“Feeling, imagining, sensing and thinking:, together these four modalities make up what psychologist Eligio Stephen Gallegos calls the “four windows of knowing,” the four human faculties through which we learn about self and world”- Excerpt from Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin.
I love this quote, I’ve been living into it for awhile, years actually. Sorting out what it means to me and the world.
I recently had an aha moment, as I was lying on my purple yoga mat, snuggled under a blanket.
I have spent many moments of my life in rebellion of the thinking mind, the logic, the data because it's been so freaking dominant and I’ve been pissed off, frustrated, bouncing off the walls, about that.
So, so tired of that one dimensional dominant window that has gotten accolades up the wazoo. And while has done some wonderful things, has also done a fair bit of damage to the more than human world. (and we humans)
And that the treasures of feeling, sensing and imagining have gotten so little recognition, so small a space at the decision making tables of our lives.
I remember as a child my rebellion came out in a number of passive ways. ‘
My favorite, first and always, came in the form of books. I read more books outside of school than in. I entered a books pages and fell into a world that wasn’t mine and relished that with abandon. I became a part of that world, a character, a fly on the wall, until my eyes blurred and I had to come up for air.
I would sit in a room full of dominant thinking people with my head buried deep in another world. It was a survival mechanism.
Still is. Books are my saving grace. My go to place to engage the four windows, to dream and imagine myself right out of the logic that pervades.
I also refused to do things that didn’t make “sense” to me and I often contradict dominant thinkers ad nauseum. I am challenged to take in what they are saying, my ears stop hearing. I know this isn’t a mature way. I also know that being rebellious has its pluses and minuses. It’s not always super effective. Duh. (and I am working on this)
But jeez louise trying to articulate that there is more than “thinking” has not been easy or welcomed. And feelings are only now being legitimized by people like Brene Brown.
I jokingly called myself a rebel without a cause AND I realize I did/do have a cause. I want more windows of knowing to open up inside me and in the world around me. I’ve yearned for, begged for, cried for, tried to describe; and yes resisted and rebelled.
And let me be clear. I understand that thinking is important. I do. AND truth be told without the other three modalities I end up being one dimensional. (so un-fun and un-creative) I have a limited perspective. I’m not fully alive or aware of all my incredible capacity to know. To connect through the windows of the soul.
I need facts and I need feelings. I need logic and I desperately need imagination.
And sensing. OMG. Learning that language was a light bulb moment and brought me to life in unexpected and delightful ways.
My inner life, all by itself, is a magical realm. How does that thought taste, or smell? Oh boy. Rich and wild, deep and sometimes, dare I say, dangerous.--in a good way.
What about you? Would it make you more fully alive to be a four window “knower”? (If yes I’ve got some suggestions below)
And of course if you’ve gotten a lot of rewards (economic, social status etc) for your thinking it makes sense to keep doing it. Thinking has been so venerated, the be all, end all.
It’s dominated our educational systems. It’s been how we view success.
Maybe it’s time to reassess. How is life going?
Maybe depression and anxiety are also linked to limited windows of knowing.
Maybe you and I don’t have to consume more material goods, degrees, certifications, vacations etc. to have a richer life? Maybe it’s an inside “window” job?
Where do you find yourself standing in the knowing realm?
What is your “go to” window?
How developed are the other three?
How would your life, and the world, change if you were a four dimensional knower?
If you don’t use all your knowings and want some tips- here are some of the things I do regularly!
Read books, poetry, prose- children’s books and young adult are great for this practice. As you read put yourself in the protagonists life or another character. What does the place smell like? What are the sounds around you? What are you wearing? How is the character feeling? And what else?
Get out in nature, wander and wonder, and use all your senses....Taste, smell, hearing, visual and touch. If you can’t factually taste something how can you describe how it might taste?
Spend time with someone over three and under eight in nature. Play what they play. Immerse yourself.
Next time you get in a disagreement with someone you are close with go through the four ways of knowing in your head. What are you thinking, feeling, sensing and what can you imagine is happening for them. See how the situation looks after that.
Imagine a world that works for all. What would it look like? Feel like? Smell, taste, sound? What would be the priorities of this world?
Alrighty, enough for today!
P.S. Thank you to the poets, artists, and creatives who have held the torch for feeling, sensing and imagining. You are the light and the life raft that gives me space outside of the cultural water I swim in, and you give me the courage to attempt to make sense of this again and again.
P.S.S. Stoke Your Woke helps you access and practice more ways of knowing. Just saying!