Tell us a little bit about this full body yes. I’ve heard you talk about this for a long time. I’d love to hear the genesis and how does it play out in the way we make decisions.
Well, a full body yes uses your whole body thinking. So usually we make decisions from just a part of our brains and we’re doing the pros and the cons and listing things out in a linear fashion, and it doesn’t take advantage of the centuries of learning that we carry in our bodies and that we carry in ourselves and so using a whole body yes … Do I have a whole body yes or whole body no for this thing is not only a shortcut, but it also takes advantage of all the things that your ancestors have learned that brought you here today. So, it’s a way of using the best things that you’ve inherited and by tuning into what we call your body wisdom. It’s the signals from your body. The most basic one is “do I have a yes or a no for this?” And the yes is often more difficult to get to than the no. The no often has a, if you tune into it, there’s a sense of contracting in some way, of moving away from connection. And so I like to tune in to – when I’m looking for “Is this a no?” – I tune into a time that I did something that I didn’t really want to do. And I tune into how do I experience that in my body from the really big experiences to the tiny ones? So one of the things I learned, for example, for me, with the whole body no is that I feel a little pulling – there’s just a little pulling in here. That’s the most subtle sign for me. It’s like I’m trying to pull away from it while I’m still trying to do it, you know. And then I use that and I can tell you more about how to use it. But a whole body yes: you want to tune into an experience where you have felt comfortable, at ease, it’s maybe a place that you really like to be or people that you really like to be with, and then you tune into how do you experience that in your body? How do you feel, what do you sense, and the whole body yes often has an uprising, a fountaining kind of quality, especially up the front of your body. And what gets people into trouble is they’ll have a whole body yes, and then they’ll start questioning it. So they’ll have a whole body yes, and then they flee up into their heads and there it goes. How could you be well, have you considered, and have you considered the pros and cons? And do you remember what happened last time? Or, you know, we’ll start criticizing you. So it also gives people a chance to notice “do I actually trust myself? Am I actually in a friendly relationship to myself?” or “Am I almost always looking for what’s wrong?” So for me the whole body yes is kind of like Gladwell’s Blink. It’s your body’s instant, and it’s almost always really reliable. Am I feeling expanded with this or am I feeling an ugh? And if I’m feeling any kind of an ugh, it’s not a whole body yes. So we’ve often said if it’s not a whole body yes, it’s probably a no.
So I’m curious. That’s beautiful. I was actually, funny enough, experiencing it. As you were talking. Yes, and I was remembering moments where I did do something I didn’t want, and definitely mine was more in my shoulders. Like I felt a kind of ugh going in, and then when you spoke to the other one, you know, the yes was definitely an opening. I’m curious, like, before it becomes a habit, maybe do we practice this like something happens and I say to myself “Is this a yes?” Like am I pausing to ask myself a question? How does it play out?
Well, what I have found over the years is that the easiest way to practice this is with food and with clothes. So, when you go to wherever your clothes are – some people do that at night, you know to select for the next day? – I don’t because I don’t know how I’m going to feel the next morning. So, I go to my closet, and then I’ll look at things and then I notice how’s my body responding to this? Does my body expand and I feel an uprising or does my body go ugh? Even if it’s something that I like, you know, something that I normally like. On that day, it’s maybe just not the right thing for how I’m wanting to be expressing myself in the world. So that’s one that’s easy to practice and then you can see through the day, “How do I feel about my choice?” And is there anything I can learn from how my body was responding that I ignored when I was listening at first, so that’s a really – because everybody, most everybody, has to get dressed in the morning – so it’s a great place to practice. And then with food – so now I usually recommend this for people when you’re going out, but not very many people are going out now, but if you are and even if you’re not. If you’re like standing in front of your refrigerator or you’re thinking about what am I going to eat today? You can apply the same thing. When I think about this does my body have that ugh? You know, and pulling away from it or does my body open up and want to move toward it? So, each of us are going to have unique little indicators around those sort of general principles. And I find that also just incredibly helpful.One of the other places I use it is when I’m being invited to do something.
And so it’s also a shortcut. Do I want to do or do I not want to do. And so that’s another place to practice, and that’s the place where I have gotten into the most trouble – where my body has said uh-uh, but my mind goes, “Oh, it would be so useful, you know, it would give you more exposure, it would put me da, da, da. But my body has said no and almost always the place where you’re going to get into trouble is if you override – particularly if you override the no. And I found that that’s particularly true for women. That is that we, I believe, more often. I’m not sure what men’s experiences with this, but I know for women that they get into trouble because women are acculturated to be accommodating and to go, “Oh sure” even if you don’t want to and just simply saying, “I don’t want to” is not good enough, you know, in most situations. It’s like, well you have time and this is a skill area for you. So, if you just have a no that’s not good enough. So, it gives you a chance to feel into “Do I really support myself in my choices and what I’m wanting to do and not wanting to do?” But it’s the most unloaded art practice with food and with clothes, and you’ll see that you gain skill.