How the Body and Brain Discipline Each Other

It seems obvious at first, but the implications are profound. You hear a tragic story; your body reacts: a slower breathing, blinking, and heart rate come about. If it’s dramatically tragic, you may begin to tear and choke up. The “brain” aspect of you heard a story, and directed a set of reactions in your body. Alternatively, it is now commonly known that if someone is in a terrible mood, they may forcibly smile and slowly their mood will turn around. If you’re thinking quickly in a stressed state, forcing yourself to stop…and take a series of slow and deep breaths: your thinking will slow down and become more concentrated. So we may say that the body may discipline the brain, and conversely, the brain may discipline the body. The implications of these experiences run against long-held views of how the brain and body exist with each other.

Historically, the modern age has held a dualistic view of the whole human being. The distinction is drawn between the body and the mind, which stems from the division of matter and of thought. Thoughts do not have weight, they may not be measured, and they are “inside of our minds”; vis-à-vis we cannot point at them. Matter does have weight, can be pointed at, and be observed by many people at once. Thus in the 17th century, the philosopher Rene Descartes separated man into two realms; one of matter and one of thought, meaning, one of the body, and one of the mind. His metaphysical treatise on the human being reigned until recently, with philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Dewey, and Bergson, having shown so many problems with Descartes’ metaphysics, that it is no longer a seriously considered view. In the last century, neuroscience and other disciplines have renewed Descartes’ distinction to a division between the body and the brain; allowing for a mistaken reconsideration that the brain and body are two mutually exclusive and independent things that “are human.”

Thus the otherwise commonsensically apparent view that the body and brain may discipline each other actually runs contrary to how many people foundationally view the human being today. Scientific research affirms that thinking positive or negative thoughts physiologically affects the body. Contorting the body, as in Yoga, alternatively affects the thinking process. Concentrated meditation improves the meditator’s sense of focus, mental clarity, and impulse control.

The old view of the human mind, that it is a passive receptacle of perceptions or sensations, that it is a theatre with things flying by on the stage, that it is emanating from the brain and somehow magically apart from it; these are the abject views of the human being. This is not to say that thoughts are necessarily reducible to matter, as the tendency often is today. Nor is it to say that matter is thus reducible to thought, as ancient Hinduism contends. For now, what we can say is that the mind is not of a different process than the body, and the body is not a different process than the mind.

So what are the implications of this in the realm of body language?

We may speculate on a few implications of this thinking in non-verbal communication. It would provide the proper conception of the mind and body to explain why the incongruence of verbal and non-verbal messages do not provide a strong, clear, confident, and effective communication. If someone does this, their body and their mind are in conflict, of course a clear message becomes difficult to attain. Based on studies of smiling improving one’s mood and of slowing one’s breathing to calm stress, we may extrapolate that manipulating your body language may affect you overall. Meaning, if you consciously attempt to train yourself to have an open and confident body language consistently, you will be more inclined to feel more open and confident overall.

Here’s an explication: we unconsciously smile at good news, and so if we’re in a bad mood and consciously smile, we may improve our mood. We unconsciously keep our bodies open in comfortable situations, and so if we’re in an uncomfortable situation and consciously attempt to open up the body, we may improve how we feel. That is, we may become more comfortable.

Attempt to seek out how we have the old conception of the human being (stemming from Descartes’) stuck in our thinking. Most of us do, including this author! By correcting this conception, and allowing in a new one, we may find new ways to view the human being as a whole. These new ways allow for progress in how we understand ourselves; thus giving us tools to improve ourselves. One such tool, as we have seen, is properly correlating verbal and non-verbal communication.


Explore posts in the same categories: Body Language, Business, Communication, Gifts, Life Skills, Life Skills, Non-Verbal Communication, Training, Uncategorized

3 Comments on “How the Body and Brain Discipline Each Other”

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  3. […] How the Body and Brain Discipline Each Other ( Share this:TwitterStumbleUponLinkedInRedditFacebookDiggEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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