The Cycle of Physical and Spiritual Intelligence

The Cycle of the Physical and the Metaphysical

Last night there were yet more 2012 Olympic Games reviews on television. This time BBC3 featured the top 50 moments of the London games.

Whilst we were delighted that Bradley Wiggins was awarded the Sports Personality of the Year, with his combination of sporting prowess and personality, we would have liked Mo Farrah to win an award as well. It was therefore pleasing to see Mo’s two races featuring at the top of these 50 Olympic moments of 2012.

Who can forget that amazing Saturday night of his first gold medal – with the not-to-be-overlooked Greg Rutherford, the Olympic long-jump gold medallist, sandwiched in between the performances from Mo and Jess: great memories?

Yesterday, we listed the values and attributes that these athletes need to have in order to perform at their best – to stay completely and absolutely ‘in the moment’ and to reap the rewards for doing so – a lesson to us all.

One of the most exciting attributes of such capable athletes is their ability to be at their peak both physically and psychologically – not just at the end of their event but during it too.

For us, this thoroughly demonstrates our multi-intelligences model on one of the axes.

For those who don’t know, our model consists of three axes, all connected.

© 3DI Associates

Often, we are trained in life to consider opposites rather than connected wholeness and completeness, especially when we see things written down as though they are either end of a straight line.

© 3Di Associates

© 3Di Associates

Let’s demonstrate this.

At one end of this axis we have physical intelligence. At the other, we have spiritual or metaphysical intelligence.

© 3Di Associates

© 3Di Associates

Physical intelligence includes looking after your body, using your senses and being physically capable – fit and healthy – and the feeling of wellbeing that comes from this.

Metaphysical intelligence includes a sense of awe and wonder, the transcendental, and a sense of value and worth.

What these athletes, and others too, have done is show how physical excellence can lead you into another dimension (or as we would say – intelligence) – metaphysical intelligence, thus creating a cycle and not a straight line between polar opposites.

Even though we didn’t run the race, we could see the physical brilliance of people like Mo Farrah,  and we experienced states of exhileration and wonderment. For the actual athlete, that feeling must be increased ten-fold or more. Their physical ability and the intelligent application of their bodies and determined spirits leads them to experiences of joy and wonder.

Essentially our intelligences work together. They are not polarised and they are not at opposite ends of a scale. You can be both physically and spiritually intelligent simultaneously, regardless of them being completely different intelligences.

Although thinking (intellect) and not-thinking (instinct) are indeed opposites, they can work collaboratively. Sometimes we need to think about a situation and other times we need to act on our instincts. Sometimes we need to rein in our instincts, and we do that by using our intellect.

This creates another cycle.

So our three dimensions of intelligence, when written down, look as though they are flat with three linear axes, whereas in reality they are three cycles working together to create intelligent thoughts, actions and feelings.

It’s no surprise that doctors are now prescribing physical activity for patients who are suffering from depression. This too demonstrates the cycle of the Spiritual Intelligence axis. Going for a regular walk or a trip to the gym may seem like a chore when you are feeling low and lethargic but doing something physically does brighten the soul and creates a feeling of wellbeing that goes beyond the training of the body.

Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farrah, Ellie Simmonds and all the other Olympic and Paralympic athletes showed this to us this year. The energy, the drive and the sense of wellbeing that they and we all received from their efforts just goes to show us precisely how the physical and the metaphysical connect.

Perhaps this is why sport is so fascinating for so many.

Our physical intelligence can lead us to a greater sense of wellbeing. That’s not to say that you can only reach spiritual intelligence through the physical. Being empathetic with others, gaining insight into oneself, and being creative all lead to spiritual wellbeing too.

‘Intelligence’ is complicated. It is not straightforward and we should consider very carefully how we even use the word “intelligence” when we really think about it. Intelligence is not singular.

And now – I think it’s time for a walk.


About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at or see our website at
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