Two Insights


by Clint Hamm, Refuge Center Intern

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.”
Proverbs 4:7

“Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.”
Proverbs 4:26

brainThere are two kinds of insight that can aid and guide us on our journey toward living free and full. They are intellectual and embodied insight. The intellectual kind is about information; it is about understanding concepts, histories, terms, and patterns. Because we are not strangers to this process, we know the good that can come from learning something new, coming to terms with this or that fact, growing in knowledge and understanding. But what do we mean by embodied insight ? Let us edge toward an understanding of embodied insight by getting a closer look at the shortcomings of the “intellectual” variety, especially in
difficult times.

In his book, The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk writes, “When the alarm bell of the emotional brain keeps signaling that you are in danger, no amount of [intellectual] insight will silence it” (van der Kolk, 2014). And again, “No matter how much insight and understanding we develop, the rational brain is basically impotent to talk the emotional brain out of its own reality” (van der Kolk, 2014).

The fact is this: the experience of trauma/grief/emotional pain may well have prompted you to internalize a false belief… that you are weak or powerless or undeserving of good things. And no matter how much evidence to the contrary you possess, you can’t help but believe the lie. At this point, more than intellect is necessary. We have to move beyond rote memorization of things that are true to the intentional living into new realities, experiences, & possibilities. Our bodies need (and deserve) to believe that they are (and so can act) strong and powerful and worthy of love before our minds will believe anything of the sort.

Practically speaking, such embodied insight can be fostered in any number of ways: through meaningful exercise, vulnerable conversation with a trusted partner, deep-bellied laughter. Our brains need our bodies, our whole selves, to create new ways of seeing and believing. If you feel stuck, unable to internalize some good truth about yourself that you hope must be true, perhaps it’s time to reach out… And even in that act of reaching, you’re making an important step, the beginnings, indeed, of your very own embodied insight.

The Refuge Center for Counseling would be honored to walk this path with you. Visit us at or call us at 615.591.5262.

Van der Kolk, B. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma . New York, New York: Penguin Group.

Related Posts