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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Freeing Human Nature: An Essay on the Process of Human Learning and the Two Brain System—Head and Gut


Dear Blog Readers:

The following essay is a unique discussion by Robert W. Sterling on our work as counselors and educators exploring gut feelings and on a philosophy of science based upon our research findings. It will certainly raise both questions and answers in the field of education and learning concerning the importance of educating both our head and gut brains, as well as what that means for our future culture and development as a specie as we free Human Nature and Natural Law. 

In addition, while neither Robert nor I are involved in politics, we do feel that the recent discovery of the intelligence of the second brain (see Dr. Michael Gershon's work), our feeling brain, is important to take into account when examining our governmental structure to have the most positive cultural influence upon the education and development of both the individual and our specie toward wellness.
If you like this discussion, then you will surely like our newly published book Increasing Intuitional Intelligence.
Click on book cover below to go to Amazon to Buy:

"Increasing Intuitional Intelligence" is available on Amazon USA and Amazon UK
as well as Amazon,de and  other international Amazon sites

Freeing Human Nature: An Essay on the Process of Human Learning and the Two Brain System—Head and Gut

By Robert W. Sterling



Human Nature requires a learning process that is Free to utilize all of the Brains, with which it is born. The Intelligence within the Ancient Animal Brain has developed its knowledge over millions of years of experience to Plan, Build and Improve the quality of life it represents. This brain manages its functional duties with the enteric nervous system in the Gut, and ‘speaks’ with its Feeling Instincts. And there is the other center of Intelligence, which grows after birth as the Sensory Brain, which develops the sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell over time, focused on the world outside the gut. It expresses itself with the voice of its Environments in the outside world.

For many centuries educators have focused on the Sensory Brain as the main center of functional intelligence, and supported that it was the center to be educated. Some of us are beginning to realize that by focusing on the senses, trying to educate the Thinking Brain about the outside world, we have omitted many positive qualities of knowledge each of us need or will need, in Life. It was not just stuck there to aggravate us as a trouble-maker, or as some may suggest as the “Devil”.

This recent shift of interest was initiated by Community College Behavioral Science Classes and exploration Groups. Medical Research discovered and later validated the presence of two of the independent Centers Of Intelligence, both essential to Learning. These centers of Learning represent Two Separate Independent Brains, which have radically changed the Human functional Image from a single Brain system to an externally focused Sensory and an internally focused Animal Brain.

The presence of the two brains is not a discovery that such brains existed, for their existence has been known associated with the intelligence necessary for the design and production of the Human instincts at Birth. The neurological discovery of the two independent Brains provides science with a better understanding of the internal and external functions of the Life Process, how the systems work, and what they can do for the Learning Process of the Human Animal.


In 1975 my colleague, Martha Char Love and I had discovered a Feeling in the Gut that seemed to isolate a Feeling aspect separate from the Sensory Brain and that was pure Feelings. We were operating a Career Guidance Center and coaching/facilitating behavioral Science classes at the time. We were using a technique we developed of reflecting upon the feelings a person was having in the present, back through time, helping students find any disturbing experience of the past that would interfere with present self-awareness and future employment stability. Having found that many students experienced past traumas, we would have the students bring in their Thinking and Feeling—two points of view—of what he or she found that might remove the stress from their life. When they had finished their inner discussion, we would have them move back to the present, carefully watching for the feeling of the original disturbance, and how it had woven its unnecessary influence all the way to the present. This technique is now known as, the Somatic Reflection Process (SRP).

It was our goal here, to take what seemed to be a most complex human system—the enteric nervous system—and transpose what we understood from a medical perspective to a psychological perspective. This move seemed to validate our own experience in 1975. In 1998 Dr. Michael D. Gershon published the results of his medical research discoveries in his book, The Second Brain: A ground breaking new understanding of nervous disorders of the stomach and intestine. The minds of Medical practitioners have wrestled with the understanding of what goes on between the throat and the anus, because the truth had to wait for the internal tools, minds, and the materials of discovery. Now that there is growing awareness of functional intelligence deposited in the Human gut, in the tummy, useful to the management of Human well being, we can utilize at least some of our energy toward learning how to manage that intelligence in making more healthy choices in individual Lives, and to manage their own behavior without any external pressures.

Individuality seems to be a key word when describing human nature. A quick review of the Human story reveals that we begin at conception, each of us with a unique set of genes. Within that set are portions, sub-sets, which define different aspects of the organism. A portion of the genes is set aside to prepare the electrochemical materials to form a zygote, and a portion of the genes prepares the ‘ground work’ for a recognizable Human Being at birth time. After birth is the time when we can see how important the Instincts are to the learning process, both to the Mother and to the newborn. Mother ‘sets the table’ instinctively, and the newborn ‘pulls up a chair’ and without, any external instruction’ begins to exercise its Instinctive Intelligence—hunger to stay alive. This intelligence is passed along to each of us, with slight modifications, from our inherited gene pool. The Individual—what we learn and how we learn about our selves—and the outside world is also the result of the environmental impact in which we were born and raised. It should be quite obvious that the Instincts of the Animal Brain are essential to the beginning of Human Life, and I will try to convince the reader that Experience with the gut intelligence of the animal Brain is essential to the Learning Process and to the satisfactions of the Animal Specie as long as that organism is Alive.

The evidence of essential need for the Instincts in the Animal Brain and its enteric nervous system (ENS) is its functionality associated with the Life Processes in the entire body. After all, the ENS is the result of the DNA Plan and the construction of that Plan, which was conceived by the genetic inheritance it was offered. Once completed and tested, this new Life Center seems to become responsible for the development of the central nervous system (CNS), which must ultimately learn to assume responsibility for Mobility and Protection of the ENS in its many external environments. ENS receives its intelligence from its parent’s genes; CNS receives its intelligence from its own experience in the outside world. 

These processes of the ENS are to manage the digestion system, manage the generation of energy, manage the heart pump and circulation of nutrients in the blood, and manage the growth activities of the central nervous system (CNS). The awareness of the management of all Life process indicates that the ENS has the responsibility to apply limitations to the activities of the CNS. This set of limitations makes sense when the background of the animal with its genetic history is allowed to learn to adapt to new environmental challenges, as long as its new interests take into account life support of the ENS. When changes represent interest of the CNS beyond the limits of present need, then the challenge seems to represent its Self by reducing energy to the activity of the CNS. With prolonged loss of energy, the organism will likely express itself with some form of discomfort. This functionality of the ENS, it seems to me, is demonstrating the use of a learning process of “trial and learn” using one’s own energy, and a clue for use of the same learning process when acquiring any form of intelligence.


It may surprise some people that there is a combination of two systems with natural intelligence in the Human body—ENS with its Animal Brain sitting at the top of the Spinal Column, and the CNS with its Sensory Brain, empty at birth but growing over time into the same skull cavity. This combination of two separate Brains with the functionality of a single center of intelligence stores and fills the cavity with its neurological experience from inside and the outside world. Remember, that the ENS has had millions of years experience to learn and store its experience, to meet new challenges, and bring it up to date. So, the ENS with its experience becomes the Coach, knowing what it needs to achieve, and how it wants to accomplish its objective. Only the details of the learning process are left to the Organism to make, and they are monitored to evaluate the amount of energy to give the details support. So we have arrived at a point where we have an idea of what we have, but we still do not know how it works.

Our ideas of progress come from Nature, even though we like to think we are inventers. One of those ideas is the use of systems, and we know that there are various types of systems, one of which is a Closed System (CS). A CS is one in which the system is self sustaining—once started, it perpetuates itself until there is no more life to support. In Human Nature we have a closed system. The sun is our source of energy, plant life converts the sun’s energy to food, the food is digested by the gut and converted to chemical energy with the liquid nutrients pumped throughout the body, and the waste products are eliminated from plants and animals as fertilizer, and the cycle automatically begins again with the sun’s energy.

There is much more to understand, how the two systems ENS and CNS communicate with each other, and operate in sync, as a single center of Intelligence. However, communications seem to operate at millisecond speed in order to coordinate information from one system to another system. Suffice it to say that normally there is a communication system in each of us that makes constant inter-system communication possible at millisecond speed. At this high speed of coordinate communications, the movements of external and internal muscles appear to move as a single unit when either one is stimulated. It has been difficult for researches to accept Dr. Gershon’s discovery; of the Two Brain system until the latter part of the 19th Century.

There is one exception that may be of interest to some. The CNS tires from all the physical activity. The sensory information it receives to sort out and store for memory goes to sleep each day and rests. On the other hand, after the CNS goes to sleep, the ENS continues to send messages of feeling to the sleeping CNS, and it is then that we have our metaphoric Dream, which we are often unable to understand. There are many theories about these phenomena, and I will share mine.

Dreams are rarely focused on the outside world. If family or close friends are used as characters in a dream; if positive, the message seems to indicate a feeling of fullness in you’re life, If negative, it seems to indicate feelings of emptiness in your life, stress, worry—unfinished ‘business’.


There is very little chance, maybe none that a strong Intuitive Intelligence can be built without past experience with the Animal Brain, its ENS combined with the Sensory Brain and its CNS. This combination of Logic and Natures Evaluation (Feeling) provides the status of Intelligence for the best Judgment an Individual will be able to make. The goal of “Trial and Learn” must be initiated as soon as possible after birth in order to give a child the best Intuition to solve the Personal, and help solve the Cultural Problems he/she will face. 

It should be clear that there is the mixing of Human Nature with different individual Cultures throughout the world, including our own. Most cultures would have to start from scratch to achieve an environment conducive to body-mind unity and support of Human Nature. Scratch would mean examining all possible pressures against Human Nature’s individual needs for Freedom and Acceptance, and get rid of all the pressures from every source, which work against these two Principles. Ideally the list of these pressures involves the underpinnings of most societies where disparate laws of Human mind and body are related to some mystic religious faith, wherein Civil Laws rest on Religious Law, whether or not there is any verbal reference to its presence. This situation is the major problem, which if solved, would help solve problems related to Learning and Education, Tax Exemption, Medical Expense, Incarceration, Governance, etc. It seems to me that to achieve the Freedom of the powerful Instincts that achieves the Quality of Life expressed in the Constitution of the United States of America, is not only saving Human Lives, but such a move brings us back, closer to what was intended, simply, for the most part, by reinterpretation of the sections of the Constitution that have been distorted over time and circumstance.

The details of the task to free Human Nature make it seem impossible at a glance: To Reject Religious Law, Rewrite Civil law, and accept Natural Law, in order to free the Instinctual content of Natural Law. Such an enormous change would be unthinkable just to accept the fact that there had never been an arching external power or presence that loved and cared for Human life on this earth. If there was such a power elsewhere, there was never any evidence to show its presence—thus it has always been attached to ‘faith’. On the other hand, when Science had developed the tools to look and physically examine the inside of the Human anatomy, it found two separate Brains with two neurological systems providing energy of life to a Body, Mind, and a Spirit of Life. It suddenly became clear that there was no place for Religion in the Science of Human Beings, who are equipped by Nature at birth, to take care of themselves and each other, as long as the human, functional, system operates within nature’s functional boundaries, and operates for a purpose of Life within the Human boundaries—Needs of Human Nature, without which, the Specie could ultimately destroy itself.


I have been impressed by the way a good Coach handles a football team. When a student wants to play on the team but has no previous experience in the game, the Coach will watch him in practice show his stuff: how he uses his body, how he thinks, and how he manages his energy.  When the Coach is satisfied with the student’s determination and potential to play football, he will discuss a position appropriate to satisfy the student’s expectations, and help him grow over time in that position. If the student learns over time that he is loosing interest in his choice of activity, and quits the game, he has learned an important lesson, that playing football was not what he thought it was, and was not satisfying his needs.

The essential point I’m trying to make here is that growing and learning rarely follow in a strait line, and are never mistakes. We learn much more from Trial and Learn than from guessing, and expecting always to be correct with our choices. The satisfying aspect of being ‘wrong’ is this incident will be stored in your memory, and can surface often with a chuckle--again an again--to steer your mind away from repeating it in the future. The idea is that when you choose experience you are committing your own Time, Energy, and Interest, not what someone else had instructed you to do. If what you have learned from your experience was what you wanted to know or do, you have taken a step toward building confidence in your self with more energy to try again. If you didn’t learn what you wanted to know or do, you have learned to be more cautious with your curiosity— more careful with your Intuition.


We have an idea of how the system works, however we need to expand upon it, and add some tools that we have not mentioned. So, what do we have to work with?

We have two areas of intelligence: The sensory brain for storage of its experiential history of its outside world, and its central nervous system (CNS) attached to electrochemical sensors throughout the external body, and placed in areas where it functionally cooperates with the animal brain. The animal brain manages all electrochemical functions within the gut, and its enteric nervous system (ENS), which is designed to digest the food, to furnish and circulate energy throughout the entire organism, and has the function of recording and storing the functional history of the quality of life of the entire organism as a reference—the impact on it of its current and past experience.
       CNS expresses its views of the details of experience in its environmental language of thinking—environmental standards.
       ENS expresses its views of the same details but with the feelings of the environmental impact on the quality of life that it is experiencing. 

This duality of intelligence furnishes us two valuable centers of reference, which can help us to individually and collectively control our own inner needs without any mystical power from the outside world. The inner needs of quality of life for the Human Animal is not switched on/off but much like the gas gage in your automobile, allows for variations of Empty or Full feelings of life to be adjusted by the individual.

Where Fear, Stress, and Disaster occur in the life of a Human is when the animal is denied another duality of necessity, Acceptance and Control (Attention and Freedom). This seems to be when animals are willing to end Life; no hope of Freedom, alone with no Attention from a desired other, and no hope of change—an Empty Life. Martha and I have discussed in our book “What’s Behind Your Belly Button?” the likely possibility that an empty life, if not corrected, will first develop signs of illness in the gut or elsewhere in the body; and if not treated, will grow to destroy the organism. “The prospect of an empty life, like an empty gas-tank, will take us nowhere without Attention”.

We explored in our book the use of Freedom and Acceptance from Birth, as the newborn awakens its sensory acquisition of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. Early childhood demonstrates the struggle of achieving the necessities of its environment. It is using its own early energy to try to copy what it touches, sees, and hears, and that energy is generated by its own instincts, its ENS. Later on it will be able to see and hear beyond the confines of its birth environment when it will seek more Control and Acceptance from strangers. It is this experience of trial-and-learn that can form a balance between self-control and self-acceptance, a positive self-image, and a full life registers on its ‘gas gage’.


I think we can all conclude that we will likely have the tools to understand the intelligence, with which we have to individually begin life at birth. The important task ahead is to make the most of our beginnings in an environment not of our choice that can partially separate us from the necessary intelligence, with which we were born. This means that there is less Feeling Intelligence to balance Thinking Intelligence. The condition weakens the balance between the two functional systems, produces less Energy, produces Empty Feelings in the gut, a distorted ability to make good judgments, experiences difficulty in relationships with others, and experiences some type of illness if the imbalance continues.

From our work as educators of both the head and gut brains (a two brain system), I would like to make these brief suggestions for time frames for education and the promotion of skills of the intelligence of our multiple brains—head and gut:

Pre-school—Time to build a positive Self-image: Control and Acceptance (C/A) in the group, watch and listen. Begin early simple dialog about inner feelings and needs.

Entering School—Reinforce C/A: Promote projects of individual interests, keep track of individual’s energy levels. Provide special attention to troubled students—apply use of Somatic Reflection Process to troubled students when necessary.

Ages (6—10)— Continue to reinforce C/A: Introduce leveled academic skills of reading, writing, arithmetic, and spelling (using the dictionary with unfamiliar words) around relevent topics and subjects to students (using a student-centered learning approach). Begin creative projects related to individual interests, such as music (voice or instrumental), sports (individual or team), painting, sketching (art), animal care, construction, etc. Continue dialog about inner feelings and inner needs. 

Ages (10—16)— Group Discussion: Self Image, Reflections, Sexuality, etc.
Presentation of Individual work. Career exploration begins from the reference of inner needs fulfillment, along with continued academic skill development and exploration. Use of Somatic Reflection Process for career exploration and self awareness.

—Essay Ends Here

If you would like to read more about our work and research with gut feeling intelligence and about the technique we call the Somatic Reflection Process to explore the voice of the gut and human nature, we invite you to take a look at our book "What's Behind Your Belly Button?" Our book website is at

And if you have enjoyed reading this essay on gut intelligence and learning, you may also enjoy the following related posts on this blog, or enjoy all our posts exploring gut feelings and instincts by clicking on the many listed on the left side of this blog page:
1. Exploring Gut Instincts and the Need To Be "Social" as Applied to the Education of Our Children OCTOBER 23, 2013

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

3. 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

Click on a book cover below to go to Amazon to Buy:

"Increasing Intuitional Intelligence" is available on Amazon USA and Amazon UK
as well as Amazon,de and  other international Amazon sites

"What's Behind Your Belly Button?" is also available 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.

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