esther m palmer

Somewhere I got the number 80% as the percentage of our communication that is nonverbal. I haven't found a reliable source that can verify that the breakdown is as cut and dry as that, or that that number is even at all accurate, but I am happy to make use of it to point out just how much we send and pick up signals without words. LOTS!

Much of our nonverbal communication doesn't even get processed in thoughts - it just connects us. Scientists are breaking it down carefully to understand how and what we're doing exactly (and I'm still on the lookout for more information on that score), but we don't need their test results to keep on doing it. (Unless, of course, something is off in a person's ability to send and receive the signs. And then understanding how it works 'normally' can help scientists and therapists create programs to give said person new (average) tools for communication.)

Typically, though, our ability to communicate without words is vast.

Many of us, however, do not make full use of this innate ability, and as a result the ability narrows, the nonverbal communication muscles weaken. Or at least we don't recognize our own projections and receptions, we don't trust what we get in nonverbal communication until we've been able to think it through. Gut reactions and instincts are listened too, but maybe not as much as they should be. Our prefrontal cortex gets in the way - that's its job - by analyzing everything.

So, if you think you rely on words more than you'd like, how do you uncover your natural sensitivity to your other senses?

First, learn to listen to your own body. Try yoga or any practice that takes your attention inward to the breath or how your body feels in stillness or movement. As you notice more, you might be inspired to analyze and try to understand the why behind what comes up. That's ok --go ahead and explore the why! At the same time, avoid getting hung up in the why because you may not come to a satisfactory answer. You want to let go of the need to unpack your experience before it takes you completely out of your experiencing.

Then, as you have a better sense of what actions and shifts and sensations mean to you, start to pay attention to others --look for signs of what you experience in yourself. You'll probably discover they become easy to see, and that there are signs of experiences you don't have. Let those filter in as well! Don't worry if you don't understand and have a hard time processing something. Let it come in as a question, allow yourself to grow accustomed to seeing it before you need to know what it means.

Use all of your senses to observe the world and you may just discover your "sixth sense"--an ability merge incoming information into a reading that is complex and strong, even if you can't attribute it to one sense or source.

Go, observe the world! And let me know what you uncover.


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