product of our brain is hastily becoming popular.
So, if our mind is not the product of our brain, then there is something much more complex and much more important going on in every moment of our existence. Our consciousness is being acknowledged by our brain, which changes a great many things. The concept of death needs to be re-evaluated, so if your consciousness is not dependent on your body then it possibly will exist long after your body dies, or even before it was born. The concept of individualism needs to be evaluated, if your mind is not in your skull then there is no reason it can’t be shared by others.
The realm of the mind and consciousness relates to how the mind functions with the body through physical movement. Descartes believed that the mind was derived from animal spirits and it was through heat in the blood that would move the muscles in the body. Descartes also thought that there were spirits in the muscles themselves. The movement of the muscles would occur from an action from the animal spirits, but he wasn’t quite sure as to what would establish which muscles would move. Descartes had two thoughts on this. The first was that the mind would say which muscle would move and the animal spirits would activate the nerves controlling those muscles; thus the mind can actually influence the body. His second thought was that what he called reflexes. This is when the muscle would automatically move in the reaction of specific sensory.
There have been many different theories throughout history as to why our body can move and what exactly is controlling that. Some believed it was lighting storms in our body that would shock the muscles and that would create the movement. There has been much testing as to how the mind and body are connected. Before this idea came about, the brain use to thought a useless organ.
Dualism is an ancient notion that was profoundly rooted in Greek notion; however, long before that, the ancient scriptures taught that mankind was made in God’s image and that Adam needed the spirit breathed into him before becoming a living soul. Almost 2000 years after Plato and Aristotle reasoned that the human mind or soul could not be identified with the physical body, Rene Descartes reinforced this concept and gave it a name, dualism. The word “Cartesius” is simply the Latin form of the name Descartes. Consequently, Cartesian dualism is simply Descartes concept of dualism.
Descartes’ famous saying exemplifies the dualism concept. He said, “Cogito ergo sum,” “I reflect therefore I am.” Descartes held that the immaterial mind and the material body are two completely different types of substances and that they interact with each other. He reasoned that the body could be divided up by removing a leg or arm, but the mind or soul were indivisible. They existed somewhere around man.
This concept is difficult to accept for those with a secular humanist, materialist, and evolutionist worldview because accepting it is accepting supernaturalism.
Many people that believe that there is an independent mind that is capable of transcending physical functions of the body through the central nervous system. Although studies are still being conducted, the brains of Tibetan and Buddhist Monks are of particular interest because of the numerous hours spent in deep meditation. After studying g Tum-mo (a yoga technique used by Tibetan Monks), for 20 years, Herbert Benson “developed the “relaxation response,” which he describes as “a physiological state opposed to stress.” It is characterized by decreases in metabolism, breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure” (Cromie, 2002). On top of this study, Benson’s researchers discovered that Monks that practiced other forms of meditation could “lower their metabolism by 64 percent” (Cromie, 2002).