Science that frees the spirit – November 2015
The JF lecture this year was given by JF chairperson, Neville Hodgkinson on: ‘Good news, you are not your brain!
It was a thought-provoking look at science, reviewing some of the information from research in the fields of consciousness, near death experience and quantum mechanics, and also a window into personal experiences of many scientists, which led them to review their old concepts of mind, brain, self.
The idea that we are more than the brain (previously the exclusive premise of explorations in spirituality and religion) has been discussed and written about for many years.
With the burgeoning field of research into neuroplasticity and meditation, ideas about how our thoughts can result in changes in brain structure have now moved undoubtedly on to the scientific agenda.
This is however a challenge to long-held views in science that we ‘… human beings are our brains’. Neville Hodgkinson highlighted this dissonance and flagged up several new areas for further contemplation.
He mentioned the arena of post-materialist science (informed by scientists and mathematicians such as Professor Donald Hoffman), and the work and reflections of Dr Norman Doidge, author of ‘The Brain That Changes Itself’, quoting: ‘while we have yet to understand how thoughts change brain structure it is now clear that they do’. He also mentioned the transformational experiences of neuroscientist Dr Jill Bolte Taylor and neurosurgeon Dr Eben Alexander.
The relationship between consciousness, thoughts and matter has always been an area of fascination for me, with its implications that we are infinitely more than we imagine, and that our mental capacity in certain areas is still mostly untapped.
The repercussions for mankind could be so huge. How perplexing is it, then, that mainstream science still holds onto the security blanket of the ‘old paradigm’—that we are our brain?
For those interested in meditation, spirituality and consciousness, the lecture was an affirmation of the power of the human mind and spirit, a validation that we conscious beings are capable beyond the awareness available to us through the brain.
In terms of the relationship between consciousness and matter, it seems to me that further consideration and research, in time, will have significant implications for mental health recovery and recovery from neural damage.
Neville Hodgkinson has written an article based on the JF lecture in November 2015, Good News: You Are Not Your Brain, which is posted in the newsletter of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Spirituality and Psychiatry special interest group. The direct link is: click here
Dr Kala Mistry