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Nurturing your natural intelligence and natural dignity

Dear Integral Meditators,

One of the most important & enjoyable benefits of being mindful is accessing what I call your natural intelligence & natural dignity. The article below explores how to understand & develop these two skills experientially.

In the spirit of natural dignity,

Nurturing your natural intelligence and natural dignity

Today I want to talk about two very important qualities that you start to build within yourself through mindfulness. Whenever you do any form of activity that stimulates your mindfulness, you create an inner space where there is an opportunity to build what I call your natural intelligence and natural dignity. Understanding and reflecting upon these two qualities helps us to develop them faster and more deeply.

Natural intelligence.
Natural intelligence is simply your innate ability to learn, problem solve and generally figure things out from direct observation and experience of life. When our mind and bodies are relaxed and calm, we all have a natural facility to just look at things and learn about what works and what doesn’t. This natural intelligence does not require a philosophy (though by using it you may develop one), nor does it require complex conceptual knowledge. However, it does require you to be able to have enough confidence and inner calm to start to trust and use it effectively. Here are two examples of where I have developed and used it in my life:

  • At art school as a sculpture student, I had a lot of technical problems that were involved in how to make sculpture effectively; How tall can I build this clay sculpture before it falls over? How can I communicate an emotional idea that I have in my head in a silent three-dimensional form? How can I make an effective sculpture avoiding any unnecessary processes that harm the environment (e.g. fiberglass etc…)? All of these questions can be informed by asking others, looking at other artworks and so on, but for the most part what I needed was just to keep looking, keep experimenting using trial and error, using my natural intelligence.
  • As a mindfulness and life coach. One thing that I have discovered in my teaching and coaching career is that learning different modalities of coaching and learning will only get me so far in terms of bringing real benefit to the diverse group of people whom I coach and assist. The fulcrum of my coaching practice (and the one that I believe makes me the most valuable to others) is the ability to look at people’s lives and situations with my natural intelligence. This enables me to enter into the person’s life, understand its context, observe it, and then on that basis offer a series of suggestions that are going to be relevant and useful to that person and that will help them direct their life in the way that they want it to go.

Natural dignity
Natural dignity is something that every creature has. For example if you look at a mouse or an ant going about its daily business you will start to observe that, whatever dangers it is fending off or jobs that it is doing, they are basically happy to be themselves. An ant is happy to be an ant, it is not thinking about becoming a grasshopper. A mouse is comfortable in its own skin, in its “mouseness”. It is not trying to be something else, and in this you can sense a natural dignity, an unconscious self respect that the mouse possesses in being what it is.
Humans however, amidst all their mental complexity and egoic insecurity very easily lose touch with their natural dignity, the dignity of their humanness and just being who they are. Humans often look at other humans and want to be the other that they see. They look at their bodies and want another, better looking body. They look at their skill sets, consider them inferior and want someone else’s that seem better. Basically we as humans have lost touch with the natural sense of dignity that comes from being comfortable as we are, warts and all. Natural dignity is completely different from being lazy or a slob. Laziness and slobbiness is almost always accompanied by low self esteem and self loathing “I want to be something else, but I have given up trying” it says. Natural dignity is just a sense that you have, when your mind and body are relaxed enough that says “I am comfortable in my uniqueness and the validity of my place in this world and in the universe, and I don’t have to do more than this to feel dignified in who I am”.

Two questions
Here are two questions that you can ask yourself regularly as a form of mindfulness practice, in order to help stimulate your natural intelligence and natural dignity:

  • If I mindfully bring my natural intelligence to bear upon this situation/circumstance/challenge, what does it help me to see and understand?
  • If I center myself within my natural dignity in this situation, what would it change in terms of the way I experience it?

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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