By Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Ph.D.
We are made to feel. Feeling is that part of us that is aware when danger is present, and when it is safe; who we can trust, or not; to empathize with others; to love; to be touched by beauty; to live in purpose and meaning; to be part of the natural order; and, to lead a moral life. Feeling brings us present to our livingness. Simply said: Feeling makes us fully human.
We are also made to language. Language allows us to think through complex issues; to place things in perspective; to order our world; to access memory and declare the future; to coordinate with others; and, to distinguish right action. Simply said: Thinking makes us fully human.
Feeling and Thinking are two currents of the river we call our livingness. Sensations, images, actions, moods, thoughts, streamings, contractions, expansions, and gestures make up the livingness we call ourselves. This is conversationally referred to as the mind/body connection and it points to the inextricable link between the body and the self. The recent advancements in neuroscience technology have scientifically demonstrated, (Read: verified by hard science therefore must be true) what has been known for millenniums by practitioners of consciousness. What and how we feel affects what and how we think; and what and how we think affects how we feel. When our feeling-self and thinking-self are coherent we are at our most powerful. When they’re at odds, we’re a train wreck.
Think of someone you love, how does that feel in your body? Think of something negative, how does that feel in your body? Hunch your shoulders, breathe shallow, squeeze your eyes and plan your day tomorrow, how does that feel?
When we do simple exercises like this the connection is very clear and simple, but over the last four hundred years we have slowly, but tenaciously weighted the importance of the thinking-self to the exclusion of the feeling-self. Furthermore, the explosion of technology in the last sixty years has dramatically increased this split. The majority of people spend their time in front of machines attempting to reason themselves through problems and relationships. Our social institutions, influenced by traditional religion and science, enforce and reify our thinking, rational self and we have come to rely on and live through dogma, ideology, symbols, concepts, and cognitive constructs. This perpetrates a disembodied view of the world in which we have lost access to a deeper intelligence and wisdom. This objectification, in other words, has minimized our ability for self-responsibility, self-healing, self-learning, and self-generating.
Languishing in this void of feeling, sensing, intuition, meaning, and purpose we have lost our ability to be self-knowing and world-knowing. This ultimately reduces our capacity for ethical, skillful action which is based in sustainability for the planet and dignity for all people. We have now reached a critical historical juncture in which it is necessary to take a stand in which we experience ourselves as a responsible part of the whole. In this post-Copernican view of the world we must now declare “I am responsible for my own experience. I am part of this Universe and it is my responsibility to take care of it.” (Though I use the personal “I” this is meant to represent the collective “We” as well).
We do not need a religious or scientific mediator between our experience and our experience of the world. Our needs and purpose can never be fulfilled through nation states or authoritarian institutions that represent an objective, non-feeling, disembodied power. We make the world; we are part of the world; and, it is our responsibility to keep it in good shape. This is a call for bold and courageous action.
In this moment of choice, our power to be self-generating, self-healing, and self-learning is at stake and with it the future of the planet and all living things. This path of transformation begins by turning our attention to the feeling self, turning our attention to the livingness we call our body.