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Why Consciousness Lives In The Body

“Brainstem functions have to do with the body.” - Mark Solms

“The source of life-energy is not in our emotions or thoughts. It is in the body. Without the full functioning of the body, our full life energy is not accessible and thus a full and complete life is not possible.” - Jivasu

The source and function of consciousness, long assumed to be housed within the cortex of the brain, may actually be housed within the body.

The source of consciousness, according to Mark Solms, is the brainstem, not the regions of the brain responsible for thought, language, problem-solving, emotion, and so on. The brainstem is the oldest part of the brain, because it is the first to develop, and is responsible for the vital functions of life, such as sleeping, breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. The brainstem also produces raw, intrinsic consciousness, capable of being fully awakened and experienced with greater interoception.

The processes of the brainstem are intrinsically conscious, even if we are generally unaware of them, because these processes are represented by affect. Affect is a basic sense of feeling we are all born with that comes from the physiology of the body. This feeling ranges from pleasant to unpleasant (valence) and from idle to activated (arousal).

By contrast, the Cortex houses sensory information involved in higher processes of the human brain including memory, reasoning, thinking, emotions. This sensory information lacks the subjective ‘I’ which actually experiences the sensory processes. The sensory information produced by the Cortex lacks the quality of ‘what it is like.’.

Affect occurs in every moment of every day, because interoception occurs in every moment of every day. Affective consciousness is, therefore, the prerequisite of higher forms of consciousness; brainstem mechanisms that generate raw feelings, actually generate consciousness itself.

The function of consciousness, it turns out, is feeling, so in order to understand the function of consciousness, it is necessary to understand the function of feeling. Feelings are, by definition, always conscious, because they are felt, they cannot be unconscious in the way that vision is. Simply put, “You cannot have a feeling that you do not feel.” If you understand the function of feeling, you understand the function of consciousness. If you understand the function of feeling, you’ll understand why you feel it and that is why basic feelings are a prerequisite for higher forms of consciousness.

Consciousness is deeply rooted in the body and the source of raw, intrinsic consciousness is fundamentally linked to interoception. The source of life-energy is not our thoughts and emotions; these function as complex mental processes, unconscious in nature and without awareness.

Soma is an approach that unlocks the full potential that is contained within the body and brain, giving us glimpses of immortality and the bliss that is possible with the full functioning of the conscious body.

- by Oliver Dawson-Clark

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