Mind Is Not Enough to Solve Your Problems
-You don’t want problems, you want happiness.
– You are equipped to know how to go from problems to happiness.
– Yet so many people live in pain. Why?
– Mind is not enough. It can’t do it alone and wasn’t designed to.
Here’s a little lite brain science-cum-yogic-knowledge to help you use your problem-solving, happiness-reaching equipment.
The part of your brain that makes you human is:
The cortex, includes the prefrontal cortex, cingulate and insula. These regions handle abstract reasoning and concepts, values, planning and the executive functions of organization, self-monitoring and impulse control.
– Rick Hanson, Buddha’s Brain.
This is the crowning achievement of evolution. It makes you the king/queen of the beasts. It calculates, organizes, designs, invents, and can imagine the future and distant dreams. When you think intensely, it is all “lit up” with activity. You are so smart, really!
These same skills can also fantasize and create its/your own reality. Wanted relationships are ended on assumptions and fears or, worse, clues are missed and positive thinking/denial leaves us open to betrayal. Suicide is an extreme example. All life in the Universe seeks to survive, yet a mind is convinced there is no use to it all, can’t see any positive way out. And when looking for answers to personal/ human issues as opposed to logistical/ logical tasks, the mind can default to old and false beliefs. So it needs assistance.
Another domain of the brain developed much earlier in evolutionary history is the limbic system.
The limbic system includes the amygdala, hippocampus and basal ganglia. It’s basically Grand Central Station for emotion.
– Rick Hanson, Buddha’s Brain.
If the prefrontal cortex makes us human and is about thoughts, the older brain is our animal nature (and is shared with our animal ancestors) and is all about feelings. This gives us rich information about our inner and outer world, AND HOW WE FEEL ABOUT IT ALL. The down side here is when it takes control, and we lose control of ourselves, our words and actions.
The prefrontal cortex is brilliant, can repress emotion and lose touch with reality. Limbic system is instinctively able to be alert and avoid harm but can react, can overtake you with emotion. They are made to work together! When they do, the limbic system brings you real-time information about harm and safety, what you need, how you are doing relative to your environment while the prefrontal cortex can modulate it’s impulsiveness and guide you to more subtle and modern-life appropriate responses to those emotions.
This is the underlying mechanics of Senses of the Soul, of a mindful use of emotions. Yoga, and, more specifically, meditation are scientifically proven to heighten activity in the prefrontal cortex, making you more aware, present, clear. In that state we can voluntarily use memories to invite emotion to arise (activating the limbic system). When both are in dialogue, instinct keeps you from losing touch mentally and intellect tames the beast. You can harness emotion for what it knows to be deeply, personally and intimately true about yourself and what you need to be okay, and translate that raw data into useable information and action to take care of yourself.