Humberto Maturana, a Chilean cognitive biologist, demonstrates how “if the organization of a thing changes, the thing changes.” If a person changes how he or she shows up in the world in language, body or emotions, then others must re-organize themselves to be in connection with this person. And what humans want, as social beings, is connection. Another way of describing this ultimately human phenomenon comes from Desmond Tutu’s explanation of the African word, ubuntu, “I am because you are.”
As we grow from children and throughout adulthood, we have countless learning experiences that become embodied over time. We inevitably develop armoring strategies that help us survive and flourish for the challenges we face; and yet, what worked at one point in time may not work in another. The old strategy may keep us from being connected with others in the way we most desire. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as unembodied learning.
However, there is hope. Every interaction is an opportunity to reorganize ourselves toward a new embodied way of being in order to bring about more of what we want for ourselves and others. By enhancing our awareness of the small and large choices we make and their impact on others, we learn through feedback about how we show up, what emotions we express and how we express them, and all the ways we communicate that are effective or not. Every shift creates its own set of breakthroughs which accumulate toward a larger transformation. And, as Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
What new learning will help you stretch your way of being to meet the challenges of today?
“To realize the principle within your own heart, study hard to absorb those things into your body.” Miyamoto Musashi