The brain breathes mind
like the lungs breathe air.
– HUSTON SMITH
Here, I take a deep breath and wonder: where do I begin? With a background in neither contemporary medicine nor science, writing about the human mind can feel like a walk on very thin ice. Yet working daily with Life Alignment and studying with teachers from both the Advaita and Buddhist traditions in conjunction with modern neuroscience, I begin to understand the awesome power of the mind.
In order to follow my soul’s purpose and work in energy medicine, exploring the nature of my own mind has, I believe, been more valuable than any formal degree course. So before we look at how and why mind is the author of both our happiness and discontent, what is the mind?
Looking up into the sky, what do you see? A vast expanse, eternal, timeless, limitless space; always right here. This is a useful metaphor for Consciousness, which no words or images can possibly describe − the light of Awareness that illuminates whatever it shines upon.
Consciousness / awareness / mind are often used interchangeably, and thus the terminology can be confusing. They are, however, simply alternative terms for the Source, our True Nature, the I AM, the ‘ground’ from which everything arises as form and formless.
Lower case consciousness / awareness / mind refers to the level of everyday mind as in, ‘I’m conscious of the time and aware that I need to hurry to catch my train’. I’m mind-full of time and what I need to do. In looking at the mind, we are referring either to pure Awareness (the source of all that is, our true nature) or to our ordinary level of awareness (being aware of something).
Dazzled by the plethora of teachings on the mind, I turned to the great Advaita sage, Sri Nisargadatta’s timeless teachings in I Am That. He says, ‘there can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep.’
When deeply asleep, we are not conscious, but awareness is ever present. How do we know this? When we wake up we are aware of having slept and perhaps dreamed. During daytime, when awake, consciousness ‘does not shine by itself. It shines by a light beyond it.’ Behind our conscious, moving mind is beginning-less, endless, change-less Awareness − the Source, Truth, God, our true nature.
Sometimes when we forget or feel confused, we mutter, ‘Oh dear, I’m losing my mind!’ Our hand flies to our head as if mind is inside − a product of the brain. But this cannot be so. The brain is a physical object, which can be touched, scanned and sliced open. It has a definite locality – inside the skull. Your brain does not generate thought … ‘anymore than the wire generates electric current.’ Mind or consciousness, cannot be photographed or repaired by surgery – it is ‘nonlocal mind’. At times when our body is relaxed and perfectly still, our mind can be busy, jumping from one thought to another. Mind is everywhere, and nowhere.
Buddhist scripture describes your body as a ‘guesthouse’; your mind is the guest, a continuum that remains even when you vacate your ‘rental’. The Universe is one interconnected field of Consciousness, and just as each atom is an integral part of the totality called ‘the sky’, so billions of individual minds are part of One Mind. Since mind is nonlocal with respect to space and time, the idea that your mind is separate from other minds is an illusion. ‘Individual minds cannot be put in a box (or brain) and walled off from one another.’ What makes this concept so important for our wellbeing?
It is easy to believe that our suffering is due to events beyond our control: the words and actions of others, a lack of resources, or the political climate in which we live. Naturally, these challenging factors can cause great distress, but disturbance to our equilibrium arises primarily from our state of mind, our mental patterns and self-limiting beliefs that, with their colourful emotions, cause us pain.
A relatively happy, healthy life involves the unity and coherence of all its ingredients (mind, body, spirit, and environment) in the same way that a lemon soufflé must include all its ingredients if it is to become its divine fluffy self. The mind is a multi-level powerhouse, and the chief ingredient of a healthy life is a healthy mind. The Buddha’s words are as true today as they were more than two thousand years ago:
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
During a balance, three levels of mind are highly active in bringing about immediate change in brain chemistry, our DNA and greater peace in heart and mind.
SOURCE: Extracted from The Healing Power of Life Alignment by Philippa Lubbock © Philippa Lubbock 2017 published by Watkins, London
Philippa Lubbock is a Life Alignment practitioner and author, who entered the field of energy medicine via a winding path through classical music, theatre, early education, bodywork and psychology. Her years as a Gestalt psychotherapist provided first-hand evidence of the mind as the source of ‘dis-ease’. This fuelled her passion to search for – and find – this healing method that dissolves the boundaries between mind, body, spirit and the environment. Philippa is the author of The Healing Power of Life Alignment, and Life Alignment (Watkins) which was translated into 6 languages.