Most scientists think of our mind/brain as a single operating whole, but it is not. We have four minds and three brains that control our reflexes, behaviours and decision-making. The four minds and three brains are listed below in the order of their appearance in our lives:
- The soul-mind.
- The reptilian mind/brain: the body-mind.
- The limbic mind/brain: the emotional mind.
- The neocortex mind/brain: the rational mind.
Taken together the reptilian, limbic and neocortex mind/brains are known as the triune brain and the emotional mind and rational mind are known as the ego-mind.
The soul mind: Although the soul-mind is present throughout the entirety of our life, it is the dominant centre of conscious awareness only during the first few weeks of pregnancy—the embryo stage of gestation, before the reptilian mind/brain (body-mind) has formed—and during the second or latter part of our lives, after we have learned to individuate and self-actualize.
The body-mind: The first physical brain to form—the reptilian mind/brain, also known as the body-mind, starts to develop a short while after conception and becomes dominant—takes over control from the soul-mind as the centre of conscious awareness—around the third trimester, after about 10 – 12 weeks of gestation.
The emotional mind: The body-mind stays dominant until the age of about 2 years, when the limbic mind/brain, also known as emotional mind, which has been developing in the background, becomes dominant, taking over control from the body-mind as the centre of conscious awareness.
The rational mind: The emotional mind remains dominant until about 7 or 8 years when the neocortex mind/brain (rational mind), which has been developing in the background, becomes dominant, taking over control from the emotional mind as the centre of conscious awareness. The rational mind remains dominant for the rest of our lives or until we re-activate the soul-mind during the second half of our lives.
Beliefs, sensations, emotions and feelings
The way we create our reality and give meaning to events is through our beliefs. Our beliefs help us to make decisions about how to get our survival, safety and security needs met.
Adults have four types of beliefs—instincts, unconscious, subconscious and conscious.
Instincts: Instincts are “”beliefs” that exist at the level of the species mind. The species mind is the larger reality of the soul-mind. Consequently, all humans share the same instincts. Our instincts are designed to meet the body’s survival needs. We have no conscious awareness of our internal instincts—the instincts that govern our homeostatic regulation, and we only have conscious awareness of our external instincts—our reactions to events in the external world, after they have been activated.
Unconscious beliefs: These are the beliefs (I will also be calling them imprints) we learn while the reptilian mind/brain (body-mind) is growing and developing. The imprints that are recorded in our body-mind are primarily determined by our experiences in utero, during the birth process and the first two years of our lives.
The body-mind quickly learns what conditions and situations engender life-enhancing sensations and what conditions and situations engender life-threatening sensations—when we have to struggle to stay alive or get our body’s needs met. This learning is the foundation of the body-mind’s positive and negative beliefs. The body-mind makes decisions about how to keep the body alive and functioning.
The body-mind reacts to life-enhancing sensations with vitality, and to life threatening sensations with fear. Fear has a significant impact on the functioning of the body’s endocrine system. It prepares the body for fight or flight. When we encounter a life-threatening situation, we have no conscious awareness of our unconscious beliefs.
The soul-mind reacts to life-enhancing sensations with joy, and to life threatening situations with sadness.
The joy of the soul arises from the recognition that its intention—to experience life in material awareness—can be met. The sadness of the soul arises from its belief that its intention—to experience life in material awareness—is going to be difficult, painful and perhaps cannot be met.
Subconscious beliefs: These are the beliefs we learn while the limbic mind/brain (emotional mind) is growing and developing. These beliefs are primarily determined by our experiences from age 2 – 7 years.
The emotional mind learns what experiences and situations engender life-affirming feelings and what experiences and situations engender life-depleting feelings—when we struggle to get our safety needs met.
The emotional mind reacts to life-affirming feelings with happiness; the body-mind with vitality, and the soul mind with joy.
The emotional mind reacts to life-depleting feelings with anger; the body mind with fear and the soul mind with sadness. This is why beneath the emotion of anger you will always find fear and sadness.
Sometimes we are aware of our subconscious beliefs, and sometimes we are not. With practice we can bring our subconscious beliefs into our conscious awareness.
The emotional mind makes decisions about how open and trusting we can be in our relationships to other people.
Conscious beliefs: These are the beliefs we learn while the neocortex mind/brain (rational mind) is growing and developing—up to the age of about 24 years—and during the remainder of our lives. We use our conscious beliefs to understand what is happening around us—whether the situation we are experiencing is a threat to our survival, safety or security or an opportunity to get our survival, safety or security needs met.
At the level of the rational mind, we learn what, events, situations and conditions engender life-encouraging feelings and what events, situations and conditions engender life-discouraging feelings, when we fail to get our security needs met.
The emotional mind reacts to life encouraging feelings with happiness, the body-mind reacts with vitality; and the soul reacts with joy. The emotional mind reacts to life discouraging feelings with anger; the body mind reacts with fear; and the soul mind reacts with sadness.
It is interesting to note that whenever the dominant conscious mind experiences a situation or event that is life challenging or threatening, which it has never experienced before, and therefore is unable to interpret its meaning, the natural life-preserving default meaning-making mechanism is fear. You automatically imagine the worst fear possible. The worst fear possible for the body-mind is death. The worst fear possible for the emotional mind is abandonment. The worst fear possible for the rational mind is irrelevance.
Thus a traumatic event is a fear inducing event or situation that cannot be understood by the dominant mind that triggers the worst fear possible of the dominant mind.
Initially, the fear that is induced by not being able to make meaning overwhelms the workings of the dominant conscious mind. In order for the dominant mind to go on functioning so it can assure our survival, safety or security, the fear that has been triggered is relegated to the subconscious of the dominant mind.
This fear stays in the subconscious of the dominant mind and every now and then bubbles up into conscious awareness causing the conscious mind to become overwhelmed with painful feelings.
The only way to heal trauma is to re-experience the feelings of the original trauma, bring them into conscious awareness and give the situation that created the trauma a new meaning.