03/19/2012 04:49 pm ET Updated May 19, 2012

Depending On the Brain to Think, At the Expense of the Body's Ability to Know

For better or worse, and I mostly think worse, society has an unhealthy obsession with intelligence. We live in a world that values cognition and intellect more than any other kind and we rely on it almost exclusively to solve problems. The trouble however, is that thinking, and only thinking, keeps us in our heads at the expense of involving anything else.

That's not to say that there haven't been attempts. We have Daniel Goleman to thank for bringing the idea of emotional intelligence to the mainstream, shining a light on the importance and long-term value of being able to process, understand and express emotions. We learned that managing feelings also plays a vital role in healthy living and achieving success. So, feeling became the new thinking and we began learning how to engage our hearts and minds at the same time.

But, what about our bodies? They are intelligent too. But, do people give their bodies the same opportunities to become smarter? We know our bodies can think and feel. In fact, our bodies go beyond both cognition and emotion. They are highly expressive, they remember often what our brains do not, and they know things out of sheer instinct before we do.

Even body language is well researched and understood. But again, it comes from a cognitive point of view as it explains nonverbal communication with others. What about when your body is trying to speak to you? Do you listen? I mean, really listen. Without thinking, without emotion, do you know what your body wants, needs, or has to say? Or, put differently, what kind of relationship do you have with your body? When considering that it has the power to provide the greatest pleasures and impose unbearable pain, one would think that answering this question would be a top priority. But, all too often it is not.

I come to this perspective having spent most of my life -- in my body -- dancing, but also with a parallel life in business being guided by my brain. Only after years of studying and developing a level of sophistication in the way I moved did I see how the body requires as much respect in order to be "smart" as the brain needs "exercise" to be strong. You just have to keep moving... and listen.

I hope you'll join me on:


For more by Donna Flagg, click here.

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