Your Body is Your Brain by Amanda Blake Book Review Leverage Your Somatic Intelligence, Find Purpose

Hello and HAPPY DAY!
How does slowing down sound to you today?
Would you like to reduce the noise for just
a bit?
Are you ready to make a choice and decide
to listen?
My name is Igor, SF Walker.
I am here to remind people to slow down.
To reduce the noise.
To walk their lives into a natural flow.
Welcome back to the Book of the Week series.
Every week as I read another amazing title,
I share it with the world.
Today we look at: Your Body is Your Brain:
Leverage Your Somatic Intelligence to Find
Purpose, Build Resilience, Deepen Relationships
and Lead More Powerfully by Amanda Blake
In this video we look at practical actions
that generate reliable results, grounded in
research from over twenty-five different scientific
We peer through multiple lenses at a central
question: What role does the body play in
our success and satisfaction in life?
And might it be more influential than we’ve
ever imagined?
Stick around till the end, I will share with
you some tools I have and use that will help
you tremendously in this game of life.
Discover a way to find out what actually motives
you, what innate

human need is driving all
of your decisions and your behavior.
I will share some tools to improve your self-awareness,
social awareness, self-management and relationship
We can’t see ultraviolet light, for example,
but bees can.
That doesn’t mean the light waves aren’t
there when we’re looking.
It simply means that they’re invisible to
our eyes.
In other words, our biological apparatus filters
our perceptions.
We don’t see the world as it is, so much
as we see the world as we are.
It turns out this is as true of our moods
and our relationships as it is of color and
Our bodies, our brains, and even our behavior
take shape—quite literally—in response
to our life experiences.
And that biobehavioral shape ultimately affects
the possibilities we see, the options we choose,
and the actions we take.
This is true for every single one of us, not
just the color blind.
Our brains have been finely honed over millions
of years of evolution to carefully attend
to our social and emotional environment, and
to quickly adopt and always remember behaviors
that help us optimize access to three essential
nutrients: safety, connection, and respect.
The earthworm embodies one of nature’s earliest
attempts at a nervous system, with its small
clusters of nerve cells strung like beads
down its long, wriggly body.
Nature evolved a centralized group of nerve
cells that clustered at one end of the spine:
the brainstem.
Now popularly known as the “lizard brain,”
the brainstem gives reptiles (and anyone else
with a brainstem, including us) many more
behavioral responses to threat.
As mammals came along and began giving live
birth, a new evolutionary pressure emerged,
offspring needed a way to communicate their
needs to caregivers.
For this, nature evolved the subcortical limbic
system—often referred to as the “emotional
brain”—a collection of structures that
turn the symphony of body language, vocalization,
and facial expression into meaningful communication.
The most recently evolved layer of the brain,
the cerebral cortex, has greater neural density
in species that live in social groups: dolphins,
whales, monkeys, elephants, humans.
Biologists postulate that this layer of the
brain evolved in part to help social species
successfully navigate the dizzying complexities
of living in a troop, tribe, or community.
The brain evolved to optimize access to safety
(brainstem), connection (limbic system), and
social status, or what we might refer to as
dignity or respect (cerebral cortex).
Anything that stores information requires
a physical record, whether that’s zeros
and ones on a microchip, hieroglyphics on
stone, ink on a page, or grooves on vinyl.
Your implicit emotional memories have a physical
record, too.
They’re stored in the neuromuscular patterns
that affect virtually every tissue in your
This occurs in part through a process called
Physical contraction to either stifle or fend
off unwanted emotion.
Process goes on with our social and emotional
As our bodies take shape in response to our
environment, our biological lens gets tuned
to a particular way of seeing the world and
being in it.
Certain kinds of emotional responses, interpretations,
and relational defaults get wired into our
This makes some actions second nature, and
others much more difficult.
We could even say they’re invisible to us,
at times.
Biology is perception.
We don’t see the world as it is—we see
the world as we are.
As our bodies are “tuned” to certain emotional
and relational ways of being, that affects
both the options and possibilities that we
see, as well as the actions and behaviors
that are easily available.
Your repeated gestures and your physical structure
affect your mood, and your mood affects your
And your actions affect both your relationships
and your results, in virtually every area
of your life.
Three primary evolutionary pressures drove
the development of the brain: the need for
physical safety, the need for emotional communication,
and the need for social navigation.
Your brain is your social and emotional sense
The brain takes physical shape as it learns
behaviors that optimize access to three essential
nutrients: safety, connection, and respect.
Your brain is distributed throughout your
entire body, and your body also subtly takes
shape in response to your life experience.
Through the unconscious and highly adaptive
processes of implicit memory and armoring,
you put successful behaviors on neuromuscular
This can create biobehavioral blind spots
that are exceedingly resistant to change.
Your body is a lens of perception.
Everything you perceive is filtered through
the medium of your body.
So those blind spots affect the possibilities
you see.
Your body is an instrument of action.
Every single action you take involves your
So your biobehavioral blind spots also affect
your actions.
The bottom line: Your body is a finely tuned
social and emotional sense organ shaped by
your life experience.
And that shaping affects both the possibilities
you see and the actions you take.
Your results in almost every area of life
are subtly but inescapably influenced by the
characteristics and qualities you’ve come
to embody.
Whereas conceptual self-awareness takes you
anywhere in time, embodied self-awareness
takes you to this moment in time.
Because sensation can only be experienced
in the present moment, embodied self-awareness
brings you home to the only moment you ever
have for sure, which is right now.
Our brains take shape based on where we repeatedly
rest our attention.
So you would be wise to pay attention to,
well what you’re doing with your attention.
Fundamentally, emotional intelligence is the
ability to be aware of and manage your own
moods, and to take action on your own behalf.
Social intelligence relies on those same skills
of awareness and action, as applied to others.
It’s the ability to accurately pick up on
others’ emotions and to rely on that understanding
in order to skillfully take action as a coordinated
And somatic intelligence—the ability to
discern subtle nuances between different bodily
states, moods, and thought patterns and to
respond effectively to those nuances—is
the underpinning of both social and emotional
Most vagal nerve cells—between 80 and 90
percent—send interoceptive signals from
the trunk to the head.
In other words, your heart is constantly talking
to your brain.
This anatomy makes the vagus nerve and the
organs it’s connected to—particularly
the heart and the gut—key players in the
social and emotional sense organ that is your
The heart communicates with the brain in other
ways, too.
It is the rhythmic leader of the entire body:
Breathing, brainwaves, and even blink rate
are all affected by the pace set by your heart.
The startle of a near-miss car accident and
the subsequent heartpounding recovery sends
rhythmic and electrochemical signals to the
brain, sounding the severe-threat alarm.
In nanoseconds your brain has already coordinated
a complete physical response.
A small cluster of cells inside the amygdala
fire six to eight milliseconds after each
In other words, in addition to taking its
cues from the surrounding world, oftentimes
your brain takes cues about safety and danger
directly from the pace of your heart.
So if your heart is beating slowly or expanding
with tenderness, your brain gets that message,
Evoking sustained commitment requires a strong
synthesis of conceptual and embodied self-awareness.
It’s vital to know where you’re headed
and why: to articulate a clear vision of the
future and its importance.
It’s equally vital to connect to your felt
sense of care, and then to consistently mobilize
that care into action.
This movement into action—and it is a physical
movement, not an intellectual idea—is precisely
what distinguishes true commitment from otherwise
flimsy intentions.
Lasting change requires clarity + care + a
choice + commitment
Even when you’re clear about your vision
and deeply committed to bringing it to life,
doing so depends on the personal and interpersonal
qualities effective leaders share.
This is true in your personal life just as
much as your professional life.
Once you know where you want to go, you need
the courage to take the first step, and then
to continue stepping out.
You need the composure to handle inevitable
rough waters without calling it quits.
And you need the confidence and credibility
to successfully engage others and enlist support.
In other words, you need to build the personal
qualities that support purposeful action.
Self-mastery is the core skill that supports
the inner qualities.
Sometimes called self-regulation or emotional
regulation, this skill is what enables you
to face challenges with resilience, equanimity,
and authority.
It is the “action” part of emotional intelligence,
and it is essential to navigating just about
any difficult terrain.
The basic somatic competency that undergirds
resilience, emotional regulation, and self-mastery
is the capacity to center yourself.
Centering is about building your capacity
to tolerate strong sensations without having
to automatically act to make the discomfort
It’s about actively returning yourself to
a state of psychophysiological coherence when
you are frazzled.
It’s about adjusting and aligning your posture
so that the maximum amount of breath and energy
can reach every nook and cranny of your body,
so you are well positioned to use all of that
energy to your advantage.
And as you’ll come to see, it’s about
far, far more than taking a deep breath and
counting to ten.
Stress is fundamentally a physiological event.
Under pressure or perceived threat, the body
is flooded with adrenaline, cortisol, and
other hormones.
The sympathetic branch of the nervous system
kicks in automatically, increasing heart rate
and breathing, slowing digestion, and shunting
blood to muscles, readying us for fight or
All of this is well known, but it’s hardly
the whole story.
Neuroception—a perceptual process that distinguishes
between safety and danger by combining exteroceptive
perception of the environment with interoceptive
perception of one’s visceral state.
Immobilization is one of our most ancient
and reliable responses to being attacked.
Oftentimes not aggravating an aggressor is
the smartest way to stay safe.
Dr. Amy Cuddy’s research and flagship experiment
demonstrated that sitting or standing in a
powerful posture for as little as one minute
generates measurable changes in physiology,
psychology, and behavior.
Experimenters asked participants to lean back
into the time-honored “boss’s office”
pose—feet propped up on the desk with hands
interlaced behind their head—or to stand
with their hands on their hips in a similarly
powerful pose.
When tested before and after these brief interventions,
both men and women showed an increase in testosterone
and a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol.
Participants’ sense of their own efficacy
And they became more willing to take calculated
risks, such as seeking a potential payoff
in a simple gambling task.
The control group spent one minute in each
of several closed postures: arms crossed,
head dropped, limbs pulled in close.
These participants showed the opposite results
on all measures.
Instead of faking it till you make it, practice
it until it’s embodied.
There’s nothing fake about it.
Dialing up awareness of body, breath, thoughts,
and emotions—without having to immediately
respond—is one of the best ways to restore
psychophisological coherence to the body.
Call this the physiology of resilience.
Even if your typical day doesn’t require
you to find the courage to face down lifethreatening
danger, courage has a place in your life.
Those moments where your life calls you to
something new but scary: a move across country,
a career change, a second marriage, a first
Courage can be invoked at any level of fear,
and the process is the same.
Your body responds with a neuroceptive assessment
of safety and danger, and if there is some
visceral detection of potential threat, your
stress systems will wisely gear up for the
If stress is a physiological response, so
too is resilience.
And so, then, is courage.
The word courage derives from the French word
coeur, meaning “heart.”
Have heart, courage asks of us.
Take action on what really matters.
Courage doesn’t offer false reassurances
that things are going to turn out okay.
It simply supports you in making a bold move
despite the risks and potential consequences.
When the stakes get higher, you need more
powerful tools.
How you stand impacts courage: The psoas muscles
that control pelvic tilt also affect your
capacity to relax and stay calm, cool, and
Because these muscles attach on the same vertebra
as the diaphragm, they also affect how you
And the muscles you use to breathe are the
same muscles you use to stay upright.
With every breath, you subtly challenge your
balance and postural stability.
Shallow breathing is associated with emotions
such as fear and surprise, this habitual breath
pattern propagates a persistent message of
mild anxiety throughout your entire system.
You breathe at least nine hundred times an
That’s over 21,000 times a day and more
than 150,000 times a week.
Only your heart muscle moves more.
So you have ample opportunity to develop the
muscle memory that makes a particular breath
pattern automatic.
And because the way you breathe is tightly
linked to the way you move, how you habitually
stand is going to affect your breath.
Composure is not about getting rid of the
Nice as that may sound, sometimes it’s not
Rather, like courage, composure is about being
able to tolerate all the strong sensations
that go along with making a big, important
It’s about consciously feeling all of the
intensity and physical discomfort while aligning
yourself in such a way that those sensations
can move through you without getting stuck
in a swirling whirlpool of anxiety.
It’s about using your breath as best you
can and choosing to take action from your
commitment rather than your fear.
This is what courage and composure really
feel like.
It’s not always comfortable.
In fact, it rarely is.
And yet it’s often the one thing that makes
all the difference in meeting challenging
We know that stress is a physiological response
to pressure.
And if stress is physiological, then your
capacity to recover from stress must be, too.
You can’t always talk yourself out of anxiety.
And actually, that’s fantastic news.
Because just as you can build bigger biceps
or stronger abs, you can build the muscle
memory that makes composure and resilience
easier to access.
Learn to tolerate intense sensations, get
your hips underneath you, and open your belly
and chest to more breath.
All of this allows you to regulate wild emotions
and face the slings and arrows of life with
a more relaxed and settled stance, cultivating
a psychophysiological coherence that not only
improves your mood, but also improves your
With practice you can make these ways of inhabiting
your body second nature, so that reaching
for courage and composure becomes as easy
and automatic as getting a spoon to your mouth.
And therein lies the magic.
Because when you embody composure, you can
contend with a whole host of things that previously
seemed difficult or impossible.
And that brings success more easily within
The courage, composure, and confidence create
a stable foundation for credibility.
Because it’s rarely comfortable to reveal
the foibles that make you most relatable.
But doing so in a way that establishes both
your confidence and your competence is precisely
what’s required to build trust.
Centered-yet-vulnerable truth-telling is also
the glue that sustains many a deep friendship
and happy marriage.
It’s the unspoken safety net that allows
a recalcitrant teenager to open up to a parent
when most in need of guidance.
It’s the satisfaction and relief that comes
from being real; from not having to hide your
uncertainties, your frailties, your failures,
and your humanity.
And because we all have our own all-toohuman
stories, authenticity can be deeply connecting,
embodied self-awareness supports meaningful
connections and deeper empathy.
Unconscious tension functions largely the
same way conscious tension does; the difference
is that you’re not aware of it and you can’t
relax it at will.
And unfortunately, unconscious tension interferes
with presence.
If presence is predicated on feeling sensations,
then presence becomes next to impossible when
chronic tension or prolonged absence of attention
makes you numb to sensation.
And I guarantee you’re holding unconscious
We all do.
To relax it, you first need to become aware
of it.
And there is no better way to do this than
with the direct connection of touch.
Slow down, shut up, and feel.
This skill of feeling, so essential to connection,
is something few of us are actually taught
how to do.
We all have mirror neurons that help us model
the behavior of others.
But here’s the kicker—these mirror neurons
don’t act in isolation.
Situated in the motor cortex, mirror neurons
fire when we hear or see someone else move.
They also connect to neurons in our emotional
brain (specifically the insula, a part of
the brain involved in self-awareness) and
to motor neurons throughout the body.
In other words, we use our entire bodies to
make sense of other people.
Thanks to mirror neurons—and the way they
hook into your entire distributed nervous
system—when someone picks up a cup, you
can instantly sense whether she’s about
to calmly take a sip or angrily throw it across
the room.
This nonconceptual modeling process is one
of the primary ways you make sense of other
Mirror neurons tell you about action, emotion,
and intention as expressed through another’s
body and read through your own felt sense.
Essentially, you get insight into others by
automatically and unconsciously answering
the question “How would it feel to me if
I were to make that move?”
You perceive others through the very same
neural networks that you yourself use to take
the same action, employ the same tone of voice,
or make the same expression.
Own range is limited, your capacity to “get
it” when others are experiencing something
unfamiliar is truncated.
It turns out the less you can feel yourself,
the less you can “suffer with,” or have
compassion for, another.
Conversely, the more access you have to your
own sensations and emotions, the more empathy
and compassion you can access.
We feel with by feeling ourselves.
To begin with, SENSE more.
Pay deliberate attention to your sensations.
Familiarize yourself with their subtle nuances.
Learn to sense every part of your body, from
the inside.
Be aware of how you’re standing, sitting,
Connect to your feeling of care—truly experience
caring about who and what you love.
What’s important for you to care for and
protect in this situation?
Cultivate the capacity to experience intense
sensations without having to immediately react
to them.
Instead of letting your discomfort drive you,
learn how to return yourself to a state of
psychophysiological coherence, so that you
can access your full intelligence under pressure.
Stay connected to those you’re in conflict
Respect their inherent worth and dignity as
much as you can.
Build trust and rapport.
When people feel seen and heard, they are
naturally more cooperative.
When you’ve mastered your own internal state
and connected with the other person to the
degree that you’re able, then it’s time
to take action.
Embody the skill of making a clear request,
rather than stammering it out.
Build the capacity to say no, if that’s
something that’s difficult for you.
The more you sense yourself, the more you
immediately, easily, and automatically empathize
with others.
This connection is simply a neurobiological
reality; it is how our psychobiology is designed.
The more you connect to your own felt sense
of love, care, and desire to make a positive
difference, the more powerfully and effectively
you can take action.
The more you center yourself and get present
in the face of challenge, the better you become
at communicating, leading teams, and resolving
These qualities and capabilities are the hallmark
of powerful, trusted, and effective leadership.
Musicians, athletes, actors, and artists of
every stripe know this truth: The body only
learns through practice.
Most artists—including artists of athleticism—spend
upwards of 80 percent of their time in practice
or rehearsal.
Reading a book or attending an afternoon workshop
is the equivalent of going to the gym and
learning how to do sit-ups.
You can’t walk out of that initial session
and say, “Check it out, now I have abs!”
If you want six-pack abs, you’re going to
have to do those sit-ups again and again,
first to build and then to maintain the body
you want.
Embodied practice creates durable change,
because it rewires your entire neuromusculature
and creates new embodied patterns that affect
your day-to-day actions.
If you take the time to build the muscle memory
for key personal and interpersonal qualities
such as the ability to maintain composure,
access compassion, resolve conflict, and act
from care, those qualities become accessible
to you for the rest of your life.
And there you have it: Your Body is Your Brain.
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Link to this book is in the description below.
Buy it.
Never stop learning.
Especially learning about yourself and nature.
So gift yourself by taking the free human
needs test on my website and find out what
actually motives you, what innate human need
is driving all of your decisions and your
If you feel you are ready to improve your
self-awareness, social awareness, self-management
and relationship management even further,
do check out my Master of Life Awareness program.
Links are in the description below.
Thank you Love&Respect

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