Podcast Series 1, Episode 8: Unconscious Muscle Movements

Dog shaking water - Unconscious Muscle Movements

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How to watch for unconscious muscle movements in the body, that provide “tells” for inner beliefs and attitudes.

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Welcome to a series of podcasts on how to achieve a peaceful and mindful state, by using simple, short exercises. 

Each episode focuses upon a particular element of our being, and will reveal exercises designed to expand our awareness, and build up a gradual sense of inner calm and alertness.


Today, we’re going to talk about an exercise called “Unconscious Muscle Movement”. 

Another exercise I learned from that fellow in Texas. 

Our next exercise is called “unconscious muscle movements.” 

Gurdjieff made reference, “that mans’ unconscious muscle movements let the world around him know that he was a booby.” 

But, we are not going to be talking about the obvious unconscious muscle movements, like fidgeting or tapping your foot. 

The ones we are going to discuss and more subtle; and, are probably more devastating… because they are the ones that we do not readily see. 

The nose touch

One of them is the touching of one’s nose. 

Whenever a person touches their nose, it means they are possibly lying.  They are probably not telling the truth. They are not 100% sure of what they are saying; or, they do not believe what you are saying. 

When you deal with people in life, watch when they touch their noses.  When they do, it is very likely, that what they are saying is askew; or, that they don’t like what you are saying; or, that they don’t agree with you on some particular model..

You can learn so much about the world around you if you notice the nose hits.  For instance, when you stop and ask directions, “I need directions to get to such and such”; and the person you asked starts touching their nose as they reply, “Yeah, you go…” Don’t believe them!  Because they do not know. They are just guessing. They want to pretend like they know, but they do not. 

There is a psychological connection between not being truthful and touching your nose.

I found this study on the internet: 

“Spanish researchers monitored changes in people’s skin temperature as they lied, finding that the nose is the center of all truth.

The next time you’re interrogating a murder suspect or maybe questioning a lover about suspected infidelities, set aside the polygraph test and grab hold of the person’s nose. 

That the nose is the center of truth is the conclusion of new research published by a team of psychologists at the University of Granada in Spain.

The Pinocchio effect

The researchers call it “the Pinocchio effect” for obvious reasons. The Disney character’s nose would grow longer as he exaggerated the truth or straight-up lied about ditching school to hang out with monsters. But while the Spanish team discovered that the condition isn’t specific to Italian wood puppets, they found that rather than grow, our noses get hotter when we fib.

By monitoring people’s skin temperature with a special heat-sensing camera (think Predator vision) and asking them questions about subjective experiences, feelings, and emotions, the psychologists were able to discern the truth of people’s responses. It turns out that when we lie, blood rushes to the center of our faces. If you’re behind the lens of a thermography camera, the lies light up our noses and the inside corners of our eyes. The technique is not quite as effective in measuring objective truth in answers to yes/no questions. Rather, it’s a means of gauging people’s deeper feelings about bigger, murkier issues, like the beauty of art or faith in God.

“Is it possible to differentiate [between] a person who every Sunday [says] the Lord’s prayer but in fact is a nonbeliever?” said Emilio Gomez Milan, one of the lead researchers on the study. The research suggests it may be.

Subjects for the study answered from inside an fMRI machine and, separately, seated in front of thermographic cameras. Gomez and his partner, Elvira Salazar Lopez, then cross-referenced the brain scans with the facial temperature results to draw their conclusions. Not only do our noses brighten when we’re fibbing, but the other areas of our faces–cheeks, chins, foreheads–cool down. 

What happens when we lie

When we lie about our feelings, a component of the brain’s reward system, called the insular cortex, activates. It’s part of the cerebral cortex, which is the control hub of emotions, perceptions of pain, and our blood pressure. When we’re grappling with the issue of, say, how to answer a friend’s question about another friend’s work of art–”Isn’t it beautiful?”–the insular cortex comes alive and sends blood to our noses…”

Perhaps the guy who wrote Pinocchio actually understood this phenomenon.  Or maybe not.  However, it does not change the fact that blood rushes to our nose when we lie or sense discord.

Our noses probably get increased blood flow, because our ancestors were animals that had a great sense of smell. And, one of the first stimuli, in any danger, is the sense of smell. 

If a dog sense something is off, you will see their nose hit the air, first thing.  Why?  Because their sense of smell is their first line of defence against danger.

So, here we are, eons later, as unregenerate beings, who no longer have much of a sense of smell. Yet, any perceived discord still cause our noses to be stimulated. We feel the increased blood flow, prompting us to want to touch it.

When watching talk shows on TV, it is very obvious. The moderator says to the guest actor or actress, “What was it like to work with so and so on that movie?” The person responds, “Ah, (nose rub) it was great, it was terrific (nose swipe) working with them was great. They are a really good actor/actress (touches nose, again), I really enjoyed working with them, I learned so much (wipes nose with sleeve).”

An example

The fellow in Texas says, back in the day, he witnessed this happening during his sales presentations. He would get half-way through a sales presentation; and, do what is called, “a trial close”, and the person he was talking to would say, “I don’t know, (rubs nose) it looks alright.” The fellow in Texas said he knew right then that the prospect was not going to buy what he was selling. So he continued his presentation, trying to present it in greater detail, in hopes that the prospect would become more enthusiastic.

An opposite of nose hits… would be chin rubs. 

When a person starts rubbing their chin, that means, they like what they are hearing or looking at. “I like that. I think that’s a good idea. That makes sense.” 

Our Texan would tell us, again and again, how by knowing this, that when he used to make sales presentations, if he was half-way through his presentation, and the prospect started rubbing their chin, how he would turn the contract toward the prospect, hand them a pen, and say, “Signature goes here.  Check number goes there. You get the third copy.”And how, not surprisingly, they take the pen and sign the contract. Why?  Because they have already (in their mind) bought it, they liked it. 

The rubbing of the chin is a definite indication of favor.  Nose hits are definite sign of discord. 

So watch for those in life.

Discover the cause

If you observe yourself touching your nose, try to see if you can discover the cause. 

Sometimes, it is a blatant lie, sometimes, it is an innocent lie; for example, if I asked you, “When did you meet your spouse?” and you said, “In the summer of 1980;” and then, you touch your nose.  That nose touch might have occurred because you really met them in May, which is really more in the spring than the summer… but you said summer, and something in you knew that it was really in the late spring of 1980, so you touched your nose.  Or, perhaps, you actually first met them in January, at some gathering, but other than saying hello, you really didn’t “MEET” them until June, when you ran into each other on the beach and ended up spending the whole summer together.

So, you really did not answer my question, truthfully, because you first met them at that thing in January, but it wasn’t until June…etc. But you are not going to go through all that explanation, you have already committed to saying the summer even though something in you (nose touch) knows that you actually first saw them in January.

That is what happens when we sense discord, the nose will stimulate, the hand will come up, and we will touch our noses. 

So, if a person does not believe you, or if they are telling a lie, or if there is some uncertainty passing through them, they will hit/touch/rub their noses 

If they touch or rub their chins, they like it.

If they fold their arms, they are defiant; they are holding their position; they are standing their ground; and, it is very hard to get any idea through to them. 

How groups behave

In addition, if you watch people seated in a group,and one person is speaking, you may notice that some folks will be leaning toward the speaker, while others are leaning away.

The ones leaning toward the speaker, are in agreement with them, those leaning away, are not. Everyone will be leaning slightly toward the people they support, and away from those they do not.

Unconscious Muscle Movement provides for a very fascinating and telling study.

So watch for these unconscious movements in life. Watch for the nose hits in others… and in yourself.  See how many times you can catch them.

Sometimes, when I catch myself touching my nose, I say, “Well, my nose itched.” 

But the question is, why? Why didn’t my ear itch? Or why didn’t my forehead itch? And why didn’t my backside itch? Why is it always my nose that itches?

Don’t panic.  It is just in our nature.

Okay, that completes our sharing of Unconscious Muscle Movements.

I hope you didn’t hit your nose too many times during this podcast, but rather were slightly leaning toward your speakers.


Thank you for listening.


Goodbye until next time.

Teachings based upon the works of R. A. Smith and G. I. Gurdjieff.

All material © 2020 THEDOG Publishing

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