The body has its own wisdom and ways of knowing, separate and distinct from that of the mind. The mind thinks while the body feels. From each of these ways of knowing we get valuable information. Just as seeing and hearing are two totally distinct senses which supply us with discrete sensations, so too the body gives us different feedback than the mind. Our bodies have a special and unique relationship with the vibrating matrix of our reality, one which we can learn to tap into and be informed from.

Unfortunately our western culture has a history of misunderstanding this relationship. Instead of seeing our body as special, unique and a valuable part of who we are, the body is often dismissed as something less than the mind or soul. We have divorced ourselves from our body wisdom; the body’s feelings are now ignored and dismissed as unimportant or irrelevant. How have we let this happen?

20489127 - serenity and yoga practicing at sunset, meditationOur religions are partly to be blamed; they mostly have been distrustful of the body, dismissing it as a temporary vehicle whose instincts and desires are to be ignored and overcome. There are countless stories of mystics and saints who flogged the body in order to keep it under control, so frightened were they of its powerful instincts and urges. But this seems illogical. From a spiritual point of view, if God has put us in a body, it is probably not for the purpose of fleeing or transcending it, but rather to learn from its mysteries, absorb its great wisdom and be nourished by it. But forget spirituality for a moment; just from a very practical point of view, if the body has access to wisdom and knowledge beyond what the mind can access, would it not be prudent to tap into this source of knowledge? If the body does have these capabilities and we are not listening to it, we are undoubtedly missing out on a lot. But does it?

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has done extensive research on the body’s ability to feel and process information. “The body contributes more than life support,” he writes. “It contributes content that is part and parcel of the workings of the normal mind.”

One of Damasio’s most startling discoveries is how the feelings of the body influence rational thought without us even being aware of the process. Damasio devised an experiment that he called “the gambling task.” It worked like this: Each subject was given four decks of special cards and with each card the player either won or lost money. The subjects were told to turn over the cards one by one from any of the four decks. What they didn’t know was that the decks were rigged. Two of the decks had higher payouts but more severe penalties. Choosing these decks eventually resulted in losses for the participant. The other two had lower payouts but much less chance of losing, so subjects ended up ahead by choosing from these decks. On average it took most participants fifty to eighty cards to figure out which decks had the greater chance of coming out ahead. And here is where it gets interesting. Damasio attached electrodes to subjects’ palms and measured the electrical conductance of their skin. What he found is that after drawing only ten cards, their bodies understood which decks were the most advantageous to draw from and got “nervous” whenever they were about to draw from one of the negative decks. He knew this because the body registered increased levels of electrical conductance. The body figured it out much more quickly than the mind.

This extraordinary finding matches our own personal experiences. How many times in the past have each of us had strong feelings to either do or not do something that later proved to be accurate? For most of us the answer will be many times. Intuitively we have always known that trusting our feelings usually leads us in the right direction, even if we don’t always act upon it. But trusting our feelings takes on a whole new level of acceptability now that it has been scientifically proven to be accurate. The signals coming to us directly from the body are mess