This old adage has mostly negative connotations. Maybe you’ve heard someone claim that their doctor told them that their pain is “all in their head.” Or, that you, yourself, maintain from time to time that a specific feeling you are having is just “all in your mind.” I would like to respectfully declare that, of course it’s all in your head because the mind is responsible for everything.
And this is because the mind is basic consciousness and the perceiver of the external world. It is responsible for our “knowing.”
The perceiving mind is our most active and important function because we need the mind to create our environment.
The mind makes:
hearing turn into listening
touching turn into feeling
seeing turn into observing
eating turn into savoring
smelling turn into fragrance
Therefore, the mind analyzes information from our senses to make a judgment or decision.
When we acquire information, we are susceptible to judgment and evaluation…desire and aversion. These are the two aspects of our mind that are responsible for most of our suffering. That’s because the mind is dualistic in nature. It swings like a pendulum between the things we are attached to and the things we want to avoid or get rid of. These are the facets that cause anxiety, confusion and restlessness which are the source of most all illnesses.
When the mind realizes it has just what it needs, then the mind can heal the person.
According to Ayurveda, the mind has two predominant features:
First, it is the one and only. Believe it or not, the mind can only focus on one thought or perception at a time. Due to its tremendous speed, it may seem like we can multi-task or do many things at once. But, we are really only connecting with one thing at a time. And, that’s interesting because most of us do at least two things at once…we listen to music when we drive…we have conversations while we’re cooking…we may be reading something on our phones when we’re dining with a group of friends…the list is endless.
When we try to do two or more things at once, we cannot actually do anything satisfactory because our minds aren’t able to process information from more than one sense organ at a time. This becomes evident, when the tasks require more of our attention. Talking on the phone when driving has increased the number of car accidents. And, texting and driving is, well, almost impossible.
The other feature of the mind is that it is boundless (in space and time). That may sound like a contradiction after I just said that the mind can really only focus on one task at a time. It’s true, the mind isn’t designed to multi-task, but the mind is the essence of all substances. It is very powerful and the mind contains vast amounts of energy.
Because of this, our minds are capable of receiving information that has multi-dimensional qualities, various identities and varying degrees of information:
- Our minds are able to receive vibrations from our sense organs to make decisions. For example: we smell food cooking, we become hungry. Our minds are also capable of controlling the sense organs from overuse. For example, when we are near a smoking campfire, we know to turn ourselves in the opposite direction to avoid inhaling the smoke.
- The mind can slow down the oscillation of different thoughts in order to focus on one particular thought…it is how we get determination, awareness and habituation. For example, our minds can block or reduce outside stimulus when we are having an important conversation with a specific person in a crowded place.
- The mind is determinate. We process information to make choices…thinking about the pros and cons to analyze a situation or problem…like when you need to choose a new job or a new place to live.
- The mind helps us to set an intention and develop a plan to achieve it.
- We can infer, speculate and visualize. Our minds are capable of pondering, meditating and internalizing. These are processes that we all go through for most actions that we undertake and they are how we decide to interact with colleagues, family members and friends. These are the processes we undergo for making any of life’s choices.
So, that’s the description of what our mind can do and is capable of…sum it up to say, there is a lot going on upstairs…
How do we, then, maintain a healthy mind?
For these details, tune into my new podcast, #8: It’s All in Your Head
Hope you are enjoying this new year! Kim.