Martha Beck’s recent book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, addresses the powerfulness in resorting to a state of Wordlessness. She defines the state of wordlessness as shifting the brain out of the verbal processing region into the regions of the brain where we can access our creative, intuitive and sensory regions. Shifting into this nonverbal state is a rich area to access. She explains that in our verbal state we process about 40 bits of information per second, whereas in our nonverbal regions, we process about eleven million bits of information per second. Although shifting into this region of the brain can lead us to a wealth of information, in this state of wordlessness, our brain doesn’t have to work to access these riches. Rather the brain goes into a state of rest and relaxation – a state of stillness. In this state of stillness, we are able to access creative answers and find guidance.
I love the idea of getting out of our own way. Stopping the thinking can enable us to access the infinite wealth of knowing and guidance right within ourselves. Beck suggests that many cultural traditions suggest that accessing the intelligence of your nonverbal mind is like logging onto an “energy internet” that gives you access to something much bigger than your own entire intelligence.
The question then becomes how we stop our “monkey minds”, the Buddhist definition of our busy minds. Beck directs us with the secret – the ability to remain wordless while performing complex tasks can be developed only by playing. Play broadens the kinds of things we consider doing. Beck describes the playfulness of young animals as coming from the trait of “neoteny”, a Greek word, neo, means “new”, and tenein, means “to stretch”. (Beck, 2012)This is the kind of real play Beck is talking about. As humans we can develop and learn in this way throughout our life. Pick something that is new and hard and push yourself to the edge. This allows you to practice deeply until you accomplish it allowing your brain to finish rewiring itself. The act of doing it pushes you to focus so intensely that we become present and enter the state of wordlessness. Beck calls this moment of arriving kissing the face of God.
The challenge to ourselves is to find something new and difficult and stretch to practice it until we have conquered it. For me I decided I will get back into my ice skates. I use to ice skate as a child, and did do some skating last year, but felt frightened of the consequences of falling. My husband says that the more he skates, the more it feels like a natural part of his body (his brain has rewired itself). Make a list of the things you would like to do that will stretch you and begin today to play hard as learning it. And have fun as you enter the wordless state of being.
Beck, M. (2012). Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. New York: First Free Press.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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