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Your Mind vs. Your Brain with Dr. Caroline Leaf

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a world-renowned cognitive neuroscientist, communication pathologist, and bestselling author with a Masters and Ph.D. in Communication Pathology and a BSc Logopaedics from the University of Cape Town and the University of Pretoria in South Africa, specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. Since the early 1980s, she has researched the mind-brain connection, the nature of mental health, and the formation of memory. She was one of the first in her field to study how the brain can change (neuroplasticity) with directed mind input. Dr. Leaf’s YouTube videos, podcasts, and TV episodes have reached millions globally.


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What is the difference between your mind and your brain, and how can you manage your mind through the challenges in your life? 

In today’s show, we’re excited to have Dr. Caroline Leaf back with us to continue our talk on the power of the mind. Dr. Leaf is a best-selling author and world-renowned neuroscientist who has been studying the human brain for 38 years.

We’re going to talk more about her brand-new book, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, and get into how you can change your mind to change your brain so you can ultimately change your world.

If you haven’t already, we highly recommend listening to our first conversation in an earlier episode here.

"You can’t control the events and circumstances of your life, but you can control your responses."


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 Understanding The Difference Between The Mind & The Brain

  • The mind is this limitless, infinite force that isn’t limited to the brain.
  • 38 years ago, the mind was recognized as being much different than the brain.
  • The idea that they are more blended has occurred more in our current era, where the mind and the brain are referred to interchangeably. But they are different.
  • The most basic way to understand the difference is that the brain is physical.
  • The brain and body are collectively made up of between 37 – 100 trillion cells that group into the brain, the heart, the hands. They’re physical organs that you can see and touch.
  • But the physical is maybe 10% of who you are.
  • These physical parts will disintegrate when you die.
  • But while you’re alive, the mind is what allows you to communicate. To think about what you’re saying while you’re feeling and you’re choosing.
  • The mind is the force that is around and inside the body.
  • It’s an electromagnetic force in a gravitational field that is unique to each person. It’s not something you can take from anyone else, and they can’t take yours.
  • The mind marries perfectly with your physical. They’re separable but inseparable.
  • One way to understand the mind/brain relationship is to think of an old experiment you may have done in school.
  • Take a white piece of paper and place a pile of iron filings on it.
  • If you then place a magnet over the iron filings, they are no longer a pile.
  • That is the electromagnetic field. The iron filings aren’t the field; they are simply following the field.
  • That’s what the mind is like. The mind is the field in relationship with the brain. And you can see the relationship when you apply the magnet.
  • The pattern that emerges shows you the relationship, which in this case is your communication. You can see the communication the way you can see the iron filings. Because the evidence of the relationship between the field and the magnet is the iron filings, the evidence of this same relationship between the mind and the brain is seen through communication.
  • Each pattern that emerges is unique.
  • Einstein first spoke about this relationship between a gravitational field and this force when he won the Nobel Prize for the photoelectric effect and how our bodies generate photons.
  • This effect is easy to know. When you walk by someone and get a shock, or when you pick up a blanket, and it sticks to you. That’s a bit of an idea of this force coming off of you
  • Through quantum physics and electromagnetics, we can start to understand more about the mind.
  • Another more psychological example of the mind being external but inseparable is when you talk to someone negative.
  • You will become affected by their negative energy, their negative mood. You could have started in a great mood, and now you’re not—that’s an example of how our mind is generating this energy.

The Practical Side Of Mind Management

  • In a practical sense, the mind is how you think, how you feel, and how you choose. And you’re always doing those three things.
  • In the last interview, we used this example: You can go three weeks without food, three days without water, three minutes without oxygen, but you can’t go three seconds without using your mind.
  • From the moment you wake up in the morning, you are constantly in a state where your mind is working. It never stops.
  • Mind management is understanding how you can influence what you’re thinking, feeling, and choosing.
  • To manage the mind, you have to manage how you think. It’s understanding that when you think, you’re feeling. And when you’re thinking and feeling, you’re always choosing.
  • But there is a result of thinking, feeling, and choosing, which is that the experience you have processed through your think, feel, choose mind then gets pushed into your brain.
  • The brain is a very complex organ that responds electromagnetically, chemically, and genetically to our experiences. The consequence of which is that you build a thought.
  • A thought is a real, physical structure made up of proteins. If you envision a plant with roots and a stem and branches, that is how a thought builds.
  • You convert your experience through your think, feel, choose mind into your brain, where it changes. Those changes are thoughts.
  • The proteins that build these thoughts look like a plant, and just like a plant has branches and leaves, these branches are memories.
  • We have root memories, which are the origin story or the source, where the experience started and built the details of that experience.
  • These roots and branches, which are manifested in our perspective, lead to emotions that generate your actions.
  • Nothing you say, or anyone says, is random. It’s all coming from a thought.
  • You can track your words, emotions, and behaviors back to how you were thinking, feeling, and choosing. Understanding this process and how you can influence it is mind management.
  • It’s important to understand that from the moment you open your eyes, you’re experiencing life and everything is going through the think, feel, choose the process which goes into your brain and affects everything you do.
  • This process is happening whether you’re aware of it or not. And if you don’t manage it, it becomes messy.
  • Mind management is cleaning up your mental mess.

Using Mind Management Effectively

  • We know humans can self-regulate, and we’re good at it. But we can get incredibly busy, and our technological age has contributed to us not self-regulating as well as we could.
  • One of the first strategies in effective mind management is to develop your self-regulation skills. Be aware of your hand movements, eye movements, body movements. How are you saying things and how are people responding to you? Can you alter what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, and will that change impact the conversation?
  • Our mind is malleable, so by increasing your awareness of self-regulation, you will improve your self-regulation.
  • Once you start, you can see improvement in self-regulating within 24 hours. In 3 weeks, you’ll be pretty good at constantly self-regulating. At 63 days, you’ll be an expert.
  • As you get better at self-regulating, you then manage your mind.
  • Because life is constantly happening—our work, our family, our kids—and rarely is everything going to go smoothly, the more practiced you are at self-regulating and managing your mind, the easier these constant ups and down become.
  • One byproduct of this constant reflecting and capturing is being reminded of your own agency.
  • You can’t control the events and circumstances of your life, but you can control your responses. And now is the most important time to do that.
  • Mind management is controlling the controllable. What you’re thinking and feeling and choosing. You’re managing and conquering your mind.
  • You can’t see the mind, but you can see the effect of the mind. It’s why there’s so much science in the book.
  • When you manage the mind, your brain can go from what we call a rigged brain, which is when all your brain waves (your alpha, beta, delta, gamma waves) are all going crazy.
  • This means there’s low blood flow and low oxygen. Your brain goes from there to a calm, normalized brain.
  • You can stabilize your brain within weeks and drop your inflammation levels.
  • Within nine weeks, you can change your telomeres, which are in your DNA.
  • If you cross your fingers, that’s what a chromosome looks like, and the fingernails are the telomeres.
  • Your telomeres are involved in making millions of new cells every second.
  •  You can direct that process. The more you manage your mind, the stronger your telomeres become, so the stronger the health of your cells become.
  • And this affects how we age.
  • In our study, we had people in their 30’s who had bodies that were biologically in their 60’s.
  • This increases your chances of getting any kind of disease by 75-98%.
  • With mind management, we lengthened their telomeres which reduced their biological age to match their chronological age within nine weeks.
  • All of that and more is in the book; get your copy here.
  • We also recommend if you’re listening, that when you go back and review, which helps you retain this information better, watch this episode on YouTube.
  • This is where you can see some of the visuals Dr. Leaf has been sharing, and it’s also the entire unedited conversation, which is much longer than these Kwik Bites.

Share With Us

  • Take a screenshot, tag us on social media (@DrCarolineLeaf & @JimKwik) and share your biggest “AHA!” moment from this episode with us.
  • Get Dr. Leaf’s book, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, here.
  • See more talks from Dr. Leaf, here.


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