Tag Archives: Conscious Mind

Inuit Eskimos & Physical intelligence

by Rachel Qitsualik

How shall I go to compose this important song?
How shall I invent it to help me?
I am wholly ignorant.
Those who dance with elegance,
I will get inspiration from them.
– Ogpingalik, a Netsilingmiut songstress, 1960

Inuit have always believed that physicality is a sort of intelligence unto itself — and a vital one at that. Southerners who have travelled with Inuit have remarked that Inuit show an amazing ability to fix nearly anything, constantly finding new uses for old parts and tools. An Inuk can take one object, made for a single purpose, and find a dozen new uses for it.

Inuit standing immobile for hours over an aglu (seal breathing-hole)

Similarly, explorers have expressed a great deal of amazement at Inuit endurance and pain tolerance: a hunter’s ability to run full-tilt for several hours; the ability to stand utterly immobile over an aglu (seal breathing-hole) for an interminable amount of time; the ability to haul a heavy kill, perhaps more than the hunter’s own body weight, over vast distances. These are all good examples of the kind of physical prowess Inuit have needed simply to exist at all.

And it doesn’t end there. When a tool or toggle or part of a qamotik (sled) breaks on a hunt, a substitute must be made fast. Lashings and traces must be fixed, detached, or untangled with utter urgency. Shelters must be erected or taken down as quickly as possible, depending on sudden shifts in the weather.

Human existence itself can hinge upon improvisation. Improvisation with speed. With these kinds of needs, it is no wonder, then, that Inuit have come to depend not only upon the intelligence characteristic of the conscious mind, but that of the unconsciousness as well. Their survival has come to depend upon a physical intelligence, that which exhibits itself when there is no time for thought.

While this kind of physical intelligence is to some degree genetic, a result of Inuit having been engineered by the extreme environmental conditions, it is also a result of culture. Inuit culture has almost obsessively emphasized the importance of spatial coordination and athleticism. Whether the ajajaaq (string games) taught to children as soon as they were able to learn them, or the amazing traditional athletics still exhibited at the Arctic Winter Games, these were all training methods of one kind or another.

As a girl, I was privileged, in that my father allowed me to assist in his hunting. I became used to running for lengthy periods of time alongside a qamotik, and I became able to untangle multiple dog-traces in record time.

But it did not come easily. I had to be conditioned first. So, one day, near Prince of Wales Island, my father decided to train me. His demeanor suddenly changed from gentle, indulgent parent, to barking hellion. Nothing I did was quick enough, good enough. Lift this, toss that, coil that rope, set this up, make this, go here, faster, faster, not fast enough. I wept. I was sore day after day. Comfort became a stranger.

Yet I cannot dispute the fact that it improved me. I learned to act from reflex rather than thought, and I loved it. I was proud like never before.

I later learned that this was one traditional way of introducing Inuit youth to the adult world. But since Inuit don’t practice this kind of thing anymore, it has left us with a sticky problem: How can future generations still gain the personal benefits of traditional conditioning? How can the natural physical intelligence be used to improve modern existence?

Inuit can run for hours without tiring

Sports are a good way. Whether through southern sports, or the more traditional nature of the Arctic Winter Games, such athleticism is indisputably valuable. Nevertheless, the one flaw of a sport is its competitive nature, a nature that tends to repel those with no interest in testing themselves against others. Conversely, the traditional Inuktitut way of developing physical intellect is characterized more by its tendency to test the self.

Yet there is one activity that accomplishes such self-testing quite adequately, a physical intelligence with roots in Asia.

Shaolin monks training

China, being very old, enjoys as much mythic past as verifiable history. One of its myths tells of an Indian monk, known as Bodhidharma, who visited China’s Shaolin Temple.
There, he supposedly found the Chinese monks in poor health, and consequently taught them various breathing techniques and physical exercises. It is said that the Shaolin monks eventually used such techniques as the basis for hand-to-hand fighting styles. Over the centuries, such styles gained renown and were eventually taught to non-monks, spreading over China, then all of Asia. Thus do the Asian martial arts exist today.

He who knows others is wise;
Yet he who knows himself is enlightened.
He who conquers others is strong;
Yet he who conquers himself is mighty.
He who is sated is rich;
Yet he who directs himself has power.
– Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

The truth of the matter is similar, but much more complex, and I’ll only write of it briefly. As with the rest of the world, Asia has been pumping out martial arts systems, in various areas, at various times, since the advent of bronze weaponry (in China) around 1500 BC.

Even the Mongol wrestling style called “cilnum” (interestingly utilizing the same edge-of-the-fist blows Inuit traditionally used in unarmed fighting) is incredibly ancient.

Yet none of these fighting systems has persisted like the sort of martial arts that began to trickle out of China since 500 AD — roughly two thousand years later. Why?

The most likely reason is that, while Bodhidharma’s visit is largely mythical, the Shaolin tradition nevertheless did influence many of the martial arts in Asia, however indirectly.
And its influence left such martial arts with a semi-religious, ascetic flavour. In this way, the people who today practice the descendant systems of such martial arts might not be monks or Buddhists or even Asian, but they are still peppered by such ethics as:

1. Violence is a last recourse.
2. Respect family and culture.
3. Master the self.
4. Exercise restraint and discipline.
5. Struggle to improve society.

meditation - perfection of the self

The example above is not a military code, but a civilian, even semi-monastic, one. It is the difference between the martial art studied for war and that studied for the sake of self-discipline. In this way, such martial arts merely offer, as a bonus, the fact that they are useful for self-defence, while their real goal is perfection of the self.

I described my experience of undergoing a form of traditional Inuit training under my father. He was harsh — even what people today might call cruel — but once I overcame my self-pity, I came out of it with new skills, a new sense of pride in what I could endure.

There was only one other thing that made me feel the same way: karate, a discipline that has its roots in civilian — not military — tradition. In the late 1400s, the Okinawan king
Sho Shin banned all weapons. Okinawa, at that time, was an international Asian trade centre.

Karate-do - empty hand way

The response to the weapons ban was that the Okinawans borrowed Chinese martial arts, fusing them with local “te” (“hand”) boxing traditions for self-defence. By the early 1900s, the art was generally known as “karate-do,” or, “empty hand way.” Like my experience with my father, I initially thought it would kill me. As with my father, it was instead an awakening, the sense of being reconditioned into someone better. Like my father, martial arts was a call to my natural physical intelligence.

I wasn’t able to continue with karate because of relocation, but I have sampled other martial arts, and I’ve talked to other Inuit who have done so. Inuit seem to take to martial arts like birds to air, and I’ve decided that this only makes sense.

For there is something strangely Inuktitut about the martial arts. Their philosophies share the same kind of holistic, or “circular,” thinking intrinsic to Inuit culture. Their movements are suited to the Inuit Mongol body-type. But, most importantly, they are about harmonizing conscious mind with unconscious potential, what Bruce Lee called “neuromuscular conditioning.”

In other words, they are about awakening that physical intelligence ancient Inuit used to find so valuable — the ability to act toward survival instinctively, leaving the conscious mind free.

Often, I think about the needs of the younger generations — the need for pride, for focus, for something to do — and I wonder: How would Inuit react if there were more martial arts schools in the North?


Rachel Attituq Qitsualik was born into a traditional Igloolik Inuit lifestyle and has worked in Inuit sociopolitical issues for the last 25 years. This article was originally published by the Nunatsiaq News.

IONS: Buddha’s Brain

Hey, IONS friends. Here is the .pdf file to the powerpoint slides for my talk,

Right Click this link to “Save As” and download to your computer!

This is a two part lecture…

Part 1:

Right click to download the .mp3 audio of this talk.

Part 2:

Right click to download the .mp3 audio of this lecture

The .pdf of the PowerPoint Slides for this talk!

Right click to download the .pdf file of these slides!

What I will show you in this 90 minute talk: part lecture, part experience.

Your code for living Socrates’ “The Good Life”

Your Five Vital Intelligences –

Your brain’s four evolutionary stages –

Your brain’s empathy circuit

Your brain’s wiring for cruelty and evil

Your Empathy Spectrum – the three kinds of Empathy

How to train your unconscious mind

Your Conscious Mind – Three Qualities of Attention –

Your Superconscious mind – Gamma brain waves & whole brain synchrony

Sensing Your Big Why

Love – The four types of communicating –

Cosmic Care – may all beings be happy

Wise Hearts & Brilliant Minds – Turning “temporary states into permanent traits.”

Christ’s Cranium, Lao Tzu’s Lobes, & Buddha’s Brain: What Neuroscience Shows Us About Emotional Brilliance and Spiritual Mastery

Houston Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) July 2011 Meeting Reminder

NOTE: Location subject to change—watch your email for a final reminder a few days before the meeting!

About the program: Christ’s Cranium, Lao Tzu’s Lobes, & Buddha’s Brain: What Neuroscience Shows Us About Emotional Brilliance and Spiritual Mastery

What Alan will show you in this 90 minute talk—part lecture, part experience:

Your code for living Socrates’ “The Good Life”
Your Five Vital Intelligences –
Your brain’s four evolutionary stages –
Your brain’s empathy circuit
Your brain’s wiring for cruelty and evil
Your Empathy Spectrum – the three kinds of Empathy
How to train your unconscious mind
Your Conscious Mind – Three Qualities of Attention –
Your Superconscious mind – Gamma brain waves & whole brain synchrony
Sensing Your Big Why
Love – The four types of communicating –
Cosmic Care – may all beings be happy
Wise Hearts & Brilliant Minds – Turning “temporary states into permanent traits.”

WHO: Alan Davidson is the founder of ThroughYourBody.com and the author of Body Brilliance: Mastering Your Five Vital Intelligences, the #1 best-selling Health and Wellness book and winner of two national 2007 Book-of-the-Year Awards.

Alan has a B.S. from University of Houston, Downtown with an emphasis on psychology, sociology, philosophy, and religion. He is fascinated with the intersection of bodywork, psychology, and spiritual practice. Alan has taught massage, meditation, yoga, and human transformation since 1990.

WHEN: Sunday, July 10th

Plan on arriving between 5:30 to 6:00 pm to socialize and settle in, announcements will start promptly at 6 and the program starts by 6:15 and typically runs until 8pm. Those who wish can join us for dinner to continue the discussion.

WHERE: Lydia and Al Dugan’s home

Lydia and Al Dugan, 307 West Friar Tuck. They are off of Memorial Drive, on the south side, between the West 610 Loop and Chimney Rock Rd. Friar Tuck is on the left as you are going west on Memorial Drive. Their phone is 713-682-8430.

Sensational Gratitude

Lima, Peru-

Gratitude is what I sensed on that mountain peak—my body buzzing with ecstatic rhythms. I was grateful for my body, my health, my peace of mind, my freedoms—to explore my spiritual curiosity; my financial freedom to travel across the world; my personal freedoms as an American (there’s nothing like walking the streets with machine gun clad soldiers enforcing the coming curfew to appreciate America’s political freedoms).

What I still remember now are the sensations of that immense gratitude; mountain rock under my body, skin warmed by the sun, hair lifting in the breeze, chest rising and falling, sweat tickling neck, gratitude pouring through heart and mind. It was one pure moment.

Yes, being grateful is a state of mind. It is also a bodily experience. Sensation is the foundation of Physical Intelligence; it’s the language of our bodies. But each of the Five IQs has a sensational quality to it.

Our feelings, the language of Emotional IQ, have a sensory quality; think how your body changes with the heat of anger, fear in the pit of your stomach, or tingling of desire.

Our thinking, the language of our Mental IQ, is the subtlest of sensations. If we are still enough, and quiet enough, we can sense the thoughts floating across or conscious mind—and sense the subtle responses of our bodies to those thoughts. The more attached we are to a thought or belief, the stronger the body’s response to it.

Choice is the language of Moral IQ: how we choose to act based on our deepest values, passions, strengths, and vision. The true measure of our Moral IQ is simply how well we treat ourselves and each other. Each of these choices is an action; every action, of course, creates sensation in the body that moves, speaks, listens, lives.

Energy flow through our consciousness, body included, is the language of Spiritual IQ. The Chinese call it chi, the Hindu’s call it prana. Vibrant health, the sense of being whole and holy—they come from the same source—is the measure of this intelligence. Doctor’s of Acupuncture and Ayurveda (the ancient medicine of India) have refined ways of sensing the flow of energy through us. This flow also creates sensations—sometimes subtle, sometimes quite intense.

Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Joy—various states of Spiritual Intelligence have quite distinct sensations to announce their presence. By remembering—by calling to mind—those sensations we can tap into those sometimes ever-elusive states of being.

With Thanksgiving this month being the Hallmark Holiday of gratitude, here’s a little trick I use to plug back into my “Attitude of Thanks.” Then I’ll show you how to focus your attention with these sensations to sustain your state of mind. With practice, over time, you can learn to sustain the sensations of gratitude, or love, or joy when ever you choose (a plug for Moral IQ here); even when your life, family, your boss or co-workers, would rather drive you crazy. It’s actually their job to try to distract you (That’s another Oprah). You get to flex your muscles of gratitude till your being love/joy/ gratitude is unshakable.

Sensational Gratitude

Beginners Gratitude Exercise–

Sit quietly someplace. Close your eyes. Take a few breathes and relax your body. Take your time, as much as you can, with this exercise.

Remember a time when you felt great gratitude—perhaps a birth of a child; a graduation; a promotion; a kind word or gesture. It can be any memory that is powerful for you.
In your minds eye—see yourself as completely as you can in that moment. See it like a movie. Where were you? Who are you with? Allow the movie to be as vivid as you can. What are you wearing? What are the sights, sounds, smells, tastes of the memory? Be there as fully as you can.

Fill yourself with the gratitude you felt. Now notice the sensations of your body in the movie—the sensations you experienced at that time. Sense them as completely as you can. What are they (speak them softly out loud if you can).

Sense those very same sensations in your body now. Let the sensations of gratitude in your movie be the sensations you feel in your body right now. Let it spread through you; let being grateful now open your heart and uplift your spirit. Sense these through your body.

Medium Gratitude Exercise—

While sensing this delightful state of gratitude, imagine a bubble of energy surrounding you; a sphere of energy fueled by your expanding sense of gratefulness. Sense how strong this energy bubble is. It is impenetrable by anyone or anything. Yet you can move, breathe, and enjoy your freedom. You are completely safe in this sphere.

Now imagine a person who upsets you, aggravates you, or disturbs you. See yourself separated from them by your bubble of gratitude. Your energy level does not waver, whatever they may do. You are safe and strong.

Wonder at the shift you feel in your being. Here’s a person who normally aggravates you and yet gratitude pours through undisturbed. You are serene and joyful. Your usual judgments about them do not affect your flow of love and peace. They have no control on you or your choice to be in gratitude. You are free.

Advance Gratitude Exercise—

Do this in real life. Repeat as necessary till you sustain your Attitude of Gratitude all the time.

Welcome to you Spiritual IQ mastery.