What Does Your Gut Instinct Say?

tummy by Elaine via FlickrWhat Does Your Gut Instinct Say? – August 2016

Years ago I lived in the West Village in New York City while attending NYU for Film Directing. I rented a ginormous “Steenbeck,” which is a 16mm “flatbed” film editing machine. It literally weighed 500 pounds. I grabbed 3 big guys walking by on the street and paid them $15 apiece to carry it up the stairs to my little apartment.

Day after day I edited my NYU thesis film on that machine.

As I worked, I noticed something emerging about how I made editing choices. I wasn’t using just my mind and logic to know where to cut the film; instead, my body began to get involved in these decisions too.

Specifically, it was my stomach that began making most of the decisions – in fact, it made the best editing decisions. Somehow my stomach felt RHYTHM. My mind would want to use a shot because I was attached to the great camera movement or the beautiful lighting; whereas my stomach would make its choices based on how the film flowed: If I cut the film on this particular frame, would that intensify the emotional impact? (Surprisingly, even a millisecond too long or too short would make a difference). Was the cut jarringly too quick, or boringly too long? My stomach seemed to know.

The more I edited, the more I took the director’s hat off of my head, and placed it onto my stomach. As a result, my film came out pretty darn well, even winning awards at several international competitions. I’m pretty darn sure that wouldn’t have been the case if I’d allowed my mind to handle all the edits.

(As a side-note: I became so enthralled with this “stomach-editing” technique, that I wrote a mini handbook titled, “How To Edit a Movie With Your Stomach.” To my delighted surprise, that handbook is still being used in the NYU Film Editing Department today). 🙂

So how did my stomach “know” how to edit?

The Iowa Gambling Task Experiment

Antoine Bechara and his team at Iowa State University, conducted what is now a famous study called “The Iowa Gambling Task” in 1997. Participants were hooked up with galvanic skin tests that detected stress responses, similar to a lie detector test. They were to flip over cards from 4 different card decks. Some decks were pre-loaded with more winning cards than the other decks.

To figure out which were the “winning” decks using the mind, it would take healthy participants between 40-50 card flips to make the connection and start sticking with the better decks.

What the researchers discovered however, is that after only about 10 flips, participants began showing stress responses when their hands were just hovering over the bad decks. Their bodies were “knowing” a bad deck long before their mind figured it out.

Bechara’s findings were astounding because they indicated that body intelligence – or gut instinct – not only existed, but was much faster and more accurate than the mind.

Is Intelligence Located Only In the Brain?

When we think of consciousness and intelligence, we think of our brains – of our minds only. After all, we’ve been taught to view our bodies in mechanistic terms, as if our body was like a car that occasionally needs replacement parts and eventually wears out.

But WHAT IF your conscious intelligence actually existed not just in your brain and mind, but throughout your entire body? What more about yourself and life do you think you might understand if you listened to your aches and pains, flutters and energy bursts, tweaks and tickles… and gut instinct more often?

Much has been written about “body intelligence.” But instead of just reading about it, why not try an experiment this week?

Your Challenge This Week:

PLAY with the idea that your body might have some answers for you, that it might actually be intelligent.

1) If you have a pain in your wrist, sit down, get quiet, and ask your wrist, “What are you trying to tell me? I am willing to listen.” And then be truly willing to listen. Whatever answer you “hear” first is usually the answer – before your mind has a chance to toss in its usual opinion on the matter.

Our bodies hold important information about our Mind Loops as well. When we “stuff” emotions, the energy doesn’t just go away. It gets lodged in our body – just like if you sweep dirt under a rug, it doesn’t go away; it’s just not visible anymore.

If we listen in to our body and allow it to express itself, often we’ll get extremely useful information.

Not only that, but by simply consciously putting attention on your sick-feeling stomach or tight-as-a-brick shoulders without judging it or labeling it… your negative mood can actually lift. I often do this to release disappointment or resentments or other emotions that indicate a Mind Loop is in progress. (The 5th and 6th “D’s of De-Looping” from my de-looping system dissolve toxic emotions in a similar way).

2) Another way to play with body intelligence is if you’re involved with an art or music project – or any other task that requires multiple decisions. Ask a question and put your focus on your stomach. If it’s calm (or fluttering in an excited “butterflies” way), that’s usually a “Yes! Go for it!” answer. If it feels tight or anxious, that’s most likely a Thumbs Down.

A note of caution: Be careful to decipher the difference between an anxious (Thumbs Down) stomach, versus an excited (Thumbs Up) stomach. Both may feel strange and actually similar to a degree. Why? Because there may be something that’s important for you to do, but you’re resisting it because it’s out of your comfort zone.

Look for an energy LIFT or an energy DRAIN when you think about it. Fear can hold us back from doing things that would bring us the greatest joy. If the thought of doing something turns your stomach in a nervously excited way and your energy lifts up – even if it makes you a little sick to think of doing it – that’s a Thumbs Up sign.

Tuning into your own “gut instinct” may yield amazing results for you.

What do you think? Do you believe your body has intelligence ? What does your “gut instinct” tell you about it?

Let us know by adding your thoughts in the reply field below!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful week with a happy stomach!



photo credit: Painted belly by Elaine via Flickr Creative Commons

7 thoughts on “What Does Your Gut Instinct Say?

  1. This is great. Although I didn’t read all of the above, I get the idea. I remember when I was living in Boston and deciding whether to move to Seattle. I didn’t want to make another “bad” move such as the one I made to Maine (UGH!), so I did a lot of research and contemplated the idea for a couple months. But then one say I asked myself, “what does my HEART say that I should do?!” …And I immediately knew the answer.


    1. Fantastic, Marc. Asking your HEART about such an important decision as a move… Great idea! You get the best of body intelligence – the voice of instinct PLUS love. 😀


  2. This is so true! I’ve taught myself to go with my gut feeling because it’s usually the right choice (for me). It might not be that way for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Being a man, it might sound weird to some people if I say this, but I’m a bit hard-headed when it comes to making decisions. I’ve run many businesses over the years, so I think in statistics and graphs. I’ve noticed, though, that when I add a little emotion, certain aspects of my companies seem to run smoother. You really hit the nail on the head from what I’ve experienced.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This post confirms a lot of my experiences. I realized that my gut always tells me what I need. There was always one obvious answer about what was right for me and when I would test the feeling, the outcomes were always good, and I never felt doubt or regret.


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