Mapping, Selfing and Physical Thinking.

Posted on: October 1st, 2012

By adminDanNorman

I watched three TED talks this past week that got me thinking and linking, as I like to put it.  I’m usually trying to bombard myself with various areas or subjects to see if I get any new ideas, concepts, metaphors etc that not only help me with my understanding of the human condition, but also enlighten me as to how “best-fit present” and explore  this topic of “health and fitness”, or personal transformation/transcendence to clients.

The three talks in question were, in order of viewing:


Aris Venetikidis: “Making Sense of Maps.”

Read Montague:  “What we are Learning from 5000 brains.”

Wayne McGregor:  A Choreographer’s Creative Process in Real Time.”


As a compulsive meaning maker I can be guilty of mistaking correlation for causation and drawing conclusions from tenuous links however,  I was taken by these three clips and asked the question; “How can a question, a process and an outcome all occur concurrently?

The three video clips generated for me, broadly, a three-stage process that I felt was a very powerful description of a model for change and understanding, that presented a multi directional way of working with goals, less linear than a talk, plan, execute plan type affair.

  1. Create a map that represents and is functional (gets us there, or very close).
  2. Engage with the person building the map…..and co-create the map so we both know how it works, creating value.
  3. Physically enact the map through a variety of means so that the concept gets expressed as fully as possible.

There were some very interesting distinctions in the first video between accuracy and function.  Maps of the underground worked better when they were less accurate and more simple, when they represented how we build cognitive maps in our own minds.  We are and can be more functionally effective in the real world following a map that allows us to interface with the environment that is “a simplified representation” of reality.  The leaving out of key pieces of information to increase effectiveness was massively illuminating as a thought process, how many times we continue adding detail towards knowledge, bordering confusion and paralysis.

In the second video, Read Montague talks very powerfully about our ability to use all sorts of positioning, nuance, tone to add value, to instil belief, to be accepted by another as a part of themselves, in a way to be cognitively and emotionally held as valuable by another, bringing the whole concept of self, as the Gestaltists do, into view as existing more obviously in contact with another than alone.  This made me reflect on the open system nature of the limbic system, as we literally mind meld with each other in conversation and contact.

The third video I thought was incredible.  Working presently, embodying and describing a letter through various styles of “physical thinking” creating “data transfer” and “information sharing” through the physical movement.  Experts at work here, but how much of a resource is our physicality, how often we believe we must “sit and think, work it out” and only then “go and do it,” with procrastination to move being the white elephant that parks itself betwixt the two.  Physical Thinking…Moving physically for “intellectual” purposes, generating links, patterns, metaphor, silently transferred meaning.

One thing that really struck me about the potential outlined here is the possibility of building, designing, articulating and expressing our health and fitness goals through media and motions that are more immediate, more creative and more powerful than we might imagine.  That thoughts and feelings are physiological events, that as children we expanded our learning, language and thinking through movement to literally build our brains and now we experience the strange notions of mind and body, isolated for thinking and moving respectively.

I always like to see if things can run backwards also.  The concurrency of these principles would also allow us to physically think a subject into a shared understanding of a simplified map, allowing a multi level sensory understanding of a simple goal such as “I want to be more confident.”  This whole experience can be punctuated with sound, sensation, emotion and embedded meaning along the way, rather negating the prospect of “I’ve listened for two hours now….but what do I DO?!”  We get to actually experience the creation of the pathway towards success, as we explore content by examining, sharing  and unfolding through motion, contact and experimentation.

I’m looking forwards to co-creating “wayfinding” maps for strength, fat loss, relaxation and more with movement based metaphoric sessions where people can kinaesthetically feel and develop the written word component of their expressed most desirable outcome.

As we continue with a mind, body, spirit “split-ish” way of viewing the human experience we also fall into the concept of splitting activities that relate to these separated areas, which are largely aspects of a whole, rather than parts of a whole, if, we even want to label, construe or even include them in our “map.”

What we may end up with is the very process and outcome components of any stated goal being experienced and worked through with immediacy, contact and an embodied understanding of how holism really operates.  Depending of course, on what your tidied representational map of holism looks and feels like, who you are “selfing” with and which style of physical thinking you are running it through.  What fun…

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