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Morning, friends!

When you hear the word, "intelligence," what comes to mind? Do you think of IQ tests and greats like Albert Einsten? Maybe you consider AI technology and the incoming robot take-over and the now-inevitable food delivery Singularity?

Well, you can put all that aside for now. And you might also want to scroll down so the Einstein gif doesn't start making you feel weird.

Better.

What I got thinking about this week is a simple phrase that many a yoga teacher have cued to me and other students throughout the years and that I now impart on my own students: Use your intelligence. Use your intelligence to come into the postures, more specifically.

OK, but what does that *meeeeann*?

I'll tell you what I think it means. I think it means paying attention to what comes up in your body, whether on a physical or an emotional level (but actually both).

Do you recall the study where participants were asked to indicate where in their bodies they experienced certain emotions, and they mapped the trends to find that locations transcended demographics, including geographies and cultures? Those maps are a sort of indicator of what connects us, human to human.

Popular culture would have us believe that our rational/thinking mind is at odds with our feely-emotional selves. But in a lot of ways, paying attention to our embodied emotions is one of the most rational things we can do as a species to evolve more effectively in our environment. Emotional signals are what allow us to bond with each other and to escape danger and to do all kinds of things for survival. Emotions like compassion, as seen through acts of altruism, have even been traced back through prehistory to non-human primates. We know this was an adaptation of the chimps, not some sort of moral high ground. Chimpanzees are wild animals not known for being cuddly creatures.

For us homo sapiens though, it seems our highly-developed brains are often both our blessing and our curse. A boon for us as a species because we have the ability to innovate and form more complex community structures and all that, but a curse because as we come to de-prioritize or even distrust our emotional intelligence, we risk losing what makes us human. And humans are actually known to be an extremely cooperative species, which is why we've been so successful.

Imagine a familiar scene I'm sure we've all experienced some variation of when a young child walks by a homeless person and instinctively stops to ask them or their parent, "why don't they have a coat on?" Or, "why are they sitting on the ground?" Why do you think children do this? Because they know caring for each other is The Right Thing to Do? No! Because they just had a feeling. Children are not conditioned by intellect like adults are, they simply see a human, and their innate intelligence tells them various things. Children are often the purest model of how we might aim to be better to one another.

Or consider this news story from a small town in Georgia called Dahlonega, where one woman decided to attach a message of hate to a vacant building in the town square. For the sake of brevity I won't recount the entire story but you should read this article. I was struck by, well, a lot after reading it. But among my reactions was how much it tells this story of our clear struggle to stay grounded in our humanity, and the commonality of our human emotions (fear, disgust, contempt). Whether it's a hateful sign or the rhetoric of political leaders, these external signals confuse our internal intelligence. They are toxic to our survival because they validate cruelty. They condition us to believe that contempt will give us a community, and that hate will give us a home.

But our body knows this isn't true. Our body loves to love, (selfishly so, but I'll take it). And you might be cringing at that phrase, our body loves to love, but look at the map image again.

If you knew loving was the most rational, evolutionarily adaptive thing you are capable of, would you do more of it?

I am willing to try.

Intelligently yours 🙏🏽,
Kelly

Try this at home: science!

If you find it interesting that emotions are stored in our bodies, you might consider giving on back to science by taking an online experiment that looks at this very notion. 

Reader submission! Self Care Hierarchy

This drawing from Kamille aka co-host of the Unfriendly Black Hotties podcast aka former guest writer of Om Weekly gives me all the best feels. Thank you for sharing! <3

Tunes.

New playlist to inspire some feels in your body. You will notice the cover song inspired by one of my fav albums Body Talk, obvis.
What emotions are going to light up in your bod when you forward this newsletter to a friend? ALL THE GOOD ONES.
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