The Power of Not Thinking by Simon Roberts
Why we should stop thinking and start trusting our bodies
First Published: 2020
What is the book about?:
In The Power of Not Thinking Simon Roberts takes us on a journey through many of the ways our bodies learn without any conscious effort. Though the topic sounds very scientific this book manages to show in very relatable and sometimes surprising stories how smart our bodies are.
The book dives into the (often mentioned on this website) brain-centric way society looks at learning. Through the pages however, it becomes more and more clear that disembodied learning is (almost?) impossible. Making the disregard most of society has for the intelligence of the embodied experience a crime to our primal being and as such ourselves. The book ends with a very inspiring practical look at what such an embodied experience could look like in everyday life.
What are the main takeaways when it comes to communicating with the Primal Being?
Our body is central to our experience: Without our physical presence, we wouldn’t be human. The body helps us to experience, make sense of and express ourselves within our world. A disembodied approach to understanding the world and life is impossible.
Emotions are physical, not mental: We often wish to believe our emotions are simple states of our mind. Nothing is less true, an emotion wouldn’t be real if it didn’t have an effect on your entire being. F.e. anger without an increased heart rate doesn’t exist. We shouldn’t try to reduce emotions to just thoughts, we should accept it as more.
Finishing each other's sentences: Empathy and mirror neurons create the phenomenon of a shared experience. When we finish each other's sentences we can do so because we “feel” each other. The same is true for the embodied experience, we can often “feel” ourselves wanting to finish someone else's movement and copy it. Regardless if that movement is a single breath, lifting something or kicking a ball.
Imagination is training: If you imagine a movement the same parts of your brain function as if you were doing the movement. If you’re finishing someone else's movement in your mind, you are training yourself to move the same.
The body/PB learns without our choice: The above two takeaways mean that we have a hard time choosing what physical lessons we are picking up in day-to-day life. We are constantly learning by experiencing others around us.
Your surrounding matters: Because your primal being is always learning from the people surrounding you it is important to surround yourself with those people that teach you the right things, or at the very least make sure those that “teach” the wrong thing are not around.
Empathy does not equal embodied experience: Empathy allows us to feel and understand what someone else is feeling. In many cases quite literally, we can feel the feelings that someone has at that moment. At the same time, it doesn’t equal having gone through the same embodied experience. You can feel and understand the sadness and fear war refugees have in them, but it will never be the same as experiencing war yourself.
Gut feelings matter: Your body has a lot of intelligence in it, but very limited ways of expressing it. Gut feelings, intuition, muscle memory or an educated guess (or however else you want to call it) is the body's intelligence speaking up and showing how trustworthy it often can be.
Our primal being helps us stay ahead of computers: Because of the embodied experience we can translate and transfer a lot of our intelligence to a point without rules or structured thinking. We can “feel” something is the right move. Computers as disembodied rational thinkers don’t stand a chance against us when it comes to experiencing and understanding the world. Maybe one day they could compete, but there is a huge chance that it has to become an “embodied” experience.
Should you read it?
Yes, though it is hard to make a book filled with intellect about an embodied experience Simon Roberts succeeds in exactly that. He manages to explain in a fun way how powerful the influence of our body is on our everyday lives.
With how society has managed to disregard the body, this book can break a lot of the assumptions that are thought to us and really drive home exactly how important it is to acknowledge the value of our body (and as such the prial being)