One of the most challenging aspects of life as a human is dealing with our brains. The history of our species is written into this ugly jelly sloshing around in our heads and there’s not much we can do about it.
At the root of us is the reptilian brain, that core set of responses we share with reptiles and which still takes up space inside us – and it’s a good thing too. We might live in the twenty-first century but we still need to be aware of any dangers in our environment.
The mammalian brain is still there too. It helps us to develop caring instincts and to bond to others. What we share with the other mammals all around us is this strong and profound ability to tend and befriend – it’s helped us get here so maybe its not such a bad thing either.
And finally of course we have the primate brain – that more immediate ancestor who thrashed around for millennia of savage dress rehearsals before our species emerged to became useful hunter-gatherers, agrarian-settlers and then, in the blink of an eye – astronauts.
This much is not in dispute. And yet despite the facts much of our time is spent fighting our brains – blaming ourselves for the way we are as if our brains design was entirely our fault.
If you understand the sheer biological facts of human evolution then you can move on to consider how you became the person you are. See how your self-understanding is tied in with your personal history. Neuro-science has established that humans have an impressive ability to change – the brain is far more malleable that we used to think. The facts are not in dispute – evolution has created the raw material of you, while genetics and environment have also played their part. We are not time lords – we cannot go back and change this. But contemplative therapies involving mindfulness, meditation and hypnotherapy can help you to come to terms with yourself as well as harnessing your considerable power to change.