Thoughts and Feelings as the Mind's & Body's Voices
In the last episode, I introduced to you the idea that the way we sense time in our bodies and minds is what connects our minds to our bodies. Not clock time, mind you. Relative time. The kind Einstein talked about. The thing is, in order to address this connection in therapy, we must first be able to sense the differences between the perceptions of the body and the perceptions of the mind. Not just the timing of what we perceive mind you. The content itself. Our literal perceptions. This then is what we are about to explore, in this episode of Plain Talk about Talk Therapy. We are going to explore perception itself. Not from the cold and distant philosophical perspective. Rather from the normal everyday way in which we all perceive life. The ordinary warm and mostly fuzzy human perspective. Which happens to be the same perspective we explore from in talk therapy.
Thoughts and Feelings as the Two Perceptions
Let's get right down to it.
In the last episode we spoke about how the mind and body interact and connect through their respective senses of time. Relative to each other, that is. In a very real sense then, we each have a mind clock and a body clock. And these two clocks run simultaneously and constantly, both recording, in their own way, the historical timing of everything we sense both with our bodies and our minds.
I also told you that like right and left handedness, we each have a clock which normally has the upper hand. The one in control. Either our mind clock or our body clock. And whichever clock is running faster is the one in control.
In a way then, we each have what amounts to a master clock (the faster clock) and a slave clock (the slower clock). Moreover, this master / slave relationship psychophysically mirrors the master and slave clocks present in all digital communications systems, from CD and DVD players to the equipment in the biggest television studios.
Now for those for whom digital systems remain a mystery, the quick explanation is that all things digital store or play information. Just like we do. CD players. Computer hard drives. HDTV cameras. Whatever. They all record and / or play back information.
Why do we call them "digital?" Because they store or play back information which has been sliced into samples. A process we call "digitizing."
What is important to see here is that this digitized information plays back in a way quite similar to how a timed sequence of snapshots would play back. Only it plays back a whole lot quicker. How quickly exactly? Well if we're talking about a CD, you can see this rate listed in the fine print on the back of the package. 44.1. Which means what exactly? Which means that a CD plays back sound at a rate of 44,100 samples per second. Pretty fast, eh? This number then, which we call the sampling rate, is shorthand for the amount of samples which a digital device will play back in a single second. In a single second! Imagine?
The point is, something must tell this CD player when to move to the next sample. The rate at which to play back these tens of thousands of samples. This something is a kind of clock.
Now if the music on this CD was recorded anytime recently, chances are it was recorded in a studio wherein there were many different digital processors all linked together. A whole bunch of different boxes each of which does something to the sound. And in order for all these boxes to work together properly, they each must have a way to know when to move to the next sample. This way is a master clock. A single clock which is in charge of telling all the other clocks when to move to the next sample.
What happens if these clocks get out of sync?
Sometimes there is a very unpleasant sound called digital hash. Sometimes there is no sound at all. And sometimes the sound starts and stops randomly, something like a person who stutters only the person is the box. Whatever the case, when one or more of these boxes fall out of sync, the whole system does not record or play back properly. And if you add recording video to the complexity of recording sound, the potential problems multiply pretty quickly. Things like no picture. Or the picture gets blurred. Or distorted. And so on.
How does all this technical stuff apply to us?
We human beings have a lot in common with these digital recording and play back systems. Including that we too suffer from these same limitations. Thus each of us has two main systems which must record and play back information. Our mind and our body. Moreover we record and play back properly only when the clocks which drive these two systems are in sync.
What happens to us if our two clocks are not in sync?
To begin with, unlike digital communications equipment wherein the system is considered to be working properly only when all the clocks run in close to perfect sync, our two clocks rarely run in close to perfect sync. Roughly in sync? On good days, perhaps. But in close to perfect sync? Mostly not. Except in those rare occasions wherein we have flashes of insight. Sudden realizations. Aha's. Or eurekas. Or spiritual experiences. Or what I call, emergences. All of which are simply different ways to refer to those times wherein our clocks suddenly lock up and for a split second, run in absolutely perfect sync.
How often do we have these sudden realizations? Obviously, not often. However, the thing to pay close attention to here is that these flashes of insight occur only when our two clocks are in perfect sync. No perfect sync, no flashes of insight. Which is why learning about these two clocks being in sync is so important. Especially considering that yet another way to refer to these perfectly in sync moments is to call them, "therapeutic breakthroughs."
What about in everyday life then. What is it like to live with our clocks running out of sync?
To begin with, as I've said before, human technology always mirrors human psychology. Including both our assets and our flaws. Thus we can gain insights into how we work simply by exploring how our technology works.
In this case then, digital technology mirrors our inner clocks, including that we normally have one clock running ahead of the other. This clock, the one that runs ahead, is our master clock the other, while the other, the one which runs behind, is our slave clock.
The thing is, we are not made to the same strict tolerances as our digital recorders and playback devices. Thus, we humans suffer from many of the same problems as the digital systems I've just mentioned. Only we suffer from these problems every day, all day.
What am I saying? I'm saying that the reason we walk around having such a hard time visualizing is that we all have problems with our picture and / or sound. More with the picture than the sound, mind you. But also with recording and playing back sound. For example, one of my clients, a very conscious Yoga instructor, walked into my office recently and asked, "how long has that chair been there?" The chair had been there for close to two years. This then set off in me a question as to how such a normally conscious woman could have missed seeing the chair. The obvious conclusion? She hadn't. So what had she seen? I believe she saw what she would have seen had there been no chair. She saw the empty wall and carpeting. How? The same way we miss seeing typos. Her error correction system filled in the missing visual material with what she expected to see, an interpolated version of what was behind the chair.
Do digital devices do this too?
Yes. For instance, when a CD is scratched, the CD player's built in error correction system fills in what is missing with a sort of blended mix of what came before the scratch and what comes after.
Our minds do exactly the same thing.
What does all this mean? It means that at best, we see and hear only parts of what we think we experience. Mostly sound without picture and even then, very little of the sound.
How can this happen? Because our two clocks, our body clock and our mind clock, constantly fluctuate causing our built in error correction system to fill in the blanks. In effect, we basically see and hear very little of what goes on in life, and most of what we do see and hear gets distorted. Is this beginning to make sense to you yet? Are you realizing what this means?
It means if we didn't have a way to correct for these errors, we'd be screwed. Totally. We'd have no sense of reality. Fortunately, we do have an error correction system built into us. Logic is a part of it. Intuition, the other. The thing is, even with the best error correction system in the world, we can only work with what has been recorded. Thus, because we record so little of what goes on in life, even though we each have in us what amounts to the world's greatest error correction system, we still base what we think we experience in life mostly on erroneously recorded and partially missing data.
What makes this whole thing especially important is that the character and biases of our master clock then largely determine what we see as true in life. Moreover we then base our choices in life on this distorted truth. Thus, whichever clock is master, mind or body, determines how our choices are biased in everything from deciding how and what we will best learn to deciding what we will do for a living. And who we will have as friends. And what we will do in our free time. And who we think is telling the truth.
How does all this play out in real life then?
Well if you are a Body First person, you'll be naturally talented at almost everything which requires physical coordination. Batting and kicking and catching a ball. Jumping rope and climbing stairs. Most of which will come easier to you than to a Mind First person.
And if you are a Mind First person?
Mind First people are naturally talented at everything which requires mental coordination. Everything from algebra and logic to psychology and accounting. Classroom learning in general in fact. And while no Mind First person learns everything well, Mind First people have the upper hand in classrooms. Period.
Of course, they also feel pretty uncoordinated in gym classes and in wood shop. Or in home economics. Or in any technical trade. Plumbing to auto mechanics.
Are you beginning to see whom our world is biased towards? Who we value more? Our natural built-in prejudice?
Not sure what am I saying? I'm saying that the world is largely biased towards Mind First people. We see them as being more desirable than Body First people in a way similarly to how we value right handed people over left handed people. And lest you think this is not true, consider how we design most physical things to be easier for right handed people than for left handed people. Guitars to television sets. Words to laws. (As in we use the same word for "right" turns as we use for turning the "right" way. Or morally living "right'. Or legally being in the "right.")
The point is, we have the same kind of bias towards Mind First people as we do towards right handed people. We see them as quicker, smarter, and more valuable, even when we do not realize we do this. Which is why I suppose we tailor our classrooms, and our accolades, towards Mind First people and away from Body First people.
To most people then, Mind First people are smart. And Body First people are dumb. Mind First people are quick minded. And Body First people are slow minded. Except of course when it comes to sports. In which case, Mind First people really look dumb and most times just don't get it. They're just too slow to get it. Body wise, that is.
Changing a flat tire? Mind First people will feel less than competent especially in the presence of a Body First person. And this is true even if the Body First person has never changed a tire before. Intuitively, a Body First person will know more about how to do a physical task than a Mind First person ever will. Even if the Mind First person has done this task many times.
In chemistry class though? For instance, with things like understanding what the matrix of periodic elements means?
Body First people rarely take chemistry. But if they do, they usually struggle to keep up. More than the Mind First folks do anyway. Moreover this is not because Body First people are dumb. They are not. Nor is it because Body First people cannot do the work. They can. Rather, it is because they learn things differently.
What is different about how they learn? Well if you go back a few lines and notice the words I used to describe Body First people's experiences of chemistry classes, you'll find a clue as to what this difference is. What words did I use? I said they usually "struggle to keep up." Duh. So what does this mean? Well take a few moments to consider why I chose these particular words. I chose them as we so often say things like this about Body First people. We say, they "struggle to keep up." To keep up with what though? Most folks would assume it means, to keep up with the smarter kids. The truth? They struggle with two things. One, they struggle to keep up with the faster pace of the Mind First kids. Two. They struggle to conform to what is for them a counter intuitive learning style.
What am I saying? I'm saying that pace is not a measure of intelligence, although we humans are biased towards thinking it is. In truth though, often times, people who learn at a slower pace learn more thoroughly. And isn't this a better measure for intelligence?
The point is, pace is the first difference between Mind First people and Body First people. Pace. Not intelligence. A difference. Not a problem. Unless of course the classes are biases toward the pace of the Mind First people. Which most classes are. In which case, it appears that pace is a measure of intelligence. But only because of how these classes are designed.
What is the second difference? The second difference is that Body First people learn things best in the reverse order from how Mind First people learn best. Body First people learn best when they are shown then told what they were shown. Whereas Mind First people learn best when they are told then shown what they were told.
Can you picture this difference? Do you know which you prefer?
At some point in your life then, you might have even had someone ask you to change your way of teaching for her or him. If so, this request was likely made because of this difference. Whatever the case though, Body First people learn best if they are shown then told. Why? Because Body First people are oriented toward the physical not the mental. In other words, they do best if they learn it with their bodies first and only then think about what they did.
Now consider how this biases these folks towards taking classes in which show then tell learning is the norm. What kinds of classes am I talking about? Classes like gym classes, home economics, wood shop, auto mechanics, sports, trades, and so on. Beautician. Carpenter. Practical fields. Physical learning. All classes wherein kids are shown then told.
This also biases Body First people away from classes wherein telling normally precedes showing. Classes like accounting, theoretical sciences, higher maths, and English comp. Astrophysicist to architect to zoologist and so on. All classes wherein kids are told then shown.
Finally, there are the classes which involve both mind and body learning. Notice the way these things fit together though. The order in which the mind body teaching is given. Thus the science of frog anatomy (mind first) comes before dissecting frogs in science lab (body first). Digging on archeology field trips (body first) comes only after studying the field classification systems for finds (mind first). The science of internal combustion engines (mind first) precedes the body oriented learning of auto mechanics (body first). And even the mind first strategies of football plays and designing gymnastic meet routines come before body first cheerleaders and gymnasts.
The thing to notice here is which of these classroom activities come first. Which? In almost every case, the learning is biased towards tell then show learning. Which means most of our normal classroom education is tailored towards Mind First people. And away from Body First people. Moreover, since authentic talk therapy more resembles teaching people rather than fixing people, even most talk therapy is biased towards Mind First people. And away from Body First people.
This is sad. Especially in light of the fact that because of the way the world is biased against them, Body First people often have more reasons to be in therapy. And even when we are talking about Mind First people, no Mind First person lives in a vacuum. They all have many Body First folks in their lives.
In a way then, we treat Body First people very similarly to how we once treated left handed people; as folks who needed to be forced to conform to the values of the more popular group. I've even spoken to people who as child were physically forced to use their right hands. Not a very pleasant experience to be sure.
This leads us to a question which I think looms here. Can this Mind First / Body First orientation ever change? My preliminary answer? Yes. I've seen a number of cases so far wherein this change has happened to people. More on this to come. The next question though is, so if this orientation can change, should we ever try to make this happen? My initial thoughts? No. We should not try to make people conform to a personal norm simply so that they can fit in better with the majority.
On the other hand, I think we should be developing ways in which people who choose to may have options. Both Body First people and Mind first people. But to force them to change? No. I don't think so.
Some now might ask, why not? Wouldn't they suffer less? Yes. In some ways, they would. And fitting in does have it's advantages. Even so, the degree to which people are allowed to be themselves is the degree to which they can and will live happy lives. Thus being oneself is the key.
At the same time, there is a lot to be said for helping people to be aware of these two clocks. And for developing ways in which we could help people to become more skilled at what their slower clock does. This could markedly improve people's lives, in ways we have yet to imagine.
Know that in coming episodes, we'll talk more about some of these possibilities. Before we do though, we first need to ground these discussions in a bit more substance. How? By delving a bit more deeply into the nature of the mind body connection. Beginning with yet another dichotomy, a split I call The Two Perceptions.
Mind and Body as the Two Test Methodologies
What are the Two Perceptions?
Before telling you, I must apologize. At the beginning, I promised not to subject you to any cold philosophical stuff. However, despite this promise, and at the risk of confusing you, I must at least mention two terms. Both of which come straight out of philosophy.
The two words? Rational and empirical, the two ways in which philosophers say we can perceive things. I mention these two terms only because they happen to exemplify the differences between the way Mind First people and Body First people view life.
How are they different? Before I explain, can you guess whether Descartes was a Mind First person or a Body First person? After all, he is the guy who started this discussion.
Descartes? Descartes was definitely a mind first person. After all, he is famous for the consummate mind first statement; cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. Notice what he didn't say here. He didn't say, "I feel, therefore I am." Had he believed it, I am sure he would have said it. Or at least, he would have said something like, "I think and feel, therefore I am."
Descartes did not say this however. Why not? Because he did not think this second way of seeing the world was as valid a reference as reason. According to him then, feelings can lead us to false conclusions. Reason if clear and distinct cannot.
Empiricists such as John Locke (a Body First person to be sure) on the other hand wrote things like, "Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from Experience, in that all our knowledge is founded and from that it ultimately derives itself." (Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke, 1690)
Thus empiricists ask, where is the evidence that cognitive processing is not wholly dependent on information acquired from the senses? And this is a good question, is it not? However, the Mind First folks can make the same argument in reverse; where is the evidence that cognitive processing is wholly dependent on information acquired from the senses?
Deep stuff, is it not? The thing is, fancy words aside, this argument is also at the core of every personal problem we address in talk therapy. Who we are. What is true. How we relate to others. And how we can know ourselves. All these and similar questions begin with how we test for truth. And these tests then lead us to these two philosophical test methodologies. The two ways in which we humans can perceive what it is we are testing. Rationally and empirically. From the Mind First position, and from the Body First position.
How then do we know what is true in life if even the greatest minds of all time cannot agree? Simple. We begin by acknowledging that what is true varies from person to person, mostly based on the person's mind body preference. Descartes (Mind First) versus Locke (Body First). Leibniz (Mind First) versus Hume (Body First). We then humbly admit we are missing the other view. Then we do all we can to balance this imbalance out.
What I'm saying in, before we can ask which of these great men is right, we first need to ask which of the two possible master clocks ruled their perceptions. The mind or the body? We then need to add in the opposing view and somehow come to a reasonable synthesis of both body and mind.
Why all the talk about philosophy? Because we all choose a talk therapy largely based on our personal philosophy. After all, all talk therapies stem from some branch of philosophy. Further, because the root of all philosophies lies in the differences between these two clocks, all talk therapies are biased towards one of these two clocks. Either body or mind. Moreover no talk therapy can be considered complete until the needs of both these clocks have been addressed. Both in therapy and out in life.
How then can we begin to address these two clocks and their differences then? We'll begin by looking briefly at how these two clocks originate. At least, at the little we can actually discern about how they originate. Are we mind body beings from the moment we are born? Or does this inner struggle for supremacy begin before birth or long after? This is the foundation of all formative questions.
How the Two Clocks Begin
Mind versus body. Nature versus nurture. Obviously this battle has been going on for a long time now. Not only with regard to which philosophical point of view is real but also in choosing which route is the better to take in learning and in healing. And certainly in talk therapy.
For instance which is the better therapy, cognitive behavioral or experiential? How do you even choose? I think a clue lies in the answer to the following question: Was there ever a time wherein this battle did not exist in us. A time wherein these two clocks lived in harmony with each other?
My answer. I believe there was. And yes, I obviously cannot be sure of my answer. However, like Descartes, I can at least start with what I can see as being clear and distinct; that the mind and body exist as a sure and certain personal dichotomy. How can I be certain? Because these two things exist fractally. As recognizable patterns which always repeat differently. Thus, because I can see in this dichotomy two clear and distinct fractals, I know this dichotomy to be the essential sine quo non of human personality. Thoughts and feelings. The content of the mind and body.
When did this sine quo non of personality begin though? My guess? At the moment of conception.
What makes knowing this timing so important?
Because if this idea is true then we have all had two beginnings. A beginning wherein we became a part of humanity (such as described in Jung's Collective Unconscious), and a beginning wherein we became an individual human being (such as described in William James' unconscious).
The first begins with the mind body connection.
The second begins with our first personal responses to being alive.
What does all this mean? It means that before we existed as separate persons, we existed as collective mind body beings. Starting when? My guess is from the moment our first cell divided into two cells. At which point there had to be some way in which these two cellular systems stayed in sync with each other. Some mechanism whose primary function was to keep these two cells working in harmony. Some way for them to know they were from the same being and apart from their mother.
I believe this mechanism is the mind body connection. The two clocks of perception. And their interactive experience.
And personality? When does it begin?
With regard to this question, I am certain. Thus having written and taught for years now the first theory of personality based entirely on fractals, I am certain our personalities begin with the first fractal; the birth separation moment. At which point, we begin to exist as separate persons, both psychologically and physically. Both in body and mind.
What are we like before this moment?
Before the birth separation moment, we are somehow synced to our mothers, both physically and psychologically.
We continue on our own, with separate needs and desires.
This means that for the roughly nine months between the moment of conception and the birth separation moment, we piggyback on our mother's mind body clocks. Kind of like getting a running start, I imagine. During which time, we get to experience what it is like to be a fully grown human. Not from the point of view of being a separate being, mind you, but rather as a part of all things human. The collective experience of being a human.
If true then this nine months contains the entirety of our mind body foundation and development. Along with the major portion of everything we will ever have in common with other human beings. Our core human qualities. Our sameness to each other.
This sameness then splits into two processes at birth, in that right after the birth separation moment, we rapidly begin to accumulate experiences wherein we face life alone. As our own separate person. Why? Because from the birth separation moment on, we must rely on our own two clocks being in or out of sync. Something like having to stand and walk steadily on our own two feet. Only far more significant across our lifetime.
How do we become biased toward one clock or the other?
Like handedness, my guess here is that we must all be influenced by the world around us, both externally and internally. Again, nature and nurture. Mind versus body. Except of course that in our world, we are biased towards Mind First people. Which, like right handedness, must affect all of us.
By about age four then, we each end up in one group or the other. After which we favor one philosophical side or the other. Either the Mind First position of Descartes and Leibniz, or the Body First position of Locke and Hume.
How does all this play out in talk therapy then? For instance, does this mind body orientation ever change? My preliminary answer? Yes. As I've mentioned. I've witnessed a number of cases wherein this has happened to people. Not from therapy per se. But from significant life experiences.
So can we ever directly effect such a change? On this point, I'm not sure. However, what I am sure of is that we should not bias our therapies toward either orientation. Why not? Because the two primary goals of any good talk therapy are to help people to better live in the normal world while at the same time being better able to be themselves. This means that while we may eventually be able to optimize people's mind body connections, this optimization should only help people to better fit with and respect each other's differences. As well as helping people to better be able to have flashes of insight. Those perfectly in sync experiences.
Can you imagine how having this ability might change our world? Einsteins who can excel at sports. And athletes who can excel at scholastics. What an interesting world it would be to say the least.
Thoughts and Feelings as the Two Perceptions
Finally we come to this episode's diagram. Thoughts and feelings as the two kinds of perception. Can you see yet where all this has been going?
In a Mind First person, thoughts are primary. Thus perception begins (but does not end) with mentally interpreting what you can or might be able to sense with the five physical senses. Even when what we are sensing is merely an imaginary construct of our minds. It is, after all, somewhat rational to begin with what we can or might be able to see, test, and measure.
Ironically whether you can depend on these rational measurements or not is at the heart of the whole mind body argument. Descartes says you can. If they entail logic. And if they end in clear and distinct answers. Moreover, for him, this holds true even in cases wherein you can never actually reach out and touch these answers. Reason and imagination are more than enough.
Where do I stand then? I say something very similar to Descartes only I limit this to how we perceive time. I also believe my hypothesis holds true even in cases wherein we can never actually see and or measure time. Perception is, after all, just another way to refer to that everything is relative. For me, this is a logic grounded in a personally provable, relative physics. Psychophysics.
Interestingly enough, both of us, Descartes and myself, are Mind First people. Thus, neither of these beliefs should come as any surprise to those who know us.
What about Body First people though? Will these ideas test as true to them? Possibly not. Or at least, not at first. Why? Because in Body First people, perception begins not with the five senses but with the sixth sense. The body sense. Which is clearly the converse to what we can see and measure rationally.
Ironically, this irrational quality is what makes having a sixth sense anathema to a Mind First person. That you cannot measure it. Not even logically.
Of course, this sixth sense in not the whole source of Body First peoples truth. Thus, after they check in with this sense, they then go on to include what they sense with their five physical senses. But then stop. Why? Because logic may lie. The senses do not. At least, not if you are trained and discerning enough to be able to read these six senses scientifically. Carneades style, anyway (an ancient Greek, Body First philosopher who said what is in the mind is never perfect but just the same you should work at getting it to better match reality).
This said, when I ask myself if what we have been discussing about the mind body connection is true, my gut tells me it is. Moreover I feel that it is probably the most important discovery I will ever make. A feeling which to put it mildly, is quite disconcerting to my logical mind. Probably because I cannot support what I feel with logic.
Still, being as my sixth sense feels these ideas are overwhelmingly true from my gut right down to my toes, and being as my logical observations make a pretty strong case for that they are true as well, to me it seems I have the quorum needed to know if this is true.
Now consider what I've just said. A quorum of thoughts and feelings. In other words, a mind body connection. Doesn't this make sense as to how to know something it true?
The thing is, we all are biased towards one or the other. Either towards the mind or towards the body. How then do we best resolve these two perceptions so as to know what is actually true? Let's begin by doing what scientists often do. Let's begin by listing the terms we've just used.
So what do we call what the mind perceives? Intelligence. Intellectual rationale.
And what about what the body perceives? Intuition. Which the mind distrusts as unscientific but relies on when all else fails, when even extremely logically minded people say fox hole prayers for instance. Or cry out to God for help.
By the way, this raises yet another interesting idea. The idea that intuition happens only in the body. Most dictionaries define intuition as something which happens in the mind. I, however, see intuition as the perceptions of the body alone. Thus I believe the mind is limited to reasonable truth seeking, while the body is limited to non logical truth seeking. In other words, thoughts are logical truth seeking, and feelings are all the rest. Including but not limited to emotion and precognition.
Sort of a better way to see the distinction between these two perceptions, don't you think.
How about what we get from using our intelligence and intuition? What do we call the products of these processes.
The mind? I call them, brilliant insights. Those flashes of reason which underlie all greatness.
And the body? Gut reactions. Which, by the way, are based in a lot more science than has previously been thought. How? Well if you remember how I defined psychotherapy in the first episode, as "healing the breath," then it is not too far of a stretch to see how breath as a process parallels thoughts.
What I'm saying is, if we can see breath as a kind of body process similar to how thoughts are the mind's process, then it turns out that we all may have two brains. A mind brain, and a body brain.
The mind's brain? It obvious. The stuff that is contained between our ears. The gray and while matter and so on.
What's the body's brain then? It's easy. The diaphragm. Why? Because as most Body First people know already, the lungs do not breath for us. The diaphragm does. In other words, the lungs are simply bags which hang inside of us and which empty and refill whenever the diaphragm pushes up. This means the diaphragm is what causes us to breathe. Not the lungs. It literally pushes up in order to empty the lungs. Then it lets go so that the lungs fall and refill.
Now please slow down and consider what I've just said. If this is true (and physically, it certainly is), then the most basic physical connection we have to ourselves is to what our diaphragm is doing. The diaphragm as the source of our breathing. The diaphragm as the director of the inflows and outflows of prana (the Sanskrit word for "breath").
Can you now see why we are told to "trust our guts." Gut reactions are what make our breathing change. Literally. Which makes breathing the physical equivalent of thinking. Breathing as the Body Clock's equivalent of the Mind Clock's mental processes.
To a Mind First person, this logic will probably fail as badly as a flat tire. However, to a Body Find first person, what I've just said will likely make perfect sense. Intuitively, at least. No coincidence then that it was a Body First person who first taught me this, about how diaphragms work. And why not. He, much more than I, relies on his gut reactions to make his decisions in life. Including his decisions as to what is true or not.
Finally, let me summarize these initial differences between Mind First people and Body First people.
For a Mind First Person
- Perception begins with the five senses and must include, logic but excludes things as nebulous as a sixth sense
- Intelligence is what you gather with these senses
- Insights are what you seek when you gather and probe this intelligence
- Learning, which is the goal of all insights, stems from being told what you will be shown, then shown what you were told
- this makes Body First Learning the best (and most painful) talk therapy for a Mind First person
For a Body First Person
- Perception begins with the sixth sense and ends with the five senses, reasonably explored
- Intuition is what you gather with these senses
- Gut Reactions are what you seek when you gather and probe these intuitions
- Learning, which is the goal of all gut reactions, stems from being shown what you will be told then told what it is you were shown
- this makes Mind First Learning the best (and most painful) talk therapy for a Body First person
This Episode's Session Notes
It never fails that as I discover things about human personality, I feel drawn to see how they do or would have applied to those people nearest me. My friends and family for instance. Probably the greatest and most painful of all my realizations this time was what I realized about both my parents. My father, mother, and the sister closest in age to me are all Body First people. And when I think of how badly we three have struggled to understand each other at times, I find myself doing something I rarely do. I find myself wishing I had known back then what I know now. Painfully longing I knew in fact.
Hopefully what I now know will make this different for many others. One can only hope.
So what's coming up in the next episode? To be honest, I'd like to be able to tell you that we are going to begin to explore the practical implications of all I've been telling you. I honestly do wish I could say this. Especially to the Body First people. This thing is, I can't, as we are not yet up to this practical part. Almost. But not quite.
What we are up to though is yet another thing Descartes spoke about and saw as important. This being the difference between what is in here (inside our minds) and what is out there (out in the physical world). The idea that the body extends out into the world while the mind is limited to us.
What makes this important?
For one thing, this is what defines insanity. The condition wherein what is in your head does not remotely match what is in the real world. Certainly this makes extension an important topic for any talk therapy.
For another thing, it reveals yet another level of what makes Mind First and Body First people disagree.
And for another thing, it allows us to better evaluate the truths of others. Including what makes them think and feel the way they do. And why they may be so unable to see differently.
So now, let me ask you. Do you agree with Descartes? Do you think the mind is limited to in here while the body extends out into there? Or do you fall into the new age psychophysical group wherein people imagine that quantum mechanics disproves the existence of this barrier? Or at least, blurs this distinction? Do you have any opinion on this as of yet? More important, does knowing the answer to this question make any difference at all to you?
Body First people may find this question terribly tedious. And Mind First people may feel like they've had enough already. Either way though, if you knew ahead of time how important this answer was, you might see why I am trying your patience by going so slow and being so deliberate.
How important is this idea? We're about to find out. Especially when it comes to talk therapy. Curious yet? I certainly hope so.
Until the next episode then.
I hope you are well,