As many indigenous cultures, the Amazonian Cashinahua view growth in nature and growth of the human body as the corporeal accumulation of knowledge. A Body That Knows. Cecilia McCallum, 1996.
In ancient times the body and mind were seen as one.
“ The Greeks prized the art of gymnastics as an important means of cultivating the powers of the mind. So did the Romans, who gave us the expression mens sana in compore sano …”
“… a sound mind in a sound body.” Thomas Armstrong 7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Many Intelligences
For thousands of years, Eastern cultures have pursued the development of the mind through bodily activities such as tai chi, yoga, and aikido.
“ Memories of one's long ancestry still linger in muscle and nerve, in brain and germ cell…
...On moonlit nights, in the renewal of life in the springtime, before the glory of a sunset, in moments of swift insight, people feel the community of their own physical being with the body of mother earth.” Albert Eustice Haydon
Psychologist Howard Gardner, who developed the Theory of Multiple Intelligences , redefines the ancient wisdom of embodied knowledge as another way of knowing – Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence.
“ The core components of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are the ability to control one’s body movements with expertise (the intelligence of the athlete, dancer, mime, and actor) and the capacity to handle objects skillfully (the intelligence of the sculptor, furniture maker, plumber, and seamstress).” Thomas Armstrong 7 Kinds of Smart
This way of knowing may be demonstrated through the expertise of using one’s whole body in physical competence,
or using one’s body in a show of strength, coordination, and expressiveness,
or skills of dexterity, balance, agility, & tactile response.
In tests of Multiple Intelligences, my scores are lowest in the categories of Bodily/Kinesthetic and Logical/Mathematical; so, seeking to balance my physical nature with my mental, emotional, and spiritual strengths, in response to a class assignment I chose to explore bodily/kinesthetic ways of knowing.
Deciding to begin a daily hiking regime, I headed for the beach – for inspiration, for visual beauty, and for the sand’s therapeutic efficacy beneath my bare feet.
BUT MY FEET SANK IN THE DEEP WARM SAND and I drifted into the vast, endless horizon as I pondered the existential questions of life.
I drove to a nearby lighthouse and considered making a vigorous ascent up the stairs to the observation deck; but after my observations of my short breaths and my pounding heart, I “knew” I couldn’t make it to the top, so I decided to slowly amble to the water’s edge and observe the seagulls.
I was quickly filled with a sense of knowing that I shared the earth with these feathered creatures. They quickly knew I would share my crackers.
I was suddenly overcome with a sense of understanding that we share not only the earth beneath our feet, but also the wind that chilled my skin and blew through my hair – the same wind that lifted them to flight.
In his ground-breaking research in Epigenetics, Bruce Lipton has found “it is a single cell’s ‘awareness’ of the environment, not its genes, that sets into motion the mechanisms of life.” The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles
As I returned to my home in the mountains, I realized that if all it takes is “a single cell’s awareness of the environment”, my bodily/kinesthetic intelligence could easily match my musical/rhythmic knowing and my verbal/linguistic knowing. I wondered if kinesthetic knowledge necessarily required speed. My form of hiking has always been more about feeling harmony with the earth… an inquisitive, tactile perception of everything around me.
Since my childhood, I have had my hands in the dirt, staying in touch with the earth and the seasons of the soul.
My irises reward me with color in the month of June 2008.
As an herbalist, I listen to the teachings of the earth’s gifts.
In designing flower arrangements, my eyes see but my hands guide the way.
As a pianist mastering the technique & sensory knowledge of the keyboard, my hands accompany the singing of my soul.
“ The piano appealed to my fingers… provided touch heaven for me – 88 keys all sitting and waiting for my needy little fingers.” An interview with Nick Van Bloss, a young musician with Tourette’s Syndrome. From Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia: Tales of Music & the Brain.
Experiencing the kinesthetic sense of manipulating the keys, feeling the auditory vibrations in the body, and the discovery of physical sensations a pianist feels inside the body when playing is the basic knowledge that becomes deeply-rooted in the body.
According to Swiss child researcher Jean Piaget, “ during the first two years of life, virtually all thinking takes place through the body. The philosopher William James wrote about using “mental fingers” to touch the edges of the letters of the alphabet. Thomas Armstrong,1993.
As a physically active child who was riding horses and playing the piano at the age of five, dancing with my accordion at age 8, unable to sit still in the classroom, and continually in trouble because of my misbehavior at school…
I quickly learned that sitting at a desk and expressing one’s mental faculties, as well as sitting at the piano expressing one’s deep inner knowing, earned praise from parents and teachers. The enjoyment and thrill of being one-with-nature would be known at a slower pace—a “lady-like pace.”
<ul><li>During a recent expedition into the woods – which means I drove </li></ul><ul><li>to the highest peak in the mountains above my house – I found a </li></ul><ul><li>renewed sense of confidence in my integrated ways of knowing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An embodied awareness of the universe in which I walk </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An intuitive sense of Being that fills and unites all of nature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An innate understanding of a life that is being continuously </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>fabricated out of my environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A creative process where energy, matter, and thought </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>interpenetrate and interact in the earth & the individual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A comfortable coexistence of body, mind, spirit, and emotions </li></ul></ul>