The body matters, because the body always wins, and this is especially true when we are stressed. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated, knowledgeable, and skilled we are, when we are threatened we revert to our instincts and patterns that are housed in our body.
Even though this may resonate for many people, we act in ways that indicate there is incongruence with this thinking. This is because our education and socialization tend to actively mitigate against using our bodies as a source of wisdom. Being rational and using reason is richly rewarded in our current society, and so the tacit message is that our head should rule, often to the exclusion of our feelings and instincts.
From early childhood, in Western society particularly, we are taught to ignore the intelligence of our bodies. For example, as parents we tell our children to eat when they aren’t actually hungry, to put on shoes because we are cold, to pay attention to gender by wearing dresses in the case of a girl, and by telling boys that men don’t cry. Although we have made progress and are more conscious of these messages, scratch below the surface and we realize they are still largely prevalent.
Linked to this our ways of living closes down our bodies and literally shapes them in a ways that blocks our full range and innate capacity. Consider how formal learning takes place… it is largely by sitting still in a classroom or in front of a computer being fed information, particularly in the primary years of life. Schools that encourage integration and movement as an essential part of the curriculum are categorized as alternative and are very much in the minority.
Fortunately more and more research is being done on the role of body – chemically, anatomically, and biologically – and science is pointing to the fact that our bodies are key to living more satisfied and effective lives. Our contention is that by using our bodies as a fundamental source of learning, we can tap into a rich source of wisdom directly and immediately. In other words we can use our bodies to become more aware of our patterns and be more effective and skillful using these insights.