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OK, there are two words you don’t see next to each other very often.
Instinct and Intelligence.

Of course we are used to Intellectual Intelligence.  We go to school to build that one.  We talk and preach and teach to show it off.  We use it to create technology and solutions and all kinds of logical stuff.

And we are getting more used to Intuitive Intelligence.  Intuition is popular now.  It’s recognized as that inspiring tug, that ineffable knowing, that spiritual emotional “softer” wisdom that helps us avoid danger, choose the right people and things, and generally feel connected to spirit.  It generally includes “emotional intelligence” as a way to relate with others from both the intellect and the heart.  Super important, of course, but not the full story.

And then there’s Instinct.  That one sounds too primal.  Too caveman.  Not elevated and modern.  Sounds like it must have to do with fear, escaping lions and tigers and bears (oh my).  Who talks about instinct anymore?  Don’t we have algorithms and devices to keep us safe now?  Who needs instinct in a modern world?  Ok. Sometimes you hear over-confident fast-moving cowboy style businessmen speak of their GUT instinct.  Right?  But who else?

Recently I’ve been using the term Instinctual Intelligence to describe the messages that come, raw and unbidden, with sensate intensity to those quiet enough to feel it – from NATURE.  Yes,
sometimes that’s the raw nature of the body.  Pain is instinctual.  So is lust. So is a hot flash.  And so much more.

Kinda audacious to just pick a new word, Mellissa.
Yah well…
We need to find new words and combinations for things we don’t talk about often.
So I’m gonna just go ahead and do that.

An Ex-lawyer’s Disclaimer:
For the past 20 years, I’ve been helping people connect with, speak with, and collaborate with the intangible power and guidance that surrounds us.  We call it by many names. Spirit.  Guides.  Gut. Deities. Elementals. Saints. HeartWisdom. Inspiration. Angels. Ancestors.  Past life memories. Dreams.  And I don’t believe any of the words themselves – only what they stand for.  The words are all imprecise.  Too small.  But what else can we do?  These human brains are designed for stories and metaphors, not for the direct understanding of mysteries WAY too big to put words to. So, fine.  Choose your metaphor.  Choose your religious dogma.  Choose your words for the bigness.  It’s always gonna be wrong.  And it’s always gonna be better than not relating to the bigness at all.

So here goes.
Let’s define something called Instinctual Intelligence.
It’s different than the Intellect of the  Mind.
It’s different than the Intuition of the Heart.

It lives in the gut, in the belly, in the darkness.
And because of  that, people don’t want to talk about it.

And I witness that’s a MAJOR problem in our culture, that is causing untold damage to the natural systems of “the environment,” our sexual well-being and power, and our physical health.
Somatic educators, therapists, and thinkers get it.  While “soma” is Latin for “body” and many would say that the area of somatic study is just about the physical, somatic study goes deeper into the intrinsic connection of emotional well being to trauma to the nervous system to the actual fascia and flesh of these meat-suits we call bodies.

Instinct is felt in the body.  Often the belly, the gut, the heartbeat and the sweat and the tingles up the spine.  But it’s not “only” the body.  Just as all trees in the forest register a change in their electromagnetic systems when one tree is taken down… our bodies are not separate from the other embodied natural things all around us.  Our bodies register other’s pain, but that’s just for starters.  Anyone who’s spent time in the wilderness, or even a quiet urban park, can speak to the way the wind, the water, the smells and the light all “speak” to our bodies.  They speak directly to our nervous systems, even if our minds are not paying attention.

Listening to nature, the nature of your body as well as the living things around you, is listening to your Instinctual Intelligence.  And just like any language, the more you listen, the more proficiency you have to understand and make use of what you hear.

We do notice those people who have a strong instinctual intelligence.  We say they have a charismatic mojo.  We instantly look to them in an crisis.  We follow their gut feeling. We notice they are fully present in their bodies, regardless of age.   We implicitly trust their movements.

But we don’t talk about how to build that instinctual intelligence in ourselves much.  So here are a few hints.  Go outside.  Listen to the trees.  Feel and follow that gut feeling.  Notice the fear, yes, but also notice the subtle magnetic draw to move in a certain way, to a certain place.

I notice that too many spiritual schools and practices focus on the heart-centered intuitive intelligence, but neglect the more primal instinctual intelligence. Westernized “Tantra” uses conscious breathing and eye-gazing, but doesn’t usually go directly into the passion, the fire, and the creative power that rises with tumescence.  Outdoor education teaches you to listen to your instinct, but perhaps doesn’t show you that there’s a reason every dang mystic tradition in the world speaks of spirit-elementals that live in the wild places, sharing wisdom and power with us: the little ones, the menehune, the faeries… could they all be wrong?  For eons? And then anything that relates to Instinctual Intelligence is categorized as “Nature-based spirituality” or “indigenous” or “shamanic” even when it’s not tradition specific. Meanwhile our “science” is “discovering” things our Instinctual Intelligence has known forever. The water has a voice.  The mushrooms have intelligence.  The trees are a community.  And the wild energies that surround us can also guide us, if we listen from the gut.  Let’s not lump all of this visceral natural wildness in with the “higher” realms of speaking with spirit via intuition.

The power of Instinct is ready to be reclaimed.
It might just save our “environment” from collapse, our bodies from unending pandemics, and our sexual creative power from a slow numbing death.


What if there are three forms of intelligence, based in our minds, our hearts, and our bellies?
Mind: Intellectual Intelligence
Spirit: Intuitive Intelligence
Nature/Body: Instinctual Intelligence

I’m curious what you think about this.

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