Maybe you already know this: we have a brain in our belly—literally, scientifically, experientially. Our heads, in this intelligence-biased, information-intensive era are super-loud. So it is quite easy to bypass this rich fertile more quiet region. This Sunday we spent all day belly-rooted in the SF Tending workshop. A student there reminded me about Philip Shepherd and an interview in Sun Magazine April 2014. What follows is pulled from this fascinating source. Full interview at this LINK: [http://philipshepherd.com/the-sun-magazine-interview/]
It’s true. We have an intricate nerve web lining our gut that perceives, thinks and learns in it’s own unique way. Our bellies make decisions that translate into action and then store those memories in the brainy bowl of the pelvis. Makes the admonition “trust your gut” more than a catchy phrase. A map of the enteric nervous system is nothing new. Not surprising that it has been marginalized in medical literature since the early 1900’s. But way before Western medicine, humans had language for it: the Japanese call it hara and there are words in Incan and Mayan and Chinese culture as well.
Not to demonize our amazing analyzer head brain. It allows us to think in intriguing abstraction, breaks the whole into parts and puts it back together again in innovative ways. The head brain tends to conceptualize itself as separate from the rest of the world, kind of a “me & you” brain. In the classic masculine-feminine polarity, the head brain is way up there touching divinity and getting things done in masculine-land. The belly brain is miles south simply being, earth-rooted in a feminine sensibility that is not separate from the world. This down to earth self does not rush around all day until it finally remembers to pause and listen to the body. Like the body is some outside source that needs to be dialed in. It is being….a body. The belly brain is fundamental animal wisdom: seasonal knowing and weather tracking and food hunting and water smelling. It knows how the children are doing and what phase of the moon is shining….without analyzing.
What is so obvious, what seems on the sad verge of extinction, is that we need both of these brains for a balanced existence. I do believe that most of us would agree that we spend much more time up there than down here. I’m up here figuring out how to communicate this and writing and typing and you’re out there fumbling with your mouse, hunched before a screen, reading and wondering what, if anything, this has to do with you. All this head-time emphasis leads down the road to the unquestioned trust of head brain over belly brain. I love the image of the two of them meeting in the heart; it is so very chakra-world. The grounded downward facing elemental triangle interfacing with the knowing, intuitive spirit-connected upward facing triangle….right there in anahata fourth chakra-land.
There was some kind of weird meeting of earth and sky, a grounded divine intervention that set me up for teaching three workshops in a row exactly two weeks apart from each other. I have never done that many offerings close together and wouldn’t have ever planned it this way. But because I am immersed in this belly world, they are all pelvic bowl oriented. First the yoga-based offering with the mirrors: Grow Loose, Long & Strong. Then add in the spice of the dance: Tending Your Moving Body. And finally, a week from this Saturday, layer in the earthy element of molding and shaping and playing with clay all day: Cultivating Instinct. [LINK] How did this happen? I am crediting a deep listening to my own belly brain, it has been guiding me my whole life and lately, it seems to be gaining in volume.
Philip Shepherd says “ If you open yourself to the hum of the world—if you live in the present rather than your idea of it—it will change you…You cannot reason your way into being present. You cannot reason your way into love. You cannot reason your way into fullfilment.”
Go lower than reason, deeper than logic, cultivate a sweet nest of silence…it has always been whispering there. It is waiting for you…love, bella