We have been working from a very restrictive paradigm when it comes to how we know things.
Like Rodin’s “The Thinker”, we have placed enormous emphasis on using our brain to make sense of bits of information in order to try to know something.
Anyone who has ever sifted through research data, or news reports, or even advice from friends, can tell you just how difficult it is to weigh the information and make a decision. People who research how we make “informed decisions” have shown that it is not rational analysis of data that sways us, but how the information aligns with certain decision-making biases we have when reviewing the information.
Current research also shows that there are (at least) two other “brains” in our body: Our heart and our gut. Each of these centers in the body have a vast number of neurons and a complexity that makes them far more than just a pump for blood or an extraction system for nutrients. They are connected to our emotions, our intuition, and they receive and process information in ways that are just now being understood by mainstream science.
So even though our “rational mind” is hijacked by our biases, and we have at least two other centers in the body that can be considered “brains”, our method of inquiry has not evolved. There are plenty of efforts to make knowing and decision making more effective. In fact, this is a very active area of research (consider the work of Daniel Kahneman, author of “Thinking, Fast and Slow”). However, most advances are actually work-arounds, teaching us how to get past the inherent problems in the brain-centered way we currently process information.
Meanwhile, we all have personal experience of two other often dismissed sources of information: intuition and emotions. In many environments, intuition, if not dismissed outright, is considered to be highly unreliable. And many people believe that emotions are not information at all, but a source of confusion that interferes with reason.
Our misplaced reliance on the brain, and the dismissal of intuition and emotions is not only wrong-headed and misguided, it is disempowering.
It requires us to shut off entire aspects of our being. Intuition and emotion are our body’s ways of providing information that is not delivered via the language center of the brain. Our culture recognizes, at least poetically, that intuition and emotion are the languages of the gut and heart. To dismiss them is to blind ourselves to essential and innate resources of our Being.
Body-Centered Inquiry teaches how to reliably access, interpret and work with the information we receive from our body.
This process helps you uncover what you’ve had all along: the ability use your body – your whole Being – as an instrument for receiving, tuning-in and interpreting non-rational sources of information. This is why people who engage in Body-Centered Inquiry are so surprised when they experience it: incredibly useful insights are available, through a process that is highly accessible, to address nearly every question you can think of!
However, Body-Centered Inquiry does not go to the other extreme of dismissing the brain and rational inquiry. Rather, it understand that your brain, your heart and your gut are companions to each other. When engaged at this level, inquiry becomes a playful dance of intellect, intuition and creativity!
[Author’s note: I now refer to “Body-Centered Inquiry” as Empathic Inquiry. Check out this article to see how I have evolved the language around empathy. – Alison]