Since the Greeks started writing about it intelligence has generally been assumed to be in the head. But one of the great advances last century – thanks to MRI scanners which enable us to look inside the Brain, as well as the neuro-endocrine systems, we have a much more informed picture. Which tells us that intelligence is distributed over the whole body. In fact we are now able to identify several ‘brains’ throughout the body:
1 The solar plexus (often called the ‘second brain’) controls the Autonomic nervous system. Which, in turn, governs, heart rate, digestion, muscular function, as well as creating the physical sensations that form the basis of emotion.
2 The endocrine system – which includes the pituitary, pineal, thyroid, pancreas, thymus, adrenal and sexual glands – is controlled by the Hypothalamus. Since each of the glands use hormones to control such diverse functions as energy transfer, metabolism, sleep, growth, protection against infection, and temperature control, we can see that the Hypothalamus is a brain inside the Brain
3 The Immune system itself is another centre of intelligence. There are approximately 2 trillion immune cells in the body. Some of these track invading cells and ‘remember’ what they look like. Others hunt them down, while others kill them. Meanwhile other cells keep a watchful eye on rogue cells which split away from the rest and become cancerous. Still more cells float up and down to the brain and provide updates on the current state of play.
4. Candace Pert – one of our best writers on this subject – tells us that each and every cell in the body is not only intelligent, but conscious too, in the sense that it can independently make decisions on the communications it sends to other cells. There are approximately 10 trillion cells in the body. Yet each of those cells signals, on average, to at least 10,000 other cells every day. Which means that your body created 10,000,000,000 messages today (that’s one hundred thousand trillion pieces of information).
So what does the main brain actually do if most of the ‘thinking’ is going on either elsewhere in the body or in response to decisions taken by the cells. Mostly it is Headmind stuff. Making up stories about what happened to you after Bodymind took the decision for you. Or analyzing, checking, worrying, doing guilt while living as if Bodymind didn’t exist!
Meanwhile, Bodymind goes on ‘thinking’ without much reference to you.
Here are some examples of the way in which Bodymind thinking works in practice:
• The body can ‘read’ other people and simulate an emotion that person is having so that you or I can empathize with them. In that way a mother can quickly tell what mood her child is in. This is also the basis for the human quality of compassion for others, even animals. Our intuitions about other people work in a similar way. Using sensory information, the brain picks up signals from the other person’s body language and – using a process that works in less than a tenth of a second – pattern-matches those signals against information stored from past experiences. That is why we can have a gut feeling that someone is not trustworthy within two minutes of meeting her without knowing why. The body is using coded signals to alert us to a potential problem.
• In collaboration with the thinking centers the brain can decide what is important or not important. If something is important to us we might get an adrenalin rush. If it is not we will feel nothing at all. Research into people with damage to the frontal areas of the brain (which decode emotion) show that they are unable to make decisions because they don’t have a good or bad feeling that tells them the right decision to make. Knowing what is important also helps Bodymind conserve energy. We can go without sleep if we are trying to achieve something really important. Conversely, if there is little for us to do, Bodymind can send us to sleep early. Or it could turn on the emotion of boredom to signal that it’s time to do something more interesting.
• The body can strengthen a relationship by releasing hormones – such as oxytocin – connected to love. Sometimes this is automatic, as when a a child is born. Sometimes it comes with time as we learn more about the other person. The emotions of love are, as almost all of us know, powerful and sometimes overwhelming.
• The brain uses sleep time to organize memories from the day just gone. It stores what is important and deletes the rest. It also creates dreaming states in order to work through the emotions that come with different experiences. This is one reason why insomniacs have poor concentration – they are overloaded with undigested experiences.
• Bodymind grounds us to life. It does this firstly through our moods. At any given moment the body is monitoring where we are, who we are with and what we are doing, and providing us with a running commentary on our relationship with the environment. Moods aren’t emotions but they are feeling states which work closely with our thoughts. The most well-known mood is the depressed state, which goes with discouragement and sadness. But others include exhilaration, calm, determination, discontent and the feeling of being ‘under pressure’. Most often, moods are hardly noticeable and form a kind of background hum which is constantly shifting as we go through the flow of the day.
Bodymind uses symptoms of various kinds to warn, guide and protect us from harm. This point is more clearly explained by Reverse Therapy.
• Another way the body grounds us to life is through the sense of awe: we are connected to nature, to the divine, and to life itself by the unspeakable sense that we are serving a purpose higher than ourselves. In that way Bodymind intelligently motivates us to make the best we can of our abilities and to serve others. It fosters your Personal Genius.