The Science of Embodiment: Connect to Your Body’s Wisdom

When we’re “up in our head,” we are navigating the world with only part of ourselves—losing track of the body and of the present moment. Willa Blythe Baker explores the emerging science of embodiment and offers four lessons that arise when we tune in to the intelligence of our body.

Adobe Stock/C Malambo/

Most of us grow up being taught that the body is a flesh-and-blood organism made up of parts and systems. It is something that is described and researched, an object to be known. Rarely do we think of the body as something that knows things. Rarely do we ask the body for answers.

Does the body have answers? Does it have a subjectivity—a way of perceiving and knowing—from which to speak? In many ways, across human history, the mind and body have stayed in their separate domains. Historically, in the disciplines of philosophy, cognitive science, and the humanities to some extent, the mind has been treated as independent, an entity that can in theory be isolated from the body, or sometimes as a transcendent feature of being human that is superior to the animal nature of the flesh. This prioritizing of cognition is often not explicit, but persists—even now—as an implicit bias

The Body-Mind Connection

In recent decades, this bias has been turned on its head (so to speak) in the fields of neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychology. Neuroscience now recognizes that the brain and the body are so intertwined that they cannot be thought of…