This is You

This is you. 

You are the front part of the brain. When you ask yourself "Who am I?", that's the part of the brain that's speaking. When you are feeling lucid, clear-headed, "conscious" or "present", it is this part at work. What you perceive as life, every moment of your reality, is basically the neurons firing in the pre-frontal cortex. Your self-image, memories, personality, emotions, ambitions, and desires are all formed, stored, and derived from the neural circuitry here. 

With regular practice, you will have some degree of control over how these neurons fire and shape the circuitry; a concept scientists refer to as neuroplasticity, and self-help coaches refer to as manifestation, positive thinking, or focusing on your locus of control. That's a big deal because if you can shape your perception, you can shape your life and reality. You can as easily be shaped by many other forces around you, but if you are strong, you can be a gatekeeper and transformer to those forces, and only allow what you want. 

You are a relatively new part of the brain. The rest of the brain, primarily the "reptilian brain", does a bunch of other important and automatic functions like walking or breathing, and flight/fight response. It's incredibly capable and you wouldn't be alive without it. But it is also a worrier - imagining the worst and trying to prolong your life. When you are "lost in thoughts", feeling stressed, or anxious, it's likely because this part of the brain, also called the "default mode network", is firing. This part of the brain quietens when you kick into "presence" and observe it, as you do with meditation. It can be muted even more when you understand and detach from the underlying anxieties and desires. 

The brain is connected to the body. The body is useful. It has mechanical functions to move around and interact with the environment. It has a variety of sensors - audio, visual, thermal, smell, etc. - to get signals from the environment to the brain.  It also sends signals when the body is damaged or in pain.  It can repair itself in some cases and reproduce. With these capabilities, it finds food, extracts nutrients, and feeds and preserves the brain and body. The brain controls some of the body; the body parts also have their own local intelligence. By guiding the body to the right nutrition, training, and environment, you can preserve and strengthen your body. 

The interactions with the outside world, both non-living and living, have an effect on you. A nutrient-rich, supportive, and engaging environment and interactions can enrich the body and brain. You can find, shape, or create an environment where you can thrive. These interactions, in turn, shape you. Many of our pursuits - to learn, discover, cooperate, motivate, create, fight - are all to this end of thriving. Some pursuits are pretty absurd, and some can cause pain and craving.

Over time, the body and brain organically degrade, become less functional, and eventually non-operational. Do you exist after that? Biologically and based on this model, no. The circuit stops firing and you power off. The concept of ceasing to exist may sound sad or scary, but it's okay because you won't even know it. Focus on the living. 

So, this is you. That's also everyone else around you, including your parents, friends, bosses, Obama, Einstein, and Lady Gaga. Why all this exists is still a mystery. But it does. The joy (and pain) of human imagination is that we make it a lot more colorful and dramatic. Don't take it too seriously. Stay present, curious, thoughtful, optimistic, cheerful, healthy, and generous. All of that is in your control to a large extent. Choose and shape your environment and interactions wisely. Filter out the noise. Enjoy the signals.