Exploring the Organic Intelligence We See In Ourselves
by Robin Craig
Over the years, I have had a fascination with the physiological theories underlying activation and deactivation, fight, fight, and freeze states and social engagement (thank you Stephen Porges!).
Intellectually, I could tell you how these theories offer a map for sessions, yet something was missing. It felt as if all of the information I’d learned was written on sticky notes that were stuck to my head to be pulled off and read at the appropriate moment, but somehow they hadn’t truly integrated.
This all radically changed after sitting in a long meditation retreat last year. During that retreat I had a direct experience of raw organic intelligence, of movements and emotions, sensations and images arising spontaneously, integrating, re-associating and the consequent experience of significant expansion. I came to realize that all of the theories certainly did provide an important frame for understanding and my experience, but they were just sticky notes in the wind without a true awareness of the experience itself, specifically, of how things arise into consciousness. It became abundantly clear that the work of Organic Intelligence®, which intentionally sees the way things arise, truly supports the unfolding of each individual’s spontaneous experiences and thereby supports the expansion of human capacity in ways that other approaches simply don’t.
When I reflect back on my experience during that retreat, I have to acknowledge that what allowed this to happen was not simply sitting in meditation, but years of sessions. It was these years of sessions and then the retreat that allowed me to have a deep felt sense of the essential concept that I believe underlies Organic Intelligence (OI), namely the impulse towards unity, healing, or whichever term you use for it. The best way to describe it is using the words of k.d. lang and Ben Mink in “Constant Craving:”
Even through the darkest phase
Be it thick or thin
Always someone marches brave
Here beneath my skin…
Maybe a great magnet pulls
All souls towards truth
Or maybe it is life itself
That feeds wisdom to its youth…
It was my personal OI sessions that taught me to safely, and without overwhelm, contact my own constant craving, that “magnetic pull towards truth,” and allowed the retreat to be the flowering of renegotiation rather than a re-enactment of what my system, my self, has done a million times before.
As my understanding of Organic Intelligence continues to expand, I am drawn more and more to the question of how does our physiology create the experience of being pulled towards integration and healing? What is it that underlies all of these associative networks that compels completion, deactivation, and gives us that deep yearning? As new physiological theories continue to arise, how can they change the way I understand my own experiences and improve my ability to more easily see what is happening with clients? As much as I delight in Stephen Porges’s work, how will his theories shift and expand?
One of the exciting things about being in this OI movement right now is that there isn’t an established a dogma for what’s happening physiologically. We therefore have the opportunity to hold a variety of theories at the same time, expand our capacity to be fluid and keep that curiosity peaked! This reminds me of when I was in a college biology class and we were given two published research papers and told to write about which paper we found more compelling. I was stunned when I realized that each paper offered a different theory of the structure of cell membranes! What? I was certain I’d had been told in high school what the structure of a cell membrane actually is, so how could this still be theory? That blew my mind and I have to say things looked a little unstable for a moment. So I did what anyone with my exact same history and genetics would do, I quickly re-established my belief in the “T”ruth of the information I’d been given, but that experience still niggled at me. Years went by and still I would wonder, what if all of this is just theory, what if we truly “know” nothing? More years went by until my theoretical approach has become: Everything is a story. Everything is theory. Vive la unknown!
This leaves room to make physiological “maps” for Organic Intelligence, exploring some territory, then rewriting the maps adding formerly unseen contour lines and waterways. It leaves room for checking theory against experience and observation and adjusting accordingly. We can have an evolving frame for exploring this organic intelligence we’re seeing in ourselves and others and see what arises.