Friday, 19 February 2010

mind body connection and the I

A friend from England sends the entry below. It is most welcome. This is a good occasion to remind everybody that this blog does not belong to somebody in particular. It belongs to all. Ideally it would be a forum where people from different geographic and cultural backgrounds could talk and explore relevant issues, and learn from each other.
If you have some thought, over the dinner table conversation, dialogue or something that has happened to you and you want to share it, and explore it together with other people (...this is after all a dialogue....) send it, and we will post it here.

"It does seem true for me, when my body is dealing with something difficult, my mind suffers for it as well. When I ingest things that my body does not like or has a hard time dealing with, I find that I become irritable, irrational and at times angry. I can see quite clearly, especially in my most recent years of life, how important eating a "good" diet is for my mental health. It seems to follow logically for me then that having a body which is in good physical condition would help me to have a mind which is better adept at dealing with life.

Whether or not having a healthy body would then allow my mind to be more alert and awake, I have no idea. How does one determine this to be true? How do I even acquire any evidence to support such things? I am not sure there is any physical evidence one could gather which would support such a notion. I can only make assumptions as to how my mind would react to a particular situation if my body were in a state different from the present state under which the conditions apply. Having this been said, however, I do find myself answering in the affirmative to the stated questions. In general, I feel that if I have a responsive body which is capable of dealing with the hardships that it endures over time; a body that can quickly, and with little effort, assimilate the energy that it needs for proper functioning while simultaneously discarding and excreting the matter that it does not need or want, this would be a body with exponentially more energy to use for other processes. It is my assumption that this unused energy could be directed more inwardly towards ones own nature and how one reacts in the environment which it is presented. Having such energy may possibly mean that I could experience, notice and/or pay attention to things happening within and without me that otherwise may go unnoticed when the body and mind are using its energy for other things.

I do see one problem with everything that I have stated above though. The basis for these views and assumptions are precluded by the very first assumption that the body and the mind are two separate things. It seems we find it quite easy to assume what exactly the thing that I call "I" really is. The common view of what I is in the west assumes a separation between the machine, which is the body, and the thing that resides in the machine called "I". "I" am separate from the thing in which "I" am housed. Being separate we then can assume that actions taken on the machine have no effect on the "I". This line of thinking can be seen in many aspects of society and in the way that I personally view and treat my body. I have the basic view 'keep the machine well oiled with good fuel and the machine will take me far with little trouble'. It is certainly possible though that the thing which I call "I" is nothing more than the machine itself. Logically, this seems much more realistic and plausible to me. A machine which operates in conjunction with numerous other machines working together to give rise to that which we see, feel and observe around us. It may have been that once it was a machine that acted in harmony with others around it, at some point seemingly this machine recognized and became aware that it was functioning and could control things around it through a will in of its own. This state of self awareness has assumed itself to be an individual separate from that which it acts on and observes externally. Born out of this perceived process of 'will, action and consequence' were the seeds which gave rise to the conscious being which I call "I". A machine with the ability to make decisions for itself which have a perceivable and definable consequence which the I is able to observe. The I that acts on the things that it can see, but has no relation to. I have then taken this a step further and assumed the thing that is the machine which I call "I" is separate from the thing that I call my body. I can act on the body; I can change the body through thought and will. The assumption being that anything I can change through my will is not then connected to or a part of me. The thing that I call "I" is everything that I assume cannot be changed through thought and self-made will. And to change the content of the the immovable "I" would be to destroy the "I" altogether. Conscious will and action taken from the point of view of the "I" to change or otherwise alter the "I" would be in essence a sort of mental suicide. In essence, a thought to change the very thing called "I" which makes the thought is an assumed contradiction and is dismissed as soon as it is thought up.

So, long story a little bit longer: this machine believes that it may have the energy and the will to see through that which itself has created in thought if indeed this machine took better care of that which it calls its body."

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