Reflections on the Brain and Information

The brain sits at the top of the spinal cord, like a king surveying his realm. Nerves come in from every inch of the skin, from the matrix of bone, the airway linings, the digestive organs, and everything else.

The brain registers and remembers the sensations and–most importantly–their associations. Does a touch on the arm evoke the caress of a gentle mother or the groping of a drunk molester? Does the scent of detergent remind us of laundry drying in the sun or institutional cruelties? The nervous system can remain on high alert for decades, storms ever gathering on the mental horizon. Or, it can slowly settle down, it can find ease and safety despite the uncertainty of life. The nervous system elaborates our consciousness in all of its complexity, and it can create either a hell or a heaven, depending on our experiences and our responses.

Mindful Biology will be exploring the nervous system in detail, even as it encourages us to experience the brain from within. We can familiarize ourselves, through mindful practice and informed awareness, with all the ebbs and flows of emotional currents and all the ins and outs of mental machination. We can use modern neuroscience to better understand our own human nature. This is a vast field of inquiry, and there are many fine resources online and in print to help us. Mindful Biology will focus on bringing experiential learning to bear on conceptual understanding, so that we can map what is felt to what is known.