According to gestalt therapy you are an “organism”.
Over the years as I have learned gestalt therapy I’ve not been fond of this use of an otherwise perfectly fine word. To begin with, it doesn’t seem like a very flattering term–it’s rather sterile and impersonal to describe living human beings. It seems to leave to out a lot, partly because there aren’t many words that are broad enough to include all that makes up our complicated natures.
However, as time has gone by I have grown to accept the use of this word in this way. As people we are physical, spiritual, electrical, chemical, emotional and even somewhat “animal”. We have personalities, biological drives, and spiritual intuition and dreams. We also seem to have a wisdom that comes from our whole being…bigger than just a thought or a feeling.
In gestalt we talk about our organism having a wisdom of its own. “Your organism knows what you need,” is a phrase often heard. Our body, our muscles, our brain, our spirit all act in unison, if we allow them to do so, to tell us what we need.
It’s easy to attempt to reduce ourselves down to one of our parts and consider that the most important part, whether it’s our physical, emotional, or spiritual self. We are both creaturely and spiritual. In gestalt thinking, in our current existence, we don’t just have bodies, we are our bodies.
In many ways this can be humbling. However, the result is that our organism can often tell us what we need if we learn to listen–especially to what our bodies have to say. I often tell my clients (and have said earlier in this blog) that we have our thoughts in our heads, but our feelings in our bodies. When we go to the theater we don’t look at the projector, we look at the screen. The image may originate in the projector, but it is played out on the screen. Our body is like that. Our feelings may start in our brain, but we experience them in our bodies. If we start with our bodies to see what we feel at a physical level, we can then look for an emotion word that seems to match that physical sensation and get an idea about what it is we’re actual feeling.
It’s true that we are organisms–amazing, miraculous organisms. And if you learn to pay attention to your whole self, including your body, you will find that you have more wisdom than you know.