Brain vs. Mind

In a previous post, I wrote:


Our brains are there to decode all the input we receive… but the brain doesn’t distinguish. It’s not always spot-on in how it deciphers information.

From a lecture transcript on, this same process is explained using the amygdala, an almond-shaped part of the brain that is triggered by potentially-harmful information it picks up:

That’s because the amygdala’s job is to constantly be scanning, scanning, scanning the environment, always on the look-out for any possible threat.  And then, as soon as the amygdala registers something as “DANGER”, it sets off a complete fight-or-flight stress response throughout the entire body.

Now, this brain function serves us very well… if there truly is a threat. For example, it’s great to have an immediate fight-or-flight response if a saber-toothed tiger suddenly jumps in front of us, right?

But in our modern world, how many of us encounter any kind of tiger during our day?

Maybe the one on your box of Frosted Flakes.

But, like I said, here’s the problem: Our brain can’t distinguish between a real and an imagined tiger.

So, it’s possible that our amygdala gets triggered as soon as we wake up and remember everything we have to do today, and again when we spill coffee on our shirt, and when the dogs start bark, and then when we hit every red light on every street ever. So, it’s not even 10:00 a.m. And our brain, thanks to that little amygdala, has already been through the ringer.

And, if we have a “trigger-happy” amygdala, where our brain acts as though we’re in a constant state of survival, we end up experiencing adverse effects. That’s because such chronic stress takes a heavy toll on our brain and body.

While we may not be able to change what often seems like a crazy, tense world, we can learn to calm our amygdala. And, that way, we actually “stay in our cortex,” (as the transcript reads) even when facing stressful situations.

Stay in our cortex?

The cerebrum, or cortex, is the largest part of the human brain, associated with higher brain functions like thought and action.

Stopping, Calming, & Listening to Yourself
Can Help You Differentiate

It’s as easy to understand as this: your brain would have you believe that eating chocolate is great, but – in your mind – you know that chocolate stimulates “feel-good chemicals” in your brain & is OK in small doses.

There’s a difference between our brains & our minds. It’s important to know and be aware of this concept. Being mindful and aware of what our brains are telling us AND what’s true is SUPER important.