The Mind Isn’t an Object, It’s a Process

What if your mind was actually much more than the fleshy pink matter resting inside your skull?

Point to your mind.

You’re probably circling somewhere around the top of your head.

What if someone responded to that question with: Where isn’t your mind?

That person is Dan Siegel, UCLA psychiatry professor and author of  Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being HumanIn a recent video from Big Think, Siegel argues the mind can be in two places at once, existing within and between things. It is both within your body—in the skull—and “between you and other people and the planet.”

So it’s accurate to say that mind is in the body—embodied is the word Siegel uses—but mind is also relational—“open to influences outside of itself,” Siegel says.

Why do we need a definition of mind that allows it to exist in multiple places? It paints a picture of the mind as an emergent, self-organizing, and self-regulating system.

Siegel explains:

Here’s a way to think about it: our fundamental element we’re proposing is energy and information flow. Now, if you think about that the skull nor the skin are impermeable boundaries for energy and information to flow. So you may think of them as two places but it’s one system, energy and information flow, and it’s happening in many different locations.

It is within the embodied and relational processes that the flow of information is regulated.

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