By Francesca Holland, Contributing Blogger
Are you ever frustrated by problematic patterns, caught up in your head? Have you felt stuck trying to rationalize your way out of a personal dilemma that seems to defy logical solutions?
When was the last time you listened to your body, instead?
It may be a mouthful, but Your Body is Your Brain: Leverage your Somatic Intelligence to Find Purpose, Build Resilience, Deepen Relationships, and Lead More Powerfully triumphantly earns its title.
"Somatic” means “relating to the body". Many people think intelligence comes purely from the mind. Author Amanda Blake challenges that assumption by exploring somatic intelligence, our body's role in our choices and actions.
Packed with information, Your Body is Your Brain blends psychology and biology in a holistic, heartfelt approach to mindfulness. You'll want to take your time reading this one- there is a lot of knowledge to absorb!
Blake breaks down the neuroscience driving our behaviors and her methods, making this book perfect for anyone interested in the "how" and “why" behind the practice. This also makes it a good read for meditation, coaching, or therapy skeptics looking for a scientific perspective before diving in.
The book is packed with fascinating real-world examples of embodiment techniques. A particularly dramatic illustration of the mind-body relationship describes one man's recovery from colorblindness after a powerful trauma release. Among several unique stories that explore everything from careers, to family, to life-threatening danger, you’re likely to find at least one case surprisingly relatable- I know I did.
Tap into your body's innate wisdom and find your purpose
Achieving "embodied self-awareness” involves many levels of perception, from our deepest sensations to the most emotional parts of our brain. Important aspects of our intelligence get overlooked when we focus purely on analytical thinking. Blake points out, “Einstein wisely said you can’t solve a problem with the same sort of thinking that created it.”
We all carry “biobehavioral blind spots”, Blake explains. These blind spots aren’t just mental- they are reflected in our physical behaviors. If we tune deeply into the body, we can build enough self-awareness to catch and overcome them.
Listening to physical sensations can also help unlock old memories, clear the clutter of the mind, and discover our true passions. Then, we can develop new patterns of behavior that embody our vision. Change can be difficult, but cultivating a sense of purpose creates the focus to see it through.
Blake’s method emphasizes regular practice. We train all kinds of actions into muscle memory, like driving, language, and daily tasks. Why not train our posture, speech, and body language in ways that complement our goals?
Plus, these techniques can improve relationships. As inherently social beings, our body is the instrument through which we perceive our connections with others. We can become more open, caring, and patient with others through embodiment.
Thanks to neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to grow new connections, humans are never in a fully fixed state. You can realize your true potential in any role, at any time of life. Blake emphasizes that transformation is always possible- just apply principles of learning.
I know that when I feel overwhelmed or stuck, I tend to constantly slouch at my desk and tense my shoulders, cringing in an avoidant pose, but this book encouraged me to try straightening my spine and breathing deeply into my heart while reminding myself of my purpose. Such a simple action, right? Yet it totally refreshes my energy and opens my mind to new possibilities.
With practice, I’ve noticed I feel more optimistic and driven, instead of avoidant and overwhelmed. I also experience a powerful release during bodywork, like massage or acupuncture. I’m more sensitive to the connection between physical and emotional tension.
One really big takeaway? Instead of judging my body, I appreciate it more than ever. I have more self-compassion. I recognize I’m a complex, incredible organism.
Powerful tools to pursue a meaningful lifeBlake courageously asks how to find the clarity you need to create a meaningful life. She goes beyond just a conceptual idea of self-awareness. This book gave me a deeper understanding of why the body matters, and how to craft an embodiment practice to enact long-lasting change. Whether you're brand-new to healing practices or looking to expand your existing toolbox, Your Body is Your Brain is a fascinating treasure trove of somatic wisdom.