7 Reasons Your Body Matters
6th June 2011
Posted by Guest blogger Mark Walsh
We all have a body and it is a far greater resource than most people are aware of. It is also a much bigger part of who we are than is commonly known. Sadly in most parts of the world today the body has been reduced to a “cart to carry your head around on” – just a machine that we have to keep basically operational with minimal sleep, exercise and junk food, so we (as if we are separate) can get on with things. Happily a resurgence in the popularity of ancient wisdom traditions such as meditation, yoga and martial arts, along with advances in modern science has started to turn people back to a full view of the body. So what then is the body good for if not just eating chips and occasionally getting your rocks off? Here are my top seven areas, the first two are perhaps obvious but worth repeating and the last five less well known.
If you’re body stops working you die. Like most people however I suffer from delusions of immortality so it is perhaps more useful to remind myself that good bodily healthy equals more energy for whatever I care about. If you want to be a better doctor, banker, mother etc you need to look-after yourself physically. You can “cheat the system” for some time but a lack of exercise, sleep and good food for example will always be unsustainable and cost you more in time, energy and money than you save short-term trying to ignore all the good advice your mum gave you regarding this. The body is our power source to use a computer analogy.
Our bodies are where pleasure happens and by building better levels of body awareness we will need less intense and damaging stimuli to feel pleasure in our bodies. This will heighten the pleasure you get from food, sex and moving. Walking down the street, going to the gym and even doing the dishes can be pleasures not chores!
Modern neuroscientists have discovered that the whole body is used for thinking not just the brain! There is for example enough nerves in the gut alone to make up a cats brain. The type of thinking you habitually do is determined by your body – whether that be positive or negative for your life. The possibilities we see, our way of doing things, speech and values are all embodied – it is our operating system to continue the computer metaphor.
Emotions happen in body so to be aware of your own and have empathy for others you need to be body aware. This produces emotional intelligence which has been shown to be a critical factor in producing satisfaction in relationships and success at work. See animation below on work and this video on emotional intelligence.
5. Self Management and Resilience
We all have stress and challenging circumstances at times. Simple body practices such as the centring video below can help us “get it together” under pressure so we are resilient to life’s pressures.
Because so much of communication is non-verbal what other people think of us is in large part dictated by our bodies‘ postures and movement. Deeper than just body language we are really communicating who we are at all times which means our impact and influence at work (see leadership video below), communication and ability to get on with people in parenting, relationships and friendships is embodied. We are also receiving at all times and having a better sense of this sure helps you figure out who you might want as a colleague, friend or partner! More on body assessments here.
7. Intuition and spirituality
The body is a source of intuitive wisdom because it is at the core of who we are (as many psychologists are now realising) and according to many spiritual traditions it is our are pathway to the divine (whatever that means to you).
So there you have it, the body is our operating system + power source, is involved with work, play, relationship…what we feel, think and see, pretty much everything we do in fact!
Ways to Build Embodied Intelligence
You can think of all the body skill-sets mentioned as a type of intelligence, like IQ or emotional intelligence. Beyond keeping simple good health you can build this through the practices mentioned like yoga, tai chi or aikido, through watching the videos for further advice or just through paying a bit more attention to your body day to day.
For videos by Mark at Intergration Training which will help you explore this further please click here
Mark Walsh leads business training providers Integration Training – based in Brighton, London and Birmingham UK. Specialising in working the body at work they help organisations get more done without going insane (time and stress management), coordinate action more effectively (team building and communication training) and help leaders build impact and presence. Clients include blue-chip companies, UNICEF, The Sierra Leonian Army and the University of Sussex. In his spare time Mark dances, meditates, practices aikido and enjoys being exploited by his niece and a cat.