Monday, January 25, 2016

Brain trouble

We humans have sacrificed a lot for the sake of our enormous brains.

If you want to be puritanical in your reading of Genesis' creation stories, you might say we gave up our very intimacy with God in order to be cleverer. Wow!

A bit of introductory reading on Mindfulness will explain how todays' overactive minds cause us much stress and anxiety. We cannot prevent ourselves from thinking, even when more thinking worsens our plight. Ever worried your night away replaying the same fantasy loop about what will happen tomorrow? Exactly.

Need a more visceral example? Look at childbirth. See that ginormous skull pushing its way out of that vagina? See the emerging little blob of humanity that is incapable even of supporting it's great noggin on its tiny neck, let alone keeping itself alive? That is a whole lot of risk to accept for the sake of a disproportionately-sized brain.

I'm not suggesting we should shrink our brains. But somehow, we need to fight the temptation to let our minds drive our lives ALL THE TIME. Can we escape our addiction to thinking by letting our bodies and spirits take over every now and again?

This is in part about rediscovering the joys of the right brain, which the Western world has been belittling for decades if not centuries. My brain switches stations when I play music with a group, focusing entirely on bodily repetition and exercise in a creative, community context. Exercise, also, is brilliant. (Research suggests it works best when done out of doors.) When exerting yourself physically, your body requires your focus. Your mind can then drift into creative space.

Sex, too, is good. Too often in contemporary culture, the mind in isolation drives sexuality, via porn or individualistic fantasies. The bodily act made in communion with a real person is much better for us.

Silent prayer (or meditation, for the non-religious) can also be profoundly helpful. Much western spirituality is about ego-driven speech and agenda-driven activity. Oh, for more silence in church! I can escape my ego, plans, fears and unreliable impulses by letting go of what I think I know and letting something bigger get a foothold.

We will all be healthier if we create situations where our bodies and souls are not in thrall to our left brain. It's hard work but it's rewarding. And better than cutting your massive head off and throwing it away, as I think Jesus advocated. Right?

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