Nobody But Yourself

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel ... the moment you feel, you're nobody-but-yourself. — e.e. cummings

I'm tempted to just leave that quote, gorgeous and poignant as it is!

But ... check out this picture.

  Ze human brain.

Ze human brain.

It's from Gray's Anatomy, a cutaway revealing the brain's insular cortex, one of the deeper centers that collates feeling-state information.

This depth of the brain is essentially part of the limbic system, that is our "middle brain" that deals a lot with primordial emotions. Primordial meaning these sensations deal less with a nonchalant "this surface is rough vs smooth," and more with something quite intense, a wave of sensation that says "let's jolt this body with great fear in hopes that we'll get out of this threatening situation alive!"

The more "superficial" sensations are, indeed, registered in a more superficial part of the brain (the somatosensory cortex).

Isn’t that wild? Some sensations that don’t feel as deep — say the feeling of your bum on a chair — register as activity in more superficial areas of the brain than, say, a more emotional sensation that feels deep, like heartache or a burning in your guts. That second one IS more deep, neurologically speaking.

Are there ways in which you attempt to stay "safer" by thinking about something personally difficult rather than by feeling it? The feeling tends to be more raw, deep and, as our poet above said, intimate.

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ps the upcoming weekend retreat with myself and Brooke Thomas still has a few spots left. We will, indeed, dive deep into the heart of this feeling-state inquiry, this nobody-but-yourself-ness.