|Lincoln Stoller, PhD, 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Life took billions of years to evolve; language took thousands (Marins & Boeckx, 2019).
What is our species, anyway?
Evolution is a crude process that sometimes takes things backwards. If there are two choices, evolution opts for the one with the bigger reward, but many big payouts are dead ends. Like Gollum, in the Lord of the Rings, what we’ve set our minds on may not be the best thing for us.
Things that are in balance stay in balance, but growth is not a balanced process. Processes that proceed out of balance often head in the wrong direction. Our minds are such a process, and that’s one reason that we often find ourselves in trouble.
The biggest development in human history was our brain. This development gave us creative thought and took us from instinctive to intentional behavior. Intentional behavior, rational understanding, and an identity separate from our immediate environment is our ring of power, and it has overwhelmed us.
This race toward power has created civilization at the sacrifice of our body’s instinctive self-awareness. It has also sacrificed our holistic sense of connection that is embedded in emotional, somatic, and spiritual understanding.
We call ourselves Homo sapiens, but that reflects our arrogance. To be sapient is possessing great sagacity, and we think ourselves so wise, but wisdom is just what we lack. At the same time, we are not Homo sentiens, as sentience refers to the immersion in the senses. What we are, as a species, is Homo intelligens, a species dominated by our intellect. We are governed by intellect.
Someday we may unite our intelligence with our sentience and our emotions. When that happens, we will be on our way to becoming Homo sapiens, but we seem to be a long way from that now.
Intellect is sense without sensation
Modern medicine may be miraculous, but it’s nothing compared to the body. When you’re cut or damaged, how does your body know how to heal itself? Medicine can’t do it; nothing we know of or have ever invented can do it. Yet our bodies, somehow, do it everywhere and all the time.
No amount of intelligence makes healing happen. Intelligence can discern causes, injuries, and obstacles, and it can rearrange, relieve, and remove these problems, but the healing is a magic of another order.
I find it amazing that we overlook this. How are we so blind? We call doctors healers because they take credit for a process they have no role in. It is our intelligent mind that wants to give itself credit when, most of the time, intelligence has started the process that’s led to injury. We give ourselves credit by celebrating medicine, which is really a way of celebrating ourselves. This may move medicine forward, but it also further disables us in healing ourselves.
Healing happens because we turn our attention to it. It is not a rational or intellectual process, and it does not need outside knowledge or certification. Healing is what our bodes already know how to do, and they do not use our intelligent faculties to do it.
There are older parts of our brains involved with our bodies. These parts of our brains don’t micromanage bodily function, but they respond to and provide support for our health. The non-intellectual parts of our brains, which we take for granted and often disparage, do almost everything that keeps us alive.
The intelligent parts of our brains hunt for opportunity, trying to distinguish what glitters from what’s gold. Our identity is almost entirely managed by the intelligent parts of our brains. With the exceptions of lust, pain, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, we guide ourselves with reasoned intention. Even when these baser needs overwhelm us, we may still deceive ourselves with excuses and explanations. Our intellect never lets go. It is incorrigible!
Sentience confers the power to change
It is amazing, and it is true, that by building a deeper mental connection with your body, you enhance your body’s power to change and heal. It seems that our brains must disconnect from our intellects in order to reestablish an intuitive connection with our bodies.
One way to disconnect from our intellect is to go into trance. The kind of trance state we want is a state in which we feel a connection to our body. To achieve that, we envelop ourselves in sensations, images, and associations. We cease reasoning and censoring our thoughts, and, instead, let thoughts carry the messages of our body. We use our imagination.
It’s unclear if imagination is essential, or if it indicates the depth of our connection. There is no way to be sure that everyone who uses their imagination uses it in the same way. Because we are not using our intellect, our ability to use language is dulled. It’s clear that language is not the agent of healing, but it’s unclear if language presents an obstacle. It seems that language with intellect does obstruct the mind-body connection, but language that’s disconnected from intellect does not get in the way.
Language that’s disconnected from intellect is unreasonable language. It is descriptive rather than reasoned. We don’t have a framework to describe this aside from saying that it’s poetic or abstract, yet neither of those descriptions reflects the kind of metaphorical or allegorical sense that can be made when we put into language what we feel in our bodies.
Bringing into mind what the body evokes, and directing our minds to focus on sensations, amplifies the power of our cells. Whether it’s because we’re able to direct more nutrients to that body part we focus on, or if it’s some other form of energy or control, we don’t know. The healing process is a mystery, and our ability to contribute to it is also a mystery.
If we disconnect from intellect, we can connect to soul
There are levels of collaboration within our minds; levels at which we are more or less aware of all of our aspects. The level that joins awareness of self, body, and emotion is what I call the soul. This is not a form of expression, it’s a form of awareness. It rarely speaks; it participates.
Compare your progress with the movement of a sailboat. You’re much more complicated than a sailboat, but it gives us a picture. The boat is carried by the currents, directed by the rudder, and pushed by the wind. Progress is made by steering in each environment, and if steering in one environment is missing, misaligned, or misdirected, then progress is held back.
Soul arises as an awareness of one’s whole inner environment. For humans, as we’re not simply sailboats, our environment involves memory, thought, emotion, body, instinct, and spirit. We raise different sails in each environment, where different forces prevail. Until we connect with ourselves in these environments, we can’t navigate in them and are adrift in them.
We cannot see the forces in ourselves until we have a clear sense of presence in ourselves, in those levels. You cannot move skillfully in the physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual levels until you’re aware of yourself in them.
Counseling and coaching: both require navigating these forces. Both therapy and hypnosis work to connect you in and across these levels. Whether the issue is healing or achieving your potential, you need full connection because all of these levels are involved.
You can only see what’s helping or hindering by being aware. Even if you have no problem in your body, your body is an antenna that responds to all environments, as also are your intellect, emotion, and spirit. We need open channels of communication within us.
To be aware from a space of soul is to be aware from all of these environments without trying to control them—to let each be fully themselves. The wind does not control the water, and the rudder does not control the currents, but the captain must be sensitive to them all.
We project onto our environment. We see in others the issues dominant in ourselves. These can be identical or opposite reflections, as we’re looking both for both completion and complements. Where we need clarity, we look for opposites, since opposites make contrast clear.
See the struggles in your outside life as struggles in yourself. You’ll find the answers to the struggles in your outside life in yourself, in spite of your certainty that you can’t. It’s your skill that makes changes happen for you, not changes in other people.
I’d like to know how you navigate. If you’d like to enlighten me, book a call using my calendar at this link:
“We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution.”
— Bill Hicks
Martins, P. T., & Boeckx, C. (2019 Nov 17). Language evolution and complexity considerations: The no half-Merge fallacy, PLoS Biol., 17 (11): e3000389. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000389
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