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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.”

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