I sometimes tell the factual story of when I first met someone who would become a business associate of mine. Upon initially meeting him, my body recoiled as if something was wrong. I even had the fleeting thought that this person should not be trusted. But given that I was being introduced to this person by a friend of mine who I did trust, I dismissed my initial reaction. I think I may have rationalized it “as give the person a chance, I just met him”. In time my initial reaction proved to be very accurate. I ended up losing a relative fortune because of this person’s nefarious dealings.
Around this same period in my life I was giving a workshop to Masters level business students on research methods and statistics. During the workshop, I began to feel palpably ill in my stomach. It was almost as if I had eaten something rotten. I called for a short break. In my mind, I had thoughts that my recent ex-girlfriend was sleeping with someone else. As it was only a short time that she had not been my girlfriend I was still very emotionally invested and connected with her. As things turned out, she did indeed sleep with someone else on that very night.
As the years rolled on many other similar examples occurred in my life. But it was not just my life, it was that many people shared similar experiences with me. I am sometimes asked what is the best way to navigate through the vicissitudes of life? Of course there are a number of ways, but one of the most primary and essential methods of doing so is by using our bodies as a guide. It is one of the most essential things we can do in terms of really growing up psychologically and spiritually – aka using the body as vehicle to human adulthood. I thought I would share this because so many people seem interested in human potential.
Our bodies are finely tuned instruments which really can provide for clues as to which direction to take in life. This may sound like new age fluff, but in fact it has some exceptional solid scientific research to back it up. Our bodies seem to know things before we are consciously aware of things.
We can walk into a room of strangers and by using only our bodies reaction tell which people we could be friends with and those we should have very little to do with. Accurate decisions can be made based on how our bodies react. We are able to navigate through life by using our bodies often in surprising and much more successful ways. But because of the way people are conditioned a few things tend to get in the way of really paying attention to our bodies.
The first is that we have to learn to relax. Our bodies are almost predominately stressed out. As such we have difficulty discerning which signals are genuine and which are from being stressed out. Our normal flight/fight/freeze patterns are all out of synch. We have to reset them by learning to be in a relaxed mode of operating in the world as possible. Just being relaxed makes a tremendous difference to the quality of life experienced.
In a similar vein, we need to learn to become quiet internally. Rather than letting our thinking or feelings dominate us we quieten ourselves down simply by observing them. Think of that first example in this article. I talked myself out of what was a strong signal. I listened to the voice in the head which was saying give him a chance, don’t judge a book by its cover and so on. What I should have been listening to is my body and its reaction. In order to use our bodies effectively we have to learn to put aside our thoughts and emotions. Do not analyse or at least do not do it till after the decision has been made. Do not allow emotions to overwhelm. Instead first learn how to handle thoughts and emotions.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle is to learn to trust using our bodies as a way to navigate through the world. A good way to handle this is start with small steps. Start using the body for smaller things and then after becoming comfortable with the smaller things, take it up a notch. It’s good to develop trust in such a manner as it develops new neural pathways in the brain.
The way I explain intuition is that it occurs on a broad spectrum. At one end of the continuum there is the body and its reaction to events and people. At another is head based intuition which often occurs as an aha moment seemingly out of nowhere. The body is a little bit different in that we might not really know we may not like a person or why our bodies are being pulled in a certain direction. It’s not insight based in the normal sense of the word. Hence, the need to trust and to quieten down our internal world and to relax, relax and relax.