We have two brains? Yes, says Philip Shepherd, author of New Self, New World – and to live unconscious of our second intelligence not only deprives us of the richness of life, but imperils the very planet that supports us. Our second brain rests in the pelvic bowl and has been identified and named by science as the enteric nervous system.
This brain – known in the east as hara or dan tien – is the seat of our body intelligence. It is suffused with sensory perceptions and continually informs our thinking brain of our environment, both internal and external. The body's intelligence is what remembers all the parts to riding a bike long after the rational brain has given up its checklist of balance, velocity, and road conditions necessary in learning the skill of cycling. It is what reads body language while our head is engaged in words. This body brain is informed by environmental subtleties and reaches beyond sensory perceptions to anticipate imminent conditions – if we're listening. And, how do we do that?
New Self, New World offers both the understanding to reconnect with ourselves, and exercises that guide us into the experience. It is a deeply expressive, richly researched book that draws on mythology, linguistics, poetry and philosophy to track humanity's disengagement from the body and domination by the head. Philip's personal experience as a workshop leader allows him to carry the reader deeply into a new experience of being that heals our broken relationships with ourselves and the world.
The book shows, for the first time, how the hidden messaging of our culture instructs us to lead with our heads only, so that we live in a top-down power structure that sees the brain as the driver in charge and the body as a mechanical vehicle. This tyranny repeats in our political and economic experience where "heads" of state or "chief" executive officers exert control over the masses.