Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships10 Jan 2013 01:42 pm

Much of my thought over the last year or two has been focused on articulating and exploring the wonderful world of life becoming conscious of itself. A major part of my reflections has dealt with the complementary and integrated roles of the body and self-consciousness. I refer to the body as that which lives in the world, or the habit body. I’m generally comfortable as designating the self-conscious mind as the ego.

As you many of you who visit this site frequently know, I think too much emphasis and attention is placed upon the self/ego/executive function to the disservice and lack of appreciation of the skill and wonder of the lived body. You may want to read the previous posts in order to get caught up to speed.………

Okay, so lets start by the simple statement that the ego is the thinking mind, which among other things observes, savors, problem solves, plans, judges, blames, etc. The ego is by definition self-conscious (conscious of itself). We refer to it as the executive function because of its primal role in planning, organizing, problem solving, etc.

While the ego is busy being self-conscious and thinking, speaking to itself, problem solving and judging, the lived body is busy participating, integrating, harmonizing, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and touching the world. The lived body is reacting, responding, selecting, documenting, perceiving and managing our mundane existence and coexistence with the environment.

The lived body is the habit body. Based on a few important data points it learns how to effortlessly function in the real world with lightning speed. The lived body is able to act and process at a far greater speed than the self-conscious mind. While we walk our habit bodies are soaking in the environment even if we are self-consciously else where. When our conscious mind suddenly becomes aware of the smell of lilacs it is usually only because of the constant perceiving and sensing being conducted by the lived-habit body (me). Hopefully this description has you better understand or feel what I mean when I talk about our bodies being-in-the-world or taking up a world.

It is the transcendental nature of our ego (self-consciousness) which allows it to be able to reflect, observe and savor. Likewise it is the nature of the habit body to orient itself and function in the world. The habit body participates and is in the world, and the ego is that which appreciates and reflects on our being in the world. The ego’s ability to transcend and observe our body and our experience our essential for our being aware of our experience.

So in essence the habit body is aware and conscious, it just isn’t self-aware and self-conscious. The problem with most of modern psychology, science and even spiritualism is that they over exaggerate the importance and autonomy of the self-conscious mind and deny the importance if not existence of any other aspect of our humanity. In psychology there is only (self)-consciousness and unconsciousness.

Let’s take the term unconscious memory and apply it to the dynamic between ego and habit body and see if it can become understandable and not just an oxymoron. Okay, our lived body is processing and documenting a tremendous amount of data (experience, words, sensation, etc.). Much of this information is placed in short, medium and long term memory even when our conscious mind was elsewhere or focused on one or two aspects of the total experience. This is why if pressed you can recall what song was playing at a party, or what someone was wearing even while at the moment of those occurrences your ego was deeply focused on a conversation or lost deep in thought. While your habit body acts of a minimal amount of information, it still processes and remembers a huge amount of data over a small space of time.

The so called unconscious memory of psychology is more accurately described as memory that was documented and incorporated into the data base of the lived habit body and was able to be retrieved by the ego to become data for the self-conscious mind. In the rare occasion that the habit body has protected itself from the pain, discomfort or failure caused by a specific event/memory or general habit/memory than it is true that the self-conscious ego has to struggle to access this data. Yet, almost all memory is habit body catalogued, and the vast majority is organized in a manner allowing for the best and most comfortable successful functioning of being-in-the-world.

When one reflects on one’s actual experience there are many other forms of consciousness and awareness which do not fit the strict definition of ego or self-consciousness. Yet, in the dual world of consciousness and unconsciousness, the unconscious is bad and a problem. While it is true that inhibition and many bad habits originate in a the world of the habit body (me), it is ludicrous to say it only has negative attributes. The lightning quick short hand allows the lived body to move and successfully function in the world, it also allows it to sort essential from inessential material. Likewise, it is the lightning speed of its processing which allows it to perform and catalogue useful information (memory, habit, sensorial cues, etc.) at the same time.

Just think how slow and difficult it would be for us to function and learn if we were totally dependent on the ego as our only form of awareness. Even walking would be near impossible if we had to break it down into the thousands of components and compensations involved in almost every step. We probably would never learn to walk if the skill had to be imparted to us by our ego. Similarly, we could think of nothing else when walking if the general mechanics and each subtle variation of stride and terrain had to be self-consciously orchestrated and analyzed.

The habit body’s ability to adapt to a new situation is far more quick and efficient than if it were attempted by the ego. We can adapt and master a major change in a matter of moments as our body incorporates and makes the changes part of our functional body image. If I put a feather in my hat within a few minutes I move in a way honoring the existence of the feather and seldom having it bump into objects as I move about rooms I’ve never even been in before. Just imagine how long it would take if I were to have to consciously think through each new scenario.

Likewise think how quickly one adjusts to riding a bicycle or a car with radically different dimensions than the one we are accustomed to, and how impossible it would be to adjust if we had to consciously identify and analytically teach our body the modifications of the new vehicle, as we make every turn, brake and park the vehicle. A musician within minutes of being seated at a piano with keys of different size and response, can play even the most challenging piece with a smoothness and deft that defies logic.

I’ll end here and hopefully what I have chosen to write here has clarified more than it has overwhelmed in my attempt to articulate the importance of the habit body and its relation to the ego.

Jim Guido

One Response to “Body and Consciousness”

  1. on 23 Feb 2013 at 7:06 pm MCM バッグ

    MCM バッグ…


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