Body Intelligence in Relationships: An Essential Element of Conscious Loving

By Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. and Kathlyn Hendricks, Ph.D.

Why Your B-IQ—Your Body Intelligence Quotient—Is As Important As Your IQ

In the years since our book, Conscious Loving, first came out in the early 90s, we’ve had the opportunity to work with couples and singles from many cultures around the world. Whether we’re teaching a seminar in Berlin or Bangkok or Beverly Hills, we’ve found that the issues people struggle with are remarkably similar: money, chores, children, sex and communication. Often, though, the real issue isn’t what it looks like on the surface. Whether it’s in the area of chores or children or sex, the real underlying issue is a lack of Body Intelligence.

There are many facets of Body Intelligence, but the one that matters most in relationships is the ability to know what you’re sensing and feeling in your body, and how to communicate about those sensations and feelings so that other people understand you. The reason most of us aren’t very good at communicating about our feelings is lack of training and practice. For example, by the time we get into elementary school, most of us have acquired the Body Intelligence skill of knowing when we have to visit the bathroom. The reason we master it so early in life is that we get a lot of training and practice in how to interpret the sensations at an increasingly subtle level, so that after a few years almost everyone learns to communicate about and act on the sensations in a timely fashion. If we got equivalent training in how to notice and communicate effectively about other sensations such as those of fear, anger and sadness, we would be less likely to create relationship conflict. We would be able to communicate about the important things in our lives much more easily. Relationship counselors would stop hearing the common complaint: “You never talk to me about your feelings.”

As a practical way to increase Body Intelligence, we teach in our seminars a simple three-zone formula for learning how to get in touch with three of the feelings people have most difficulty communicating about in their relationships: anger, sadness and fear. The Anger Zone is the lower and upper back, shoulders, neck and jaw; when you notice tension in that zone it’s frequently caused by unacknowledged and un-communicated anger. The Sadness Zone goes from the chest up through the throat; even before you show external signs of sadness, such as tears, you’ll often feel a ‘lump in the throat’ tension that extends down into your chest. The Fear Zone is from the solar plexus down to the lower belly. That’s where you feel the ‘butterfly’ sensations and the tight belly muscles that let you know you’re scared.

In relationships, not knowing how to communicate anger, fear and sadness virtually guarantees repetitive conflict. For example, many people get stuck in a repetitive cycle of exchanging anger and blame, without realizing that there is unacknowledged sadness and fear under the anger that needs to be communicated. As another example, many people get the sensations of fear in their belly confused with the sensations of hunger, causing them to eat when they’re actually feeling afraid or lonely.

Whether the feelings are fear, anger, sadness or more pleasant ones such as happiness and joy, the ability to notice them and communicate them to others is a key factor in creating relationship harmony. This ability requires a new type of intelligence, Body Intelligence. In the real world of relationships, your B-IQ—your Body Intelligence Quotient—matters as much as your IQ.

Join Gay and Katie Hendricks as co-hosts with Lamara Heartwell and Mark Metz on the Shift Network’s upcoming Body Intelligence Summit.

Kathlyn Hendricks, Ph.D., BC-DMT is the CEO and Director of Training for The Hendricks Institute, an international learning organization that teaches the core skills of conscious living through a unique, whole-body approach to Quantum Coaching™. Her explorations of the catalytic power of the creative arts in psychotherapy and organizational systems have been featured in many magazines, journals and books. She received her doctorate in psychology in 1982 and has been an board-certified member of the American Dance Therapy Association since 1975. She has consulted and taught in the graduate programs of many universities and has an international reputation as a seminar leader for health and business professionals. She is the co-author of ten books, including Conscious Loving, The Conscious Heart, At the Speed of Life and Lasting Love.

Gay Hendricks, Ph.D., is the author and co-author of over thirty books in conscious relationship, conscious business and bodymind transformation. Included are such enduring bestsellers as Conscious Loving, The Corporate Mystic, Conscious Breathing, Conscious Living, and Five Wishes. Before founding his own institute, he was Professor of Counseling for twenty-one years at the University of Colorado, where he began teaching in 1974 shortly after receiving his doctorate from Stanford University. Over the past 29 years of their relationship, he and Kathlyn have raised two children, accumulated a million frequent flyer miles and appeared on more than 500 radio and television programs. They also launched The Spiritual Cinema Circle, which now has more than 20,000 members in 80 countries. Gay has also realized a lifetime dream by publishing a series of mystery novels beginning with The First Rule of Ten.

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This article appears in: 2015 Catalyst, Issue 3: Accessing Your Body Intelligence (BQ)