Coming Back To Whole Body Intelligence

How do we know as a toddler how to and when we are ready to walk? Of course we see others are walking, but that does not show us the mechanics of how to do it and we do not know when they began – for all we know, if we do not have young people in our sphere of life, it is possible they may have started this process later, in teenage years.

Could it be that we are connected with our body and we get the wisdom/intelligence from our body that sends us the message to begin the process, and so we do. We start by standing and we may fall down, and up we go, then we fall again and again, always giving it another go.

Many of us are like bulldogs, we do not give up and we just keep on until we have mastered it. We do not consider we have made a mistake and are wrong when we fall, we just get up and give it another go. Then we move a foot and leg and then another and then we fall and then we give it yet another go. We keep listening to our body and follow without questioning, with loads of enthusiasm and committed to the  whole process. And bingo! … before we know it we are walking. I was observing this process with a toddler recently and the joy in his whole being when he took off was so beautiful to see.

So what changes? How is it that as we get older, when we try new things we don’t have the same attitude as we did when we were toddlers? What happens; why do we no longer see things as a joyful learning process but go into right and wrong. Often we go into ‘wrong’ if we do not get it ‘right’ first off, and then at times we just give up… pitiful really.

When we reconnect with our bodies we re-establish the type of relationship with it that we had when we were toddlers, where we just knew our body held the wisdom/intelligence and we listened to it. There is no right and wrong when you are in your body, there is only an opportunity to learn and develop.

So let’s come back to what is our natural state of being and begin again to enjoy and celebrate any new ventures we embark on… as we did when we learnt to walk.

By Mary-Louise Myers, Complementary Healing Practitioner, Goonellabah, NSW, Australia

Further Reading:
Listening To Your Body
The Body Speaks Loudly But Am I Listening?
The Body Knows

815 thoughts on “Coming Back To Whole Body Intelligence

  1. I love this metaphor of the toddler stopping to pick itself up and trying all over again, because it would seem that as adults we forget to use our whole body intelligence and lead with the beliefs and ideals of the mind most of the time.

  2. I feel I have the tenacity of a bulldog at times when it comes to letting go of the all my ideals and beliefs and as so much of what I have let go of in the past has been evolving in the most glorious way I can’t wait for the rest to go.

  3. Thank you Mary-Louise, the whole attitude of right and wrong surely gets in the way of the joy of learning. The idea we have to get it right (especially straight away) also gets in the way of what there is to be learnt and appreciated at each step. The irony is as soon as I take pressure off myself I achieve whatever I am working on in a much easier way. Right and wrong is very outcome based instead of enjoying what is unfolding at each step of the way.

    1. I agree with you Melinda when we take the pressure off ourselves to be right or wrong there is an opportunity to actually enjoy what is going on. We have become so outcome based that all the enjoyment has gone from what we do and has been replaced by time management procedures and there is no joy in this.

  4. As adults we certainly do give ourselves a hard time when it comes to learning something new, and yet we all know that to master something takes practice, but we still pressurize ourselves and at times put unrealistic expectations on ourselves – we could learn a lot from studying toddlers.

    1. It is amazing isn’t it that we know the saying, ‘practise makes perfect’, inside out and back to front, but do not afford ourselves the grace of it in the way we treat ourselves when we are learning.

  5. There has been a long held assumption that our bodies have no intelligence and are merely a servant of our brains, but if we consider the world of energy and that we are recipients not the originator of energy or consciousness passing through us, which is what actually provides the intelligence we have access to, then this changes the ball game as to where we actually get our intelligence from and the importance of the body in this process.

  6. “So what changes? How is it that as we get older, when we try new things we don’t have the same attitude as we did when we were toddlers?What happens; why do we no longer see things as a joyful learning process but go into right and wrong. Often we go into ‘wrong’ if we do not get it ‘right’ first off, and then at times we just give up… pitiful really.”
    It’s so true, we often forget the joy of learning, simply because it all becomes about achieving. It’s crucial that we keep allowing people to experiment and grow and change as needed. There is no need to get it right every time as long as no intention to sabotage self or another exists.

  7. There is described here a certain kind of freedom that seems to come only with childhood. I wonder why it is only reserved for those relatively few years, when we then have a lifetime of adulthood to endure without that kind of joy and freedom? Why would anyone choose that and why is it the expected norm?

    1. I know, you do not see a toddler saying to himself ‘naughty boy, you fell over just then’ as he explores walking.

      1. The shame of disconnection and given disconnection comes as we get older and give up on ourselves due to the hurts we encounter as we experience more of life. For some of us that is just a part of our return to truly loving ourselves.

  8. Love it – following our bodies without question is very inspiring and I am humbled to watch my infant learning new things with her body every day – she is teaching me so much in how our bodies will always communicate to us. Even when she is not hungry she won’t eat – and how many times have I over-ridden when I am not hungry. Pretty crazy to think about it.

  9. ‘When we reconnect with our bodies we re-establish the type of relationship with it that we had when we were toddlers, where we just knew our body held the wisdom/intelligence and we listened to it. There is no right and wrong when you are in your body, there is only an opportunity to learn and develop.’ Love this simple and profound truth Mary Louise – staying with the intelligence of body is all the teaching we need.

  10. The joyful process of learning…..I love this reminder thank you. I recently moved into a house and was getting in a bit of pickle about something and then I stopped, and offered to myself, the grace of re-adjusting to my new home and a new way of activities around my new home. I allowed the joy of learning how to be in my new home, which was much nicer than the pickle I was getting myself into!

    1. Allowing ourselves to learn rather than pressuring ourselves to get it ‘right’ first time can be hugely supportive for ourselves in life. This reminds me of how school tests are given to us, to breed that sense of pressure into getting things ‘right’.

  11. How we are with our bodies is so important. Listening to it, what the wisdom is sharing with us. But are we listening? We have to learn to listen, otherwise we tend to get the same symptoms or illnesses arise in the body, time and time again.

  12. our openness to learn from life without the need to be right or without the filters we put in our way, seem critical and more difficult as we get older

  13. The joy of babies and toddlers learning and exploring their bodies is beautiful to observe, feel and is a reflection for us all. Their connection exploration and enquiry is ongoing and relentless as is their honouring of all they feel . A beautiful reminder for us all of who we are and how are body is our guide to listen to and honour.

  14. The more I connect to my body the more that bulldog-like determination comes out. A situation may be horrible to experience but my body is willing to go there again and again until the situation is mastered. And eventually it is and feels amazing when I look back on the whole learning process to where I am now.

  15. When looking back over my life it is amazing how many time I would play the wrong card not only with my own learning’s but also when I judge others in the same way and a judgement of any kind is so much a killer of who we truly are in fact it is the number one way that we loose our connection to our inner-most.

  16. It is very honouring of the body to learn with it and not against it. The body can teach us so much and it is a joy to see that in children – they allow their bodies to be their teachers. I love watching this in my infant and her constant learning.

  17. The whole body intelligence is there for us all to reconnect to, it takes a lot of effort to go against it, but we can be quite fixated in that old habit or pattern. The most simple natural thing is to allow it to be and go with the flow.

  18. What you describe is the natural knowing of our bodies which step is next while we have made life about a set of rules and stages as to what happens that we believe we have to oblige to. With that all that feels natural to us is suppressed and the stress and ‘have to’ sets in, instead of the enjoyment of the natural movement of our bodies.

  19. I would be fair to say that the status quo of thought is that we think, then we move. However, as I discovered in sport many years ago, the body is actually able to co-ordinate itself much better when the mind is focussed and quiet and not leading the show. And so, athletes talk about being in “the zone”, which is essentially when the mind and body become focussed together, and so there is no fight from the mind to control the body. When you are in such a state, your co-ordination becomes remarkably better, and athletes will talk about how in such a state, they are able to see the ball so much better, and the body is allowed to respond to hitting shots for example that the mind could never compute of its own accord. To me this confirms that there is something very real and tangible about the concept of whole body intelligence.

  20. What I start to grasp is that the body is already love, that it is true and reliable in the sense that it does not lie, the only thing I have to do is to listen and respond. So simple.

  21. Being wrong leaves us with no where to go except maybe right and even that does not feel true how about if life is just full of learning curves that are spherical and we just evolve from one point to the next no judgement.

    1. Hi Gregg, indeed when we allow ourselves to use the concept of wrong, there must also be the right and when entered into that realm of life we are actually going nowhere as right or wrong do actually not exist in in the grander whole we are part of.

      1. So true Nico, life is about truth and when everything else is considered also lies so when aligning to the truth we become open to the lies. When I was aligned to the lies I had no idea that there was a truth! The truth open up the ‘grander whole’ which we are all equally part of so we get an understanding of what life is truly about we evolve.

  22. “why do we no longer see things as a joyful learning process but go into right and wrong?” It seems the joy goes when we start to see things in terms of right and wrong. This brings in separation and we loose the joy of expression.

  23. It is true that as soon as we get to be adults we seem to loose the ability to shrug things off easily without being judgmental on ourselves, and everything becomes too serious. From a lot of personal experience of being stressed when learning a new job or learning something quickly, it definitely feels horrible in the body to operate in this way.

  24. I love what this article has inspired me to ask of myself when I self-abuse for not getting things ‘right’… ‘Would I ever talk to a toddler like this if they were stumbling during their first steps?’ The answer is always. ‘No’, so then I get to put the voice of abuse in its place and begin to develop an understanding, respectful, patient and loving relationship with myself and therefore everyone else.

  25. I like what you propose Mary-Louise, to return to that same way of being how we were like a toddler, not hesitant to listen to what our body wants and needs and to fully rely on that and with that to feel through the body that connection we have with all people around and are in constant relationship with.

  26. So true that we will keep making mistakes and falling down, with an oops we can just get up and keep going, and that it is important to allow others to do the same. Love is letting others do just that, and being there for them and ourselves you might say, when they do.

  27. As babies and toddlers we are in complete connection and awareness of the intelligence of our bodies. We have no concept of the intelligence of the mind which most people at some stage come to hold as greater that the intelligence of the body.

  28. I have had a glorious time learning to play the piano, making plenty of mistakes hitting the wrong notes or wrong sequences but I love every moment of it and when it all comes together it just makes my heart sing!

  29. I really enjoy the wonder of feeling the body–before going into any analysing, just feeling oh that’s what it feels like, cool…and keep feeling. But when I go into analysing and interpreting, I lose this connection with wonder and thinking becomes a serious matter!

  30. ‘Often we go into ‘wrong’ if we do not get it ‘right’ first off, and then at times we just give up… pitiful really.’ What is also sad is that over time, as we berate ourselves with these ‘wrong’ doings we stop even taking that first step and thus give up before we even start. We therefore miss out on the joy of learning.

  31. I love the joyful simplicity you share here of how we are as a young child and the freedom and knowing from this that we have lost but can come back to always by our choices to reconnect to our bodies and all we are in our natural divinity and being.

  32. There is no right or wrong in the expression of a young child – it just is .. How beautiful and necessary it is to come back to that simplicity.

  33. There is so much wisdom in what has been shared, as toddlers we are openly connected to our body and we allow ourselves to explore the falling and getting up again, until we master whatever we are doing. We don’t get caught in our heads, there is no space for that. But when we get older the roles are reserve we get caught in our heads and have no time for our body.

  34. This is such a simple question to ask, there is so much complication in how I could answer that question which I guess reflects how complicated we make life. Suffice to say that there is something brilliant in the idea of persevering and learning new skills whatever our age.

  35. It is well time to come back to whole body intelligence that the majority of us experienced as children, but left behind for whatever reason. Using a part, as in solely using the mind as our navigator in life has led to much of the misery we have in our world today, this disharmonious way of being would be greatly alleviated if we returned to whole-body intelligence, for the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

  36. That’s such a great question. I know I can sometimes approach learning something new with apprehension for fear of not getting it right away or not getting it at all and then feeling stupid and then sometimes avoiding something new altogether – giving up before I’ve even tried. Society doesn’t like to get things wrong, we’re so hard on others and ourselves, it’s no wonder we play it safe so much.

  37. How simple life can be when we choose to reconnect with our bodies and let go of the obstacles we create by holding on to the hurts we experience on our journey through life and creating all sort of ideals and beliefs that result in pictures that drive us further and further from the wisdom and intelligence we all equally have access to with our bodies.

  38. The more I respond and listen to my body the more in awe I am of its natural, innate and vast wisdom of life, relationships and our true purpose. It is like having a guide and friend that has common sense and the big picture totally ‘nailed’. It is insane not to listen.

  39. A youngster would never berate them self if she/he did not get it the first, second or third or even tenth try at something new so why do we?

  40. I love that – there is no right and wrong when you are in you body, just a chance to learn and develop – it reminds me that we only need recognise with honesty where we are in our unfoldment to be on the sweet spot of going forward and trying to be anywhere but there is folly that only delays that unfoldment.

  41. Our natural state of being is where we are meant to be, our body in harmony. Why would we ever leave that? But most of us, if not all of us, have done this at some stage in your lives. Its great to uncover the enticements that we allow and that take us way from our true self.

  42. “…There is no right and wrong when you are in your body, there is only an opportunity to learn and develop…” This is a great statement to remember considering how much in today’s society there is a lot of pressure in getting things ‘right’ or being judged as doing something ‘wrong’.

  43. Being pre-occupied or hard on ourself with having made a ‘wrong’ decision doesn’t help anyone! This I am appreciating more and more in my own life and seeing how it is a waste of energy to judge ourselves in this way rather than just allow ourselves to learn and grow from our ‘mistakes’.

    1. When we realise we have made a mistake it is to be celebrated, because once recognised they provide us with the direction to U-turn out of there and get back on the right path.

  44. We are so conditioned to be the ‘good’ student who doesn’t make mistakes, but this just boxes us in more and more, Lets make Whoops one of our favorite words…☺

    1. Well said Chris – the need to be seen as ‘right’ runs deep in us and is the sure path to keep us locked up in our old patterns and behaviours.

  45. I have felt the difficulty in truly embracing and understanding the notion of intelligence being in the body – as no amount of thinking, analysing, and considering it will ever arrive at true understanding – we must start with the body first – opening up and allowing the opportunity for the body to communicate in its own language and by its wisdom and in that we will start to truly understand what true intelligence is and the connection we hold with all.

  46. ‘There is no right and wrong when you are in your body, there is only an opportunity to learn and develop.’ What an incentive to connect.

  47. There is a huge amount to learn from toddlers. They never do the adult thing of putting a toe in, half-heartedly doing something when their thinking about something else. They are fully present with everything they do and unless we adults make it a big thing, falling over and other learning experiences are engaged with as much dedication as everything else. When I consider it, the reflection is truly inspiring.

  48. It is wonderful to relearn the art of making mistakes and not ‘cane’ myself. Just the opportunity to try again and be surprised to learn something new.

  49. It is amazing to feel the natural confidence and trust in adults who live like children, in the sense that they look at every task with an innocence and joy at the opportunity of learning something new, and they are not afraid of getting it wrong – they just do it regardless of the outcome.

  50. Wouldn’t it be great to have the same exuberance for learning something new as we did as a toddler, and not have an ounce of feeling wrong if we do not succeed straight away.

  51. It’s really fascinating when you give yourself the space to observe your body; when tension arises, what you feel about that tension, what makes the tension dissipate or what you do to make it dissipate and whether the tension has truly dissipated or just numbed/dulled. I am sitting with this at the moment having just returned from the Universal Medicine retreat. Very interesting.

  52. The older we become the more we tend to lace new situations with ‘old’ experiences. But what if this stops us from truly opening up to new situations?

  53. A gorgeous reminder Mary-Louise of the wisdom and intelligence our bodies hold and allowing us the space to learn something new without any pressure to getting it ‘right’.

  54. This blog brings such an important message about whole body intelligence. Once you have tried it there is nothing else like it. When I truly come back to being in my body I go ‘Why on earth would you want to be anywhere else’ – and yet we have been away from it so long that it is easy to slide out. In the body there is no such thing as ‘the mundane’ or ‘the boring’, which is in fact the case when the human spirit is chosen as the dominating factor. Then the spirit thinks it needs to make something ‘exciting’ in order to provide stimulation to stop feeling ordinary and mundane. Simply coming back to the body, living fully inhabiting the body is the only way out of the dilemma.

  55. It is so beautiful to live life as a toddler, to live from that inner impulse that tells us that, for instance as in this blog, it is time for us to learn to walk, as a natural development we have to go and to fully adhere to that because we do know that we need this development to go to the next. That said, adhering to that inner impulse for growth and evolution is a pleasure to take as it will always bring us joy and a broadening of our understanding what life is actually about.

  56. To live like a toddler is sometimes very challenging for the mind but is a joy for the body as to me that is its natural way of being in the world.

  57. Simply and beautifully written Mary-Louise… and this is the message that needs to be returned to children… just like this gorgeous song of Jenny james … imagine being a kid and singing ( and feeling) this

    I listen to my body it has a lot to say
    It tells me how I truly feel like when to rest and play
    How to eat and when to sleep how others feel to me
    My body is amazing it shows me all the way

    My body feels everything that I say and do
    And just as much it can feel other people too
    And saying everything I feel, I can just be me,
    So caring for my body is where I want to be

  58. Unfortunately as we get older, the bulldog euphemism applies differently, in that we often become stubborn and ingrained, and never give up on that which is clearly not working.

  59. What great advice to get back to the joy of learning new things. I wonder how much school plays a part in knocking that out of us, with so much,total over kill on right and wrong and grades and competition.

  60. Whole body heath is an interesting concept… due to the fact that is considered ‘new’ or ‘strange’ or a ‘health fad’, how about as children we learn to maintain our whole body awareness, and not begin to separate ourselves into limbs and heads, stay with feeling and not just function. This is something that is gravely missing within our society and something that would a true foundation of health or all if it was utilised..

  61. We are born with a whole body, some where along the way we have given priority to certain areas, yes they all have a job to do, but all fail or suffer when they do not work together. The Whole Body matters. The liver as much as the head, the kidneys as much as the heart, unite the body and we connect with a deeper relationship and understanding of us and life.

  62. There is no right and wrong when you are in your body, there is only an opportunity to learn and develop. So true Mary-Louise, how many times do we beat ourselves up for feeling ‘we got it wrong’, I did this for such a long time. Everything life presents us with is and opportunity for us to grow and evolve.

  63. Entering into a walk that is going to serve our body always delivers such joy no matter what our age as walking reconfigures so much when done ” when we are connected to our bodies.”

  64. Gorgeous to come back to this Mary-Louise and be reminded of the innate wisdom we are already connected to, and already actually respond to in some degree for example, when our bodies tell us when we need to drink water. However as you say we seem to have disregarded this intelligence as we have grown up, yet the beautiful fact is that it still remains in full communication. There is a great power that is at our fingertips to explore and engage, literally, and the more we move in connection to our bodies and in honor our of the wisdom it reveals to us, the more we will live in awe of who we are and all that we are connected to.

    1. Beautifully said Carola, I love what you shared, very inspiring and this wisdom and power is available to us all. How amazing is that!

  65. Reading this I got a different take from what you have shared ‘Many of us are like bulldogs, we do not give up and we just keep on until we have mastered it’. As sometimes instead of being about not giving up it can be how we want to control a situation and in this stubbornness we loose (well disconnect) to our innate sensitivity, overriding the lessons from life instead of learning from them.

  66. Thank you Mary-Louise for this beautiful reminder of how supportive it is for us to connect to our body. There has been numerous times throughout my life where I am hugely appreciative of how my body has guided me to make loving choices through sending me messages in subtle and sometimes very loud ways. Listening and connecting to our body is key.

  67. How lovely to feel, know, and trust that there is an innate process of learning that we are all on, all of humanity, and that we are returning back to our true nature.

  68. It is incredibly isolating to reduce one’s awareness of life to what one thinks and perceives through their mind alone. It is in such a reductionist way of being that we lose connection to the fact that the world can be experienced and felt and known beyond its physical appearance.

  69. Such a simple observation, lived with ease when we are young and don’t feel like we have to know everything already. If we can just drop our laziness and arrogance then its a natural state to come back to – a constant growth, with a few knock downs, but then getting back up a little wiser and ready to go again.

  70. We have made learning about getting it right and all coming up with the exact same answer (often even to the dot to be worded in the same way), instead of allowing everybody’s perception and awareness bring us the richness of the universe to all that is required here on earth.

  71. Yes let’s to that, Mary-Louise! Let go exploring new things, new people, new ventures like we did as a kid. Love that. Just being in our bodies. The great thing about in the body as well is the immediate trust which is embodied trust which has nothing to do whether we have mastered a skill or not.

  72. I love the simplicity of the truth you present – the body is wise beyond measure and to follow our bodies impulses is really as easy and simple as learning to walk.

  73. There is such a sense of simplicity and wonder when reflecting how it is as a toddler learning anything. The curiosity and willingness to explore is actually delicious. This is a sense we can re-connect to any time we choose. Anything else that has come-in to interfere with this is an imposition and mental construct – the absolute opposite to whole body intelligence.

    1. I can feel why the statement “Listen to me” when someone is showing us something is such a turn-off to learning. Because we can feel it is being imposed with an order to over ride how we may innately feel in our bodies

  74. Its that enthusiasm that we need to reconnect to… life is a constant learning and there is no perfection so its littered with reminders and ‘mistakes’. But when we enthusiastically get up and have another go there is such a joy to our movements, an inspiration to those around us, and one can’t help but smile as all that enthusiasm comes into the room to give it another go.

  75. ” What happens; why do we no longer see things as a joyful learning process but go into right and wrong.” Having recently started a new exercise routine with some balance pads I have found myself gripping and contracting my body to stay on but then one day I simply let go of the need to control the situation and simply fall down. I did this a couple of times and actually really enjoyed the process and simply allowed myself to fall and I had so much fun in the process. Surrendering to the learning and exploring life is a joy and when we try to control the situation we halt our connection to our bodies and the natural flow and discoveries of life we can encounter.

  76. Beautiful blog Mary-Louise – the body has its knowing not only about how its development unfolds but also about where we are going – back to where we came from and it responds to this universal impulse whether we like it or not. All we can do is either get in the way of this and make ourselves sick, or we can listen to the grace and intelligence of the bodily particles and go with it. It is a matter of true alignment.

  77. Living without right and wrong gives us the space to discover things for ourselves. That’s the beautiful thing with children they live without any right and wrong and just enjoy being present and playful in the moment.

  78. When you look at our Universities and then at a young child, you really realise the extent to which we’ve got life upside down. We stand there with our mortar boards, our cloaks and paper scrolls, our exhaustion from hours of intensive, stressful study, while the child has a natural joy of discovery and play as their celebratory certificate. The guilt and shame, the wanting to be right, they have no place, as you simply show Mary-Louise, in living a vital life.

  79. “There is no right and wrong when you are in your body, there is only an opportunity to learn and develop” Understanding this, allows us to meet life more through our bodies and maximize every opportunity we have been given to be more loving and understanding in order to return to that which we know so well within our souls.

  80. ‘why do we no longer see things as a joyful learning process but go into right and wrong’. This line really brings me to a stop so that I can reflect on why i always have tension in my body when I am learning something new….. What I can feel further is, if I get it ‘wrong’, I feel I have failed in some way or let some-one down, etc so quite some self-bashing goes on. Time to change this. It is a simple choice to make learning fun and to be curious just like we are as children and that there is only ever learning, no matter how many attempts we may have, ( and perceive as a failure) judging or criticising ourselves takes all the fun out of learning.

  81. What is the whole body intelligence? Does it speak to us? It is a vibration in our body that impulses us, the body knows what it is when it moves – and does not seek to know itself – it is our spirit that seeks to know things (by using the mind) and uses the body in a configuration of control to get what it wants.

  82. A great sharing, and after reading this blog, I was watching my 1yr old daughter who has just started walking, and it occurred to me that she has not crawled since she could walk – ie she doesn’t do what a lot of adults do and go backwards. She is focused on the now and the future – she is committed to trying new things – it is a joy to watch.

  83. The mind likes to think it’s in control by planning, creating and thinking – but the body is under a high order, one that is universal and in that a natural flow is delivered and can be lived by.

  84. Love to read this blog again today, and be reminded that we are here to learn and that learning does not need to be serious, it can be fun! Now that perspective does change things….. I already feel lighter as my old habit is to tense up when I am learning new things.

  85. Yes when we let our children know that “not being perfect in things that we do … Is fine… cause we’re already perfect in just being me” as the song says …☺

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