Ladies and Gentlemen:
for your edification and entertainment
may I present
an evolutionary leap
in the understanding of humankind
This kind of stunt happens only every ten thousand years, or so, so listen up. I’m going to lay a metaphor on you.
The early stages of life were little more than separation of inner from outer by a cell membrane, with some chemical exchange and a sense of bouncy motion.
Later came light sensitivity and then, eyes, signifying the entire orientation of the next few hundred million years, or so — the orientation to what is external. Most of evolutionary history has been taken up with that task, at first in the name of bare survival, then in the name of cultural and social development (beyond bare survival). The external orientation shows up today with the use of make-up (which simulates the facial coloring changes of sexual arousal).
Only recently (in terms that changed the face of Western culture) has internal awareness been developing; in earlier times, individuals rarely developed much subtle internal awareness, being more preoccupied, as they were, with challenging living conditions and social conformity pressures (both internal and external). Individual impulses were contained within and by conformist conditioning.
So, the inner is coming into its own, ready to be correlated with the outer.
“Correlated” — what does this mean?
It means seeing the correspondences between inner (subjective) experience and outer (objective) behavior or physical changes as two experiences of the same thing. Not “thinking of them” as the same thing, not thinking “We’re supposed to think of them as the same thing.” Actually experiencing them as the same thing, considered differently.
So, “outer is experienced inwardly” and inward experience shows up as outward behaviors or changes.
Then comes the lie detector test.
Here’s some examples, instead.
Dreams are inward events, right?
Ever seen a dog dream? The waving paws, the changes of breathing, the barking? See the eyes move back and forth?
They call that REM — Rapid Eye Movement. It’s reliable sign of dreaming. The outer behavior that corresponds to doggie’s inner experience.
Ever watched someone learn to read? The lip movements?
You’re seeing them thinking the words as they sound them.
So, somatics is based on inner and outer being two aspects of the same thing, not two different things.
First of all, for reasons stated, that alone is an evolutionary leap in the understanding of humankind.
But wait! There’s more.
Those primitive life-forms at the dawn of time, those cells floating in a primordial soup, were very simple. They had three functions: eat, excrete, and reproduce. They enjoyed it, but still, that’s all they had.
Later down the line, they developed a fashion sense.
My point is that as life evolved, life forms became more intricate, more organized, capable of more and different forms of behavior. Most of these behaviors are what would call “instinctual” — meaning intrinsic to the organism and, for the most part, constituting all of its behavior — the behavioral patterns of bugs and worms, a reptile or two, maybe a fish.
The higher we go up the evolutionary staircase (fooled you — you thought I was going to say, “ladder”, didn’t you?), and the more complex life forms are, the more complex their behavior gets, and something new appears — the ability to learn more. Dogs, rats, bankers.
Now, learning is a big deal. It involves self-loading new behaviors and new perceptions into the Automatic Memory Library for use in day to day living. Any life-form can learn by repetitive experiences of something — but how many life-forms self-load new learning? I ask you.
That’s another evolutionary leap.
But wait! There’s more!
Sometimes conditions change to such an extent that previous learning no longer closely applies. What do you do, then?
Learning something new on top of old learning is like playing two pieces of music at the same time. Moreover, one generally finds it impossible to turn off Song #1.
Good grooming suggests an alternative. Learn to turn off Song #1, or at least to modulate it.
How? You’ve got to switch it from “autoplay” to “manual launch”. And to do that, you’ve got to switch yourself to “manual launch” and then manually re-launch Song #1. Now that you know what it feels like to launch Song #1, you also know what it feels like not to launch Song #1 — and there you are. STOP PLAYING SONG #1!! You think I’m being funny? No. I’m using a metaphor to explain a principle. I’ll explain, how, later.
For now, let’s assume that you’ve stopped playing Song #1 and things are quiet enough that you can hear yourself think. You can play Song #2 without interference.
That’s it, in principle.
In other language: Wash before you handle food.
What does this have to do with somatics?
I would think that would be obvious. But if it’s not, here goes.
Our lives are a gigantic recording library of events and behaviors, input from earliest consciousness, grown into maturity, or something similar to maturity.
Life is constantly playing Song #2, while we continue to play Song #1 (to a greater or lesser degree). By time we get to Song #2, Life expects us to learn Song #3. It’s always something.
We’re on a rolling landslide of cultural norms, so Song #1 is definitely on the playlist, as is Song #2 and, of course, Song #3.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to bring songs under control, at least some of the time? Maybe clear out a little memory space so we can meet experience afresh, learn the next song more adroitly?
That’s one of the basic understandings of somatics: free the grip of old “songs” so that we can dance to the new songs better. In other language: Out with the old, in with the new.
The question of “How” enters the picture.
Here’s the basic approach:
Whatever a person is doing “wrong”
(causing problems for self or others) —
have him (her) do it more —
and then less.
The “more” part heightens awareness.
The “less” part activates responsibility.
Sounds like fun, huh?
This strategy works with physical pains, emotional distress, and stupid thinking.
It’s a basic strategem of somatics, and if you don’t like it, try drugs — the legal kind, of course. (Oh, no, I would never advocate the use of psychoactive drugs — you know, the kind that expand your reach beyond conventional thinking! oh, no … not I.)
Which brings us to another principle, which I call “The Prime Directive of Somatics”:
Ya Gotta Wanna.
If you don’ wanna, you don’a get so much done.
I heard that, once.
Add your comment — what you would like to ask or tell.