I’ve always grown up with a “gut feeling.” This summer, I’ve started to understand the power locked behind this way of knowing.
When I think back to certain periods of my childhood, sometimes a feeling of light warmth, or in other instances, an anxious tensity surfaces. I remember the response of my body’s intuition to that particular event. Regardless of the mental storytelling attached to the past, my body holds a memory of its own.
Just as my intuition guided me home, I have been challenged to trust in this “inner knowing” to find my way in these past weeks. I learned to trust my body’s response to the thousands of choices available before me – from choosing my classes at Davidson to my daily diet or routine.
How did this all of this come to mind? Well, to begin, I started to carefully attune to my body’s reactions to a new gluten-free diet. I can now hold a food in my hands, and instinctively feel if it is what I need. I was amazed yesterday when I consulted a nutritionist, and found that my favorites list very closely matched the recommendations of Chinese traditional medicine for my body.
I also began to receive acupuncture treatment, which has greatly improved my health. My skin, sleep, blood flow, and digestion have all been affected by herbs and small needles being momentarily (and painlessly!) inserted along my energy pathways, called meridian lines. The most mind-boggling truth is that no substance remains in my body for more than a few seconds – yet I can feel energy traveling in my body for hours following treatment. My body has a miraculous ability to communicate and respond to the treatment, completely without my brain’s understanding of meridian pathways.
From these personal experiences, I have witnessed that my spirit, body, and mind each have interrelated fields of consciousness. They are constantly communicating, whether I realize it or not. For example, today at church, I felt my heartbeat quicken when I felt moved by prayer – an experience of body-spirit interaction. Another common example: my body knows when I am upset hours before I can journal about an event. I have even read about “earthing:” a scientific finding that our electron balance changes when we touch grass with our hands or bare feet.
As I read several influential books – Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, and The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff – I realize that an unconscious truth lies within each of us, awaiting expression. Gladwell refers to our “locked door” that holds the powerful, collective experiences in our memory beneath conscious awareness. When we are faced with decisions, we “thin slice” the situation and make a choice based upon prior knowledge that may never be rationally explained. Our most trustworthy instincts may lack the bounds of logic, yet provide highly accurate responses.
The Tao of Pooh describes our inner nature by Winnie the Pooh’s simple, yet loveable, character. Our inner nature is beyond intellectual knowing or understanding life, despite the Owl’s attempts. The truth is not solely found within our heads. Living in harmony with who we are is the Tao, the way to happiness.
So as I walked among the trees today, I couldn’t explain the happiness and relief I felt to be outside. Luckily, I knew that I wouldn’t need to explain in words in order for it to be true. When we surround ourselves with natural life, our unconscious inner nature reveals itself. While our feet and thoughts may wander, our bodies come home into being. This is the truth of ecotherapy, and how I hope to heal the world – through connecting to the inner mind.