You have likely heard about emotional intelligence and social intelligence as popularised by Daniel Goleman, though you might not be so familiar with the concept of body intelligence (BQ) yet. In an article published in 2010, Jim Gavin, Ph.D, refers to BQ as “how aware you are of your body (awareness), what you know (knowledge) and what you actually do for and with your body (engagement).”
Practice diaphragmatic breathing
So by consciously breathing from your diaphragm, you’re not only switching from the ‘fight-flight-freeze’ response to the ‘rest and digest’ system, but you are also reminding your brain that your lower abdomen exists so it can automatically bring it into play at the first sign of a stress response.
Complete body scans throughout your day
Body scans don’t have to be formal meditations that last for over 30 minutes. Of course, doing 30-60 minutes of formal meditation each day will significantly develop your body intelligence over an 8 - 12 week period. Though as a start, all you need to do is focus your awareness from the top of your head scanning it down to the tips of your toes. You may feel sensations in some parts and feel nothing in other parts. Simply accept whatever your experience is and continue scanning.
Strengthen your core
A simple exercise to start with is to lay on the floor with your hands by your side, palms facing down, bending your legs shoulder width apart. Lift your trunk off the floor as far as possible, keeping your spine straight and hold for 30-60 seconds before gently bringing your trunk down again. Doing this 10-15 times, a few times a day is a good place to start when bringing exercise into your day.
There is such a thing as too much exercise. I would suggest starting off with a personal trainer to develop a program that suits your individual needs and that tends to get the momentum going.
I can’t write about body intelligence without mentioning yoga or tai-chi, the moving meditations of the exercise world. Usually, intense exercise consists of ‘not listening’ to your body so you can complete the exercise, whereas the focus of yoga and ta-chi is listening closely to what your body telling you without over-exerting yourself, yet still challenging yourself.
Eat a varied, plant-based diet and avoid highly processed foods
Basing each meal around plant-based food is all you need to focus on. If you’re buying packaged foods and you can’t pronounce the ingredients and they sound more like a chemical concoction – it’s less ‘food’ and more ‘science experiment’.
The gut is your ‘second brain’ so if you’re interested in increasing your knowledge on this, check out the book I’ve recommended below.
Have regular massages and consider chiropractic care
Getting your partner to give you a massage (it will likely be a brief experience!) will not only get your brain to remember that body part exists, it feels great, reduces tension and is a great way to bond together. Parents, briefly massaging your kids is also a great daily practice either in the morning or night. Alternatively, include some remedial massage into your self-care practices and you will love yourself for it!
Chiropractic care is about improving the neural connectivity between your brain and the rest of your body. Hello BQ! Best to speak to a chiropractor for more information on this.
*If you want to further explore Body Intelligence and mental health then Georgina is available for in-person and tele-conference consultations. Contact 0397415222 to schedule an appointment.
Georgina Psomiadis is passionate about mindfulness and working together with young people and adults to improve body awareness and mental health. Working with Georgina will benefit those who feel like they are confused, powerless and stressed, and want to make positive changes and build loving connections within themselves and their family. Georgina consults from Werribee and Point Cook.