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Massage Today
February, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 02

Move Your Mind and Engage Your Brain

By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD and Lansing Barrett Gresham

This article describes a distinction between the mind and the brain. The unique proposal made here unravels the cobbled linguistic milestone of history which Rene Descarte postulated hundreds of years of ago, with his inference that the "mind" was the seat of rationality and intelligence.

His construct was useful to the evolution of civilization within his context and the timing of history. This article offers a bridge specifically relevant to our collective humanity in its struggle to heal itself now.

To live fully in the present moment, you need to learn to move your mind into the past. Your brain has the ability to select for satisfaction and enjoyment. Your mind does not. It's limited to avoiding negatives by seeking them out!

The mind is a sliver of our human consciousness, only a piece of the pie. Your brain, your psyche, your physical body, your emotional, energetic and spiritual selves each contribute far more to the experience of your life, as they all directly process sensory information. The mind does not.

It's similar to a junior curator in a world-class art museum, spending his time silently criticizing the creativity all around, rearranging the pieces, switching some for others, storing and then losing many altogether, according not to their intrinsic value or meaning, but to manipulate the apparent importance between the creative examples.

Our collective human dilemma is that physical survival is no longer our sole objective. The mind did, and does, serve this end in the short term by assisting us to "fit in" as children. A baby not cared for dies.

The mind must live in the future in order to create predictive models and rules related to a broad range of stimuli to which the meaning of possible threat has been assigned. Inevitably, this morphs into an axis of black and white, assigning "right" and "wrong" values to all our feelings and behaviors. Under the guise of protecting you, the mind prompts you to avoid all that it has labeled as bad or wrong by inhibiting your movements and feelings.

The mind's orientation to prediction and avoidance is what displaces it in time and space. This splinters our capacity for present-time, adult congruence between intention and behavior. Intentions always are oriented toward the future. Behavior always is a present-time reality. No wonder we so often feel a lack of connection with one another and within ourselves!

The mind's inability to directly access sensory input also prevents it from distinguishing between what is symbolic and what is real. You can't have a relationship with a photograph. Minds do!

The mind's models exaggerate and distort the significance of stimuli such that codes of behavior are intensified to a point where noncompliance with them is interpreted as life-threatening. The mind's models produce rules which we subconsciously live by. Thus, a scolding by a parent for adventurous behavior might echo into one's adult life as an aversion to risk-taking in all venues of life.

The mind is organized to filter data by recognition of both sensations and images/symbols. Its models, translated as "beliefs about reality," eventually become substituted for reality. They are based on a past that no longer exists, yet which the mind insists is re-occurring. As a result, all of us in varying degrees, struggle with repeating negative patterns of attitude, behavior and relationships.

The mind designs its models both from information it has gathered and in response to what has been required by our caretakers. All rules inhibit spontaneity and thus creativity. When we hear, "children are to be seen and not heard," we are less likely to sing; when repeatedly admonished to be physically still, we are less likely to dance.

The models and rules become a self-stimulating, self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling labyrinth of prophecies. The mind shifts easily between compartments of ideas about the very experience from which its nature requires it to remain always aloof.

The mind's inherent limitation is that it distorts present-time information that would allow one to update its models, because it lives in its prediction of what's going to happen rather than in the unfolding of moment-to-moment direct experience. Remember, its primary function in our childhood was to assist us to conform, so that we would be included.

As just described, the mind is the source of our anticipatory anxiety and our disabling inhibitions, which escalates the degenerating effects of stress or trauma upon human physiology and the quality of our lives.

Now, the good news. The mind can be trained. When shown how, the mind does tend to prefer to notice what has just happened! Thus, it becomes consistently right in the moment and far more accurate in its predictions about the future. Such an orientation allows it to review its models in view of real-time data without conflict internal to itself or with the other levels of human consciousness. When dominance by the incessant predictions of the mind diminishes, it becomes possible for you to experience surprise, discovery and vulnerability without threat. That which seemed impossible or unattainable becomes tantalizing, interesting, and an open question. Your capacity for creativity and self-trust naturally is stimulated.

Creativity engages your brain! It's the single greatest preserver of intelligence and our guardian against dementia. Trusting your capacity to create what you actually desire for your life engages your brain! Allowing yourself to explore what you truly want and inviting success engages your brain! This includes developing an adult sensory and attitudinal preference for satisfaction and contentment in the present moment. The phrase "good enough for now" is particularly helpful to this cultivation.

You know you have engaged your brain when you find yourself behaving in novel ways and enjoying it. Curiosity becomes your attitude, replacing judgment and criticism. Appreciation and gratitude are felt more often. Your body moves with more positive anticipation toward others and a feeling of belonging within yourself.

The junior art curator is transformed into an individual who now begins to relate to art as an active expression of human awareness, trusting his sense of what will amuse, delight and inspire those who come to the museum. He now can deepen an experience of relationship within himself and with others as he seeks for ways to contribute to the world.

This article is the first of many which will introduce you to the concepts and principals of Integrated Awareness®. I am honored to be co-authoring these with the founder of the approach, Lansing Barrett Gresham. I will continue to write articles pertaining to the Inside-Out Paradigm as they flow from my heart. In this New Year, it feels as though my best contribution to our profession is to get the word out to you of this amazing and effective healing approach - one which I have been studying for 17 years, and which has added so much to the transformation and healing within my clients.

Integrated Awareness® recruits all the levels of consciousness. It's an expanding set of learning processes that directly engages your nervous system through movement, touch and higher perceptual states of consciousness. From these experiences, permission to explore and experiment might begin to flower. New sets of reference points can be created that transform your ability to make conscious choices to include more of who you are, resolve personal conflicts, and participate in the creation of a life and a world you prefer. To learn more about Integrated Awareness®, visit

Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.

Lansing Barrett Gresham, founder of Integrated Awareness®, has more than 30 years of touch and movement work utilizing enhanced perception. He has co-authored two books, Ask Anything and Your Body Will Answer and The Body's Map of Consciousness®. For more information please visit


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