Attention is a Catalyst© 2007 Lawrence Gold 7/5/2007 1:31 PM
In somas, attention has a counterpart: intention. Attention directs the senses; Intention directs movement. We have and need both aspects. Intention directs attention; attention informs intention.
That little aphorism bears contemplation. It will lead you to deeper somatic awareness.
Now, as to how attention is a catalyst: As somatic educators, we are expected to have a clear intention when doing sessions with clients. We know what needs to be done and we know how to do it. We re also expected to give the kind of attention that enables us to facilitate change. Our attention is a catalyst to our clients' process of change. Attention causes fixed patterns either to dissolved or to reveal their finer structure (fractally).
There is a peculiar mechanism operating in somatic education: change comes from the client's exercising his or her intention to move in certain ways, while directing his or her attention into the experience of that movement. To exercise intention and place attention in that way sets in motion a process of change that doesn't occur without that kind of attention and special intention: the process of getting free from the grip of dysfunctional patterns and the limitations of distorted perception, awakening freedom to move in new ways and to sense oneself in new ways. The client's attention catalyzes his or her own process of change; the more attention and the clearer the intention, the faster the change.
Doing somatic exercises by oneself produces slower changes than doing them under supervision, and much slower than doing the clinical methods of somatic education. One reason for this slower rate of change is the amount and steadiness of attention and the clarity of intention applied to the process. A somatic educator has cultivated a special kind of attention and a clarity of intention that he or she lends to the client during a session. We lend our attention to our clients. By that means, we catalyze their rates of change. We give them a boost.
The implication of this understanding is that the more we have cultivated ourselves, the more we catalyze our clients' process of change by our mere presence and the lending of our attention.
As an aside, you may have encountered clients whose habit of life is to be, oh, argumentative or skeptical or some other way misaligned to getting the results we offer. I once had a client who said, "I don't know who I would be without my pain." I learned to recognize that attitude and those like it as a "red flag." Such a disposition catalyzes change in the opposite direction: it slows things down. Maybe you've noticed that time flies in sessions with some clients and drags with others. That's a reflection of your energy level, as your attention and intention interact with theirs. Just so you know.
Finally, as a way to deepen, direct, and steady our attention and focus our intention, we study the principles of somatic education and internalize them as clarified insight. This is more than a process of intellect; it is a process of awakening perceptual intuition. To know what I mean, go back and reflect on the aphorism about attention and intention.