Recently, I ran across some articles from and in reference to Dr. Dan Siegel where he defined the mind. His usage and understanding for those working in therapeutic fields is useful, and for our usage here, unites the more esoteric views with those of modern science very well.
The definition is as follows: “the emergent self-organizing process, both embodied and relational, that regulates energy and information flow within and among us.”
This is a very powerful observation about something that we probably all “know” at some level, but it’s that the “us” that “we are” is not defined only by our brains, but by all of the experiences that we experience and relationships to others that we interact with. This would also include the relationships within the body itself. As anyone who’s ever had a toothache can confirm, it’s hard to think about anything else when pain is interfering. This though, changes the subjective experience, which will then ripple out into all interactions around the person experiencing it.
Consciousness, then, cannot be defined as simply brain activity, but by the brain, the diet feeding the body, presence or lack of chemical inputs, all experiences that are tied to memory, current input and interactions, and many other varied points that make up all we can have contact with.
This concept strongly supports the approach that I take in my own experiments with my own mental health. It allows that perhaps depression isn’t as simple as a chemical balance that can be fixed with a pill, but rather a lifetime of conditioning to explore how to unravel. It certainly is a real disease, but like dealing with any complex system, there could be fractal responses to any one change. We must explore any work with the mind as such, and realize that to “change our mind” we may need to change the conditions around us, our own habits, and perhaps much more.