Somatic Intelligence: What Our Bodies Know

Marion Gilbert|Dec 17, 2013
Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition - Marion Gilbert

The intelligence of the body informs us about the reality of our physical existence separate from others. It governs all the survival processes that move us instinctively through the world, giving us information through our sensory faculties about our well-being. We sense the environment within our body. We may think it’s our mind sorting things out, but the mind reports and delineates meaning from what the body is sensing in the current situation.

The mind has neural pathways that sort for familiar patterns from past experiences to make sense of current experiences. If we are out of touch with our bodies, unconscious of past traumas and adaptive patterning, current reality becomes a filtered experience and we are unable to perceive the environment as it is. Many of us are very removed from the intelligence of our body, since our culture primarily values mental intelligence and, to a lesser degree, emotional intelligence. The Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition is actively integrating somatics with psychological and spiritual wisdom.

 All psychological and spiritual experiences take place in and are perceived by the body. Our ability to make choices to respond beyond our survival strategies is wholly dependent on our ability to be aware of the felt sense of emotions and beliefs held in our body based on past experience. Otherwise, we may gain conceptual understanding – a great first step – but we won’t be able to access automatic patterns held in neural pathways in our brain and body. Without the capacity to be conscious of the felt sense, to feel the feelings and beliefs in our bodies, we stay on automatic. When we are more consciously embodied, we have the capacity to make new choices that will build new neural pathways and allow us to participate in the grand unfolding of the evolution of consciousness.

Our ability to be conscious has evolved over time from the automatic, unconscious survival strategies (fight/flight/freeze, seeking nurture) of our reptilian and mammalian brains. The adaptive patterns necessary for survival are an aspect of how we learn and evolve. These patterns are the foundation of our type structure and have a life-giving function. However, if we seek to integrate our separate physical existence with the spiritual awareness of the Oneness of all things, we can learn to include and move beyond being solely motivated by these automatic strategies. This way we can begin to see reality as it actually is, rather than through our familiar filters of perception. With the expertise of the Enneagram, we can develop greater freedom in how we respond, so new neural pathways will develop that support novel behaviors rather than the brilliant but limiting reactions of our type patterns. 

2 Comments to “Somatic Intelligence: What Our Bodies Know”

  1. Courtney Pinkerton|

    Love this writing and line of teaching. So grateful for the Narrative Tradition and Marion’s work on this subject! Teaching about somatic work with the enneagram (through meditation) has been one of the most powerful tools I share with people in my holistic life coaching practice (www.courtneypinkerton.com). I hope you come back to Texas soon for another workshop! Warmly, Courtney

    Reply
    • Daniela|

      Great introduction to what the broad term somatic includes. The description the principle of learning while experiencing the body from within explains the learner centered approach utilized by instructors at OSM. Learning and understanding massage is truly a whole body experience.

      Reply

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