Seven Fundamentals about Body Knowing and Learning
- We all know we have feelings. What most of us don’t realize is that more than 50% of human knowledge is learned from our body’s ability to know, rather than through our mind’s ability to think. This is another way of saying that we actually use about 10% of our knowing potential throughout life. As a species, we have barely yet begun to recognize the depth and hidden potential in what our bodies can teach us–if we are prepared to listen and learn!
- Every good coach knows that students learn swimming or any sport, typing, singing, dance, or carpentry from the body-feel of doing it correctly. They need more than outside information. They must enter directly into the process of learning from “inside” their own bodies. It is this “how-in-the-bones” that enables each generation to pass special ways of body knowing on to the next, but in a manner quite different from communicating information through concepts and ideas that our minds can grasp.
- The human body has a unique way of felt-knowing which is different from thinking, analyzing, and reasoning. Your body spontaneously recognizes the whole of a situation, the whole of a relationship, the whole of an experience, together with the interacting web of complex connections that goes along with each of them. Your body knows in a great gulp, while your mind must systematically chew its way through each individual piece. Our human species has been blessed with two entirely different ways of knowing. The challenge is to learn how to use both of them. An even greater challenge is to discover and implement a simple, effective way to teach our children how to connect with and learn from the important stories in their feelings.
- The ancient Greeks recognized at least five different kinds of knowledge: scientific knowing, wisdom, opinion, faith, and an esoteric knowledge called “gnosis.” Among the five, however, only scientific knowing referred to informational knowledge in the mind. The other four pointed to special ways of knowing in the body. This is the world of hunch, intuition, creativity, inspiration, revelation. Wisdom is always more than information. It is living from inside the actual experience of our body-connections.
- Everyday feelings, emotions, and physical sensations represent an important first step into the world of felt body connections. Such body-links bring their own special meaning into our lives, a meaning that is felt rather than thought. ALL FEELINGS, whether positive or negative, are an important part of our body’s intelligence because they introduce us to these deeper felt meanings. “Noticing” and “Nurturing” feelings represents a first step into a process of learning from inside our bodies.
- Feelings are like the phone ringing. A message is trying to get through. We don’t have phones in our offices or homes just to make noise. They ring to alert us that some information is waiting. The problem for many, however, is that when the phone of their feelings rings, trying to get a message through, a habit of blocking the message kicks in. People respond to their feeling “ring” by turning on the TV or pouring themselves a drink. They go to the refrigerator, pick up a magazine, daydream, go shopping, etc.. They escape, they numb, they avoid, or substitute something they like in place of what is perceived to be a fearful or hurting attack and threat. The neural response in their brain stimulates and reenforces their particular “habit” of avoidance.
- Most people don’t realize that values, basic human goodness, and a positive sense of self are all learned in the body! Such valuing doesn’t grow in us because we follow an external list of do’s and don’ts. It is not discovered through various religious or ethical interpretations. Rather, it is given to us through our body’s ability to be aware of its connections as well as the further invitation that lies in such linking. Since the body knows through felt connections, it also knows we are each part of some Greater Whole.