Our bodies change our minds,
our minds change our behavior,
and our behavior changes our results.
Understanding body intelligence
Body intelligence is perceiving and harnessing bodily information in pursuit of improving your well being and performance, health, mood, and overall response to life. With the rise of technology, it’s become easy to rely upon machines to inform us about the status of our health, well being, and performance. This isn’t a problem until it leads us to discount our built-in ability to perceive when something isn’t right. Upgrading your body intelligence is an extremely efficient way to elevate your overall well being and performance.
The word intelligence is derived from the Latin nouns intelligentia or intellectus, which originate from the verb intellegō, to comprehend or perceive. According to the Britannica Group, intelligence is generally accepted as the “ability to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understand and handle abstract concepts, and use knowledge to manipulate one’s environment.”
Associating the concepts of body and intelligence may seem a bit forced. The concept of intelligence is usually linked to mental capacity or abstract thinking and disassociated from the realm of physical phenomena. It stands to reason a body can function, be healthy and even perform well without much intellectual capacity.
Building evidence suggests that the relationship between body and mind is much more collaborative and multi-dimensional than many realize. American psychologist Howard Gardner challenged the assumption of a single cognitive intelligence by proposing a theory of multiple intelligences. In his work, he distinguishes between bodily intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence, among others.
Your physical and emotional performance
The realm of body intelligence plays a foundational role within the spectrum of managing physical and emotional performance. In other words, people respond differently to the same situation, at the same time and place, due to variations in body intelligence. When under pressure, some people shy away while others rise to the challenge.
An especially intriguing aspect of body intelligence for physical and emotional regulation is interoception. Interoception is the perception of internal sensations, including physical sensations related to internal organ function such as heartbeat, respiration, satiety, and the autonomic nervous system activity related to emotions.
Your respiration influences the chemistry and mechanical function of practically every organ and system in the body. For example, if you feel your heart racing and experience anxiety as you approach a big moment, you can intervene by taking slow and deep breaths. Slow and deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system sending a signal to your brain that you are not in imminent danger and don’t need to activate the fight, flight, or freeze response.
People with good interoceptive processing skills can dynamically adapt and respond to the needs of a situation quickly. Some of the other ways your body gives you a sense of self include proprioception, exteroception, and nociception.
This ability to accurately detect, evaluate your physiological cues and respond appropriately is a performance game-changer. The abilities of technology, such as AI (artificial intelligence), pale in comparison to what our bodies are capable of.
Body intelligence promotes well being
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.Benjamin Franklin
The norms you learned from society, friends, or family may not be convenient for your personal well being. In all facets of life, these paradigms tell you what you should do and how you should do it. From your nutritional habits, work environment, the sports you play, to the way you manage relationships.
While these behavioral parameters, or norms, help you integrate into social groups and earn social currency with peers and family. In time, you may learn to dismiss your own self-perception in favor of behaviors motivated by external influences. Sacrificing your body’s intelligence for social acceptance is a fast track to poor quality of life. Instead, strive to balance the preservation of your body intelligence insights with integrating into social groups that respect your uniqueness.
Should you finish your plate?
In childhood, parents force their children to finish their plates because somebody somewhere doesn’t have enough food. Imaginative yet nonsensical reasoning for ignoring your natural sense of appetite, potentially degrading your digestive health and physical well being. Instead, you can avoid food waste by planning your portions, storing away leftovers, and composting what you don’t eat.
Alissa Rumsey, R.D., weighs in on the trend explaining teaching “cleaning your plate sets you up for using external cues as opposed to internal cues for figuring out what’s an appropriate amount of food for you. If you’re used to feeling like you have to clean your plate, on a subconscious level, you might ignore those internal cues that you’re full.”
Chairs are for sitting, but not that much!
In adulthood, a typical workplace setting is designed for people to sit still for hours on end. More than a dozen studies on sitting found that people who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to that posed by obesity and smoking. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate chairs, I just hate the way we use them. We go from the car seat, to the office chair, to the dinner table, to the sofa, and so on. Sitting for stretches longer than 30 minutes is terrible for your cardiovascular system and musculoskeletal system. Interrupting prolonged periods of sitting with two minutes of mindful movement.
While enhancing performance is important, general well being should be at the forefront of every performance enhancement program. Without well being there is no foundation for sustainable or optimal performance. When well being suffers, mood and mental focus suffer, followed by sub-optimal decision making. With good health and well being, we can pivot an attitude or approach from a position of strength and resourcefulness. There is no person or technology better equipped than yourself to identify the early signs of degrading health and well being. Being able to perceive and respond to your body’s needs is priceless.
Ways to enhance your body intelligence
Use it, or lose it.anonymous
Body intelligence is a resource that can help you blaze your unique path to health, well being, and high performance. The body is more capable than any technology, yet we are more disconnected from our natural intelligence than ever before.
Our sedentary lifestyles and outward-focused culture are leading us down a path where we are losing many of the priceless attributes nature gifted us and becoming dependent on inferior man-made technologies in a vain attempt to reach greener pastures (on Mars…, really?!) while neglecting ourselves.
One thing is clear, we are only scratching the surface of human potential. A one-size-fits-all approach undervalues the uniqueness of what makes you feel good, or not. Developing your body intelligence is best done using a time-tested transformational system and protocols that feel right for you. Here is what the latest science and DeRose Meditation’s ancestral self-knowledge system tells us about training body intelligence.
Make pleasurable discomfort your guiding light
While some like to say no pain no gain, pain is in fact one of the few sure-fire ways to set yourself back and inhibit healthy growth. Ignoring pain probably works well in combat scenarios, and not for extended periods of time. It’s important to distinguish here between discomfort and pain. Working through discomfort and avoiding pain is a “bend, don’t break” mentality. Pleasurable discomfort avoids injury, promotes strengthening, allows for resilience and quick recovery, and fosters adaptation for growth. On the contrary, pain ends in injury, reduced resilience, and requires longer recovery periods that interrupt development.
Focus on understanding what feels right for you. Question and verify whether it is indeed right for you. The things that give you pleasure and happiness are constantly adjusting and changing. Dopamine is released when you experience pleasure, or what you believe to be good for you, which is subjective.
Strive to make mistakes matter
Striving is caring enough to make an effort to grow. Making mistakes as your strive for betterment can accelerate your learning curve and shorten your path to a satisfying outcome. If you never notice mistakes or room for improvement you’ll lack a parameter for what success is for you.
When you make errors the nervous system begins releasing neurotransmitters and neuromodulators to alert the brain of desired updates to your circuitry. The brain understands the neurochemicals, so when you experience frustration it cues a chemical response of epinephrine for alertness and acetylcholine for focus to inform the brain to pay attention in order to produce meaningful change.
When you find a satisfactory solution to an error the brain releases a small dose of dopamine to signal what should be learned. For more efficient results try focusing on a single aspect for improvement, rather than continuously searching for new errors or “opportunities for improvement.” This helps clarify to the nervous system what solution is for which challenge.
Another key factor for neuroplasticity is having a serious incentive for the change to occur. The need to change must be crucial enough to seriously motivate the change you aspire to. Just make sure frustration doesn’t become debilitating and derail your motivation.
Meditation in movement
Meditation is a state of profound focus and engagement with the present, with a clear mind. A clear mind infers an absence of mental noise – no critical thinking, judgment, anticipation, memory, etc. nervous system. Studies have shown that meditation induces the condition of neuroplasticity, including the reduction of age-related brain degeneration and improvement of cognitive functions.
A stereotype about meditation that has likely discouraged many from trying it is the idea that it is done sitting still with legs crossed, eyes closed, and doing nothing. In reality, meditation is more about becoming familiar with your human nature, freeing yourself to live in the present, and learning to become the master of your own life. Meditation itself is more a state than a technique.
There are many traditions that use meditation with different intentions and results. In the methodology we teach at DeRose Meditation, meditation is a state that can be reached spontaneously or not, and is most commonly achieved as a result of years of regular practice. The techniques we use aim to train our attention so that we stay focused on a single object or activity (image, sound, breath, or movement, amongst others we teach in our regular classes). We do this with the intention of silencing the whirlwind of thoughts until there is only one thought – the thing we choose to focus on. It is from this state of deep concentration on a single thought that we trigger the state of meditation, which results in more insights and the activation of intuition.
One of the original meditators, Shiva natarája, was a dancer. So, while movement meditation practices may not “look” like meditation, they are in fact an authentic ancestral approach. Applying meditation techniques with thoughtful, aesthetic, and pleasant motor movements is a straightforward way to access states of plasticity. The mindful movement engages hardwired circuits that communicate with the neural-chemical pathways to promote prolonged neuroplasticity states.
The three elements of movement meditation for body intelligence:
a) body position that is stable, comfortable, and aesthetic;
b) breath is complete, rhythmic, and conscious; and
c) mental attitude that is sincerely engaged, focused on the areas being solicited during movement, and visualizing the effects that are convenient.
Enhancing bodily intelligence positively impacts every aspect of life, from physical activity, social interactions, and creative pursuits, to simple day-to-day tasks. Intentionally or not, your experiences, environment, genetic disposition, lifestyle, and routines enhance or degrade the expression of your multi-dimensional intelligence.
Take a look at our online programs to develop your body intelligence with practical protocols by visiting DeRoseMeditation.com. Make sure to also subscribe to our YouTube channel to learn more about our time-tested method and protocols for living a healthy and fulfilling life.