In Touch: How to Tune In to the Inner Guidance of Your Body and Trust Yourself
by John J. Prendergast
One of my recurrent themes on this blog is that we have lost contact with our connection with others, and with the natural world. But worse, have we lost contact with our own body and inner self? This is precisely the subject of In Touch, by psychotherapist John Prendergast.
The premise is in the book’s publicity material:
“Your body has a natural sense of truth. We can feel authenticity in ourselves and in others. However, this innate wisdom is obscured by our conditioning—the core limiting beliefs, reactive feelings, and somatic contractions that fuel our sense of struggle and veil who we really are.
In Touch is a groundbreaking, experiential guide to the felt-sense of our inner knowing—the deep intelligence available through our bodies. Each chapter presents moving stories, helpful insights from spirituality, psychology, and science, and simple yet potent experiments for integrating the gifts of inner knowing into every aspect of daily life.”
So the book takes this forward and explores this inner felt sense, which is found through connection with our own body. It aims to ‘help you recognize your own natural sense of inner knowing by showing you how to listen to your body for guidance.’ We are not just a mind that happens to sit in a relatively independent body; we are one integrated organism, and forget that at our peril. It very much reminded me of the book Bodymind, written by Ken Dychtwald in the 1970s and still gracing my shelves.
I read this book on Kindle, for convenience when travelling. I don’t recommend this, but it did give me easy access to quotes from the book highlighted in the following. Far better to read the real book.Prendergast suggests that our ’embodied experience of living’ is ‘the fundamental basis for both consciousness and the sense of self.’ I sense that there is great wisdom in this book, and that I myself still have a lot to learn. We cerebral types easily lose touch with what is going on physically.
“Internal body tension is often directly related to a conscious or subconscious limiting belief that we hold.”
“Being able to sense into our bodies, particularly the chest and belly, is a critical step in self-attunement and attunement with others.”
The book is both deeply spiritual and full of psychological insight.
“Our deepest suffering comes from imagining and feeling that we are a separate self. Our inner knowing will eventually release us from this illusion… The first step is to have an intellectual openness to the possibility that there are other ways of knowing than the rational mind… The rational mind is a good servant, but a poor master.”
“Once we feel a sense of inner resonance, it is important that we act on it. This completes and reinforces the process of discovering our inner knowing.”
“It does not put us in control of our life; it invites us to surrender what apparent control we have and to let go into a greater wisdom and a deeper love that is concerned with the whole of life.”
“Insights tend to arise as needed, and the next obvious step makes itself known. If not, we simply wait for further guidance. It is the ending of drama and the beginning of a deeper life.”
“We come to see that any self-judgment creates distance from our experience and freezes it in place. We discover that whatever we resist persists.”
There is great insight into how psychological issues can get passed through to the next generation.
“Parents who are inconsistently responsive generate insecure and ambivalent children, who are generally anxious and preoccupied with their caretaker’s availability…”
“If our core needs and feelings are ignored or devalued, we learn to suppress them. It is simply too painful and unsettling to stay open. One result is that we stop feeling and sensing the interior of our bodies. Our deeper sensitivity is buried for safekeeping and then forgotten. This creates a barrier to our inner knowing.”
“Most of our emotional reactions and somatic contractions originate in our unclear thinking, particularly our core limiting beliefs. It is important to recognize these beliefs and to inquire into their truth from a place of deep heartfelt knowing.”
Our capacity for empathy is often obscured in the growth process. Prendergast relates this to recent discoveries of ‘mirror neurons’.
“The mirror-neuron system allows us to know in a visceral, firsthand way what others are planning to do, how they feel, and how they see the world. They allow us to effectively read one another’s minds… The discovery of mirror neurons makes explicit what has been implicit all along: we are unimaginably interconnected.”
There often seems to be a correlation between overt spiritual seekers and psychological problems. Prendergast introduces the illuminating concept of ‘spiritual bypassing’.
“Spiritual bypassing… refers to the tendency to avoid unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks by pursuing spiritual practices and ideals, most notably the quest for enlightenment.”
Ultimately this book is profoundly spiritual.
“At some point we will no longer identify with our thoughts or as a separate witness. Instead, we will recognize our true nature as an open, empty, awake awareness.”
“As we learn to slow down, tune in to our inner guidance, and act on it, our self-trust grows. We increasingly get the feel for when something resonates as being true or false for us, in or out of accord. This sense of inner resonance becomes our inner authority.”
“As we learn to trust who we really are and not who we think we are, we discover that we are not essentially separate from anyone.”
“Our willingness and capacity to deeply listen is the greatest gift we can offer to one another.”