Translating: Body – Mind
About a year ago, I had an experience with a client that is still mystifying. I was working on her back, and suddenly I had the question whether she ever fell while she had been pregnant. We had never really talked about her pregnancy before, I just knew that she had a 19year old daughter, so the question seemed to be quite random. I had no idea, why I wanted to know, but I decided to ask anyways, she probably would just say no, wonder why I ask and then it’s over again. Turns out though, that she did fall. After I asked, she held her breath for a short moment and then, remembering said: She was going down an escalator while she was pregnant and slipped, falling onto her back and precisely on the area that I was working on.
And she then told me, that it had been quite intense and she was scared, if something was going to happen to the baby afterwards (it didn’t), so the incident was quite a shock at the time.
Now – this is an example of small situations that I meet every once in a while in my life and I find them curious.
I have quite a strong aversion against talking about intuition or spirituality when it comes to things I perceive, because those words have very little physical reality for me and seem so made up. In many situations, things that didn’t make sense or didn’t have a logical argument or reasoning wouldn’t be something I follow or let alone share. Just „because I have this sensation“ wasn’t valid enough. I would question these sensations and hold them back. Just as „because I want it“ wasn’t a very valid reason to do or get something.
During my work with clients and my training to become a Grinberg Practitioner I have learned to follow impulses or things that I don’t understand anyways. Sometimes, it turns out that my client says no, when I ask them a question that I had and didn’t understand where it came from. And many times these weird unexplainable things spark of a conversation or a part of the process, that makes the learning more profound and precise.
I have learned to use and move with things I don’t understand, to share them without logical argument and explanation. I still would like to understand and know where they come from, but in certain situations it is faster and more efficient to act on them immediately, without understanding.
Nevertheless, when I have space for them, my thoughts about the mind-process and the understanding that it is just as much a physical process as the digestion process, come in again. There are a lot of things that are happening unconsciously – but even though they’re happening without my awareness, they’re just as physical and real.
I’m thinking for example a carrot: there is a part of getting nutrition from it, which is very conscious (buying, cutting, cooking, chewing, swallowing), involving larger movements and obviously many areas of my body. And then there is a whole other part of the process, that I don’t control and notice intentionally, but it is happening inside my belly. So I’m doing it, and I know basically how; I just don’t know it so much with my thoughts as with my intestines.
However I can support this unconscious part to work better, by being aware of my choices in the conscious part – what do I eat, when do I eat, under which circumstances, what do I attribute?
And at the same time, if I’m attentive I can also sharpen my perception to more details. Depending on what I’m used to and how attentive I eat, different kinds of reactions to my food will come to my attention.
And instead of me eating something random and then experiencing other random things, I’ll be able to notice contexts and patterns, that I can intentionally apply, when there is something specific that I want. I might chose to serve pomegranate and strawberries instead of carrots or beans when I want to support a specific kind of interaction after dinner. (Is their aphrodisiac effect proven? I have no idea actually… well here is to trying out and making personal experiences.)
And what does all of this have to do with the pregnant falling lady?
What I’m contemplating is, if this question popping up in my mind, might be a product of the unconscious part of my mind process. Did I notice something with my body, processed the information and then the „product“ of this activity came into my attention but not the whole procedure itself?
I was listening to the RadioLab Episode on Translation this week and the section about hearing with the body and seeing with the tongue was mind boggling.
David Eagleman basically says, that the brain is what is seeing and hearing and the eyes/ears are „just“ the usual area of our body that sends the signals. In Discover Magazine he writes:
„But many scientists are coming to think that sensory input may merely revise ongoing internal activity in the brain. Note, for example, that sensory input is superfluous for perception: When your eyes are closed during dreaming, you still enjoy rich visual experience. The awake state may be essentially the same as the dreaming state, only partially anchored by external stimuli. In this view, your conscious life is an awake dream.“
So – the brain is constantly active, and creating meaning. However we’re dependent on input from the world around us, through our senses, through our body in order to live. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to distinguish between wether we’re actually eating and getting nutrition or if we’re just imagining that carrot.
Our bodies, our senses make the difference in being able to notice what is really happening and what is internal activity, i.e. imagination.
And it is possible to hear with our body or see with our tongue, if we have a device that magnifies the tactile impulse of what is around us, so that we can notice it with the skin. I’m sure that there is no on-off-switch for our senses either, but that they are constantly noticing what is happening around us. The difference is mainly, how much of it is part of our awareness and what is just background noise. So if we learn to notice all of our senses with more awareness and do so intentionally, can we train to hear with the whole body?
Would that mean, it is possible to hear a memory, from body to body? And train attention and precision to what we perceive, by training attention to more fine sensations and feelings in the body?
Eagleman writes in The Week that there is „a large gap between knowledge and awareness“ on the one hand and on the other hand that „one of the most impressive features of brains — and especially human brains — is the flexibility to learn almost any kind of task. …
While many animals are properly called intelligent, humans distinguish themselves in that they are so flexibly intelligent, fashioning their neural circuits to match the task at hand. It is for this reason that we can colonize every region on the planet, learn the local language we’re born into, and master skills as diverse as playing the violin, high-jumping, and operating the space shuttle.“
In an article about the brain might be sensible, that the brain is the main character and kind of an omnipotent thing that can do everything. However, when we talk about us as human beings, it doesn’t make sense to disconnect it from the body and our senses. Looking at different people and their bodies, it is quite obvious that the shape of those also is fashioned to match the task at hand (just thinking of a swimmer or a climber is an easy example). Now if thinking and minding is as much a physical process and training, it too should to be shaping and changing our body.
My impression of learning to pay attention, stopping reactions that are compensating for fear or pain and instead experiencing in my body, where I am and what is happening, is exactly that.
I find myself easier, faster at adapting to the reality I’m in, by actually checking, what reality is. One strategy is noticing my own body. Another, especially when other people are involved, asking and using my voice, my ability to communicate, in order to „check in“ – to revise the ongoing internal activity.
Eagleman finishes his article with a quote from Pink Floyd: “There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.“ But I find this a very misleading conclusion – instead of embracing that there are large areas of ourselves we don’t understand yet, but that are nonetheless part of our life, this creates an artificial other to be blamed. I find the idea that there are parts of myself that I don’t know but I can learn about, much more intriguing… Just like in any new relationship or place I come to, I discover new aspects of how life & the world can be structured. I can discover aspects of me, by making them part of my awareness, the conscious part of my mind process.
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