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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reflecting on Gut feelings as the Key to Recovering Childhood Memories that Enhance Healthy Adult Decision-Making

 Many people say that they cannot remember their childhood experiences prior to age 7 and memory studies by psychologists in the field of childhood development and memory will tell you that this is normal. Dr. Patricia Bauer, Professor of Psychology and Senior Associate Dean of Research at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, has been researching the development of memory in children since the 80s. She has found that children begin to have a significant increase in the rate of forgetting memories of their past life events after the age of 7, or the onset of what was termed by Sigmund Freud as Childhood Amnesia.

For a long time, it was thought that the reason many adults could not remember events from their early childhood was because young children just did not have memory ability. But that has since been explored in research and Bauer concludes children do have memory ability but that memories from earlier than age 7 have an accelerated rate for being forgotten once the child is past age 7 than the memories formed after that age. Why the onset of this forgetting process is at age 7 is still in question and has lead to further important memory studies of children.

What is important here to us is that the memory research now being conducted on children concludes that recovering childhood memories is important to the development of personal identity and adult decision-making. This is a welcome validation of our work developing and using the Somatic Reflection Process on gut feelings to recover memory, with the affect of uniting body and mind in consciousness. The importance of recovering childhood memories is an understanding that we as career counselors have used in our clinical studies with people since the 70s, as we found that the seeds of who we are and who we become begin in early childhood. If we can become conscious of those beginnings, then we have valuable self-awareness information upon which to base healthy and successful life decisions as adults.

We found in counseling hundreds of adults something very shocking to many people who had no prior or very little childhood memories. When we asked people to center their awareness on their gut feelings to guide them and slowly to go back in time and remember when they felt this feeling in their gut before, they would be able nearly 100% of the time to access early childhood memories previously un-recalled. And those people who had previously been able to recall childhood memories were able to continue to recall additional memories using this gut feeling reflection process.

We found that the key to recovering childhood memories was to have people focus on their inner gut feelings and impact of experience rather than the details of their lives. We would  ask them to come in their awareness to a place in their past when they had the same feeling they were centering on in the present (usually starting with a reoccurring feeling connected to an unresolved issue in the present time of their life) and then they would allow the details of the experience in the past to come to their mind. Each time a feeling memory would come up in their consciousness, they were asked to focus on the feeling and continue to go back further in time. It was as if their present feeling awareness was attached to a thread that went all the way back in time to the impact of early childhood. One just had to follow the feeling and see where it landed. My colleague, Robert Sterling, often says that it seems that our feelings are like sausages in a sting, similar impacts of events that are connected.

Often, the early childhood memory in this feeling memory string was completely surprising to the person as the details of the event in childhood would be completely unrelated to the details of the present life issue of the person. But if they focused on the feelings, it was clear that the issue was the same in childhood as it was in the present and the person was often still trying to work out this issue in the present that began so very long ago.

Using the head brain to think back to earlier childhood did not seem to access new memories but feeling back in time, particularly centering on gut feelings of emptiness and fullness, would take people back to feelings in relation to events in their lives that they had not previously remembered. This was usually true in each successive session using the Somatic Reflection Process. The common response after these somatic reflections was amazement at remembering things they had not previously remembered and how useful it was in giving them new insights and perspectives into the present adult issue and decision they may be facing.

How this occurs, that is, how or why neurologically the gut feeling is the key to recovering memory, we never knew when we first developed and used the process in the 70s. We just knew that it worked and that it helped people to resolve issues they had been carrying all their lives and that the acquired knowledge of self through this somatic process on gut feelings encouraged positive adult decision-making.

Although the details of our early lives do come to our consciousness as a result of somatic reflection, the value in doing the inner work of reflecting on our gut feelings to recall our early childhood is not so we can remember these details —where we went on vacations as children or what we did there, the names of our childhood friends, the color of the walls of our childhood bedrooms, or our favorite tree house. But what is important is that our somatoc reflections assist us in remembering the impact of life upon us, how it felt, what excited us in life and had value to us, how it felt to be loved or alone or confined or free, what decisions we made about our world and certainly most important was what we decided as children about ourselves and who we decided that we were or were not. When we remember through our feeling awareness these things, then we have valuable information that is the blueprint for making successful life decisions as adults.

Since we primarily worked with adults, we have not engaged the use of the Somatic Reflection Process with children below the age of 10 years old, so we do not know what the youngest age is that it would be useful to use to explore memory. We suspect that reflecting on gut feelings with young children would be the key to educating the body-mind, our multiple brains, whole person, and to developing intuitional intelligence. We do know that if used with adults to recover childhood memories, the Somatic Reflection Process on gut feelings is both a key to and validates the recent findings that children do have the ability to form memories and that these memories are formed around the impact of their experience rather than around the details in their lives, a bottom-up rather than top-down formation.  We also know that these memories are recoverable and the consciousness of them is valuable, perhaps even essential to good emotional and physical health and longevity.

If you would like to learn more about our work with the Somatic Reflection Process, we invite you to read our book What’s Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective of the Intelligence of Human Nature and Gut Instinct and please do come join the conversation on this blog and/or email us. The following is a short excerpt from our book that we think you will enjoy reading that relates to the key to recovering memories in childhood: The Impact of Experience, from Chapter 3:

“Today is felt to be the most complicated day in our lives and rarely in trying to deal with the issues of today, are we aware of the impact of the past on those issues. As we try to sort through the details of what is going on around us, we are often unable to see a clear positive path into the future. It seems no matter what we do to take action on the issues the same empty feeling persists or reoccurs and the actions seem only to further complicate the issue, leaving the emptiness to be dealt with later on.”

“It seems to be quite natural for us to try to figure out what is bothering us—to understand what is going on. Usually, as long as we keep the reflection to ourselves, we continually see the details and fail to find the meaning of the issue. Even though we reach out to a friend and ask for attention around the details of the issue, we may gain little or no insight into what is bothering us. Often the attention we get is sympathy for having to deal with the details of the issue. We become quite confused about ourselves and we get hostile at the one to whom we have asked for help and have gotten sympathy. Such an experience with another person focusing on details, serves only to leave us feeling more empty and alone.”

“As we comb through the piles of details of the past, we know in our feelings that the details weren’t the meaning of the experience. Somehow through the external judgments we used in the assessment of the experience, we become too confused to understand this clearly. As a child, we often move into action with our instinctive feelings, often with no logical motive. Others who observe our actions are privy only to the details and often make judgments about us from what they can perceive, without an understanding of our feelings.”

“If we enter experience from our instinctive feelings, we must assess the meaning of the experience from the original feeling needs involved. We must exclude other external logical judgments if we wish to understand clearly what our behavior means. Only by such a reflective process—reflection with the inner gut feelings—is the confusion eliminated.”

“When we can push the details of the experience out of our awareness, we can turn into the awareness of ourselves and reflect on our inner feelings. It is when we can do this that we are able to see the relationship of the confusion of the present to the issues and the feelings of the past. It is only through the process of reflection on our feelings, triggered in the confusion of the present, that we can begin to understand the sources of the feelings that are causing the confusion. By dealing with these past feelings, we may begin to arrive at some understanding with what we are dealing in the present moment.”

“These feelings accumulated from our past, rather than the details of our lives, seem to be the accurate record of the impact of our life experience. Until we perceive these early childhood feelings as acceptable, the patterns that develop with time constantly interfere with our understanding of ourselves in the past. Not until these feelings are validated by another person as acceptable human feelings can we let go of the past and put our full energies into present experience.”

“Fear, guilt, hostility—with an underlying emptiness feeling—triggered in by our present experiences are signals telling us that there is a need to reflect upon the past issues up through time in order to free ourselves from the past unresolved feelings about ourselves. The surface logical feelings of guilt and fear signal to us a conflict between what we think and what we feel about ourselves. A conflict or lack of communication is going on between our gut feelings and logical thinking brain. On the basis of our feeling awareness, the reflection up through time shows us the necessity for the actions we have taken.”

“The instinctive feeling of emptiness is signaling our logical mind that there is unfinished work to be done. There is an inner and outer conflict to be resolved and a reckoning of our two brains, the beginning of which lies festering in our past experiences. Once we find the source of the original disturbance, in the often distant past, reflecting back through time identifying the occasions when the feelings of emptiness matched the feeling of the now—the same feeling and likely reoccurring at several different ages; we need to clarify the purpose we were trying to achieve by the action and what need we were trying to fill. Then we need to work our way back in time in reflection touching the same occasions of emptiness we found before, and clarifying each instance all the way up to the present. It is then that we have become aware of much about ourselves and our environments, which we have been unaware before, and now we can realize the necessity of dealing with experience from our inner center of intelligence as well as the outer sensory judgment of others.”

"What's Behind Your Belly Button?" by Martha Char Love and Robert W. Sterling available though Amazon on both the Amazon USA and Amazon UK.

"What's Behind Your Belly Button?" is available though Amazon on Amazon USA and Amazon UK

as well as Amazon,de and and Amazon.CA and other international Amazon sites

and it is on The Book Depository with free international shipping.

If you are on the homepage of this blog, click word "comment" directly below to see all comments and make one yourself! If you are on the webpage for this post, then simply post in the box provided below.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Is Love, Happiness, and Compassion Truly More Related to Your Heart or to Your Gut?

Valentine’s Day is often thought of as a “Heart Day”. But is it really only the human heart that is the intelligence behind our feelings of love, happiness and compassion? —or is it the gut? Or perhaps both? With all the latest research showing how our wellness and even our choices leading to a successful marriage is so related to our consciousness and care of the enteric nervous system—our gut brain—shouldn’t we have a “Gut Day” too? Doesn’t sound so romantic, does it? But perhaps that is just because we are use to the color red that is associated with the heart and that the blood circulating through the heart symbolizes love rather than perhaps the colors (gut colors may be earth tones like yellows and browns) and images of the gut. However, as we discussed in our last blog post, recent psychological research shows that it is important to consult your gut before making a marriage plan decision, and that your gut feeling is perhaps far more important than what you think in terms of predicting the success of a love and marriage. Your gut is somewhat of an expert on love relations. (See our last post  and also be sure and scroll down on that same page for a list of links to all our other posts on exploring gut feelings.)

Throughout history, it seems that the heart has been given all the credit for human love and compassion, with the gut unrelated to this feeling. But if you look at it a little closer within yourself with some somatic reflection on your own gut feelings, you will come to see that your gut holds your feeling memory, and is the origin of your love for self and also for others. It is in the gut that you must start to be conscious of your self and accept (love) your self before you can accept (love) anyone else. And it is in the gut center that people often have told us that they first felt a feeling of connection to others.

The gut response cannot be influenced to change just because your head says so (or because some one external to you says so). The gut response holds the meaning of the impact of all experience upon you and this memory is always there in your gut awaiting you to become conscious of it, access it, and explore it through somatic reflection (feeling into the gut not just thinking back in time). From the gut feeling of emptiness or fullness (not the same as the feeling of hunger but often mistaken for it), we can tell if our two most basic needs as human beings are being met or not— the need for acceptance and the need for freedom (being in control of our own responses to life). Our gut feels full of positive energy if we feel accepted for who we are naturally, in control of our own responses to life and cared for by others. We all need to feel loved for who we truly are. If we do not have these two needs met, we know it in our guts, even if our heads are saying otherwise. It is through the reflection on this gut feeling of empty-full, that we can trace back the impact of our life throughout time and reassess our thinking to unite our body and mind for wellness. Once we have achieved this unity through gut awareness, we feel a deep acceptance (love) for our own being as a part of and connected to the greater humanity. And at this point of gut awareness, and only then, can our hearts open up to feel compassion and love for others.

We hope you enjoy the following passage on this subject from pages 137-139 of our book “What’s Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective of the Intelligence of Human Nature and Gut Instinct” and will read our book to further explore how to use the Somatic Reflection Process Protocol that we developed to access your gut feelings to unite body-mind and to feel a deep acceptance of your self and of others that leads to happiness and compassion. We also wish you a happy Valentine’s Day and may your gut and heart be full of caring and compassion for self and all of life:

“The process of reflection upon the somatic area of the hara and the solar plexus that we developed was designed to put people in touch with their instinctual responses. We found that the more experience people had reflecting on feelings, the more they became aware of a feeling of emptiness or fullness in this area of the body. These feelings of emptiness and fullness were experienced as a gauge of how well their instinctual needs were being met at any moment in their life. As we listened to the reports of our clients, we found that there were two universal instinctual needs that related to the feelings of emptiness and fullness—the need to be close to people with a feeling of acceptance; and the need to be free to express one’s internal responses. The feeling of emptiness indicated that one or both of these needs were not being met, while the feeling of fullness indicated that the person was moving toward a balance of these needs being obtained. People expressed that the fulfillment of the need for both acceptance and freedom was an on-going process throughout their lives, from day to day, and from moment to moment.
While the need for acceptance and feeling connected to other human beings is more clearly understood, the need for freedom requires some clarification. The feeling of freedom was often expressed as feeling in control of one’s own responses to life, rather than controlling one’s responses to life and feeling out of control. Feeling in control was expressed as an internal, authentic, spontaneous, and natural experience of one’s responses. Feeling out of control was expressed as complying with one’s perceived external demands of the environment, both social and physical. This compliance was linked with a persistent control of one’s responses. Paradoxically, this persistent control of one’s responses was linked with feeling out of control. Consistently, people expressed that they experienced great effort in complying with what they imagined were the demands of others. In contrast to the experience of controlling oneself and feeling out of control, there was an effortlessness expressed in the experience of feeling in control and following one’s natural responses.
In reflecting with people, we found that when the logical function of the ego became directly aware of the instinctive somatic feelings, the person felt a shift toward feeling full in the gut region of the body. Head, heart, and body became centered. This is similar to Dr. John Conger’s idea of the beginning of individuation and the emerging from unconsciousness to consciousness through awareness of the solar plexus center to the heart center. He points out in The Body as Shadow that we remain stuck in our emotions if we remain blocked in our solar plexus center. The Somatic Reflection Process, a reflection on the feelings of emptiness and fullness in the gut area, was developed to accomplish the healing experience of unlocking the energy felt in this center. We postulated that for people to mend the body and mind split of consciousness, they must become aware of the feeling level of the gut area where the awareness of pure instinctual feeling without thinking is felt. It is then possible for the body and mind to make a link that mends the original split.
Reflecting on the instinctive somatic feelings of emptiness and fullness—on the impact of life and its meaning to the person—gave people access to the record of their inner awareness. People were often amazed to find that a reflection on the awareness of somatic feelings, rather than thinking back through the details of life events, gave them access to recover memories of both sensory information and the awareness of their inner instinctual needs. We found that when the logical function of the ego became directly aware of the instinctive somatic feelings of emptiness and fullness in the hara to the solar plexus, the person often experienced a reevaluation of the importance of their inner needs and a feeling shift occurred within them from an empty to a full feeling. The awareness of their instinctual needs often helped people to see the reasons for their behavior as children trying to fulfill these needs and to overcome the emptiness of not having them met. They often found in somatic reflection that the assessments they made as children about their behaviors were ones that they were told by authorities in their lives and were made with a child’s limited information about the social and physical world. In the wisdom and light of adulthood, the new assessments of the reasons for their behavior were usually quite different from the ones they learned about themselves at the time of the early experience.
Dr. John Conger further suggests that an individual’s center of consciousness can only be changed and refocused through body awareness, and that individuation is only possible through the awareness of the body. He posits that it is the unblocking of energy and the rising of awareness out of the manipura, or the solar plexus, into the anahata, or heart center, that begins the individuation process. He proposes that emerging from the manipura to the anahata is a psychic movement of energy from unconsciousness to consciousness of the self where thoughts and feelings are joined. It is not until we move the energy from the manipuri to the anahata that we can say our individuation process has really begun.
The third chakra of the body is located in the solar plexus starting just below the navel. It is considered the place where the essence of life and energy circulates in the body. According to Dr. Conger, as long as our energy is blocked in the solar plexus, we are forever stuck in our emotions, with our feelings and thinking split off from each other. He further posits that with this split of body and mind, we can never find the vitality of our own center, nor can we fully experience the love and compassion for others of the heart center. This explains the importance of centering on the feelings in our solar plexus to unblock its energy flow.
With a profound new awareness of the essence of their inner being and human nature that was experienced in the Somatic Reflection Process, people expressed a feeling of compassion for themselves and others. This was followed by a release of tension in the body and a return of vital energy. With a greater feeling of self-acceptance, people indicated that they felt free again to be themselves and to make decisions about their lives. It was at this point that we found people began to experience a lack of confusion and a union of their thinking and feeling functions, consistently reported that they felt calm and centered with body and mind as one, and experienced a greater feeling of caring for themselves and others. People then expressed a feeling of a flow of creative energy and intuitive thought concerning what they wanted to do with their lives, and they were able to make career decisions and other personal choices that lead them toward healthy growth and development.”

"What's Behind Your Belly Button?" by Martha Char Love and Robert W. Sterling available though Amazon on both the Amazon USA and Amazon UK.

"What's Behind Your Belly Button?" is available though Amazon on Amazon USA and Amazon UK

as well as Amazon,de and and Amazon.CA and other international Amazon sites

and it is on The Book Depository with free international shipping.

If you are on the homepage of this blog, click word "comment" directly below to see all comments and make one yourself! If you are on the webpage for this post, then simply post in the box provided below.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How to Explore Gut Feelings to Help In Making a Marriage Decision and Develop Self-Awareness for a Successful Love Relationship

      Many people have become interested in understanding gut feelings in relation to predicting success in marriage with the results printed in the journal "Science" now circling the internet about the recent research at Florida State University on what they are calling "gut feelings" of newlyweds and marriage success. While the study was small, sample was only 135 heterosexual couples, it was significant in that it found that newlyweds know on a subconscious level (implicit memory) whether their marriage will be happy. Head researcher, Dr. James K McNulty, comments on why people think initially that their marriage will be a happy one:
    "And in the beginning, many people are able to convince themselves of that at a conscious level. But these automatic, gut-level responses are less influenced by what people want to think. You can't make yourself have a positive response through a lot of wishful thinking." And he goes on to say, "I think the findings suggest that people may want to attend a little bit to their gut," he added. "If they can sense that their gut is telling them that there is a problem, then they might benefit from exploring that, maybe even with a professional marriage counselor."
     McNulty's study demonstrates something we have found in counseling people who are in the throws of making life decisions in both personal relationships and career, which is that our gut feeling does not change just because we want it to or our head says it should. We are however, talking about true gut somatic feelings, not just implicit associations. But there is certainly a correlation between the two. The findings in McNulty's study make sense particularly if you understand that your gut feelings of emptiness and fullness register how well your two instinctive needs of feeling accepted and also in control of your own responses (freedom) are being met from moment to moment. As guidance counselors over a 40 year period, we reflected on gut feelings with hundreds of people and found them to express that if these two needs, acceptance and control, are in balance in relation to the impact on us of time spent with someone, people feel full in their gut feelings, cared for and loved for who they truly are. 

     We all know the emptiness and aloneness we feel in our guts when we do not feel free to be ourselves with someone and/or when there is a lack of attention (acceptance) in relation to the other person. We can rationalize in our heads that our needs are met by a relationship, but our gut feelings are a true indication of how well our inner needs are being met and how close we truly feel to the other person. Our gut is its own intelligence and is connected to the needs of our inner world or organism rather than to pleasing social demands or making money or any other goal that relates to our outer world and simply our thinking process without the input of our feeling memory. That is why we often say that "If our eyes can not cry then our gut will". So, if your gut says that a relationship is not quite right for you, it is important to listen to your feelings and take the time to understand what it is indicating about you. This certainly does not necessarily mean that if you have an empty feeling about a relationship that the relationship does not have the potential to work out, but it does indicate a need for self-reflection on gut feelings and communication with the other person—if it is to be a successful relationship. 
    We have found that the healthiest decisions people make when it comes to love relationships, are made from a place of self-awareness and the ability to communicate one's own needs. Our gut feelings are connected to a wealth of informations about our feeling memories and inner needs. If we have had difficult relationships earlier in our lives (either difficult romantic or family-personal relationships), then there is all the more reason to reflect upon our gut feelings to clear unresolved past issues and to avoid carrying them into a new relationship. You may be surprised how much your gut is holding, waiting for you to attend to your needs and use this inner knowledge to make healthy decisions.
     To learn more about listening to your gut feelings we invite you to read through the many posts on this blog on exploring gut feelings and 
instincts and also be sure and read our book "What's Behind Your Belly Button?" in which we give the full technique (with examples) for somatic reflection on gut feelings to increase your self-awareness and well-being. A little time reflecting on your gut feelings and inner self now can save you much suffering in the future. So be sure and read this before you walk down that aisle! If you are already in a relationship and have an uneasy gut feeling about your relationship, then accessing your gut feeling intelligence may help you resolve issues from your past that are being triggered in and blocking your perception from being strictly related to the person with whom you are presently in a relationship. Exploring gut intelligence may well strengthen your present relationship through better communication and will undoubtedly lead you to more healthy personal decision-making that allows you to take your inner needs into account with a united body-mind, gut-head intelligence.
     Since we have been posting this blog site now since 2009, there may be some important posts that you have missed that relate to relationship and accessing your gut feelings. Many of these posts have sample writing from our book "What's Behind Your Belly Button?". There are many more posts on this blog than the ones listed below, so if you are interested in reading every one of them, please feel free to use the left side bar archive or just keep clicking “older post” at the bottom of each page on the right side.

Blog Posts on Exploring Gut Feelings and Instincts and Relationships:
1. Exploring Gut Instincts and the Need To Be "Social" as Applied to the Education of Our Children OCTOBER 23, 2013

2.   Reflecting on Gut Feeling to Deal with Sadness and Loss in Love Relationship
FEBRUARY 14, 2013

3.  Exploring Gut Feeling and Unresolved Issues with People
JANUARY 14, 2013

4. How Do We Know When Our Gut Feelings Are Reliable? Can you Trust a Gut Feeling?
DECEMBER 13, 2012

5.  Are Gut Feelings Really in the Gut? Understanding Your Gut Feelings and What They Are Telling You
AUGUST 16, 2012
More of our posts you might enjoy reading:
6. Gut Feeling and Retrieving Memories of Bonding for Those Recovering from Childhood Abused
SEPTEMBER 20, 2013

7. Following Gut Instincts to the Awareness of Our True Human Nature
APRIL 16, 2013

8.  What are the Instinctual Needs That are Often Confused for the Need of Food in Gut Feelings of Emptiness and Fullness?
MARCH 27, 2013

9.  Was Religion Invented By the Thinking Mind to Try to Make Sense of Gut Feeling and Gut Instinct? An Exploration of the Theory of "God Is In the Gut"!
FEBRUARY 9, 2013

10. Reflecting on and Sharing Gut feelings of Emptiness and Aloneness to Deal with Fear During a Hurricane (or other Life Threatening Event)
OCTOBER 29, 2012

11. Explore Why Doctors Can Save Lives by Listening to their Gut Feelings During a Diagnosis: On Gut Feelings in General Practice
OCTOBER 5, 2012

12.  Why Is Reflecting Upon Our Gut Feelings So Important to Our Immune System and Well Being— Distinguishing the "You" and "Not Truly You" for Excellent Mental and Physical Health!

13.  Increase your Intuition By Learning the Difference Between Emotional Feelings and Gut Feelings
JULY 16, 2012

14.  What Are Gut Feelings and Instincts; How To Become Aware of Them To Overcome Stress
JUNE 27, 2012

15.  A Specific Guide to Use to Listen to Your Gut Instincts—The Somatic Reflection Process
FEBRUARY 15, 2012

16. Acknowledging the Enteric Nervous System in the Gut To Provide a New Image and New Myth of Humanity
OCTOBER 15, 2009 (our first post)

"What's Behind Your Belly Button?" by Martha Char Love and Robert W. Sterling available though Amazon on both the Amazon USA and Amazon UK.

"What's Behind Your Belly Button?" is available though Amazon on Amazon USA and Amazon UK

as well as Amazon,de and and Amazon.CA and other international Amazon sites

and it is on The Book Depository with free international shipping.

If you are on the homepage of this blog, click word "comment" directly below to see all comments and make one yourself! If you are on the webpage for this post, then simply post in the box provided below.