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.