The Wisdom Your Body Knows

David Brooks, ‘The Wisdom Your Body Knows – You are not just thinking with your brain.’, https://www-nytimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/11/28/opinion/brain-body-thinking.amp.html, The New York Times Company (Nov. 28, 2019)

Emphasis on the brain has subtly fed the illusion that thinking happens only from the neck up. It’s fed the illusion that the advanced parts of our thinking are the “rational” parts up top that try to control the more “primitive” parts down below. (…) So it’s interesting how many scientists are now focusing on the thinking that happens not in your brain but in your gut. You have neurons spread through your innards, and there’s increasing attention on the vagus nerve, which emerges from the brain stem and wanders across the heart, lungs, kidney and gut. (…) The vagus nerve is one of the pathways through which the body and brain talk to each other in an unconscious conversation. Much of this conversation is about how we are relating to others. (…) You might think that in everyday life, the things you see and hear influence what you feel, but it’s mostly the other way around: What you feel alters your sight and hearing. (…) People with high emotional granularity respond flexibly to life, have better mental health outcomes and drink less. (…) Under the old brain-only paradigm (…) we told people to self-regulate their emotions through conscious self-talk. But real emotional help comes through co-regulation. (…) When you step back and see the brain and body thinking together, the old distinction between reason and emotion doesn’t seem to make sense. (…) You (…) see that we’re not separate brains, coolly observing each other. We’re physical viscera, deeply interacting with each other. The important communication is happening at a much deeper level.