“The brain that we think of as a necessity for intelligence is only one possible form a neural network can take and that is determined by ecological function and species shape; it is not essential to intelligence. As neurologist Antonio Damasio puts it, “the mind is embodied, not just embrained.”
― Stephen Harrod Buhner,
I realised some time ago that I have four complex neural networks with which to comprehend the world, my brain, my heart, my digestive system and my womb. Each contains a network of nerve fibres and neurotransmitters, the same biological tissue but arranged in different ways. I find belief that complex intelligence is only held in the human brain very limiting and not based on anything but the reductionist thinking in science, turning the body and nature into a series of separate pieces to be studied and understood.
Intelligence (noun) :
(1) the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations
(2) the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria
(3) the collection of information of military or political value.
(4) the act of understanding
I am certain early proto-bacteria sitting in primordial soup were dealing with “trying situations” and “manipulating their environment”. Is it just luck that single cellular organisms combined in number and complexity to create the huge variation of life forms on Earth today? What drives the organisation and regulation of life? If us, the “intelligent” observer were removed from the equation, would nature just stop developing new and more complex organisms? Nature and life would appear to be intrinsically intelligent, continuously communicated and adjusting to the outer environment, forming complex ecosystems which are all interrelated . The alternative explanation would be that random DNA mutations over millions of years led to life diversifying into what we see today…and that just seems a bit too slow and clunky for the reality of what we have!
I believe, intelligence is inherent in the fabric of life, not isolated to the mammalian brain. I see the brain for of a receiver and processor of intelligence, taking in information from our inner and outer environments and comparing it to a set of experiences and beliefs in order to determine a course of action. The brain is no more the source of intelligence than a river is the source of water. Maybe like intelligence moves through us, and it is own choice to open to that, or not as we develop a deeper relationship with life.
In a “brain-centred” human experience much of the understanding of life can be missed. The brain is good at some things, but it lacks the ability to process in non-linear ways. By that I mean a comprehension of life beyond words, actions and matter. The brain likes to solve problems, deal with day-to-day issues and process experiences. It can be used or abused in many ways and depending on your level of personal development, it can be your best friend…or your worst enemy! Many spiritual paths speak to “conquering the brain and ego” controlling this wayward neural network into higher states and releasing attachment to self. This is one way perhaps, but a far easier way I have found is to accept the limitations of the brain and focus on cultivating other the forms of intelligence open to us.
As a woman I am very lucky to have four such intelligent systems open to exploration! Each with it’s unique way at viewing life and interpreting the world. What if I could combine my brain, heart, gut and womb intelligence into one beautiful collaboration of life experience? Devoid of reasoning and the need for linear problem solving, my heart, gut and womb intelligence offered a new way to meet life. All I had to do was listen.
The Heart: contains 40,000 neurons which all communicate simultaneously, unlike the brain which only communicates over isolated neural pathways. The heart neural network develops before the brain in the foetus. Processing emotional intelligence, this network deals in feelings and responds to life through an interconnected web of feedback, influencing the brain and it’s decisions.
The Gut: contains 500 million neurones and the same neurotransmitters as the brain. Called the “second brain” research shows it is responsible for influencing our decisions and is controlled by the autonomic nervous system.
The Womb: unknown number of neurons…not something science has measured apparently!
Ok, so maybe science does not hold all the answers on intelligence? What can be measured and understood by the human brain, is therein, limited by the linear comprehension of the human brain. So how do we overcome these limitations? Here are a few ways you can start turning in to the “more than brain” intelligence:
- Accept your brain is limited in understanding life, love and all things non-linear and let it go! Open to new possibilities of understanding life.
- Welcome your emotions and see all of them as valid and beautiful. This is your heart trying to talk to you.
- Trust your intuition. Your “gut feeling” is real. The clue is in the name!
- Open to the unknown mysterious wisdom of the womb, the connection to chaos and Nature. It is cyclical like nature and ever evolving and changing…be open to receive.
When you meet life from the multiple ways it has offered you to comprehend it…it makes more beautiful sense. It stops beginning something to solve to something to embrace, and fully intelligent.
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