Out Of Our Heads

I recently read an interview that gave this  extra-large person pause for reflection. Both the interviewer and the interviewee explored the implications of what they said is a well-known “fact” – that we have two brains; in addition to the cranial brain, we have a ‘second brain” in the gut. Scientists recognize the web of neurons lining the gastrointestinal tract as an independent brain, and a new field of medicine – nuerogastroenterology —  has been created to study it.

Now you may have already known this “fact.” But to a man with a rather large “gut” this revelation had a lot of implications. For example, if alcohol destroys brain cells what foods destroy or grow “gut cells”, and when they opened me up three years ago did they have to remove part of my “second brain?” It also gives new meaning to the phrase “gut instinct” or to an “upset stomach.” I am sure those of you with quick wits or love puns are already coming up with appropriate reactions. Please share them with us in our comments section.

Seriously, for a moment the interview makes the point that we tend to think of ourselves in terms that centers all our intelligence and being in the brain; where in other cultures the idea of “being” is centered in the belly. There is a Chinese word for belly that means “mind place.” Japanese culture rests on a foundation of hara, which means belly and represents the seat of understanding. Where we might say, “he has a good head on his shoulders, the Japanese say, “He has a well-developed belly.” (Something I can relate to).

We have explored various aspects of self – the intellectual, the physical, and the spiritual. Is it too much of a reach to consider that we should open up our thinking beyond our cranium? When I was recovering from surgery I remember that my nurses would say “listen to your body.” I am a strong advocate of the belief that we should listen more with our heart and soul than with our head. How often have you heard the expression “I can feel it in my bones” or something happens and your “skin tingles.”

I suggest during your meditation you not simply gather information from your body and send it to your head, but instead open the door to your entire body and listen to what it is telling you. The body is not outside of you, nor is your heart, your belly, your skin. The entire body is you, and if you only listen with the brain you are missing the experience of your own being.

Your task is not to seek love, but to merely seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. — Rumi

About the author

Webb Hubbell is the former Associate Attorney General of The United States. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller. His latest, “Light of Day” will be on the bookstands soon.


  1. Reading through *High Places* I learned Webb has a penchant for insightful expressions. The two below underscore how much our minds can define our lives.

    “Life does not consist mainly facts and happenings. It consists largely of the storm-of-thoughts that are forever blowing through one’s head.”

    “I have suffered a great many calamities in my life, most of which never happened.”

    Both are from Mark Twain.

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