The Secret Behind Increased Wisdom

by Lillian Pao (’18)

ballet

Fig. 1: Ballet may lead to increased wisdom.

There is no concrete definition of wisdom. However, there are some repetitive themes that encompass the idea of wisdom, such as the use of knowledge from an experience, careful decision-making, and lowered anxiety during complex situations. In a recent study, professors of the University of Chicago concluded that there may be a connection between somatic, or physical, practices and wisdom.

Although wisdom has different meanings, it is clearly rooted in the body’s interaction with the world. Researchers tested 303 individuals with variance analyses to determine the differences between groups of ballet dancers, meditators, and practitioners of the Feldenkrais Method and the Alexander Technique in wisdom, empathy, and anxiety. These researchers compiled a Three-Dimensional Wisdom Scale using a questionnaire for Cognitive and Affective Empathy, a Trait Anxiety portion of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Adults, and a demographic questionnaire all on a SurveyMonkey website.  Analyses were conducted to further investigate the differences in wisdom, cognitive empathy, affective empathy, and anxiety.  The analyses revealed that, with wisdom and practice type as the dependent and independent variables respectively, there were significant differences in wisdom between groups.  There was a significantly higher cognition level for ballet dancers rather than meditators. Therefore, somatic practices, similar to ballet, can lead to more wisdom and it should be explored to create a wiser society.

 

References:

  1. P.B. Williams, et al., The relationship between mental and somatic practices and wisdom. Plos One, (2016), doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0149369.
  2. Image Source: http://www.wired.com/2011/11/human-brain-ted-dance/
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