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  • Radhika Kawlra Singh

MIND V/S BRAIN - Exploring Mental Health, as the roads open wider

The evolution of the human effort, coincides with how relevant mental health is to a community of people amidst the diverse interpersonal relationships they create within themselves. Any good reflection, even a piece of writing - must engender a meaningful impact, one that makes relevant the ideas that construct mental health issues. To the best of my belief, that has been generated from my experience of working with hundreds of people over their mental health issues—beneficial mental health tips can only be examined by interrogating consciousness, and re-inventing the methodology of the human thinker in processing that consciousness. Let’s examine how the understanding of the mind and the human brain becomes relevant to the study of what mental health is,  so as to create an effective impact. 

When we are awake the human brain is bustling with activity. The neural impulses are passing back and forth along the insulated nerve fibres. A well-orchestrated symphony of impulses retrain the impression of a particular thought. While many such sequences run parallel, and simultaneously, only a few surface as conscious streams of thought. Every thought is not noticed. So what is the mind doing and how is it separate from the human brain?

Quantum mechanics has established and elaborated on the relationship between subatomic particles and atomic particles, overlong. Vedanta, even earlier in times, understood the same dynamic, articulating the understanding as one of ‘Purusha’ and ‘Prakriti’: the two subjects as explored in my book ‘It’s easy to be YOU’. A common more relatable understanding of the metaphysical realties of being are expressed by the human mind’s notion of seeing the material world as a subjective reality, and knowing that it has an unseen part they address as the ‘absolute reality’.

In the words of Albert Einstein: “The Moon does not exist only when we look at it!” 

I use this quotation to widen the impact of our reflection on what mental health issues are. To the best of my belief, mental health was not meant to be on a to-do list, even as I place it there myself. We were meant to be living a well-meaning life, looking out for the good, and living our journey feeling content knowing two constructs; a] acknowledging the presence of a greater idea of divinity in each of a series of next moments, and b] knowing the mind will utilise the brain to explore our best potential, and yet create a constancy of a kind that we would not feel any kind of imbalance.

Where could we have gone wrong? Did communities of people chose to adopt this imbalance, and then seek ways to dismiss it? Taking the scientific route, let’s look at the "double-slit experiment” to understand how our observation and acknowledgement of our state of being co-creates our way of knowing ourselves as being well, as against seeing ourselves as nurturing mental health issues.  Imagine a window made of metal/wood/glass with two closely-spaced parallel slits, and pretend that you are shining a beam of light through the slits, whereupon it strikes another screen {just like sunlight comes in through a window pane} How does a simple idea such as this, elaborate our purpose of understanding how the mind uses perception to guide our state of being.

If you assume light to be a kind of wave, as the wave of light makes an appearance from just two slits, while it can create a spectrum of alternating bright and dark stripes of light on the other side {a process of diffraction} it also creates a path of obstruction between its ‘peaks’ and ‘troughs’. That is because as each of the ‘peaks’ coincide, they reinforce each other, whereas if a ‘peak’ and a ‘trough’ coincide, they cancel each other out.

Now if the same experiment is done in the lab with electrons; tiny charged particles that are components of atoms, these particles behave like waves. The process of diffraction is similar; as the stream of them passes through the slits, it produces an interference pattern. Yet, when the particles are sent through the slits one by one, and their arrival at the screen is likewise seen one by one, even now interference bands are seen. With apparently no interference on the route, how are the interference bands being visible? That is clearly because each pattern builds up over time to reveal interference bands. Utilising the exact same principle, collective consciousness also changes perception. As the mind is guided to believe and trust in something, it lets that fact evolve as the truth shadowing over all other fact - to create a collective belief.

Here is an additional scientific validation, that makes our original statement on mental health, worthy of its reflection.  In the same experiment when a gadget, like a simple light detector is placed just behind one slit, the interference vanishes even as the particle of light goes through. This ‘thought experiment’ illustrates that photons can behave as either particles or waves, but cannot be observed as both at the same time. Each detected photon passes through a single slit, and does not pass through both slits. We see proof that a particle will not create an interference pattern if one detects which slit they pass through. Thus, a simple act of observation of a particles journey, disturbs the particle's motion and changes the outcome. 

Niels Bohr, my favourite quantum physicist of the 1920s put it this way. He said  "Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, but they also produce it. We compel [a quantum particle] to assume a definite position."

We can thus conclude that given that the human brain is a standard mechanism, which operates all of the spectrum of human thought and action; it is the human mind and its ability to focus - that interferes enough to produce the results that it initiates. Does that go to demonstrate that the true disintegration of consciousness happened when we test the results of our conscious state, and without focusing on it, we are in actuality mentally well?

To the best of my growing understanding, molecular structures in our brains that are able to alter their state in response to a single quantum event - clearly demonstrate that the human mind is capable of re-learning. The brain is a mechanism that is created to bring about constant changes, and thus it is the responsibility of every human mind that expands upon every ounce of its activity.  such that it influences the brain to respond effectively. Mental health is a function of your own making—YOU may remain with a response that effectively determines your state of rest or unrest.

We may continue to take pride in a delightful series of thoughts that keep us going from one moment to the next, helping us project our correct responses and yet, we must be mindful as the mind must not take over the brain. The Brain must remain in equilibrium; even more so now, just as every uncertain act of nature is demonstrating a willingness to bring back a world, that makes everything become of equal value.

copyright blog @ Radhika Kawlra Singh 2020. 

Radhika Kawlra Singh has asserted her right under the Indian Copyright Act to be identified as the author of this work. Picture credit: Radhika Kawlra Singh

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