Friday, February 17, 2012

We Learn Viscerally And Mentally

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If you were to ask everyone whom you chanced to encounter if the following two statements were true, you would mostly get answers in the affirmative. And yet, despite conventional wisdom, they are only partial truths:

1. The MIND is the seat of intelligence and learning, and,
2. The MIND controls the BODY.

-- Just ask any ordinary person. He or she will likely confirm it (and perhaps even grin gratuitously).

One would think that our bodies were robotic; that they are merely slaves to our minds. When meeting a challenge (i.e., running a race, lifting weights, making a presentation in front of a group, somebody's well-intended uncle invariably chimes in with, "You can do it, kid! It's just mind over matter!"

If that were completely true (and I'll confess that I believe it to be partially true),   then how is it possible that:  Physical pain profoundly affects how we think and feel?  We can walk down a familiar flight of stairs with our eyes closed? We can sense the gaze or presence of another individual upon us or in our proximity?  An electrical current can produce a spasm when passed through a physically dead body?  An individual will involuntarily vomit to purge a poison from his system, even if tastes delicious, and even if he has been told by his trusted spouse that it is quite healthful? When my body is cold, I begin to shiver? A victim in a deep coma may physically respond to the touch of a loved one?  Someone can study a piano book for a year, and, when invited to sit down and play, absolutely be at a loss? People often sleepwalk without hurting themselves? A ballerina can execute a series of thousands of moves during the course of a ballet? An accomplished martial artist can perform a series of  moves in the same manner as a ballerina? Muscle fibers can grow stronger as a result of mere physical exercise? We have many spontaneous reflexes? Our bodies can heal themselves when cut or bruised?

And how about this...

 That each and every cell in our bodies "knows" the role that it is obligated to play in order to sustain us? And that certain cells or tissues, if moved from one part of the body to another, can actually adapt and assume a new function???

Combined, out minds and bodies are like interactive holographs. Each cell contains the code necessary to re-create the entire body from which is was drawn, but each cell is 'willing' to a assume a specific role as determined by engineering and circumstances. And each cell has enough plasticity to "morph" into another type of cell to carry on a function which is not being addressed by some other injured or diseased cell.

I am most fascinated by scientific reports of patients who have had hearts and other vital organs donated to them through life-saving transplants, and who subsequently developed memories, or sensations or cravings that were known to be associated with the deceased donor -- a complete stranger.

Well then...

OUR BODIES LEARN, TOO. From cell, to organ, to system, to the whole being...OUR BODIES LEARN. Our cells and systems remember. Our cells and systems adapt to change, and can, if need be, actually transform themselves to survive the environment!

The seat of intelligence and learning is not exclusively in the MIND. The seat of intelligence and learning is not exclusively in the BODY. THE SEAT OF INTELLIGENCE AND LEARNING IS IN OUR ENTIRE BEING.

The infinite recursive interplay between mental (mind) learning and visceral (body) learning creates the means of realizing our greatest potential.  And I believe that that potential is unlimited.

Just relax and let yourself imagine the wildest of  possibilities for a moment:If MIND and BODY are both consciously trained and are taught to work in harmony, the result could be extraordinary synergy and unparalleled achievement.

Looked at in this way, we are not merely creatures -- we are cooperate, collaborative colonies of "blood" relations. Each cell learns. Each cell instructs or teaches its neighbors or the tissues in which it is subsumed. We are mental (conscious) and visceral (conscious and subconscious) collections of miniaturized minds, each one compacted, yet each, like a computer chip, loaded with information and a mysterious sentience.

Douglas E Castle for BRAINTENANCE

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