Mind and consciousness
This living body is a combination of the physical body and consciousness. Without this consciousness, the body is dead or might be in a coma. There is something about this consciousness that we might like to call it the "mind." Have you ever wonder whether you ever stop thinking? This thinking mind brings us back to the past and leads us to the future. Each moment, our mind is actively thinking. Even when we sleep, it doesn't like to leave us alone. So it creates dreams.
Come to think of it, this mind is like our playtoy. If you observe children, they can play out their imagination. The difference is that they act out and voice out their imagination. For us we act them out inside our consciousness. Each moment in time, we are lost in this mind-travel. The mind reminds us of all those experiences; likes and dislikes, fear, happiness, and all things else. What we are thinking each time are always associated with past experiences and the unknown future, bound by our own world of values and prejudices which we learned from our family, our peers and our society.
Only on a few occasions can we definitely say that we are mindfully aware of what we are doing at that point in time. Most of the time our mind wanders even when we are aware of what we are actually doing. A good example is while washing dishes. During the process, your mind will lead you in mind-travel, to the past as well as towards the future; but never to the present moment. It never brings your attention to what you are doing now; it always leads you astray. Have you ever thought of that?
Try this for a moment, next time when you are washing your dishes, if you can remember, that is. Tell your mind that you are not going to allow it to lead you to another journey of mind-travel. Tell your mind that you are just going to concentrate, and be mindfully aware of only washing dishes. So you tell your mind, "I am now washing dishes, I am fully aware and mindful of what I am doing now." You will experience a different kind of "awakening." Next seconds, you would be lost again in this mind-travel; because we have become slaves of this mind habit of ours. In fact, we have the power to control this mind, not to wander and lead us astray. But it will take a lot of practice to be able to tame this mind and to direct it to our wishes.
Sometimes it is just too difficult for people to understand. Then, never mind!!
Calming and directing the mind : Meditation
For thousands of years, humans have been practising various methods of directing the mind. Since ancient times, notably in India and China, the people there have achieved significant advancement in the techniques of mind development. Meditation. In meditation, one first tries to calm the wandering mind; then gradually train the mind to "listen" to the owner. We have this "consciousness" within us that acts as the medium to "communicate" with the mind. With constant practice, a person is able to calm the mind, and then direct the mind to behave the way it is directed.
Recent scientific studies on the effects of integrative body-mind training (IBMT) have found that meditation is able to regulate human behaviour. It was found that after a period of meditation, nerve fibres known as "white matter" became denser, and myelin, the protective fatty insulation surrounding these nerve fibres also increased. There was an improvement in mood with reduced levels of anger, depression, stress and fatigue, of those undergoing the studies.