The Mind, the Body and the Hierarchy Between
Those of us who’ve been around long enough know that a vital part of life is growth. And nature has a law for that. The Law of Growth describes how all three aspects of our being – body, mind and spirit – work in concert to support life-long growth and development.
This time, we’re focusing on the mind and its influence on the body. As the body is the most proximal aspect of human existence, anything that influences it also influences the results we get from life. How the mind itself develops into that role is an important consideration for this process, and we’ll start by addressing the split between the conscious and subconscious mind.
The Conscious and Subconscious Mind – How Each Helps Us Grow and Develop
The mind exists on two levels – the conscious and subconscious. Each has dominion over certain aspects of how we develop as people, primarily through their use of either inductive or deductive reasoning. We’ll address those in a bit, but first, a brief introduction to the conscious and subconscious:
- The conscious mind – The conscious mind may be the part of us that we most identify with as “us.” It’s the part of our mind that chooses, that decides, that focuses our attention and plays gatekeeper to our subconscious.
You can think of the conscious mind as the farmer who chooses what to plant. Just as the farmer may choose to grow corn, carrots, or fruit trees – the conscious mind chooses what ideas to plant into the subconscious.
- The subconscious mind – The subconscious is integrated into the autonomic nervous system and therefore is present in every cell in the body. In this way, the subconscious is the middleman between our conscious mind and most of our bodily functions. You don’t have to apply your will to keep your heart beating or metabolism going, in other words.
The subconscious mind has massive influence over how our body functions, but it has no will of its own. It can only receive messages and convert them into embodied behaviors.
As you can see, both the conscious and subconscious are inseparable parts of the growth process.
Deductive vs. Inductive Reasons – How Our Minds Form Thoughts into Action
The conscious and subconscious are both capable of receiving information and both capable of doing something with it. However, they go about supporting growth in different ways, using either inductive or deductive reasoning to do so. Here’s how both influence our growth as people:
- Inductive reasoning – Inductive reasoning is a bottom-up reasoning process that’s driven by the conscious mind. During inductive reasoning, we ask questions like “what do I think?” “What do I want?” “What does this mean for me?” In this way, inductive reasoning is done through conscious, internal self-reflection.
Through inductive reasoning, we are able to determine what ideas to embrace and what examples to follow. Growth depends on repeating the behaviors and actions of those we most want to be like, and inductive reasoning helps us identify which ones to select.
- Deductive reasoning – Deductive reasoning is a top-down reasoning process that relies less on conscious will and more on passively absorbing information from the environment. Deductive reasoning allows people to quickly and reliably make associations between things, but it acts outside of our conscious mind.
Deductive reasoning is what the subconscious relies on to embody the behaviors and ideas we surround ourselves with. In other words, our subconscious pays attention to the environment we exist in – through our senses – and uses that information to adjust behavior or action.
Sometimes, psychologists refer to people being in a “deductive state.” Put simply, when someone is in a deductive state, they are receiving messaging, ideas and information from the environment without thinking about it consciously – without judging it for its quality, truth or usefulness.
It’s important to realize that our behaviors, our actions, even our health can be influenced by our subconscious even if we don’t notice it happening in the process. If our conscious mind is like the planting farmer, our subconscious mind is like the soil that takes the seeds. It cannot refuse an idea like the soil cannot refuse a seed. And it grows ideas into actions, like the soil grows a seed into a plant.
The Body is the Mind’s Instrument and Does What the Mind Wills
As familiar as we are with our bodies, our physical aspect of existence is at the bottom of the existence hierarchy. In other words, what we do with our bodies is entirely governed by our minds. In a healthy person, the body cannot act against our will – it is merely an instrument through which the mind embodies thoughts.
This means that meaningful growth can only be achieved if the mind is oriented in the right direction. The ideas and examples we choose to follow influence our conscious and subconscious to adopt certain behaviors and engage in certain actions.
To continue the farming metaphor further – if the farmer is our conscious mind, if the soil is our subconscious mind, and if the planted seeds are the ideas we choose to absorb, then the crops that grow from those seeds are like the results we get from embodying those ideas.
What you think informs how you act, in short, so growth-minded thinking must come before any growth-supporting actions can be performed.
Built into Us Is an Intuitively Good Nature, But the Mind Must Allow it to Manifest
Among all living creatures, people are unique in that we can choose what version of ourselves we wish to manifest into reality. For the overwhelming majority of people, we want to manifest the best version of ourselves, a “good” version that aligns with our moral intuition and our ideas about the world.
We can all choose to bring out positive growth, but before we can do that through action, we must first plant the right ideas into our mind’s soil.