One of the revelations I encountered in my coaching journey is that we have three centers of self. If you had asked me many years ago how many “centers of self” human beings had I would have said one – our brain. Delving deeper into human development has enlightened me. Truly, the brain is a very important center, it holds our cognition, it generates thoughts, processes our senses, ideas, emotions and is our center of logic, our “motherboard” if you will. However, it is not the whole of us – our conscious selves may begin and end with our brains, but it travels the whole of our bodies to be fully informed. Those crazy sci-fi movies we watched as kids where someone’s brain was kept alive in a glass cloche and transplanted into a completely machine-like body, manifesting itself as the continuation of a person, may have had one thing right; typically those characters were skewed, they were not “whole”. B-movie science fiction writers were on to something – we need more than a brain to be truly human.
There are three centers we rely on to make sense of our world; they are our head (thinking) our heart (feeling) and our gut (intuition). Clearly without the brain none of the information from these centers can be used, so it would be easy to mistake how thinking can help us to figure out everything we need…. except that we are far more complicated than that. Consider the last time you felt “stuck” when trying to make a decision, realizing your heart wanted one thing (to spend money on something frivolous) and your head was arguing against it (stay on budget). We’ve all had moments like this - sometimes the head wins, and sometimes the heart. Our intuition plays a key role in helping us with discernment, whether we are buying a new product or playing a game of strategy, we use our intuition to help us make decisions in the absence of complete data.
What we may not be quite as tuned into is that every thing we do involves all three of the centers, although sometimes their involvement can be quite subtle, hard to detect. We each have a “favourite”, our “go to” center if you will, the one we lead with in life. Part of adapting to change requires balancing our use of these three centers, contributing to resiliency, self-awareness and many other core pieces of how we successfully navigate a world that involves other people. Development and growth require all three centers, which is why working with someone certified in the area of human development (a coach, a psychologist, etc.) can be so beneficial.
Taking this into the day-to-day gives us a better understanding of how these centers work and inter-relate. Let’s us look at this within the context of something many of us do daily, making a meal. When you make a meal leading with your head you prepare vegetables and attend to cooking in a “make this happen” kind of way. You may be focused and attentive, but the place you are sourcing your motivation and energy from is bound by something, some “rule” (to do it in minimal time or with minimal resources, in a specific sequence, perfectly, etc.). If it takes longer than you were expecting, you may feel very frustrated and speed up to get the task done or take shortcuts. You may also end up with a very nice meal that is enjoyed by family and friends, but the pleasure you took in making it was limited. This is not to say that being in our heads or thinking is a bad thing, sometimes it is exactly what is being called for (making it enjoyable and effortless), but doing things from a “thinking” place alone may not always be rewarding – it can feel thin or per functionary. Something to “get through”.
Looking at this same premise (making a meal) and doing so with heart can alter the motivation and energy in the task. Cooking your favourite recipes for people you love can be a very relaxing and rewarding activity; one that gives you feelings of well-being and comfort. You are using your thinking center as you cook, but the effort itself is sourced from a place of love; you find this activity nourishing and energizing. Maybe you cooked too much food, making so many dishes there was something special for everyone, but who cares? You can send everyone home with his or her favourite leftovers (whether they want to eat them for the rest of the week or not)! Leading with our hearts allows us to truly enjoy and love what we are doing, but without balance it means we may not be as practical or aware of things as we could be.
Our gut, our intuition, presents yet another perspective of meal preparation. Cooking purely by intuition means you don’t use a recipe at all; you go by the “seat of your pants” creating something new and experimental. In this case you may have suspended your thinking center’s better judgement to immerse yourself in what is a creative instinctual experience. Maybe you got it just perfect and everyone says it is delicious (too bad you don’t have a recipe to share or replicate), and maybe plates stayed full and people made polite excuses. Our intuition is great for many things, guiding us in the unknown, but letting it exclusively take the lead can have uneven results.
Clearly these examples are illustrative in nature to give you a feel for each of the three centers, and maybe as you read them you thought of your own example of when a particular center was leading in you. What these examples point to is a need for balance. If you are feeling less then excited to do something it may hold no meaning for you (no heart) and so you will get through it using your head, which can be exhausting. Careening from instinct to instinct can get you out of a sticky mess, but the price might be in the quality or outcome of the experience. When we know what sourcing each of these centers feels like as we move through our day, we can use all three of them in a complimentary triad; our intuition to guide us, our heart to lead us, and our head to move us forward. In this way we are using all the resources we have available to us, giving us access to well-rounded and balanced experiences.
Cooking a meal with all three means you get to do something you love with clarity, attention to detail and flair. You prepare the right amount and types of food in a relaxed atmosphere and can attend to the little things, like having the recipe on hand to share (including your tweaks), because through balance you are connecting to the moment and to others. Most of all, balance in all three of the centers leads to effortlessness in what you do, supporting your energy flow and well-being. Couldn’t we all use more of that?
Think with your head, act with your heart and trust your intuition.
Looking for a Blog? Search here:
ABOUT MY BLOG
I believe in giving back to others in many tangible ways. When I learn something new, or see something that might help others, I share it using my blog and website. You can always find my latest blog entries here, on Face Book or Linked In.