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The Mind-Body Split

By Peter Shepherd


Linguistic ability evolves from infancy onwards parallel to the development of mental maturity. The earliest phase is Emotional. The infant is expressing its inner states of emotion or feeling with calls, cries, laughter, etc. and there is little development of the (left hemisphere) speech center or higher cortical functions. The characteristic mode, though, is what will later be differentiated as the right hemisphere processing of perceptions, to grasp context and relationships. This phase is completely integrated with the body.

The second phase is Social: the infant attempts to bring about some reaction in another person through verbal signals, such as through saying 'Mama' to get attention or point something out. Developing this ability, the infant acquires descriptive vocabulary, and in doing so moves beyond the bounds of animal language to that which is distinctively human. At first this is naïvely intuitional, but vocabulary is gradually built up representing concrete objects and experiences, and the descriptive function of language comes into full flower. The capacity of the left-brain speech center becomes greatly increased.

The unique feature of the descriptive function of language is that the statements may be factually true or factually false - the possibility of lying is implicit. And so the discrepancy develops between a specialized verbal left hemisphere, with a tendency to distort and lie, and an emotional, experiential, non-verbal (intuitive) right hemisphere. Because the reality perceived by the right hemisphere conflicts with alterations (rationalizations, lies and fictions) perpetrated by the left, there is a tendency to negate or suppress the right hemisphere contents, and therefore also intuition, and for the left hemisphere way of seeing the world to become dominant. All of this is clearly demonstrated by the EEG, which differentiates brain arousal of the two hemispheres.

Developing from the specialization of the hemispheres, the third Cognitive phase of linguistic ability is the argumentative function. This includes the ability to ask questions. (Note: a chimpanzee taught to use sign language can neither arrange symbols syntactically nor can it ask questions). The art of critical argument is intimately bound up with the human ability to think rationally. It is important to recognize that each phase of language development is permeated by the lower phases. For example, when arguing, there is expression of feelings, signalling in the attempt to convert the antagonist, and description in underpinning the arguments by factual reference. There are also gestural accompaniments to the linguistic expression. A person who is not in touch with his emotions and feelings, however, will be split from such body language, and may be arguing quite to the contrary of what his body is saying. This is the mind-body split.

In the early stages of linguistic development the process of verbal elaboration is very different to the Cognitive phase. In the Emotional phase, language exists to satisfy emotional needs and is largely pre-verbal. Such words as are used are subjective and are associated with emotions and feelings. In the Social phase words are elaborated associatively rather than logically. Associations may be made with the concrete objects represented, both spatially and semantically in terms of differentials such as hot/cold, bright/dark, good/bad, etc. In the first part of childhood this must be so because the child does not possess either sufficient vocabulary or self-awareness to define the words in his mind in terms of other words.

After the age of 8 - 10 years the further development of the internalized language model results from a process of Semantic elaboration. In other words, the content of the mind is related to itself by an ever more complex set of connections based on the definitions of words in terms of other words, and through the rules of grammar and logic. The earlier emotional and associative models of language drop from sight; the semantic model becomes available to introspection and the split between intuitive and verbalized thought widens.

The Higher Mind

How does the spiritual being fit into this picture? This is my hypothesis...

Spiritual consciousness is able to adopt a viewpoint from which to perceive and to have considerations, opinions and intentions. This is one kind of mind - a Higher Mind. The spiritual being also has the ability to get itself into a right mess, stuck in a fixed identity - such as identifying with a human body in order to perceive through the human, to experience life and express itself through that organic system, and this solidifies through generations of reincarnation.

But the human body also has a life of its own - it is a genetic entity - a life form programmed by genes, a super-intelligent chimpanzee. It is further conditioned by stimulus-response learning, in which trauma and cultural pressures play a part. It has inbuilt survival drives and develops a more or less sophisticated intelligence, the first phases of cognitive and linguistic development described above. It may also be programmed by the spiritual consciousness. This second kind of mind, a body-mind, that of a fixed identity, therefore has both analytical and reactive programs, both of which may be aberrated. In the case of a human being, the imprinted mental programs are carried out by the brain, an incredibly sophisticated computer.

A stimulus, such as an image or perception, may cause an increase or decrease of brain arousal, if the stimulus is interpreted as frightening or reassuring. This stress or relaxation response is transmitted throughout the nervous system, and is measurable as a change in skin resistance. Increase in tension and arousal will cause a fall in resistance as indicated on the GSR (biofeedback monitor), and relaxation or detachment will cause a rise. Overwhelm would cause a very low resistance and dissociation would cause high resistance. A 'floating' response, on the other hand, occurs when there is no reactive activity or conflict occurring between the body-mind (the composite) and the spiritual being and there is an intuitive (non-verbal) open-channel. The GSR needle follows the gentle pulse - reach and withdraw - of this communication line, moving periodically like a pendulum.

If the Higher Mind and the body-mind are not differentiated, confusion results. Part of the misunderstanding stems from an identification of the thinking personality, the left-brain verbal intelligence, with the awareness of awareness which is the spiritual consciousness. The verbal intelligence is very much 'of the brain', whereas the spiritual being is not 'of the brain' but influences the brain through non-verbal, intuitive communication.

Because the communication of the Being is non-verbal and picture-graphic, like telepathic communication, the right hemisphere is the medium for such communication. This is the nature of 'intuition': the Being communicating via the right-brain to the left, expressing awareness often in the form of metaphor or symbolic images, in order to relay intentions. For the Being to be able to influence all of the body-mind's activities, depends therefore upon integration of the left and right hemispheres, so that the brain is 'awake' and not obscuring this direct communication line.

The following diagram illustrates how the Being (YOU) inter-relates with the human body-mind:


The Being is able to operate a mind quite independently from the brain, communicating intentions, concepts and pictures to the right brain. These then change the arousal level and affect the GSR meter. The body-mind has learnt the programs for 'intelligence': it can do an IQ test unaided by the Being. Only the Being, however, has knowingness, awareness of its own goals and creative intention; it has responsibility and ethics, and it is essentially the source-point of communication, understanding and empathy - important aspects that contribute greatly to the abilities of Emotional Intelligence. Being essentially outside of space and time, it has an objective viewpoint that is unaffected by the reactive mental processes of the body-mind subconscious, except to the extent that it considers itself identified with the body-mind. It is the source of the highest values of life, love and truth.

The brain does have functions, they can be improved, and these functions relate directly to spiritual awarenes. The integration of brain functions - between Left/Right and between Body/Mind - is a by-product of correctly done personal development and helps to provide a transparent vessel for the Spirit.

Emotional Intelligence - Home Page

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'Tools for Emotional Intelligence'

9. The Three Worlds

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