There is much more to disembodiment than being out of touch with your body. More deeply and tellingly it means living principally from and in cognitive intelligence, the story telling genius of mind. The ability to think is given dominion over the ability to feel. Shared ideas are given more authority than personal experience.
Disembodiment insulates people from their inner compass, out of touch with the Natural Intelligence and Intuitive Wisdom of their body. This creates an ongoing anxiety so deep and so common that it functions below the threshold of conscious awareness and social convention. Unable to locate a sense of safety within, people are looking for safety to the accepted and acceptable. They are at the mercy of the natural instability of mind: their own and the collective. They displace their helplessness into the herd. Not only by participating in relentless consumerism, but by colluding with authoritarianism.
Disembodiment is expressed through and supported by false and constraining ideas about satisfaction, happiness and success that are inextricably linked to the consumption of distracting experiences, compensatory gadgets and mood altering chemicals. While disembodiment satisfies itself with the virtual, it is driven by the conceptual. This leaves people satisfied enough by the idea of something to not look for the experience to which the idea points. Thinking and talking about compassion, solidarity, enlightenment, wholeness become substitutes for experiencing them.
Embodiment reverses the dynamic between mind and body, between information and experience. So, it can not be led by the mind. It is not possible to think or talk one’s way to embodiment. Yet thinking will participate, talking can even help. Embodiment, thinking and talking, have to be led by the body, by somatic intelligence. Somatic Intelligence expresses itself to conscious awareness through and as sensations. It is a very simple language that it ‘speaks’, a binary language, of pain and pleasure. Each of which is expressed through a spectrum, from the obvious and intense to the elusive and subtle. By feeling the sensations of the body, whether pleasant or unpleasant, welcome or unwelcome, mind becomes embodied, for the duration that sensations are being felt. How fully embodied it becomes depends upon how deeply the sensations are being felt.
When sensations are being felt deeply mind becomes very quiet, grounded in and by the body. The activity of the mind becomes a direct response to the sensations being generated by the body. The more fully these sensations are felt, the quieter becomes the mind as its interpretations become more simple and concrete. Its need to elaborate and speculate dissolves into its ability to recognise the simplicities of what is actually happening in and as the body. It lets go of its anxious story-telling and engages with the concrete simplicity of immediate somatic experience.
Contemporary human culture is driven by the genius of the mind. This is not only expressed in the potent discoveries of science and the remarkable technologies it spawns. It is also expressed more deeply, in the assumptions and values that, consciously and subconsciously, drive us all forward in an orgy of unfettered and exploitative consumption. This ultimately self destructive momentum is not only powered by the mind, it is justified and even sanctified by it. Not only in free-market ideology, but also in the assumption that whatever problems the mind creates, it can solve. Within the individual this assumption is usually completely subconscious, and therefor all the more resilient. Yet its deep, internal effect is to disassociate mind from body and leave it marooned in its own ungrounded computational and speculative brilliance.
Yet there is more to intelligence than computation, just as there is more to being human that the mind. The ability to think is an extension and expression of the deeper abilities to act and feel. The mind, the ability to think, is an extension of the body. It depends upon the remarkable cellular sophistication of the nervous system, not least the cerebral cortex. This sophistication has evolved by way of the trial and error undertaken for billions of years by intelligence both more reliable and more hidden that that of the mind: Natural Intelligence embodied in the cells of all living organisms.
The human body, like that of all living creatures, is not a machine that has been sparked to life by an external force. It is alive because it is intelligence compressed, compressed into every cell in and as DNA. While there are those who deny the reality of evolution, nobody can honestly deny the reality of DNA, nor its role in propagating life, and transmitting information reliably from body to body, from cell to cell. The cellular intelligence that has been driving life for billions of years has been generating more and more complex bodies, more and more sophisticated nervous systems. Not so long ago it generated the human being, and our remarkable ability to think rationally, mathematically, computationally.
Yet this ability has turned against itself, against its host, in threatening to destroy our habitat irreparably. This escalating destruction of environmental interdependencies has been created by the human mind and its ability to speculate and create without limit. It will continue in the same vein until it encounters limits that it can accept. Such limits exist, but can only be found by way of the body. Only by becoming willing to feel clearly the sensations generated by the body can the mind find something that will allow it to let go if its need to know and control into the stability and support of its source.
The source of computational, cognitive intelligence is in the body, upon which it entirely depends. By becoming intimate with the body the mind becomes grounded in the deeper currents of Natural Intelligence. As it becomes grounded its activity becomes more simple, practical and effective, and its creativity is no longer compromised by self-destructiveness. The deep challenge for the mind, is the challenge that human beings most deeply need to rise to. It is the challenge of returning to its source, becoming ‘docked’ in the body: the challenge of embodiment.
Embodiment is not something that can happen in the mind. It happens to the mind. Of course the mind must recognise its need for grounding, for stabilising. It must be willing to consider that it may not be adequate to all the problems that we face, and that it has not entered the natural world by magic. On the basis of that willingness it must then learn to access the other frequencies of Natural Intelligence available to support, ground and nourish it. These frequencies can only be found in the body. They are accessed only by a willingness to feel.
Even though the willingness to feel is always compromised by suffering and pain, it is not and can not ever be eradicated while life continues. The ability to feel is the foundation and the guarantee of life. It can recover its power and reveal its significance by way of feeling the sensations generated by the body. Feeling sensations is what grounds, quietens and ultimately embodies the mind: not ideas and thoughts. The more deeply and clearly sensations are felt the more quiet and less relevant the mind becomes. It loses the false and damaging authority it has been given by our disembodied culture. As it does so it finds itself supported, and actually totally dependent on, deeper frequencies of Natural Intelligence.
As that support expresses itself the mind is able to let go of its need to control everything, and therefore its need to know everything. It feels safe within the ineradicable currents of Natural Intelligence. It finds within, and by way of, the body its Place of Greater Safety, from which it can express its creative genius without self-destructiveness.
To reach your Place of Greater Safety your mind must learn to let go into the presence of Somatic Intelligence expressed in and as the flow of physical sensations. The deep resilience that comes from finding your Place of Greater Safety, can not be called up by thought. The compassion, generosity and solidarity that only feeling totally safe allows can not be created by your mind. They can only be found within your body.
To find and embody the compassion, generosity and solidarity that life, and human society, needs to survive in any recognisable form, you must let go of the false authority of mind. To find the reliable authority of Natural Intelligence you need to ground not just your mind, but your life, in your body. You need to become intimate with sensation. While this depends on your willingness to feel, it can be undone by your ability to think, and even your ability speak. To the extent that you are entranced by the power and poetry, the insight and elegance of thoughts, words, ideals and ideologies you will think and act as if you do not need anything else. You will continue to think and act dis-satisfyingly and destructively.
To ground your mind in your body you need to become intimate with sensation. To ground your life and relationships in Natural Intelligence you need to develop a new vocabulary for both thinking and talking. This vocabulary must be somatic, concrete, direct and simple. It must reflect and express your immediate experience, most of which takes place in, and all of which depends upon, your body. This vocabulary can not be invented by your mind. It can only be learned by your mind, from your body. This learning takes place through the habit of feeling sensations.
As feeling sensations becomes the default mode of your experience and life, your mind becomes embodied. As your mind becomes embodied its vocabulary becomes more somatic, concrete and simple. As your thinking and speaking become more somatic your mind becomes more embodied. As you become more embodied you become more concrete, direct and honest in your communication, in your relationships. You are nourished and uplifted by a self reinforcing cycle of embodiment, within which both mind and body are flowing in harmony.
You can support this cycle directly from your mind, by learning to speak from your body. The art of Somatic Communication not only allows you to be more honest, open and intimate in your relationships, it also grounds the intelligence of your mind through the intelligence of your body.
When you feel out of sorts you do not tell yourself that your “nervous system is de-regulated”. You do not tell yourself that you are “out of alignment with the universe”. You tell yourself that you “feel like shit”. Or you “feel exhausted, tense and irritable”. When somebody dies you don’t tell your friends that they “passed on” or “passed away”. You tell them that they “died”.
For this to happen you need to let go of communicating from and through information and knowledge. Tell me what you are actually feeling, not what you know about neurology and psychology, and i will understand and know you better.
As i know very well what it feels like to be human i will feel safer with you speaking from your body, than if your words speak mostly of what you know, believe and think, which i may neither understand nor relate to. Developing the art of Somatic Communication, of speaking from your body, can go a long way to embodying your mind. It can go a long way to your feeling safer and more satisfied in your life and your relationships. It can help you to find your Place of Greater Safety, from which you can live with generosity, compassion and solidarity.