How the mind works (Part 1)

Photo by David Cassolato on

For a long time now, there have been debates on the subject of the independence of the mind from the brain. Many thinkers have argued that the mind is within the human brain, while other clever minds have concluded that it is independent of the human brain. It’s most probable that the mind is dependent on the brain because without a brain, the human system will not be functional. Therefore, there are more reasons to believe that the mind is an integral part of the brain. This proposition, however, is not conclusive. 

The human mind is categorized into three functioning divisions: the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, and the super-conscious mind. The conscious mind is the mind that “perceives” and “knows” that it perceives. It is the mind that is aware of what’s happening. It’s the mind that ideates, that visualizes, and that experiences thought-processes. For example, you know that you are sitting down in a chair, lying down in a bed, reading a book, wearing a leather jacket, or cooking spaghetti because your conscious mind is functioning well. It is the mind that says, “I am doing…”

If I drive down a road, and you ask me what I am doing, I will tell you that I am driving down a road, simply because my conscious mind is quite functional. If I told you I was flying an aeroplane, while I was driving a car, then you could tell that my conscious mind wasn’t in good order. All three categories of mind can experience problems if some organs of the brain are dysfunctional. Dementia and psychosis are some psychological disorders related to conscious mind problems.

While the conscious mind can only perceive one thing at a time, the subconscious mind is the mind that saves memories. Every experience you’ve had, which have had quite an impression on you, while they may not be presently active in the conscious mind, are saved in the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is only able to deal with one perception or thought-process at a time, but each perception can be replaced by another perception, and yet another perception in seconds.

For example, while you may be thinking about what to have for lunch, you may suddenly switch to thinking about that boy that tried bullying you, and then your concentration may switch to the school bag you have to buy. You cannot have all these thoughts simultaneously in the conscious mind, but while you may be experiencing a thought in the conscious mind, you may also be experiencing several other thoughts in the “active subconscious mind”.

Now, there is such thing as ‘mental awareness’, and it is the semi-state between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. When you are primarily thinking about one thing, or while you primarily perceive one thing, yet you are mindful of multiple things, such is known as mental awareness. Mental awareness may not necessarily be attributed to the conscious or subconscious mind. It is the intermediate state between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. It can also be referred to as semi-state consciousness.

A good example of the semi-state consciousness is when you are typing on your computer, but you also know you are sitting in a chair, you feel the coolness of the air-conditioner, you are aware of the traffic noise outside your house, you know you are hungry and need to grab some food, you know you are running late for an event, and you know there is a good movie to watch at night time. What you are consciously doing is typing on your computer, but you are also mindful of the things going on around you. 

The semi-state consciousness is known as the sixth sense of the Homo sapiens. It could be sharpened, and it could deteriorate. Some people are more perceptive with their semi-state consciousness than others. While a very perceptive man may be asleep, he may suddenly be able to perceive some things happening around him, simply because his semi-state consciousness is sharp. This should not be mistaken for the subconscious mind or even for the conscious mind.

The ability of a sleep-walking fellow to walk home, despite his or her sleep-walking state shows that the semi-state consciousness is active. And the ability of a drunkard to find his way home also portrays this. Let’s take for instance, you are thinking about taking your bath in your conscious mind. Semi-consciously, you may be thinking about brushing your teeth, having breakfast, and going to work. When you sit down, you can feel your feet on the coarse ground, feel a headache, worry about your upcoming test, and at the same time read your course note.