Understanding Your Brain: In Between Mind and Matter

September 26, 2022 Joanna Satterwhite

It's critical we understand our most important tool. I'm talking about your brain, of course, the very organ that mental wellbeing—and its antithesis, mental illness—originate from. Now, plenty of ink more knowledgeable than mine has been spilled on this subject; a quick Google search will tell you almost anything you want to know about the flesh wad in your head. What I want to do today isn't give you a lesson that Wikipedia could deliver better. Instead, I want to offer you a perspective you'd be hard-pressed to find amidst the citations. I want to help you understand your brain.

Understanding Your Brain

Matter Is Not the Mind

Your brain is nothing more than a mechanism to process information and yield appropriate responses. In this context, "appropriate" means pro-survival. Like everything else with a metabolism, the human brain can be understood as just another adaptation molded over millennia to help the organism it's attached to stay alive long enough to reproduce. These gifts of sight, sound, scent, taste, and touch are merely gateways for the information that our brains need to process and categorize. The sound of running water—move towards. The smell of putrid flesh—move away.

Get over the sting of this reductionist view, and you might find a gleaming, glitzy, golden lining. Once you understand the job of your brain, you can stop feeling so betrayed by it, so terrified of it, and so deeply and utterly bewildered because of it. Your brain isn't you, not in the slightest. It's the best tool you've ever had to create you.

Mind and the Matter

Let's take this a step further. (We're verging back into woo-woo territory (my homeland), so strap in accordingly.) Posit you've accepted that your brain is simply a means of experiencing the world in order to stay alive in it. What does that make you?

You're something altogether more enchanted. You are the sum total of everything you've ever experienced. You are the space between your brain and the world it seeks to apprehend. You are, in short, pure observation. 

Not to worry, I will complete that thought in my next post. Until then:

  1. Mentally chew on what you've read here. 
  2. Begin to observe yourself observing the world. Notice yourself salivating when a donut arrives in your purview. Feel your blood pressure rise as you sit in yet another traffic jam. Listen to yourself sobbing. 
  3. Stay curious. It may have killed the cat, but it just might save you.  

See Also

APA Reference
Satterwhite, J. (2022, September 26). Understanding Your Brain: In Between Mind and Matter, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Author: Joanna Satterwhite

Joanna is a writer and teacher based in Atlanta. Find her on Substack and Instagram

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