Mindfulness – a Fascination of Mind over Body

Mental prowess and superiority are often praised as the pinnacle of the human experience and achievement. Mental intelligence is what often creates wealth, security, position and acknowledgement from others. The brain is often thought of as the most significant organ in the body, the director of the show, and it is to the brain that we often turn to resolve issues such as problem solving in everyday life, depression and mental health issues.

When we have stress, depression or anxiety we are offered ‘talking therapies’ that look at how the brain works and what we think about ourselves, and the world we live in.

Anyone who may be feeling generally unsatisfied with life may consider mindfulness, a technique that offers us, as the name suggests, ‘mind awareness’ and to some degree, a control or a quelling of the thoughts that disturb us.

Now there is some benefit in attempting to control the thoughts we have, for example if we keep repeating thoughts like “I am ugly,” “I am no good,” then yes, it’s fantastic if we can stop perpetuating these thoughts and say “no” when they enter. Mastering the mind makes sense, but attempting to do so while ignoring the rest of our sensitive barometer, our bodies, does not offer us the remedy that we seek.

Is it possible that mindfulness is an extension of the obsession we have with mental intelligence?

We place enormous importance on the brain and excelling in education and excelling in our chosen careers through mental recall. We place weight on the power of the brain over the rest of the body. Most mental health techniques, including mindfulness, neglect the most significant attribute that supports awareness, wellbeing and true whole body intelligence – the Whole Body.

And what is true whole body intelligence? I would say it is a wisdom, a deep knowing and understanding of life that comes from a lived, embodied quality of being… Now I state here clearly, it is awesome to be educated to grasp formulas, the details of life and the world, but not in isolation of the body and not to the detriment of the body.

When did so many of us become detached from our bodies?

A few years ago I could feel that my head ruled my life… it literally dragged my body along. My mind and body were not united. I lived in my thoughts, issues and opinions without considering or caring for my body.

If I had a mental block or indecision I would do mental athletics with all the alternative rationales and scenarios to work out what my next step would be – I would tie myself in knots in the attempt to problem solve.

Practising to include my whole body in life has brought a deeper understanding of life that is precious and my decisions now often come with ease. This is an inner wisdom that I am developing and I see no limits to its potential. I now understand that the way I put myself to bed, brush my teeth, hold my posture, walk, breathe etc., have a direct correlation to the quality of my thoughts and that the more I care for my body the more the quality of these thoughts is enriched, as is my experience and understanding of life.

When we rush, slump or put our body under stress, our thoughts directly correspond to these choices, so choosing to be whole body aware making this our starting point, allows us to connect with the present moment. In the present moment we allow ourselves the space to refine our behaviours and observe the quality of our thoughts to a depth that offers real healing and consistent foundational support in life.

Our whole body holds an inner wisdom that is available when we are ready to access it – true intelligence. And when we connect to this inner wisdom we not only access a clarity and understanding, we are also able to truly care and support ourselves.

Practically, when I honour how I feel I respond more efficiently to my body’s feelings, and in doing so maintain my function, vitality and ability to flourish… my homeostasis. Also when I am honest about feeling energy, the stuff we can’t see but all feel, I then have a deeper awareness of what feels true and not true for me.

Honouring that energy exists, that we feel energy – be it through sensation, feelings or an innate knowing from the body – is a step towards whole body intelligence. If I get cold, hungry, tired, upset, feel tension, do I push these feelings aside, attempt to ignore or deny them, or do I honour what I feel?

The body holds a natural self-awareness of homeostasis; the balance, harmony and functional efficiency is a wisdom that brings clarity and ease… a whole body intelligence is not to be underestimated.

I would suggest true whole body intelligence can only be connected with when we allow ourselves to surrender to what we feel from the body and allowing what we feel to be honoured.

Mindfulness will not offer us the answers that we search for; the mind is only a part of the beautiful whole that is our body. Body-full-ness, Whole-Body Intelligence, this is the way to true healing, wisdom and wellbeing.

By Samantha Davidson, Business Owner, Massage and Complimentary Health Practitioner, UK

Related Reading:
Mindfulness is not the Way Back to Who You Are
Whole Body Intelligence – it Lives Within Us All 
Intelligence – Is it Embodied or Embrained?

643 thoughts on “Mindfulness – a Fascination of Mind over Body

  1. A solution that my mind conjures up is often not to my body’s liking. I might feel a tightness, contraction, shrinkage, awkwardness etc. in the body that lets me know that not my entirety agrees with that. I kind of like that when I am made aware of this, it feels like a gorgeous invitation from the body to step in, but back, and surrender, and that feels very beautiful.

  2. All these terms might sound very complex but I love how simple whole body intelligence actually is. All we have to do is feel our body and respond to its signals. As in putting something warm on when we feel cold or sense it is going to be a cold day and the more we truly listen the more in depth we will be able to feel our body and its intelligence.

    1. Doesn’t the mind tell you also what you don’t want to hear? The thoughts that need “control or a quelling” as Samantha pointed out in her article; the chattering voices…..

  3. Having tried many forms of meditation in my life, I can say that being more aware and present in the moment is definitely a great step forwards in terms of focusing or settling the mind, however this never brought me much more than a temporary relief or respite from a deeper unease or tension I was feeling constantly in the background. Since practicing conscious presence which not only focuses the mind in the present but also reunites the body and the mind together and allows a deeper awareness and understanding of the quality of energy that is occurring within me and around me, I have a much deeper sense of settlement within.

    1. I agree, Andrew. About conscious presence. It’s what I expressed in my previous comment about the word “mindfulness” and its sense of “pleine conscience” being fully conscious and in the moment and very much in the body. Being fully aware. As a whole.

  4. From my experience there is a distinct difference between observing and feeling the body from the mind and so our thoughts and feeling the body from the body. Whole Body Intelligence is established and developed through practicing to respond and support the body in all areas of life, in every moment, it is a sensitive, delicate and beautiful exploration. A client at work (I work in massage and exercise) said to me recently ‘it is amazing to feel my body and not just think I am feeling it, they feel really different.’ This is the beauty of going deeper and bringing the mind in unity with the body, but neither being more or less, or separate from one another, rather equal parts of the whole.

    1. I agree entirely, there is an enormous difference between ‘thinking’ you’re feeling your body and actually feeling it. The story with your client is a beautiful example. We spend a lot of our lives one step (or more) away from that presence, that unity.
      If we lack attention.
      And how wonderful it is to become more fully aware of the body and its wonders. Too many of us live too much in the head. Hence, I believe, many of the imbalances in our world as well as our selves.
      The mind is often equated only to thinking but it is also defined as the faculty of consciousness – of our bodies, feelings, being …as well as our thoughts.
      The word mindfulness is therefore perhaps misleading and misunderstood. From my experience it is not a state of thinking or of mind over matter. Or of simply observing as some forms of meditation emphasise. It goes beyond this. ‘Bringing body and mind into harmony’.
      In French the words “pleine conscience” are used for this state of being. In other words – being fully conscience, being aware and awake to the present moment, truly alive, present, at one. It’s about ‘the whole and the heart’. “Pleine conscience” might avoid some confusion and be a better expression to use.
      I agree entirely with what is written in the comment; and I’m sure that Thich would too.: “This is the beauty of going deeper and bringing the mind in unity with the body, but neither being more or less, or separate from one another, rather equal parts of the whole”.
      It’s a wonderful equation.

  5. ‘It’s a very interesting subject and a great article but my understanding of mindfulness is not one that negates the body. Neither is it solely concerned with the brain. (Although it’s true that it is often marketed that way with the emphasis on ‘thought’ processes).
    On the contrary, mindfulness is a state of being fully conscious. it unites the whole of our being. Thich Nhat Hanh, for example, expresses it far better and more simply than I can
    “Mindfulness is a source of happiness”.
    In my experience this is quite simply and quite profoundly true… He goes on to explain a little:
    “Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car or take our morning shower”.
    Our body and mind in harmony is the essential characteristic. No separation.
    And interesting also, is the etymology of the word ‘mind’, part of which is this “Old Norse minni “mind;” German Minne (archaic) “love,” originally “memory, loving memory”.
    So perhaps it’s not all about our mental capacity and activity… but more about the whole and the heart.’.

  6. Using the power of the mind over the body can more often than not end us up in trouble – at least this is what has been my experience….For example in just those little moments where the body says I have exercised enough, and the mind says ‘no, just one more lap of the field or one more stretch…etc’ and then too tired to function at optimal level, comes the accident or the injury. On the other hand, trusting the body and its capacity to feel, to know and to communicate as needed is an amazing experience – those little moments of feeling what to do rather than thinking what to do can be so fullfilling. Driving home and just getting the feeling to drive a different way and then encountering something very special along the way. The body has a way of connecting with the magic of the Universe and from this we can learn so much that life does not have to be a struggle but can be an enjoyment despite what happens around.

    1. Beautiful “The body has a way of connecting with the magic of the Universe and from this we can learn so much that life does not have to be a struggle but can be an enjoyment despite what happens around.” Comments that expand and deepen the subject of whole body intelligence, we can learn a great deal through picking up on the details, there is magic in the so called subtle moments and insights that show themselves, when we are gentle and aware of our body as a whole.

  7. Our world is geared to support living from the head, thinking things through, analysing things and making decisions based on the pros and cons that we have deemed are so from our critical thinking. And then we have mindfulness that asks us to be more in the mind, in some ways attempting to cultivate a presence and being in the moment but this too is a form of being in the mind and not bringing in the body and especially the quality of the body. The latter is how I used to live a lot – from the mind, making it about the mind and its intelligence. But thankfully I discovered that there is so much more to life than just this 2 dimensional approach and with the support of the Universal Medicine Modalities, I have come to appreciate deeply the intelligence of the body and being present with the body and with a gorgeous quality that feeds me back – life takes on a completely different meaning living like this. This is Gold to discover and it is to me important that people are aware that this exists and that they too have a choice to try it out.

  8. Trying to train the brain, or letting the mind have free rein can be very dangerous….see climbing the highest mountain, diving the deepest depths, running over 6 desserts, being the ruler of land….some may thing that this is the pinnacle of humans ability, but it is? What is the purpose in all of this when there is abuse, selfism and chaos below that mountain, above sea level, when people do not have a home under that ruler and all around the desserts is war fare? The mind is there to work harmoniously with the body to support a human being to live a life with other human beings, where the body and being is true nurtured, respected and loved. And so from that simply and without push, harmony, responsibility, love and brotherhood will arise.

    1. That pushing through the body’s communication is a bad habit from being told to suck it up as a child. We do it for others… yet if we truly offered our body love, self-care and made the relationship we have with our bodies about nurturing, then we would know exactly when, where and how to support another without leaving ourselves sick at the end of it.

    2. The simplicity of wholeness and oneness.. if we live life separated to this knowing, by pushing and driving and striving, sooner or later this false movement and prioritisation of our minds over our bodies, shows up in our body, for us to deal with and learn from.

  9. The more I work with my body, energetically speaking and appreciate that I am not just someone looking out of the look-out tower of my head but someone connecting to a vast array of data from my whole being that tells me what I need to know about my part in this universe – the more I am able to see the extraordinary illusion of the mind and its arrogant, apparent hold over us.

  10. I would love to write about whole body intelligence so I can be with a fuller understanding and therefore acceptance of it. I understand it is cherishing the relationship you have with it in knowing if you do you can have more clarity. There is so much to feel, unlike the mind is already predetermined merry-go-round reaching a point that you ‘think’ is it but it has already been given to you. The body is continuously giving you more . . . . the mind has already given you a fixed point.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s