The Brain, Meditation, and Philosophy

I just thought I would send you a few lines in a desire to know how you are doing. As for me, I have my alternating rises and falls in my emotions. I sometimes ask myself, if I have been in psychotherapy for nearly three months, why am I not feeling any better? This is because therapy is hard work. It is difficult to control the thoughts and to change deeply ingrained attitudes. My therapist, Dana, talked to me the other day about how the human brain evolved. She showed me her fist with her thumb tucked inside. The thumb represents the inner core of our brains, which is called the reptilian brain, where the primeaval drives of mankind are controlled. This part of our brain is where our “fight or flight” reactions reside, but we have since evolved and we are not fighting or running away from dangerous animals anymore. Now we have a frontal cortex, which was represented by Dana’s overlapping fingers, which is the seat of executive decision making and judgement. Aggression or panic is not usually needed in today’s world.

What we need now more than anything else is the skill of meditation — the ability to calm the mind, driving all your thoughts out and focusing entirely on your breath. I downloaded a couple of apps on my iPhone that Dana had recommended, which includes “body scans,” where you visualize warm sunlight entering your body, starting at the tips of your toes, engulfing the feet, rising up to the ankles, up toward the knees, rising up through the upper thighs to your waist, filling up your abdomen and your chest, through your shoulders and arms to the tips of your fingers, then up through your neck, and, finally, filling up to the top of your head.

But I’ve been reading a book that teaches us to deny this body of ours — that the world of matter is evil — written by the last of the great ancient Greek philosophers, Plotinus. He is telling me that we all have a soul, and that it receives impressions as forms of the outside world, that the soul permeates the body which eventually melts into an all emcompassing One, as a cosmic unity with all people and with the universe. This is the ultimate discipline of the heavens and the earth, with good and evil interweaved within themselves, whose presence here allow us to distinguish the darkness from the eternal light.

This is what has been going on inside my mind this past few days. I thought I would share this with you until next time.

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