Body Intelligence


Most of us regard the self, or our deepest hub, as subtle. Just think of it. We all communicate with our mind, body, tongue and ear. Else, we would not have spoken, or heard another’s voice nor verbalised anything, or reflected, and sensed them — because, there would be no contact, or ‘bumping into’ acquaintances — thanks to a woeful lack of sensory experience. Put simply, you and I would have felt there’s nothing to know, or question, too.

To contemplate such a state would be extremely terrifying — because, we are so used to talking, listening and mulling over the most important, or equally trivial, happenings.

The living body is the foundation of contact — not just with others, your loved ones, friends, colleagues, business associates, ‘idols,’ etc., but also with oneself. It is this attribute that gives us the platform for reflection, thought, understanding things, and also knowledge. When you recognise, at your core, the most apparent, or the most abstract of thoughts, you tap into the ‘heart’ of your conscious and sensuous life — your body and also your mind. Not otherwise.

Most of us take the body we see, feel and touch, for granted — our body envelops a certain balanced and breathing power that resides within us and initiates all our observations, feelings, dreams, and passions. It is our living body that places the easel and paints a beautiful canvas. It is our body that holds the cricket bat and sculpts a work of art — the pleasing drive, square-cut, and glance. It is our body that plays the violin, or holds the surgeon’s scalpel with refined dexterity. This isn’t all — our body has the ability to laugh, cry, squirm and scream too.

Our body is not just a body — it’s something you and I experience as we live within its clothing. It is creative; it changes shape and size, no less. Our body is not what it was when we were kids; it is not what it was in our youth when we grow old. Even though our body is finite, it is, in plain terms, the ‘medium’ that connects us to life and builds relationships. Our body celebrates our existence — our being.

It is our body that sets us apart from all other forms of life. The philosopher Aristotle explained that plants are endowed with a ‘vegetal soul’ that provides nourishment, growth, and reproduction. Likewise, animals possess both ‘vegetal soul’ and ‘animal soul,’ for sensation and movement. Human beings possess the two, along with a ‘rational soul,’ or intellect. It is this element that provides us the affinity for invention.

The human species is a blend of extended matter [body] and the thinking mind [brain]. It’s this facility that provides us the ‘knob’ to feel and experience our body’s mechanised sensations — while all other organisms are automatons. They are not blessed with actual experience; they are also not sensitive to pleasure, or pain, as we are. Is this, paradoxically, one major reason why we are so insensitive to animal lab experiments — most often without a sense of guilt?

Yet, the fact remains that our body’s actions are never absolute. The reason is simple. You and I must actively and continuously adapt ourselves in a constantly changing world. If you’d have thought of your body as being just a closed, mechanical contraption, you’d have never established actual contact with anything outside, never perceived anything new, or felt surprised, or shocked, with anything.

This suggests that not all of our body’s responses are ‘programmed’ in us. To pick one example — our body’s idea of experience of understanding things isn’t planned. Experience is our body’s own perception, its own ‘mindful’ state in the ever-changing. It also guides our ability to feel, know and decode things. Right? Go figure with your mind.

What’s more, we all know that our body and health are closely connected at every level to our cells, tissues, organs and functional internal processes, including external, or environmental, influences. While our genes control the mode through which we respond to external stress, or pollutants in the air, our emotions influence the manner in which we network with others around us — be it family, friends, or colleagues. Put simply, our emotions affect our immune cells and vice versa.

Our body is just as knowledgeable as our brain. It relishes challenges, just like our brain loves crossword puzzles. Challenges are like natural tonics to the body — they are the precursors, or beacons of hope. They augment recovery from illness states and improve our resilience quotient. They also lead to better immunity, enhanced fitness and more appropriate survival attributes. On the contrary, when the sequential system that integrates our body’s innumerable workings goes kaput, it sets up the ‘soil’ for illness to emerge and take ‘root,’ unless it is treated with suitable medical measures.

There is expanding knowledge that suggests that illness, or disease, first begins owing to a network, if not intelligence error. This, in turn, leads to biological illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Such disorders can, of course, be managed, if not cured, by replacing a ‘missing’ substance, reducing blood pressure with anti-hypertensive medications, treating a blocked artery, joint repair, or eliminating a cancerous tumour, with surgery.

You’d now think of the whole element called ‘body intelligence’ as ‘violin notes’ within a multitude of musical nuances, albeit unlike the orchestra our body’s melodious extravaganza does not employ a conductor. Our psyche’s sum of the parts and parts of the whole credo composes music all by itself, just as each note croons the entire melody and responds in harmonious synchrony. The association is amazing and complex. It balances our physical body, our conscious and unconscious mind, including intelligence, which is not confined to the brain alone, but also disseminated throughout the body by way of a far-reaching connectivity spoor.

— First published in The Himalayan Times, Nepal