I was raised in the heartland of America: Illinois. As I grew up I heard the phrase “you have to trust your gut” on many occasions. It was not like I heard the phrase “Trusting Gut Instincts” a million times, but this notion was a constant in my upbringing, like the mouthwatering taste of fresh sweet corn, it was quietly under the surface, never very far away.
We all trust our gut to some degree. If you are hiking high on a mountain, thousands of feet from the ground, and you look over the ledge and feel queasy, that’s not your mind—that’s your body, your gut speaking to you directly and firmly. Need proof? Look over a ledge and see what your body tells you.
For more subtle occasions wouldn’t it be nice to take a course in how to listen to and trust your gut? How about we create a quick outline for such a course right now? We could name it something like Trusting Your Gut 101, or Was that Belch Intelligent? (I was going to make a fart joke here but decided to hold it back).
Seriously though, a course on trusting gut instincts is just what the Doctor ordered. Check out this video by Gabor Matte M.D. who talks about how smart it is to listen to the messages from our body BEFORE they start shouting at you with serious illnesses like cancer or heart disease. Learning to trust the messages from our body is not just about preventing bad things from happening—many business people are good at listening to their gut and attribute this skill to guiding their companies to success. The latest neuroscience tells us there is a positive correlation between being grounded in your body and feeling a connection with Mother Earth.
A big part of the mindfulness movement centers around listening to the body. As a meditation teacher, QiGong instructor and NARM trained practitioner I’m in the process of developing a course in helping people trust gut instincts—for yourself and the planet. Stay tune for this groundbreaking course.
Trusting Gut Instincts: A preliminary outline
Here are four things you can do to connect with and start listening to your body so you will be better able to listen to and trust your gut:
Sincere intent is a magical thing. If you really want to connect in and start trusting your body it will happen. Remember this: the body has its own timetable and its own way of communicating. Allowing your mind to listen and to be guided by the body is not something we are taught in Western culture, quite the opposite actually. It will take time but if your intent is clear, you’ll pick up what your body is saying soon enough—on its schedule, not that of your mind.
Paying attention to my own physical comfort is certainly not what I was taught, neither was paying heed to my deep mental, emotional or spiritual needs. When I start to relax I can feel the tension in and around my neck. This is a deep tension that is not easy to let go of, still just being aware of it helps me release a little of the stress. Are you aware of the needs of your spirit and emotions? We are integrated units: body, mind, spirit, and emotions. Being aware of our comfort and needs in any one of these areas will help us be aware of these indicators in all of them.
Are you holding imbalances in your body? When I am worried or upset I notice myself physically leaning in one direction or another. I have the habit of leaning forward, which for me is a way to try and power through a situation. This is great for when circumstances call for powering through, but these situations are far less in number than I have applied the technique. The old adage “if your only tool is a hammer everything looks like a nail” comes to mind. Our minds can get in ruts. Listening to our bodies is a creative act that can bring unexpected results, if only we have the wisdom to listen.
Our guts (aka viscera: the organs of the central cavity of the body) are primary for our survival. In large measure the adaptations of skeletal structure, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments, skin, mouth, ears, eyes and brain were created to serve our gut.
Dr. Aline LaPierre, who created NeuroAffective TouchTM, a body based psychotherapeutic modality talks about the various systems of the body and the corresponding differences in how these parts send signals to our brain. Our guts have a different signal strength, amplitude and wave frequency than muscles, tendons and ligaments, bones, skin etc.
Can you feel the difference between the signals coming from your gut and those of your musculature and bones? Learning to distinguish these differences is a high art that pays huge dividends throughout our lives and in protection of the environment. Why? Because our guts have our own best interests, our very survival, built into each signal that is sent to the brain.
Our brains get confused about what is important in our lives, which is why we forget that we need to care for our shared environment—which is the principle agent of our survival. So called “primitive” or “tribal” societies revere nature, life and spirit.
In our modern society we’ve done a grand job of developing our ability to think intellectually, which has led to disastrous results for our environment. If we don’t want to wreck this planet completely we need to pay attention to the wisdom of our bodies, which are connected to the ground we walk on.
Trusting Gut Instincts: The language of the body
Becoming conversant in the language of the body is required in order to be able to trust what it says and evolve past the disconnection we’ve come to think of as “normal.” Stay tuned for that course in trusting your gut! If you have a moment take a look at my upcoming workshop: Our Biggest Environmental Problem is Disconnection from our own Inner Nature. You can read about it here. If you like what you see you can sign up here.
Agency for Earth (AFE) is dedicated to making our environmental knowledge base and eco-education programs a neuroscience-informed space. Helping people trusting gut instincts is a good way to do this. Check our website to see when the next educational workshop will be or give us a call about your next eco-education project.