What the body knows (about decisions and more)

Following on from my recent post on decisions, I wanted to say some more about what the body knows. Why would we ask “it” about decisions anyway? And perhaps do we ask too much of it?

Very often, we we are stuck with a decision, we ask ourselves things like: What should i do? Which is the right way? or even just “help!” The trouble is that the body (and I use this word broadly) finds it hard to answer these questions. They are either too open ended or too binary: too limited by an A or B response. I am not sure our body works like that… let me say more.

To start with, we are living processes, not machines and we interact with other beings and processes. In fact, as Eugene Gendlin puts it, “we are interaction first” There is not a distinct me here and a distinct and separate person or situation out there. Our body knows this. Our lived experience is too intricate to be divided into A and B. What we call the felt sense is really a way that the body can sense this interaction or situation in our life (this situation could be here right now or in the past). As well as being able to sense the situation and its many strands, it also “knows" a lot about what you have done in the past and it holds that in some way also. It can also sense others in the situation and has some knowings about them. The felt sense can hold so much more information than our conscious mind. The strands of the felt sense reach into many areas past and present and if we are open we can listen to what it knows… and it does know something. My sense is that they can only reach so far and no further. The body does not know everything, it is not all knowing.

What is does know is about next steps (or we could call it “carrying forward” to use Gendlin’s term) It has a sense of direction of what would feel right for you in this specific situation, right now. Here is how he puts it.

“Every bad feeling is potential toward a more right way of being if you give it space to move toward its rightness. The very existence of bad feelings within you is evidence that your body knows what is wrong and what is right. It must know what it would be like to feel perfect, or it could not evoke a sense of wrong. Your body, with its sense of rightness, knows what would feel right. The feelings of "bad" or "wrong" inside you are, in effect your body's measurement of the distance between "perfect" and the way it actually feels. It knows the direction"

So if we ask the body, “which is the right way A or B?” Then we may get a sense of what to do…I often don’t! I have found it more helpful to simply sense each situation in turn. There is a knowing about each of these, and this is usually more accessible than a knowing about which one. And more often than not, when we offer the body two choices and neither one feels right…. well, neither of them are! It is really that simple. The situation the body knows that does feel right, has not been offered to it yet… so take a some time, step back and offer the body something else. A third choice perhaps or just sense what is wanted, or what is missing that underpins the whole decision. Listen to that first and then reflect what steps would bring what is wanted or missing…

If we know the answer already, then we would take the step needed, so if we are not taking a step, then there is something we have not heard yet. Not taking a step does not mean that there is something wrong with us… it just indicates there is something unheard in all of this…. and our job is to show up and listen.

Here are a few focusing friendly invitations that night work in the realm of decisions:

How does this whole thing (situation) feel like right now?
I’m sensing for what is wanted (or missing) right now in all of this.
I'm sending what option A feels like inside (followed by other options in turn)
I’m sensing for a next step with this.

Try them out and see…
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