The premise of The Mind Brain Matrix is that there is a difference between the brain and the mind. An easy way to think about this difference is to equate your brain with a computer, and your mind as the conductor that directs the brain to use the knowledge, memories and experiences stored in your brain’s computer. Your mind should always be in control. Would you let your home computer run your life? There may be a time in the future when computers will be able to, (or even worse, want to) run your life, but for right now, you should be in charge. Computers are great at doing many things, but the beauty of being human is we can reason with our head and our heart. The computer, although evolving, can only operate using the information programmed into it.
So let us look at how this programming works. You do something multiple times, in order for the brain to learn an activity, whether it is tying your shoes, adding numbers, driving a car, or eating or smoking a cigarette, the brain turns that activity into a behavior. Once it is a behavior, your brain promotes those behaviors to make your life easier, and to help you survive in the world, imagine if you had to learn everything you know all over again every single day? Smoking cigarettes was added to the list, because you can create unhealthy behaviors just as easy as good ones. (Sometimes easier!) The brain is not going to question the behaviors you perform, it is simply going to continue to follow those behaviors until the mind intervenes (or doesn’t). See your mind is responsible for how and whether the content and behaviors stored in your brain, are exercised. If you choose to keep the mind out of the process, the brain will operate independently. If you have learned only useful behaviors you might be fine (as long as someone else’s brain doesn’t get in your way), but what if you learned an unhealthy behavior? If your mind doesn’t do anything to modify that program, the brain will continue to run that program until it destroys you! The brain doesn’t care. The brain is not designed to care. Conversely, your mind is designed to care. The mind is where your judgment resides.
To simplify this interaction let’s use the example of the parent and the child. In this case the parent is the mind and the child is the brain. When you are a baby you are fully dependent on your parents or guardians. As you grow you still rely on them for guidance and support, but they are supplemented by teachers, coaches and to a lesser extent peers and relatives. Hopefully to an even lesser extent, you are also influenced by the media, I can’t leave them out. (although, we all might be better off if we did!)
Would you tell a two-year-old something that you know would not be in the child’s best interest? Of course not, because you know the child would not question what you are telling him or her, they would just do it. Similarly, the brain does not question what you tell it to do. If the mind does not correct the situation, the activity will be reproduced until it becomes a behavior.
In your early years, most of what your mind and brain do are basic activities performed by your parents or guardians. It requires little thought, mainly due to the fact that you have very little knowledge or experience to draw from in making decisions. To this point the brain of the child is getting its direction from the parents. It is for that very reason that the parents need to take an active role in their child. If the adults around you are taking their responsibilities seriously you will get loving attention, you will be read to, you will get good nutrition, plenty of restful sleep, and a healthy supply of physical activity. All these positive experiences will begin to establish healthy habits, both mentally and physically. However, if the adults around us are negligent in their responsibilities, a two-year-old brat is likely.
If that two-year-old bratty kid just wants what it wants--no explanation needed and none given-chances are more likely than not, real fundamental development may stop. I know in psychology circles it’s a bad word to talk about discipline, but what is needed at this stage of mind-brain development are clear routines and healthy habits.
As the child grows up with the proper basics, the child’s mind will begin to take over the role of giving guidance to the brain. Using this understanding it is not difficult to see why children who grow up with little or no guidance are easily influenced by outside sources. On the surface this may appear to be very simplistic, but if the brain develops with flawed fundamentals the mind will not develop to take its proper role of guiding the brain. As a result, the brain will be easily influenced by those outside sources. Clearly, parents and guardians, a child’s most influential teachers, play an important role in the relationship between the brain and the mind.
Our brain is like a garden and our mind is the gardener. (Thank you, Mr. Shakespeare) The brain of the child is fertile soil and every bit of knowledge and every single experience is a seed. The seeds are planted from our very first breathe and continue to be planted till our very last. It is not hard to see that if the proper seeds are not planted the necessary harvest will never be realized. It is safe to say that if you plant a bitter herb, a bitter herb is what you will get. We understand that in the physical world, so why is it we have such a hard time seeing it in the mental realm?