Addressing the Mind and Body in Talk Therapy
Anyone whose practice involves psychology, science, or religion will at one time or another face the questions inherent in Cartesian dualism; whether the mind and body are separate and if so how they can interact. Moreover this holds true whether you be a surgical M.D., brain researcher, a professor of theology, or a talk therapist. In addition, for episodes now, I've been telling you things about something I've discovered; the actual mechanism which connects the mind. And what this discovery implies. In the next few episodes, we'll explore the history and science behind these statements. Who and what I'm basing my work on, and how I can be so bold. Beginning in this episode of Plain Talk about Talk Therapy.
Philosophy again? Ah, come on already . . .
To Rene Descartes, there were two kinds of experiences. The experiences of the mind and the experiences of the body. And while philosophers before and after him have said many similar things, from his writings on, no serious philosopher could ignore this idea. Or the problems it created. Mainly how two such seemingly disparate experiences could possibly exist let alone interact. As well as how they could sum to a single person. In other words, if what Descartes said is right, meaning, if the experiences of the mind and the experiences of the body are truly the ingestions and outpourings of two separate and distinct substances (the physical and the non physical), how can we, at the same time, experience life as a single being?
Why bring up Descartes again? Because for several episodes now, we've been exploring the implications of a recent discovery I've made. The actual mechanism which connects the mind and body; our perception of time. In this episode then I'll begin to ground these discussions with the work of others. As well as with the science behind my claims; that I've found a way to potentially cure ADD. And the over eating part of obesity.
The thing is, in several cases, I've already accomplished this and am now in the process of exploring many more conditions. Things like stuttering. And dyslexia. And anxieties related to playing music. And repetitive motion injuries. And the psychophysical parts of addiction.
Of course, I am well aware of how all this sounds; too good to be true to be sure. In fact, were I reading these words, I'd probably feel the same. The thing is, I've based what I've been telling you on years of practice and have the case studies to back it up. Thus if you'll reserve your judgments a bit longer, I promise to make it all clear.
Know that unlike most folks who discuss mind body dualism, I have no interest in debating these questions philosophically. Nor do I wish to offer you a new logic. Rather, I simply wish to present you with a pragmatic solution to what has been a seemingly unsolvable dilemma. How the body and mind can connect.
Where will we begin? With a brief recounting of how philosophy has attempted to solve this problem. Why philosophy? Because beneath all therapies, there is a philosophy. A set of assumptions as to how we work. It is from these assumptions in fact that all talk therapists proceed. Moreover, even outside of talk therapy, we still face these questions in our everyday life. Can't see how? Well consider this.
Do you ascribe to any sort of spiritual beliefs? The differences between the temporal self and the eternal self? Or whether we have a soul which survives physical death? If so, then you have made assumptions about Cartesian Dualism.
How about the arguments between science and religion. Ever find yourself taking sides? Or wondering why they fight? They fight because they believe different things about Cartesian Dualism.
How about holistic health care? Are you a person who tries to care for both her mind and her body? Do the right thing for your health? If so, then you've made personal assumptions about Cartesian Dualism.
Then there's talk therapy. And the issues we all struggle with most. Like our parents dying. Abortion and illness. And the issues behind raising children. Ever face any of these issues? If so, then you have had to face the problems inherent in Cartesian Dualism. The mind body connection. And how it works.
What am I saying? I'm saying that whatever your beliefs and interests, we all, in some way, make assumptions about Cartesian Dualism. Even folks who have never heard of Descartes and have no interest in philosophy. Speaking of which, did you know that in Descartes' time, he would not have considered himself a "philosopher." Nor would any other like minded person. Rather, this title; "philosopher," is merely the way we have come to refer to folks who spend their lives exploring the nature of things. Including some folks we do call philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle. As well as some of science's brightest folks, such as physicists Richard Feynman and Fritjof Capra.
Have you ever read the doctoral parchment of a Ph.D. psychologist? If so, then you have in all likelihood read the words, "Doctor of Philosophy." Which means we could include these folks in the philosopher group too.
Interestingly enough, were you to consult a book on the history of mathematics, you'd find Descartes listed in there as well. Right along with many other famous philosophers like Pythagoras and Leibniz and Pascal. And if you were to page through a book on the history of science, you'd find Descartes listed in there too. Along with many other famous philosophers such as Plato, Kant, Helmholtz and so on.
Even if you do not consider yourself a "philosopher," if you are reading this book, then you may as well admit it. You are one at heart. And if you struggle to believe what I've just said, then know you are in good company. None of these famous philosophers saw himself as a "philosopher" either. Rather, they were all just folks looking to learn more about the human condition. And if you feel this same desire then you are a philosopher as well.
Why focus so much on philosophy? Because no one who aspires to be a better person can escape the philosophical questions. Including the dilemma implied by Descartes dualism. So yes, while some prefer to call these questions dilemmas of the mind body connection and others, questions about the Cartesian Split or Cartesian Dualism, what you call them matters little. The fact is, anyone interested in human nature must ask philosophical questions. Including questions about the mystery of the mind body connection.
Now allow me to tell you what we are about to do. What exactly will we be doing?
First, I'm going to take you on a ten cent tour through the beliefs of four philosophers; Descartes, Spinoza, Herbart, and Leibniz. Brief mentions only about their thoughts on dualism. Nothing too deep and fanciful. I promise. Hopefully we'll get through most of this in this episode.
In the next episode then, I'm going to show you how what they have to say about dualism relates to a modern technology. Specifically to the technology behind digital systems; how everything from DVD players to whole rooms full of equipment manage to stay in sync with each other.
Why parallel philosophy with this technology? Because it turns out that the key to understanding how the mind and body connect lies in understanding the physics behind modern digital technology. Thus we're going to be doing a bit of psychophysical reverse engineering.
Oops. Did I just use lose you? If so, I can certainly understand. This little phrase; psychophysical reverse engineering, is a mouthful. At the same time, it is also the primary vehicle from which I've made my discoveries. On dualism. On human nature. And on everything else. Which means I must at least briefly touch on what this phrase means before we launch into our discussion.
What is psychophysical reverse engineering? It is using the laws of physics to discover the laws of psychology. The laws of the natural world to reveal the laws of human nature.
Know I am not the first person to seek knowledge this way. Far from it. For instance, many famous philosophers have walked on this same path. Which is why I suppose so many of them also made discoveries in science and math. Socrates to Spinoza. Carneades to Kant.
What do we gain by doing this though? We gain insights into how non physical things like the mind; psychology, can connect to physical things such as us to our bodies; physical health, for instance. As well as us to other people. Which makes contrasting and comparing human psychology with technology with an incredibly useful tool.
We also gain something equally valuable. A way in which to know if what we believe about human nature is true. You see, if the world is truly psychophysical, then whatever we say about our psyches must be mirrored in the laws underlying our technology. Why? Because this is just the way we are. We make things in our likeness and image. Which means when things in psychology do not mirror things in the world of physics, our assumptions as to what is true become suspect. And may be false.
Of course to call this process psychophysical reverse engineering is to give it a modern spin. However people have been practicing this idea for hundreds of years. Moreover, I'm not even the first person to call what I'm doing, psychophysical. People were using this word in the seventeenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century though, it seems this word fell out of favor, as the hard physical sciences began to push the soft sciences into the new age closet. Ergo the current crop of "there is no God" books.
Finally, before we begin, I'd like to share with you what William James said about the mind body connection at the end of the nineteenth century. After years of exploring the same questions we'll be discussing here, he wrote, "the simplest psycho-physic formula and the last word of a psychology which contents itself with verifiable laws, and seeks only to be clear and to avoid unsafe hypotheses, would appear to be a blank unmediated correspondence, term for term, of the successive states of consciousness with the succession of total brain processes . . ."
Yes. These words are dense and difficult. After all, James is one of the greatest geniuses of all time. Even so, isn't it amazing how what James advises us to do here so mirrors what the brain researches of today are doing?
So what was James' solution to the mind body dilemma? Unfortunately, just when you think he is going to offer us his answer, he admits he does not know. He then goes on to say that we should continue "to live on the raged edge" of not knowing rather than indulge in the "spiritual chloroform" of admitting defeat.
We have been living on this raged edge for a long time now. Are you ready for an answer which I think would have satisfied even a consummate pragmatist like James? If so, here we go.
Descartes' Two Finite Experiences
We'll begin our ten cent tour with the trouble maker himself. Rene Descartes (1596-1650). And with his four assumptions about the mind body connection. One. He said that the experiences of the mind and the experiences of the body are different. Two. He said that what makes these experiences differ is that the substances from which they come are different. Literally. That the mind and body are made of two different, finite substances. Three. He said that these two different, finite substances interact with each other. Mind affecting body. And body affecting mind. And four. He said there is a literal mechanism through which these two separate but interactive substances connect.
Here then are the four ideas we are about to explore. The mind and body as different experiences. The mind and body as different finite substances. The mind and body as interactive experiences. And the mind and body as connected experiences.
Let's start with the obvious. That we experience mind and body differently. To Descartes, this was not a given. In fact, before his writings, while many folks implied this difference, no one stated it in a way ordinary people could relate to. What I mean is, while today, we may read into what those before Descartes said, no one before Descartes wrote about the mind body connection in a way in which ordinary folks could identify with.
What had been written? In the fifth and sixth centuries BCE, the Classical Greeks spoke about the separation of psyche and spirit; the logos and the ousia. That there are ideal ideas that are truly perfect and imperfect physical manifestations of these ideas. This implies that the mental and the physical are separate experiences, but never says it directly. Only that what is divine is real and what we see is an illusion. Very deep indeed. But not very accessible.
Fast forward about four hundred years or so and you have the Neo Hellenistic Hermetic philosophers. These folks based their whole literature and philosophy on a phrase which was said to be more than a thousand years old at the time and which two millennia later became a founding principle in Chaos Theory. The phrase? "As above, so below." What is in heaven mirrors what is on earth. This implies that nature fractally scales and connects in infinite regressions. Large to small. Heaven to earth. Body to mind. Psychologically to physically. Again, they imply the mind and body are separate, but never state it directly in ordinary words.
Advance a few more centuries to the second and third centuries CE, and you find the Gnostics, folks who wrote about the duality of the "unreal" realm of matter and the true spiritual realm of the "Pleroma." They too saw the mind and body as separate experiences albeit to them the physical body was a bad thing. A terrible trap which prevented our divine spark from returning to it's heavenly paradise. Body and mind as separate things? Yes. Absolutely. But as things we ordinary folk can understand? A bit of a stretch even if there is truth in there.
Finally, from about the fourth century on, Christians and Muslims from St. Augustine on wrote about the differences between the temptations of the worldly body and the beauty of the eternal soul. More unequal but separate philosophy. More mind body things implied.
The thing to see here is, none of these beliefs were seen as accessible to ordinary folks. Rather, they were seen as understandable only to those willing to dedicate their lives to exploring the nature of our world. Descartes then broke this pattern. And while he did not specifically say it in the words we use today; "the mind body connection," just the same, he is the one to whom we own our debt. Why? Because like St. Augustine before him, Descartes wrote down his experiences through the eyes of an ordinary man. Himself. In doing so, he gave us a model for what exploring these questions is like. Starting with his principal observation; that the experiences of his mind and the experiences of his body were different.
Unfortunately, in his next step, he goes off the deep end a bit. You see, after saying the mind and body were different experiences, Descartes needed a scientific way to prove this is true. To do this, he used logic to theorize that because the mind and body are such different experiences, they must be coming from different substances.
In effect, Descartes tries to create a bridge between the body and the mind by using the same terms to refer to the mind as he does to the body. Something later philosophers would endlessly pound him for doing. Thus while we can understand what might have driven him to his logic, to say this is a stretch is putting it mildly.
How exactly does he say these two substances differ? He says that material substances have a property called "extension." A term which roughly translates to that these things they take up space. In other words, Descartes said that what makes something a physical thing is that it can "extend" out into the physical world. Extend out from where? His logic is a bit fuzzy. Which is why it is probably best to simply set this step aside.
Before we do, it is interesting to note how Descartes said that the mind differed from the body. He said the mind was made of a substance which did not have "extension." To him then, what was "in here" is profoundly different from what is "out there." And it is. But proving this with terms which fall back on themselves is hardly a logic which can stands.
What I'm saying here is, in stating his case, Descartes uses words to describe the mind which can only describe physical substances. For instance, he calls what the mind is made of a finite substance. In all likelihood then this word, finite, is what probably led him to delay publishing his main book; Meditations, until the year of his death. Whatever the case, by saying the mind was made of a finite substance, Descartes, himself a Catholic, was implying that the soul was finite. And lest you think him crazy for saying this, know we often do this ourselves. Every time we say things like that I'm feeling blue. Or that my head feels full. Or that my mind is tired. Or that my heart is hurting. And yes. We mean these things metaphorically. Even so, our choice of words is important. Why? Because this use of words is one of the main critiques against Descartes. And against what he said about the mind and body, much of which is true.
Now we come to Descartes' third assumption. That the mind and body interact. Here we arrive at the idea which to this day folks struggle to explain. In fact, this idea is what set off four hundred years of debates and arguments. It is also what divided science and religion. The idea? That two such seemingly different and separate substances could affect each other. In other words, if the physical and the non physical are indeed separate substances which have no properties in common, how can they possibly interact?
The thing is, Descartes is right when he says we experience the mind and body this way. We do feel the mind and body separately and we do feel them interact.
Know I say this to you knowing full well that modern science boys regularly and frequently skewer people who say this happens. Duh? Makes you wonder how they explain what happens on Super Bowl Sunday. In other words, we all feel the mind and body interact all the time. However, to some folks, this does not seem to matter. They see as scientific only things we can shake and bake the same way each time.
The thing is, no one's thoughts and feelings interact the same each time. Not even close. Nor is there any scientific way in which to measure this interaction in a way similar to how we can measure math and logic. In fact, this impossibility was one of Kant's main legacies; that psychology can never become an empirical science. However despite Kant's objections, that we cannot measure the interactions of mind and body with numbers and logic, we can scientifically describe these interactions. Which is where Herbart comes in. More on him later.
The point is, human beings experience the mind and body interactively. And even if we could never prove this scientifically, our experiences still matter. More than science has been willing to admit in fact. Fortunately, the answer to all this lies in Descartes fourth and final assumption; that a literal connection exists between the body and the mind. To Descartes then, the mind and body do interact in a mechanism. To him, it was in the Pineal gland. The only organ in the brain which does not have a left and a right side.
So is there a mechanism wherein the body and mind connect? Yes. The thing is, to see it, we must search for it in our experiences of the mind and body. Not in some immeasurable way but rather in a psychophysical way. Before we do, let's first review what I've told you so far.
Descartes says we all have two basic experiences, the experience of the mind and the experience of the body. So is this true? Yes. And rather than argue this already argued to death question, I ask that you simply focus on one word here. The word, "experience." Subjective. Personal. Psychological. Perceptive. In other words, the heart and soul of what we explore in talk therapy. Our psyche. Our perceptions.
Do we perceive ourselves as having two separate experiences, a mental experience and a physical experience? Most of us? Yes. And regardless of whether we can quantify this idea or not, this difference is what we explore each time we sit across from a talk therapist. We explore how our physical selves and our mental selves do and do not agree. A process which in many cases can markedly improve the quality of our lives. Proof or no proof.
Descartes himself felt he needed this proof. Which is what led him to posit that these two experiences stemmed from two different finite substances. And while it's easy to see how he could have arrived at this assumption, arguing the truth of this is a waste of time. And entirely unnecessary. Why? Because there is a way to scientifically prove Descartes' first assumption is true. A proof we're almost up to.
Was about Descartes' third assumption? Do the mind and body exist as separate but interactive experiences? Here the scientific disagreements and religious spear throwing usually reaches a crescendo. In fact, many careers have crashed on the rocks from arguing this idea. So how can we avoid this dangerous path and still address the mind body connection? It's simple really. We need only stay within the realm of human experience. Human perception. Which, if you now look back at Descartes' four assumptions, you'll find that three of his four assumptions focus on the same thing; on human experiences. Only the second does not. Which is why I've suggested we set aside whether the body and mind are made from different substances.
Do the mind and body interact then? Experientially? Obviously, yes they do. And anyone doubting this need only read though the reams of new data brain researchers are accumulating daily. What we feel "in here" and what we feel "out there" often so overlaps we cannot tell these two experiences apart.
What I would ask you to do now though is that you ask yourself what you experience. Do you feel what happens in your mind and what happens in your body affect each other? Yes? No? Not sure?
The thing is this. If you can learn to see what underlies Descartes' fourth assumption, the actual mind body connection, then you can see a proof his third assumption is true as well. That the mind and body do interact. Not just behaviorally, mind you. Rather, in an empirically observable way. Before explaining how this happens though, I first need to continue with our ten cent tour. Beginning with a philosopher named Spinoza. Benedictus de Spinoza. Ben to his friends.
Spinoza's One Infinite Substance
Benedictus de Spinoza (1632-1677) was a seventeenth century Dutch Jew who despite working much of his life as a lens grinder managed to permanently change the world. Like most world changers then, before Spinoza died, he managed to get almost everyone mad at him. Synagogues to scientists. Despite his religion in effect disowning him though, he somehow managed to maintain his belief in the existence of God. Thus when he posited his resolution to the Cartesian Split, he made God the author and means of the connection between body and mind. God as the answer to Descartes' assumptions three and four. God as the actual mechanism.
The thing is, the way Spinoza explained this connection is remarkably succinct. And parts of his explanation are viable even today. He said that while the experiences of the mind and the experiences of the body seem very different, underneath it all they are actually two different aspects of the same experience. Thus while Descartes thought mind and body came from two different and finite substances, Spinoza thought of them as two aspects of one infinite substance. A single continuum extending from the mind to the body.
To Spinoza, this infinite substance was God himself. Ergo his seeing this substance as two ends of one continuum. The scientist's infinite. The philosopher's all knowing. No coincidence either that everything which truly describes the natural world is based on continuums as well. Everything from oak and tea leaf fractals to the veins and arteries of bodies and river systems.
Is Spinoza right then? Are mind and body two aspects of one continuum? Yes. However this then creates a contradiction in what I've been saying. Mainly in how the experiences of the mind and the experiences of the body can at once be two separate things and also two ends of one continuum.
The answer? It's simple. And if you now turn your attention to this episode's diagram, and specifically to the uppermost mind body drawing, I'll show you how this can be.
Start with that the word I've repeatedly refocused you on here is the word, "experience." Thus, while Spinoza's double aspect theory focuses on the actual nature of mind and body, Descartes' interactive dualism focuses more on what we humans perceive the nature of body and mind to be. Our two experiences of mind and body.
Can you see the difference between these two ideas? The dual aspect part of Spinoza's theory represents the actual physics of the mind and body. Which we could only see by observing what occurs in us below the threshold of our perception. Not an easy thing to do. The point is, because this continuum exists below the threshold of our experience, we do not experience life this way even though this is what is truly happening.
Here then is how Descartes and Spinoza can both be right. Above the threshold of experience, Descartes is right. We experience the mind and body as separate and distinct experiences. Hence Descartes' interactive dualism. And below the threshold of experience, Spinoza is right. Hence his dual aspect theory.
One continuum below the threshold of experience. Two experiences above the threshold of experience. And both men were right. So how did this idea occur to me?
The idea that we have such a threshold of experience came largely from reading the work of yet another philosopher, Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776-1841). Herbart was the professor who filled the chair vacated by Immanual Kant. Moreover, his work on learning and human nature has many parallels to mine. Not the least of which is that he postulated algebraic formulas for human consciousness which showed how it varied in intensity over time. An idea which is at the very core of all my discoveries and proofs. Including the proof personality is fractal. More on this in a later episode.
Here is where we are up to then. We've three ideas which describe the nature of the mind and body. And we need know all three in order to begin to accurately describe what is going on in the mind and body.
- Human beings have a threshold of perception, a point at which we begin to experience the mind and body (per Herbart).
- Above this threshold of perception, we experience mind and body as separate and distinct (per Descartes).
- Below this threshold of perception, we experience mind and body as two aspects of one continuum (per Spinoza).
This now leaves us with the really big question. Descartes fourth assumption. The actual mechanism through which the mind and body connect. So what is it?
Before we look, I'd like to mention the work of Dr. Michael Gershon on the enteric nervous system. Why? Because you'll find in his work a whole of wealth of neurological support for what I've been saying and am about to say. In essence, Dr. Gershon says we have two brains, each with it's own memory, processing, and experiences. Moreover, while Dr. Gershon's work focuses more on how this work might be used medically, his science is more than suggestive of a lot of what I've been saying. Not the least of which is that the mind and body have separate brains, both within the same body.
How do they connect though? Again what is the mechanism? And did philosophy ever touch on this? It turns they did. In fact, this solution is so obvious, I find myself daily asking what kept me from seeing it. Or anyone else for that matter. To see this solution though, we first need to briefly explore our last philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Leibniz was a man who was for a time the bane of Isaac Newton's existence. Claims and counter claims about who was the real discoverer and all that. Sound familiar? They did it even back then. No surprise too these two fellows had strong thoughts on the very key we need to understand all this. Our perception of time. Ready.
Leibniz's Two Clocks
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was a German, late seventeenth century, early eighteenth century, historian, mathematician, philosopher, scientist, and diplomat. What a mouthful, eh? Leibniz is best known for independently inventing calculus at the same time as Isaac Newton. And for arguing with Newton whose calculus came first, his or Isaac's. Know that Leibniz and Newton each used a different notation for the same calculus. Oddly, although we today use the notation Leibniz invented, Sir Isaac is the one we usually give the credit to.
This aside, Leibniz is also known for something which sounds very similar to what we've been looking at. Something called, psychophysical parallelism. In it, he attempts to reconcile Descartes' mind body split. How the mind and body can be separate and yet, still interact.
What does Leibniz say? He alludes to the fact that we are each born with two senses of time, the mind's sense of time, and the body's. He, of course, is saying this only as a metaphor wherein he compares the body and soul to two perfectly in sync clocks. Hence the parallelism. Just the same, as far as I can see, he is the only one to say the mind body connection mechanism involves our sense of time.
Metaphor aside, what is significant here is that, while Leibniz once again brings into the mix the metaphysical idea that God is in charge (for Leibniz, God sets the clocks in us at birth and from then on, they run in perfect sync), his metaphor of the two clocks turns out to be more true than I suspect he ever realized. Moreover, if you understand how modern digital systems stay in sync, this metaphor becomes the essential fourth aspect of the mind body connection. The actual mechanism of connection, in fact.
Know that in order for any of this to make sense to you, we first need to explore a bit of modern technology. Two things really. First. The way recording engineers used to sync up separate tape recorders. Mechanically. With no clock. And second. How today's digital systems, televisions and DVD players for instance, electronically sync separate physical devices to one master clock.
Unfortunately, while I've already mentioned bits and pieces of this, to do it justice, we'll need a whole episode and then some. Before we close this episode though, I want to give you an idea of where we're going with all this.
It turns out that if you can understand how if you turn on your DVD players and flat screen televisions in the wrong order they sometimes have problems, then you can understand how we do and do not connect to others. And if you can understand what it is physically like to try to sync up two reel to reel tape recorders manually, then you can understand why we so rarely feel in sync with ourselves. Or with others.
Before we conclude this episode though, I want to remind you of one the thing which connects all this to us. The word "experience." This word literally holds the key to understanding the mind body connection. Moreover we're not even talking about all experiences. Rather, only our experiences of time.
In the end, Leibniz too was right. We do experience two clocks. Only literally rather than metaphorically. As was Descartes right about us having two separate experiences, and Spinoza right that they are really two aspects of the same experience. Oddly the last and least known of the four men I've mentioned held the key to putting this all together. Herbart and his ideas about our threshold of experience and his algebraic formulas for how consciousness varies in intensity over time.
This Episode's Session Notes
Did you find this episode a tough one? If so, consider this. The few ideas I've presented here have taken me a whole sixty years of hard study and constant practice to arrive at. Thus if you find hard to grasp what I've just said, consider how you've been told this in all of a few short minutes.
Know a lot should come together for you in the next episode. After which we're going to have a lot of fun exploring how these ideas can change the world.
Before I leave you though, I want to mention something else which makes understanding these ideas hard. The idea that about half of the people reading this are Body First people. Why does this matter? Because while Mind First people learn best by being told then shown, Body First people learn best by being shown then told.
The thing is, it's hard to put these ideas into teaching that Body First people can grasp. Which is why I guess so few of them become philosophers. Ironically though, this very difficulty is one of the main things driving me to write this book. Yet the people it would help the most will by nature have to struggle the hardest to get it.
I hope in the next episode to change some of this. Thus if you are one of those who struggled though this episode, have hope. And don't quit yet. I promise it's about to get easier.
Finally, I want to mention something that happened to me yesterday. An interaction between my friend John, a Body First person and me, a Mind First person.
What happened was that I had asked John to teach me an Aikido joint lock. Why? So that we two could teach each other about how Mind First and Body First people interact.
Know I know next to nothing about martial arts, and that John and I had tried to do this a while ago. The result? We both quit feeling lost and frustrated.
Yesterday though, because John and I both made the Mind Body connection our focus, I, for the first time in my life, felt able to learn a physically difficult move. This in spite of that I am a person whose IQ is probably embarassingly high. Nothing to brag about. Just an irony.
Why mention this then? Because despite my mental intelligence, I've struggled all my life to keep up with physically smart people. In sports. In dance. In art and so on. And each time I've tried to learn something physical, I've felt stupid, and clueless, and inept, and hopeless. Much like John has told me he has felt in mental learning situations all his life.
The thing is, John and I both realized yesterday how teaching requires this connection. A simultaneous mentally and physically connection, enjoyed in an interactive way. Moreover, we not only saw this as a true idea. We did it. So well in fact that I have to say this learning event was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. I can't wait to do it again in fact.
My point for telling you this is that, what I've written here, and throughout this book, is written by a Mind First person. Me. At the same time, by writing this book, I'm learning that in order to teach Body First people, I need to remember to inter-splice plenty of imaginary physical examples.
I'm also learning, as we speak in fact, that doing this doesn't have to be so hard. Nor a battle. It just needs to be something both people understand and something they each honor in the other.
This is what I experienced yesterday with John. Two worlds connecting in one wonderful exchange. Mind and body meeting in the best of ways.
I'm so happy this is happening.
Until the next episode then.
I hope you are all well,