Connecting our minds with our bodies is a key element to finding our inner calm. In solution focused therapy, as we support our clients to explore how a positive emotion feels for them, we might ask where they feel it? Where in their body do they experience that sense of confidence? What part of their body do they look to for that sense of strength? Do they experience calm in their head? Do they notice freedom in their shoulders? Do they feel joy in their chest?
The deep connections we hold between our body and our mind are splashed across our language in infinite metaphor. The idea that emotions, thoughts, and states have an anatomical home has been immortalised in songs time and time again. Love is felt in our fingers and in our toes; we can’t get it out of our head; we see it in your eyes; we hold it in our hands, our arms; we fight tooth and nail for it.
So how did instinct find its home in our gut?
When our subconscious mind perceives danger and triggers our fight or flight response, the physical impact is tangible, and many of the physical sensations we experience are in our gut. Our stomach churns, flips, sinks, rolls, and we are often hit by a wave of nausea.
This subconscious response that connects our thoughts to our gut is an evolutionary hand-me-down from our prehistoric ancestors. As a caveman running away from a wild animal, a full stomach would have impacted our speed and agility, with stark consequences to our survival. Our primitive mind would have stepped in to help, by ejecting anything from our body that may have hindered our chances of escape.
Modern society presents us with a very different experiences that we might subconsciously perceive as threats to our sense of safety and comfort. Although we may not need to run from wild animals quite so frequently, our subconscious mind still responds to a perceived threat in the same way it did 100,000 years ago, stepping in to protect us, and bringing our body on board to help. Our protective primitive instincts remain, including our gut instinct.
Recognising this connection between our body and mind as a potential strength is the first step towards supporting our mind through our body, and supporting our body through our mind.
Gut instinct is a gift, and it’s there for us, should we choose to listen.