My personal view of integral life

Critical Examination of the Bodily-Kinesthetic Line through the Lens of Integral Methodological Pluralism

Here is the first paper for Multiple Intelligences course. It is a critical examination of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence with an integral lens or primordial perspectives. Those interested in the development of that particular intelligence, take a look!



People have been moving as long as the human species has been on Earth. Movement is natural to every one of us: without movement, there is simply not going to happen anything. In this paper I will look closer to the Bodily-Kinesthetic Line or Intelligence as a separate intelligence or a feature of humans. I will here explore the features and perspectives of body, movement and embodiment through the lens of Integral Theory and more specifically through Integral Methodological Pluralisms and the 8 Zones (Wilber, 2006). I will compare here the investigation of the grand father of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner’s theory and how that will fit to Integral Theory and Ken Wilber’s definition of Bodily-Kinesthetic line. Gardner (1983) states in his book, Frames of Mind, that “for well over two thousand years, at least since the rise of the Greek city-state, a certain set of ideas has dominated discussions of the human condition in our civilization. This collection of ideas stresses the existence and the importance of mental powers – capacities that haven been variously termed rationality, intelligence, or the development of mind” (1983, p. 5). Gardner’s work truly is pioneering and without his “invention” of multiple intelligences I probably wouldn’t be here writing about it.

One aspect of studying bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is genetics (epigenetics too) and especially research with identical twins. I will show in this paper an astonishing finding that genetic factors explain a considerable part of the associations between sports participation, cardiorespiratory fitness and obesity. This is of course and Upper Right phenomena appearing in the gross body, but nonetheless a very important finding!



Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence involves two components: Masterful coordination of one’s bodily movements and the ability to manipulate objects in a skilled manner (Gardner, 1983). And in addition to that, there are three central cognitive skills in bodily-kinesthetic intelligence: Motor logic, kinesthetic memory, and kinesthetic awareness (Seitz, 1992). One cannot think bodily-kinesthetic intelligence only in the physical sense, but as this differentiation could well be showing, motor logic skill refers to the gross body, kinesthetic memory refers to he subtle body as an energetic “feeling” or “emotional kinesthetic memory” and kinesthetic awareness to the causal body. This is just a hypothesis, but it could be very well studied with an integral lens. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence seems to be connected into other intelligences, primarily to spatial and logico-mathematical. And this arises another question to my mind, which I have noticed in quite a few people around me (myself included): Are logico-mathematic intelligent people also developed in bodily-kinesthetic line because of the capability to make complex “calculations” of movements? I have met many people how are very gifted in sports and mathematics or empirical sciences at the same time. And this does not seem to be a coincidence. Would it be that the early development of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence also predisposes people to develop their logico-mathematical skills?

Comparison & Analysis

Zone1 (Phenomenology)

The study of the occasions that arise in an I-space is called phenomenology. From the bodily-kinesthetic perspective here we can see the feelings of embodiment, inner body prehensions,

what the body feels from the inside (subtle, causal), what kind of thoughts I might have for my body. These can’t be directly measured, but they can be personally compared what the body felt at the previous moment and then integrated these feelings to the present body, an actual occasion. So transcend and include here, embodying the prehensions of the body from moment to moment. For example meditation and its integrative aspects of mind and body (and spirit) fit into this perspective very well. Thoughts have a great impact on our bodily feelings and negativity affects our bodies on a level we might not even understand: “approaching well-being on a physical level can ground positivity in reality. Consciously feel the parts of yourself that are saying ‘yes’ to life” (Aposhyan, 1999, p. 171). Practices that can generate well-being in the body are for example conscious breathing, moving and listening carefully to the messages of the body. This way it is possible to practice and exercise how to turn negativity into positivity with integrating the body and mind. Aposhyan continues in her book that “often, repetitive, subliminal negative messages block a sense of well-being” (p.172) and this particular notion is something that everyone should recognize, because negative thoughts that “are being broadcasted” direct our metabolic toward death, literally on a cellular level (autopoiesis). The interior of the individual is being investigated from the outside perspective in the next Zone.

Zone2 (Structuralism)

Structuralism investigates the outsides of the individual interiors that is to say from a 3rd person perspective. The interiors and feelings, prehensions, emotions, thoughts that are integrated to the body-mind can be seen and researched from the outside. For example meditation and its effects on individual perceptions is a good example of such structuralism investigation method. From this perspective it is possible to see how different thought patterns and emotional stance affect our bodies: “thoughts powerfully affect our bodies right down to a cellular level” (Aposhyan, p. 172). An important researcher in this topic is Bruce Lipton (2005), whose book “The Biology of Belief” explains exhaustively how our feelings actually affect our bodies on a cellular level and how embodying positive thoughts affect our inner healing capacity. This kind of research is a really fascinating aspect of the bodily-kinesthetic line. Investigation of the post-traumatic stress disorder is a great example of structuralism: “Often when we ‘know’ something or ‘believe’ something, it has not been fully communicated to the rest of our body. It has not landed in the body systems or in the cells” (Aposhyan, p. 172).

Zone3 (Hermeneutics)

Hermeneutics is “the first-person interpretation within circles of ‘we’” (Wilber, 2003, p. 5) or it can also be called intersubjectivity, the inside feeling of collective understanding, or in this paper collective felt movement for example in the form of dance. How can people understand each other’s gestures, movements and other signs of significance through the form of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence? Gardner has been investigating this form of kinesthethic intelligence and says “certain features do appear to characterize dance in range of settings, and these prove most germane to a consideration of how skills are embodied in this form of intelligence” (Gardner, p.224). It might be that even before people could talk and in that way create a mutual understanding or the essential we-space to understand one-another, dance has been a form of intelligence as means of communication and language. Do we understand each other when for example playing basketball or other team sports? Zone3 approach of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence supports this particular perspective and its importance in multiple ways of movement and sports. “You and I are members, not strands – our individual ‘I’s’ are partners in a we, not parts of a we” (Wilber, 2003, p.88) and this is to say especially in sports that “we” are members of a cultural holon (sports team), not components of it: “you and I are inside, not internal, to the we” (Wilber, p.88). Here we see also shared emotions that are in the same we-space between members of the sports team, shared thinking and anticipation of a perhaps predictable future action of movement, which is created in the brains simultaneously by learned reflex of movement. True team sports intelligence can arise within this perspective.

Zone4 (Ethnomethodology)

Ehtnomethodolgy looks the outside of a “we”, so what can be seen and interpreted from a 3rd person perspective. I have been thinking a lot of this particular Zone because it seems to be a somewhat challenging when it comes to bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. But, from this perspective it is possible to investigate and observe how this previously created we-space takes it place in action as a means of movement whether in sports or in normal life. Sciences like sports psychology could also be an ethnomethodologic way of seeing things because it investigates the interiors of a collective from the outside when considering team movement and coordination.

Zone5 (Autopoiesis)

Autopoiesis is the exterior individual perspective from the inside (1. person perspective of exterior phenomena like behavior, movement, actions, talking etc.). Organismic autopoiesis view from bodily-kinesthetic perspective is investigating for example all kinds of bodily motions, kinesthetic capacity, coordination of movements, physiology, brain-body interactions etc. Ken Wilber describes autopoiesis as such: “the autopoietic approaches to individual organisms are giving the inside view of the exterior organism” (Wilber, 2003, p.63). Here we can also “see” how different body parts are communicating with each other via the brain and how these complex actions and reactions are meshed together as subtle and precise movements. Kinesthetic intelligence from the exterior point of view is best seen in this particular Zone. From this perspective writes also Howard Gardner (1983): “Our kinesthetic sense allows us to judge the timing, force, and extent of our movements and to make necessary adjustments in the wake of this information. Within the nervous system, large portions of the cerebral cortex, as well as the thalamus, the basal ganglia, and the cerebellum, all feed information to the spinal cord, the way station en route to the execution of action” (1983, p.210). The difference here within this Zone is that those described in the previous sentence are not looked from the outside, but from the inside in the form of for example cognitive science (in this case sports psychology or bio-medical psychiatry) and evolutionary psychology. Cognitive capacities and understanding are critically involved in movement and for example visualization of a particular complex movement has been proved to be of great importance in competing sports.

Zone6 (Empiricism)

This particular approach to the organism (or mind and body in this case) is the most common and that is why it is often called “naïve empiricism”. Data from this particular perspective is controlling the scientific field of bodily-kinesthetic research and no wonder because this one is the easiest to measure. Here we have physiology, sports physiology, neurophysiology, anatomy, brain biochemistry, genetic research and evolutionary biology among many others; these are the ones that can be considered particularly important when investigating the kinesthetic intelligence. From the evolutionary perspective Gardner summarizes in this book its importance: “… his (Piaget) description of the unfolding of sensori-motor intelligence, in fact, illuminates its initial evolution. One can see in Piaget’s description how individuals progress from the simplest reflexes to behavioral acts that fall increasingly under the control of environmental variation and individual intentions” (Gardner, 1983, p. 220). The development of bodily movements and their control are the earliest “skills” learned by a human being and it surely is a great sign of the importance of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

There has been recently published a ground breaking study by Finnish Medical researchers from the Twin Research Unit, University of Helsinki. They investigated associations between sports participation, cardiorespiratory fitness and adiposity in young adult twins. “The association between sport index and VO2max was mostly explained by genetic factors (70%), as were both the association between sport index and BF% (body fat) (71%) and that between sport index and WC (waist circumference)” (Mustelin et al., 2010). This study done with twins suggest that genetic factors explain a considerable part of the associations between sports participation, cardio-respiratory fitness and obesity, which is very important to recognize when thinking about the development of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. So even though we wanted it or not, there is a strong genetic component in part of the development of it.

Zone7 (Social Autopoiesis)

This particular Zone explores the exterior collective from the inside, which is to say “biological phenomenology” or collective kinesthetic components emerging together creating a sort of morphic resonance between individual motions and movements interacting with other individuals (attempts to to describe the phenomenal world of the organism itself). “Social systems are composed not of organism, but of communications between organisms”, which means an exchange of kinesthetic components for example in team spots, two teams playing against each other. The morphic resonance between teams is true and it is formed of communication other than spoken language.

Zone8 (Systems Theory)

The outside view of the collective kinesthetic communications could be called for example “biological structuralism” or simply, systems theory. From this perspective it is possible to research not only the movements and kinesthetic of small sports teams, but also larger systems and their movement (e.g. larger organismic systems, the great Web of Life; perhaps Gaia as a superorganism). According to my investigation on this particular Zone of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, there is not that much to offer. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence as a holon is concentrated mainly on Individual quadrants, but of course the collective perspective is important too. There just is not (yet) that much information available.


Howard Gardner seems to approach the body and movement only through the realm of gross body and is not concentrating on subtle or causal bodies. One of the interests of this paper is also to provide developmental thinking: separating the body a subject and an object seems relevant and ass in other developmental lines, this particular has its altitudes or levels and people develop through these differentiating, integrating and then transforming particular features or skills. To me personally, it was striking to read Wilber’s definition of the three bodies (gross, subtle, causal) and how those are closely attached to our states of consciousness as well as development. Robert Kegan (1993) has wisely put in his book “In Over Our Heads”, that the subject becomes the object of the subject of the next stage, and in this case, the “next body”. This means that Sensori-motor experiences are developed first and the conception of gross body is being embedded in our body-mind (-spirit). Seitz (1992) writes in his article of the development of sensorimotor and primary bodily-kinesthetic skills that they develop before we can speak, which gives us the image how important is the development of this particular intelligence:

“Sensorimotor experience comprises the principal focus of the infant’s early knowledge of the world. The advent of symbolic thought (e.g., language) occurs when sensorimotor experience is internalized in mental representation. For example, the 18-month-year-old infant can now use language to request recurrence (e.g., “more milk”) or signal nonexistence (e.g., “allgone!”). Speech is thus built on prior sensorimotor knowledge.”

Gardner describes that “the body is more than simply another machine…. It is also the vessel of the individual’s sense of self, his most personal feelings and aspirations, as well as that entity to which others respond in a special way because of their uniquely human qualities” (2004, p. 235-236). As ones own self-identity develops, is the bodily-kinesthetic understanding usually also developing. Being embodied, feeling ones own body and constructing it moment to moment, is one of the most important features in being in this world. Embodiment defined as “being in a body as streaming” is a beautiful way of decrypting the constantly changing aspects of our bodies.

Where Gardner’s research on bodily-kinesthetic intelligence clearly restricts to only gross realm, Wilber takes it further especially in his book Integral Spirituality, where the Intergral Methodological Pluralism is first officially presented and published. My view on the eight Zones is an example of the IMP as an application. Gardner’s study is mainly concentrated on Zone6 and some of Zone4, but with Wilber’s integral perspective it is possible to see all of the available perspectives.



In this paper I have presented some of the aspects of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence that has been research and first presented by Howard Gardner with Multiple Intelligences. However, I would see that bodily-kinesthetic intelligence seen only as gross reductionist way from the outside of an individual organism is very restricted view and by the lens of IMP and the eight primordial perspectives we have a possibility to non-exclude all the aspects of movement, coordination and other forms of embodiments. Especially Zone1 and Zone3 perspectives of insides of the interiors are something that traditional view of intelligence simply excludes. “All problems are psychological, all experiences are physical and all solutions are spiritual” (Aposhyan, p. 162). The question here is how can we integrate all of these levels of Self “in a way that allows us to grow into ourselves fully, to walk the path of being human? “(Aposhyan, p.162). As we have seen in this paper, many views and perspectives are needed to be as inclusive and whole as possible: all parts are wholes and all wholes are parts, always. The same is with the human body, mind and spirit and their many aspects as an integrated whole.



Aposhyan, S. (1999). Natural intelligence: Body-mind integration and human hevelopment. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. Basic Books (2004                       edition).

Lipton, B. (2005). The biology of belief: Unleashing the power of consciousness, catter and                       ciracles. Bay House inc.

Mustelin, L. et al. (2010). Associations between sports participation, cardiorespiratory fitness and                       adiposity in young adult twins. Journal of Applied Physiology. Published ahead of                       print December 30, 2010. doi: 10.​1152/​japplphysiol.​00753.​2010

Seitz, J. (1992). The Development of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence incChildren: Implications for                       education and artistry. Holistic education review.

Wilber, K. (2006). Integral spirituality: A startling new nole for Religion in the modern and                       postmodern world. Shambhala.

Wilber, K. (no date). Excerpt C: The ways we are in this together: Intersubjectivity and                       interobjectivity in the holonic kosmos.


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Categorised in: Integral, Psychology, Science, Sports

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