Visceral Intelligence: How to Hone This Skill for a Healthy Mind and Body
We spend so much time up in our heads. Each day, we have thousands of thoughts, and we’re constantly ruminating over the past and stressing about the future. When you spend a majority of your time in your mind – which is the headquarters for the ego’s negative noise, judgement, fear, and anxiety – it can be like you are stuck in a never-ending cycle of suffering. This is why visceral intelligence and connecting with your body is so important.
Visceral intelligence is the literal feeling that you get in your body that correlates with a decision you’re trying to make or an experience you are having. In any one of these cases, your body will always give you either a “visceral yes” or a “visceral no” to help guide you from a place of truth and authenticity. Your body is always in the present. It’s your mind that tends to obsess over the past or fear the future.
Learning Visceral Intelligence
- Ask your body a question. Start small, with things that you know the answer to. Is my name (your name)? Do I have (your color hair)? Am I (not your age)?
- A visceral yes usually feels light and expansive. It may be a flutter in your chest or stomach. You may get chills all over your body, or your hair may stand on end.
- A visceral no usually feels heavy and constricted. It could be a sinking feeling in your stomach. You may feel a tightness in your chest. It could even been a huge feeling of dread.
Visceral intelligence is a game-changer. It’s such an important tool to help you discern between your monkey mind and your intuition – parts of you that are always at war. Your mind is always whirring with thoughts, which create emotions like anxiety, fear, sadness, etc. However, your body is grounded in the moment and buzzing with visceral feelings to help guide you to doing or experiencing what is right and true.
Using Visceral Intelligence for Food and Body
It’s when I started to rely on visceral intelligence to make decisions regarding food and body, I really started to see a shift in my struggle with binge eating. In my diet depression days, I was constantly all up in my mind. I would obsessively track my calories. My workouts were usually a method of self-punishment and a way to balance out my binges. I was completely disconnected from my body and its visceral intelligence.
But once I learned how to incorporate this tool into my day-to-day, I noticed a huge shift in my behaviors. Instead of going crazy with meal planning and prepping, I would stop, breathe, and check in with my body. I’d ask it what it really wanted. Or if I was about to scarf down an entire jar of Nutella, I’d reign myself in and ask my body if this is what it wanted. I’d get that constricted, sinking feeling, and the Nutella would go back in the cabinet, untouched. Before I’d start a workout, I’d feel into what my body wanted to do to be active. Sometimes it was cardio, sometimes it was a run, sometimes it was just putting on my favorite playlist and dancing around my room.
Ground yourself in the present. Start taking the time to check in with your body before you make a decision. Whether it’s what you’re going to eat for lunch, your workout for the day, or the outfit you’re going to wear to work. Ask and let your body answer.
The more you practice visceral intelligence and actually follow through with the action or decision that your body wants, the more you will build trust with your body and intuition. Literally any decision I’ve ever made from a place of visceral intelligence has turned out to be the right move or an amazing experience. It’s when I’ve allowed my mind to start it’s cycle of negotiating, making pro/con lists, and getting logical to the point of anxiety that I’ve been steered wrong.
Learning to Rely on Visceral Intelligence
Your body wants what is best for you. When you binge eat or over-exercise, that is based on a decision of the mind. That is coming from a place of fear or doubt or shame. Your body is just an innocent bystander. It only knows love and light. It will always make decisions based on your truth.
Start to rely on visceral intelligence to help you overcome your struggle. Trust it to guide you to where you need to be and who you really are. In every moment: stop, ask, feel, and follow through. Your greatest tool to healing your issues with food and your body is not a fad diet or fancy exercise machine, it’s your body and the feelings that it produces to communicate with you. It’s time to start listening.