Back Spasms -- The Inside Story

Back spasms catch us unawares

          so to speak.

But here’s the odd thing:  when a back spasm happens, it’s most often been coming for a long time.

The Back Story of Most Back Pain

Back during a period of prolonged high stress — maybe during an employment crisis or facing deadline after deadline after deadline — you got yourself used to driving yourself hard or used to being in a state of urgency.  Maybe you listen to too much news or talk radio and get "wound up".  Maybe you stayed too long in a situation you really wanted to get out of, or maybe you put and kept yourself in uncomfortable positions, by sense of necessity, that you would rather have gotten out of, and got part-way used to that, while keeping going.  Or maybe you just “trained” badly or trained on top of old injuries.  You’re musclebound, whatever the story, with a spasm in your back.

It’s been coming for a long time, your back spasm — you’ve been getting closer to the edge of cramp or spasm for a long time.  You got so used to being tense and stiff that, one day, you pulled on that tenseness and stiffness and it pulled you right back, something like an internally generated whiplash action. 

What If It Was a Whiplash Incident?

Maybe you were involved in an accident that yanked or jerked or jolted you a bit too much.

Then, you tightened up suddenly, got prone to sudden yank-back, and you knew you were caught — even if, at first, you didn’t realize it was a protective spasm you were feeling.

A Back Spasm Shows Brain-Muscle Conditioning

Caught in your own conditioning– think about that.  Your spasm is your conditioning.

We all caught in our conditioning, to varying degrees and in different ways.  Had you thought of it like that, before?

However, sometimes, it’s “just enough” (too much), and with just one more challenge we suddenly go hard-line, uptight, tense, caught in the grip of our own conditioning, in spasm, body and mind (two aspects of the same thing).  Think about it:  didn’t your back spasm stop you in your tracks? mid-step?  It wasn’t “a back spasm“; it was a "you spasm“.

The Problem with a "You Spasm"

Not enough reserve capacity, not enough tolerance for additional demand.  On edge, trying to be nice, perhaps.  Not much more capacity for stress, however.  Used up, or close to it, in the grip.

The solution?

Recover much of that reserve capacity by dispeling obsolete tension patterns.  Lose the excess tension.  Get back to normal.  Recover your reserve capacity.  Feel like a human being.  You may have forgotten what that feels like and you may not have known that you can do it, yourself.

Common Back Spasms are Simple

"Simple When You Know How"

Common Back Pain is a fairly simple condition to master.  It’s just a primitive “go” reaction (“Landau Reaction“) turned on too hard and too long.  You’re overheated; you’re idling too high.  You can learn to turn this reflex (Landau Reaction) down and up again, temper it, recover a bunch of reserve capacity, flexibility and freedom of movement.  No more spasm, no more back pain, more reserve capacity, more movability.

Back Spasms from Injury are More Complex, May Take More Doing to Clear Up

Back pain from injury may consist of a number of overlying contraction patterns.  However, bending over or twisting and getting a spasm isn’t an injury; it’s a malfunction that falls under “Common Back Pain”.  Recovering from a complicated injury isn’t more difficult, particularly; it just takes more steps, some sorting out, and more doing, of course.

The same principle applies, either way.

Recover voluntary (deliberate) control of the muscular grip and let it relax, then deliberately use it freely and so reclaim it.  Strength, reserve capacity, free control.  Security.

One Right Reason

That’s one very good purpose of somatic education — to get people out of pain.  It’s effective, it’s faster than more well-known or popularized methods, and it brings durable benefits under all life conditions.

Different -- and More Like Yourself

A larger effect of somatic education is to train people to free themselves from the excessive grip of their conditioning; to re-acquaint people with what it feels like to feel fine;  so people feel different and more like themselves.

Relief comes primarily from what the person does, secondarily from what someone else did with the person.  If you do sessions of this process, you contribute at least 50% to the change, moving between effort and non-effort (in clinical sessions), or more like 90% if you’re working at a distance from me (Lawrence Gold) following recorded instructional material and taking distance-coaching, as needed.

Because the person is contributing energy, intention, and intelligence to the process, and because they’re changing from within (if guided from out), the change is theirs — theirs to maintain or theirs to re-create, if necessary.  More than that, it’s faster than by externally operating methods, whether scalpel, laser, or stretching device ("spinal decompression"), longer-lasting than manipulations or interventions of many kinds.  It’s longer-lasting because it covers more of the bases and from the internal control center, the self, oneself, and faster because it works from the inside, out.


Esoteric Somatics and Tibetan Buddhism

In Tibetan Buddhism, the human being is regarded to have three interfitting "bodies", which correspond to the waking state ("Nirmanakaya" or dense/"gross" physical flesh/genetic body), the dreaming or imagining state ("Sambhogakaya" or "subtle" body), and deep sleep ("Dharmakaya" or "causal/most subtle" or "unborn, unmanifest" body). This entry discusses our experience of them and how they evolve as a given individual develops and evolves.

These bodies are not separate. I consider them "nodes" or octaves on a continuum. This continuum consists of the primal "substance" of existence, which is self-radiant awareness, which gives rise to "soma" (or "living, aware, psycho-physical person"); soma consists of these three "bodies" or nodes.

Of these three "bodies", two are manifest (limited and defined), consist of changing processes, and exist in time:  the Nirmanakaya (genetic body) and the Sambhogakaya (dream body). These two bodies are not static and unchanging, but exist as living, changing processes.

The third "body," the Dharmakaya, is transcendental, all-pervading, and is the ground of being from which the other two arise and in which they exist, consisting of self-radiant awareness.

This writing describes and explains the interrelation of the three bodies in terms of personal/conscious evolution. 

People who are just learning the process of deliberate growth and change, we call "proto-mutants"; people who are actively engaging deliberate growth and change, we call "mutants" -- after Thomas Hanna's usage in his book, "Bodies in Revolt".

"Pointing Out" Instructions

When the Nirmanakaya (manifested genetic/memory body) and the Sambhogakaya (imaginary dreamed-body) align (or attain a high degree of mutual congruency), as the individual remains consciously awake, volitionally present and at a sufficiently poised state of equanimity or balance (free attention), the Dharmakaya (deep, silent, formless body or field) may be intuited by feeling the content of experience and, while feeling it, feeling beyond it into what is deeper.

By "a high degree of mutual congruency", I mean that the genetic/memory body is sufficiently free of the grip, or "gravitational attraction" of habituated patterns to be able to transform freely and stably into new subtle perceptions captured by awareness in the dream/imagination body (Sambhogakaya).  Otherwise, subtle perceptions are fleeting and quickly replaced by the habits of dense memory seated in the genetic/memory body (Nirmanakaya).  They can't be captured, so subtle perceptions, new insights, and emerging abilities vanish and get missed.

The Dharmakaya is the "clutch pedal".  As the formless aspect of buddha-nature, "resorting" to it (or "taking refuge" in it) is the means of disengagement from, or relinquishment of, the memory-form of the moment.  Dynamic balance between the intuition of the Dharmakaya and intuition of the form and feeling of the Sambhogakaya (imaginary dreamed-body) allows the Sambhogakaya to transform.  Without that dynamic balance, the Sambhogakaya remains bogged in its current form, anchored by the Nirmanakaya's tangible memory pattern (present as physiological adaptation, neurological conditioning, and the patterning of the myofascia/soft-tissue), which feeds back the memory pattern to the Sambhogakaya in a self-perpetuating feedback loop.  You can't lift the foot you are standing on; you're using it.

The Nirmanakaya/genetic body is the densest seat of memory and is slower to (and more resistant to) change than the Sambhogakaya (dream-body), and so introduces a lag into the process of change -- which has survival value, but slows re-adaptation.

The "anchoring" of the Nirmanakaya is its habitual pattern; intuition of the Dharmakaya "lifts anchor". 

Ordinarily, the perception of the Nirmanakaya/Sambhogakaya dynamic fades in deep sleep, leaving only the Dharmakaya's formless nature.  This is rest.  Upon passage from the deep sleep state (Dharmakaya) into the dream state (Sambhogakaya), residual memories imprinted upon the Nirmanakaya (daytime body) "leak" into the emerging dream-activity of the Samghogakaya.  Dreams appear, whose elements are, every one, aspects of the dreaming individual.

The "Ins" and "Outs" of the Subtle/Dream Body (Sambhogakaya)

Though it has been said that dreams are the royal road to the Unconscious, it is better said that they are the royal road to pervading the Unconscious with Consciousness.  It is fruitless and misguided to consult "dream interpretation" texts for their meaning.  They are indirect, second-hand, and intellectually biased, if not outright arbitrary.

There is a better way:  Merely to remember each element of the dream and notice what you feel as you put your full attention on each element -- that action reveals the latent significance of the element attended to.  It's a "feel" thing.  The feelings are likely to be very familiar.  More than that, with recognition comes dissolution of the binding forces of those feelings.

With each recognition and dissolution come both greater access to intuition of the Dharmakaya and release of the physical form (Nirmanakaya) from hitherto unconscious patterns of contraction (or somatic/psychophysical shaping forces).  The body changes.

As the process of recognition and release continues, there appears a feeling of "straightening out".  The process gives meaning to a term that Castaneda used, "The Mold of Man".  (I think it was in "The Fire from Within").  The "straightening out" progressively approximates a feeling of more natural wholeness, of "self as you would prefer to be", which is The Mold of Man.

The process of that straightening out may involve passages through personal distortions, recognized as "damaged self", dysfunctional patterns or neuroses, some of which may be pretty hairy.  It gives meaning to the term, "Lions at the Gate" or "Personal Demons" or "The Dragon's Lair" or "The Green Knight" (but not The Jolly Green Giant).

As it proceeds, the energy-dynamic of the individual changes -- not wholesale and in some general fashion, but in specific ways energetically/vibrationally related to the material recognized and released.  A person gets more spontaneously intelligent in various ways.

The Special Function of the Formless or Most Subtle Body (Dharmakaya)

However, without the balancing influence of intuition of the Dharmakaya, transformation is slowed, rather than allowed -- hence the value of meditation -- and of a good night's sleep!  Paradoxically, as the process proceeds, the person may find (s)he needs less sleep and spontaneously spends more time in early-morning meditation.  Or maybe it's just insomnia.  But you can put the time to good use!

Now, as the energy-dynamic of the individual changes, the field of the individual tends to become quieter -- that is, less beset by occlusive noise -- more "resonant" to processes occurring within and outside.  The faculty of intuition becomes more available.  With less internal noise, the individual is more sensitive -- particularly to subtle forces guiding and shaping the emergence of actual existence.  In other words, the person may become spontaneously pre-cognitive, getting intimations of things to come through revery and streams of thought.  When those things come to pass, people call it, "synchronicity" or "signs of wisdom".

It's a natural result of doing "clean-up" which, by releasing the "glue" of memory patterns, allows the Nirmanakaya to change more quickly/fluidly, and the energy dynamic of Nirmanakaya and Sambhogakaya to be more congruent.  (The physiologically-based memory-"glue" of the Nirmanakaya makes it slower to change, and so less dynamic than the dream-body/ Sambhogakaya.  They get out of phase, as attention is trapped in memory.  Somatic education helps in the releasing of that "glue".)  As Nirmanakaya and Sambhogakaya become more synchronous and congruent, they seem more transparent and attention is more free to penetrate to the deeper layer or node of consciousness: the Dharmakaya.

As both Sambhogakaya and Dharmakaya are simultaneously intuited, spontaneous adjustments in the field of the Sahbhogakaya (dream body) occur in the direction of felt balance and centered wholeness (these words being metaphors for a felt experience), these being how the Dharmakaya manifests through or as the Sambhogakaya.  The Nirmanakaya undergoes corresponding evolutionary mutations (at a personal, not species, level).


This simultaneous intuition may be fostered by the presence of persons or objects imprinted with the harmonic of "Nirmanakaya/Sambhogakaya Manifesting Dharmakaya".  Such is the virtue of spiritual masters, the localities of such masters, and the relics of such masters, of teachings generated from such intuition, and of groups of practitioners.

What may start out as an idealized state in certain aspects of the individual's make-up broadens to include more of the individual's functions, with consciousness of the Dharmakaya progressively pervading the dream-body and its manifested-memory (neural/genetic) body, to the benefit of ongoing mutation or "personal evolution".

The End

"The Controlling Moment"

Growth and Change are a Mystery to Most People.

This piece clarifies. 

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." So wrote Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard's Almanac.

Failing that, another saying carries the point:  "The biggest problem could have been solved when it was small." So wrote Lao Tzu, a Chinese Taoist sage, in The Tao Teh Ching, an ancient text of wisdom.

Changing behaviors and entrenched conditions isn't as simple as it sounds -- a mere decision powered (at best) by enthusiasm -- as anyone who has worked to change a habit has found.

People do it by "trying" -- working harder to change -- rather than by uncovering their/our own remaining impulse to be "the old way" -- working smarter.

However, without taking into account the root of action, any change of action remains incomplete and in conflict with old ways of acting.  This understanding applies as much to social politics as it does to individual behavior and experience.  That's why, "You can't change minds with guns."

There's a way of "working smarter", rather than harder -- and that is part of what I cover in this entry.

There's a "Root" of Action?? The idea that there is a root of action doesn't occur to most people. That's because people generally experience action -- theirs and others -- only once it is well underway. The root of action, because it is small, subtle, goes unnoticed. So, I will, in this entry, illuminate the nature of the root of action (and it isn't psychological, but more primordial/rudimentary than that). In the process, I will show the relationship between the subjective experience of the root of change and the objective (and outwardly observable) bodily sign of the root of action. Let's get started. The Root of Action The root of action is so common as to go unnoticed, except in certain specialized situations.  Its word is, "readiness". Readiness is not merely an emotional state, a state of anticipation.  ("Yeah, boss!  Yeah, boss!")  It's a state of preparation, the first step of shifting from rest (unreadiness) into action.  ("On your mark, get set . . . ")  It's a "steering" action, the step of organizing oneself for a particular activity, generally based upon the memory of the action we are about to do, but also modulated by the relationships of the moment.    It's that subtle. Because it is that subtle, as subtle as memory and the subtle effects of a person or place upon us, it generally goes unnoticed. Memory and imagination go together, are two sides of the same coin. The act of getting ready is preparation for a leap into a (however vaguely imagined) future which has some connection with a memory. I call the moment of getting ready, "The Controlling Moment."  As we leap (or subtly drift) into action, we rally  our determination, springing (or gliding) forward from that controlling moment into full action. As we launch into action, we power up.  The controlling moment points our direction.  Powering up builds upon the controlling moment, and away we go. Now, here's the odd thing about human beings:  it's common for us automatically to redirect our launch, so that what we do after the Controlling Moment misses the mark we (think we have) set in our Controlling Moment.  The act of redirecting ourselves occurs automatically, involuntarily, and is based upon memories of life situations similar to the one into which we are launching.  Fears, conditioning, beliefs all change our trajectory, but "behind the scenes", without conscious awareness.  That means we get unanticipated results. Not only do fears, beliefs and other conditioning change our trajectory; they also disguise or obscure the Controlling Moment of that action, so that an observer of our action often can't tell what our precise intention was at the controlling moment -- and we, ourselves, find it difficult to tell why things went awry.  ("The road to Hell is paved with good intentions," a pathetic saying based on the presently-described dynamic). What we and others perceive is everything that followed the Controlling Moment of that action, but the Controlling Moment remains obscured and obscure. Why?  Because the experience of "powering up" is so much "louder" than that of The Controlling Moment.  The root remains buried. That's why it's so difficult to self-correct, to change habits, and to understand the motivations of others whose actions we observe.  Two "Layers" of Action We may regard The Controlling Moment as the core of an action (steering) and Powering Up as the extension of that core (acceleration). Another odd thing, however:  the two layers don't always go together.  Sometimes, we get ready for an action but refrain from carrying it out; sometimes, we do an action for which we are not really ready, and our heart really isn't in it, but carry it out, anyway.  We counteract our own Controlling Moment or we act without the precise internal guidance of a mature Controlling Moment.  In those cases, we have a condition of self-arrest (Controlling Moment without Powering Up -- ineffectuality) or poorly organized action (undeveloped Controlling Moment and lots of Powering Up -- stupidity or clumsiness). In such cases, a residue of the action (or lack of action) remains in memory.  The residue of self-arrest is regret, frustration and/or self-recrimination; the residue of poorly organized action remains in memory as a sense of guilt, shame, and/or lower self-esteem.   Integrity What's lacking when we have one but not the other is integrity. Integrity is intelligent, well-regulated, well-modulated power. In other words, when we have one but not the other, we fail either to exercise our intelligence adequately or we fail to exercise our power appropriately. What happens as aftermath when we act without intelligence or without well-regulated power is we experience our lack of integrity as disempowerment. What to do?  What to do? Forging Integrity Congruence between our Controlling Moment and our Powering Up shows up as integrity.  To forge integrity, we must correct one or both of our errors -- the error of acting without adequate intelligence or an error in the exercise of power. However, it's not sufficient merely to power up; we must power up to a degree of intensity appropriate to our circumstances.  Likewise, it's not sufficient merely to power up to an appropriate degree of intensity; we must power up intelligently, which means in alignment with the intention present in our Controlling Moment.  The Controlling Moment is the truth of any action. The kicker is that we can't have intelligence about a Controlling Moment buried by an unintelligent powering up -- and powering up always buries the Controlling Moment simply because it's louder. So, we have to uncover the Controlling Moment underlying any action or habit we find problematic. How do we do that? First Attention Self-correction requires that we catch the fault when it is small.  Otherwise, we have to deal with both the momentum of an action in progress and the direction of that momentum.  Think of turning a vehicle at slow speed vs. at high speed. Again, unfortunately, we may (and commonly do) miss the Controlling Moment. One way to catch the Controlling Moment is to slow down so that we can observe the first moment of action, the Controlling Moment. Another way to catch the Controlling Moment is to repeat the action with close attention each time, so that we ultimately catch the Controlling Moment. And yet another way to catch the Controlling Moment is to alternate doing an action with refraining from that action, so that, by virtue of the contrast between doing and not-doing, we get enhanced perception of the action. And yet another way to catch the Controlling Moment is to take instruction (and example) from someone adept at the intended action, so that, by virtue of the contrast between their competence and our incompetence, we catch our own errant Controlling Moment and correct it, with repetition, by degrees (successively accurate approximations). Whatever the approach, we must catch the Controlling Moment, so that we perceive the contrast (or difference) between our Controlling Moment and the subsequent Powering Up (which may be out of close alignment with our Controlling Moment) -- so that we can self-correct at the root of action. A master of anything is one who has done so.  I've just outlined the theoretical (not hypothetical) underpinning of action and of change of action.  I'm going to leave you with that basic understanding without outlining specific techniques so that you can form an intention to form your own Controlling Moment to improve your access and control of your own controlling moments. What follows is an addendum of interest to somatic educators and Rolfers.  To continue this consideration, please see this entry on The Big Pandiculation. We continue.   For Somatic Educators Feldenkrais pointed out, in "Body and Mature Behavior", that laboratory studies showed that we can sense a stimulus about 1/20th of the intensity of another, immediately preceding stimulus.  That means, when a stronger stimulus immediately precedes  another, weaker, stimulus as little 1/20th as intense, we can sense both, but if the weaker stimulus is less than 1/20th as intense, we may not be able to sense it. Thomas Hanna pointed out that to alter a pattern of function (or behavior) voluntarily, we must deliberately do the old pattern of function (to be changed) at a level of intensity at least equal to that of the same pattern, when done involuntarily (by habit or "kneejerk reaction").  By matching or exceeding the level of voluntary intensity to the intensity of the involuntary habit, control shifts from involuntary habit to voluntary performance.  At that point, lasting change is possible.  However, to make a change, we must reach, or catch, the Controlling Moment, and that requires two things:  that we:
  1. closely match the voluntary pattern of action to the habitual/involuntary pattern.
  2. maintain continuous sensory awareness from full intensity if the action all the way to zero intensity.
In practice, (1.) requires that we compare (by feeling) our voluntary action to the habitual action and self-correct until they closely match. In practice, (2.) requires that we either go slowly enough that the differences of intensity of neighboring (or successive) "takes" of sensory perception are less than 20:1 ("takes" of sensory perception can't be continuous due to the way our nervous systems function, in which our brains link successive "snapshots" of perception the way movie films and TV images present successive "shapshots" of movement that our brains link together -- via memory -- into the impression of continuous action).  Since, by tendency, we lack continuous perception of habitual actions, we may need to make numerous repetitions of the action to develop sufficient perception to apprehend the Controlling Moment and to make the change.  The Diamond Penetration Technique, which uses rhythmic repetitions combined with memory, is helpful to develop sufficient heightened awareness to change our habitual action. For Rolfers Ida Rolf made a distinction between "Intrinsic Movement" and "Extrinsic Movement."  She defined "extrinsic movement" as "immature movement" and "intrinsic movement" as "mature movement." Now to clarify those meanings. Intrinsic Movement is movement we originate with awareness of the Controlling Moment -- the root of action -- intention. Extrinsic Movement is movement we originate with more concern for how the movement looks or conforms to the expectations of others (or social standards) than by how it feels -- and so is immature movement that we may characterized as "obedience",  "conformity", "going through the motions". She also distinguished two "layers of depth" of the musculature and myofascial web:  intrinsic musculature and extrinsic musculature, or "core" (intrinsic") and "sleeve" (extrinsic). The intrinsic muscles are those most immediately responsive to the shift from rest into full activity, which corresponds to the shift from rest (or unreadiness) into readiness for activity. Examples of intrinsic muscles include the finest, deepest muscles of the spine, the tongue, the muscles of focusing, the psoas muscles.  The extrinsic muscles add power to the pattern of organization set by activation of intrinsic muscles.  So, it may be said that visually seeing organizes the body for motion.  Thus, "Look where you're going," has an intuitively understandable meaning. Another distinction she made was of two variations of poor integration:
  1. soft (open or free) core, hard (restrictive or tight) sleeve -- conformity -- "going through the motions," "going along to get along"
  2. hard (restrictive or tight) core, soft (open or free) sleeve -- outwardly obedient, but internally resistant behavior
She distinguished another pattern, which she defined as the desirable, mature pattern
  • open core, free sleeve
That pattern corresponds to a kind of rest, rather than activity. I distinguish yet another pattern:
  • freely responsive core and cooperative sleeve
This pattern is neither defined by a rest condition nor by an active condition, but by free modulation between both states, characterized by freedom from entrapment in either state.  In other words, there's relatively smooth continuity between an "open core, free sleeve" condition and a freely responsive core empowered by a cooperative sleeve. Paradoxically, it's impossible to tell by a moment's observation whether a person is entrapped, since their state of core and sleeve may be a momentary response (or even a frequent one).  Only over the long term can we tell whether an action pattern is free or compulsorily maintained by habit.  We can't even tell, about ourselves, unless we are aware of our own Controlling Moments and the continuity of those moments with the movement into full rest. Again, paradoxically, spontaneity shows up when the person moves easily from state to state.  A true "Controlling Moment" arises from the 'open core, free sleeve" (undefined) condition -- Source. Again, habitual fixation in a pattern at the Controlling Moment or in Powering Up interferes with this free condition, since a person can neither move freely from action to rest, nor does their action, when carried out, reflect their direction, as determined at their Controlling Moments. Ultimately, an approach from the outside, in (such as passive bodywork) can lead only to immature patterns of function, since we activate our core from the inside, out (intrinsically), and outside-in approaches, even those that contact the intrinsic muscular or depth, are inherently extrinsic (at least at the beginning).  Hence, the absolute necessity, with all kinds of bodywork, Rolfing included, for training in self-mastery to complement the changes of an outside-in approach. That training may start as movement education, but should mature toward Transcendental Realization and stages of personal (and cultural) evolution. (See Ken Wilber's AQAL -- "All Quadrant, All Level, All Line" Kosmological (yes, spelled correctly) model) A final quote from Ida Rolf:
Comprehensive recognition of human structure includes not only the physical body, but also the psychological personality -- behavior, attitudes, capacities.
MORE READING An Advance of Somatic Education Technique -- The Diamond Penetration Pandiculation Technique The Integration Process The Incarnation Taboo   Psychotherapy and Integral Somatic Education   The Big Pandiculation   VIDEO about SOMATIC EDUCATION

Agency in Communion | Somatic Integration

The term, "agency", may have different connotations to some than to others.  Likewise, the term, "communion", may have different connotations to some than to others.

Let us clarify the airwaves.

A place where people go to find employment.  To be put to work, to take action. A place that deploys people to employment.  A place where a lot of people are employed.  A place where secret agents hang out.  No.

A religious ritual.  A religious experience.  A feeling of one-ness with (or as).  The experience of a group of individuals sharing that feeling of one-ness.  The experience of incoming experience.  Also, a name for an organization composed of such individuals.  A flock of priests.  OK.

What happens when you put them together?  What do you get?

Agency-Communion. The communion of agencies, a community of agencies, agencies secretly in communion with each other.  A Communist Agency! No.

As living beings, we experience agency as the sense of being a doer of things, being responsible for things, but also of being witness to our spontaneous actions; the taker of responsibility (respondent) as well as initiator of actions that return consequences to us.

But -- and here's the big question -- how do we know we're doing or being any of those things?


We experience it as incoming experience.  Received Feedback, The Formation of Information, The Belief Narratives of Myth, The Transparency of Truth, The Diversion of Fallacy, Emotions, The Body Sense, The self-Sense -- all Modes of Communion -- shaped at different levels of the being.

There's more than agency; there's also communion.

So.  Down to Earth.

We have incoming sensations and make movements that are at times outgoing and, at other times, incoming, returning to rest, floating at center (balance).

Communion doing the Sensing
Agency Moving Between Action and Rest
Sensibly Moving Among Action and Rest

There may exist more or less continuity of sensing ones one movements and state, as the senses depend upon memory for recognition purposes.  Disruption of ones sense of movement and of ones state (shock) creates a discontinuity of identity (amnesia), as memory can't keep up with the intensity of that change at the speed of that change.  the phonograph needle skips a groove, leaving a click (or glitch) behind.

Identity continues to live, moment-by-moment, as a continuous sensing of self and other (more or less) -- laying down or imprinting a stream of memory, most of which is in the background unless pleasure overwashes us or pain strikes.  Then, we experience heightened awareness -- more or less pleasant or unpleasant, but heightened -- and heightened awareness is like the laser that burns the groove of a phonograph record, CD or DVD.  Brighter and more focussed makes a sharper impression.

In disruption and discontinuity, a gap or abyss of unknowing encloses or encapsulates the memory prior to the disruption.  It separates the continuing identity from that part of what it was before the disruption.  That's the discontinuity.  It's a lump in the gravy of the mind, a skip out of the groove.  We do well the stir in the lump, to re-groove the groove.

But to do so requires magnifying the ability for communion and smoothing it out so it's fairly continuous.  Then, we can apply that ability, which is the ability to pay attention, to the trouble left behind in the disjointed discontinuity.  Then, we deliberately activate (agency) that sense of trouble  that we are already feeling (communion), acting in communion with our own agency and living in communion with the experience of our agency (responsibility).  We learn the way into it and we learn the way out of it.  We get free of it and free in it.

In other words, we do clean up.

The more we clean up, the subtler our sensing and the subtler our control.  Also, the clearer our signal and the better our ability to home in on others and on the signals of probability that pervade us; also, the more power goes into our actions -- with less effort than we're used to -- necessitating "retransformation" of the power of our intent (i.e., of our self-re-regulation) from time to time.  In general, a finer and more completely neurotic individual, you will never see.  It's all too much.  So, we "retransform".  Retransformation -- the ongoing occupation of proto-mutants  who are learning to transform themselves and their environments more intelligently.

This isn't from Outer Space.

Have you heard of synchronicity?  (who hasn't?).

Synchronicity is an unexpected synchronization of events that have recognizable mutual significance.  In other words, too blatantly related to be overlooked.  Resonant moments in the field of experience.  More likely to be recognized if the individual isn't already drowning in the conditioning of past memories, which cause him to lag behind in recognition of his present circumstances.  But, with most of humanity, as far as I can see, "fuggeddaboutit".

Still, synchronicities appear in movies, and even in the circumstances surrounding the creation of each movie -- such as the impossibility of filming the story, Don Quixote (not "Man of La Mancha" -- a musical) --- the state of grace that pervaded the filming of "Miracle on 34th Street" -- and the unexpected good fortune in which "Casablanca", not expected by the studio to be particularly noteworthy, emerged as a classic.

But I digress.  Not really.


Agency in Communion with Communion
and Communion Openly Informing Agency

There develops a finer clarity of self-expression -- the way agency retransforms itself when in communion with communion, to adapt more easily (except, occasionally, screaming); and in the way that communion communicates what's changing to agency, who listens and may adapt.  (Get the metaphor?  No?  Then I'm wrong.)

Sensation and movement are inner and outer perspectives on the individual (soma - body).

The correspond to

attention and intention.

Attention:sensation  || Intention:Movement

See how they go together?

Soma is sentient (sensory attentive and intentionally moving), developmental (faculties emerge), initiatory (pushy),  malleable (omni-plastic), and can be observed to undergo bodily changes as different memory patterns get activated by experience.  You know.  Nervous tension.

You want better self-expression?  Improve the vehicle of expression -- oneself -- activate and develop the full spectrum of our faculties.

The Immortal Harold Somaman -- What Keeps Him Going?


The thing we most take for granted is, ourselves.  We notice that we come into existence before we know it.  And, in fact, if you hadn't noticed it, thoughts arise before we know it, and our imaginings surface and rise into daydreams -- before we know it.

And the will, deliberately, to imagine also arises before we know it, as a growing impulse that we may perceive closer and closer to its root, as an intensifying of attention.

So, I think everyone's imagination is an arising from an innate place to go into places -- the places we think to look and their neighboring places.

It's just that some people's memories have a stronger grip than others', and so complicate and garble the arising imaginary newness, rather than allow it to arise in a more streamlined and more integrated (and so pristine) form.


The Vibrant Mystery of "We"

The Old Sage oversees the serene meditation
of his student.

The Fool laughs at the beneficent and peaceful Quon Yin.

We are not, 
when alone,
as we are 
when with someone else.
And we are not
with every "someone else"
as we are 
with any other "someone else".

Therefore, who can say what are the preconditions
for relationship?

For just as we cannot predict
how we will be 
with another,
we cannot predict
how an other 
will be with us.

Therefore, we enter into mystery
every time we enter into relationship.

And who can say
what attributes
will lead to a combination
of two "alone-ness-ess"
into a "we-ness"?

Since we don't even know 
what "we-ness"
might emerge
in any next instant
we converge.

And in the converging,
a meeting of boundaries
and then a slow sinking together
with softening boundaries
and softening movements
a converging into merging
with undulatory messages
flickering between.

More on The Pair of Complementary Walking Patterns

I have written elsewhere about The Magnetic Walk, a rhythmic movement pattern that recycles, gathers, and conserves kinetic energy; and about The Old Scotch Geezer's Walk (or The Scotsman's Walk), which sets up a rhythm that oscillates right and left, and thereby dispels and disperses the conserved energy.

By alternating The Magnetic Walk, as a walking regimen, with The Scotsman's (or Old Scotch Geezer's) Walk, we set up an oscillation between gathering energy (or momentum) and dispelling and dispersing it.  It's a pulsation set in motion by alternating between the two patterns of movement.

That pulsation is the pulsation of our organizing ourselves for one walk and then organizing ourselves for the other.  The feeling is of a gathering of everything together around a center, then of letting go of the center and feeling sensation get more and more two-sided, then of gathering everything together again, and letting go, again.  That's a pulsation.

That pulsation is like a radar wave going through us, that we sense, showing us where we are creased, jammed, or broken.  The movement and breathing that go along with the pulsation seem to fuel a reorganization that solves some chronic problems.

Now, those who know The Magnetic Walk and The Scotsman's (or Old Scotch Geezer's) Walk can do as I have described.

And if you don't,
you gonna have to Get on the Train!

Shake Your Booooty!

There's moving because you want to
and there's moving because you have to,
and which do you do?

There's moving no more than necessary
and moving for the pleasure of it
and which do you prefer?

There's moving before you know it
and there's moving to show it.
Are you comfortable being seen?

There's moving to take it
and moving to escape it.
Are you that free?

There's moving a little
and there's moving a lot
and there's moving to show
that you're still hot to trot!
How old are you?

There's moving all creaky
and just getting along.
Are you satisfied with that?

There's moving in rhythm
as in moving in song.
Is the spirit alive in you?

There's moving, "Look out"!
and "Wow! Look at that!"
as your eyes open wide
and you hold down your hat.

There's shakin' yo booty
to the tune, Twist and Shout.
How long has it been
since you moved it about?


Disproving the Myth of Aging (entry)
Disproving the Myth of Aging (self-teaching program)

Being and Doing

There is no experience of "being" without "doing" -- contrary to the stated opinion of pop-spirituality and self-help enthusiasts.

Here's why: We can experience only sensations that change. Anything that doesn't change rapidly fades from our awareness.  If we can perceive it, it's changing, and that's a kind of "doing".

Things that change are all "doings"; even inanimate objects are doing something, if only capturing and re-radiating ("reflecting") light, and that light creates a change in our experience that makes it possible to perceive something.

The notion that being and doing are separate and different leads, in those who seek peace or other spiritual attributes, to seeking for being -- a kind of doing.  They abandon "already being" for seeking being -- a kind of doing!

That being the case, all seeking for "being" or "peace" or other spiritual attributes is fruitless.  Not just frustrating.  Fruitless.

Now, oddly, the act of seeking is the action of "being, seeking".

All actions come from an unfathomable depth in ourselves.  That unfathomable depth is our being; it is "the seer which is unseen".  (If it can be seen, it's an object, not the seer.)  Doing emerges from being.  Something comes from nothing.  (Where do you think the Universe came from? -- or if you have a theistic view, What do you think God's nature was, before creation?)  Doing is the action of being, while being remains forever unseen, only the doing being perceptible.

In reality, we can never depart from being, nor can we be separate from it -- mainly because there is no "it"; all "its" emerge from, are pervaded by, are "made from" and abide within "it". 

So, don't worry about "achieving being"; you can only achieve "doing" anyway, which is the action of being.

The way to do is to be.
-- Lao Tzu

Do-Be Do-Be Do
-- Frank Sinatra

Hanna Somatic Education -- a look at the larger picture

The time has again come for us to take a fresh look at the status of Hanna Somatic Education as a world-level teaching.

By that, I mean our role in alleviating the pain of the billions of people who are presently at the mercy of "less effective" clinical modalities and of the "ten thousand natural shocks flesh is heir to".

We, who number in the small hundreds, represent the seed stock for what may be a body of practitioners adequate to serve those billions.

Puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

Now, to accomplish that end (which is a many-decades long project, even with exponential growth that we have yet to see, in the number of proficient practitioners), two things need to happen.

  1. We need to have a population of highly proficient practitioners.
  2. We need mass-media exposure.

Now, after nearly twenty-one years of practice, I can tell you this, from my experience:  Lessons 1, 2 and 3 are highly potent, virtually "sure-fire" as Tom Hanna said to us, Wave 1, students.  I almost never have to repeat a session with a client; one pass through virtually always gets the job of each lesson done (with rare exception).  I expect that to be true of any proficient practitioner.

A fair number of former clients of mine have gone to the Novato Institute and SSI trainings.  My point is that to receive good work has been their inspiration to become practitioners -- and I believe that highly proficient practitioners are, for now, our best source of more practitioners -- hence, the further importance of everyone developing and practicing at a high level of proficiency.

As the more highly proficient trainers age and retire, who is going to replace them? and what will be their level of proficiency? -- which is all they can transmit to their students.

I'm not talking about a higher standard; I'm talking about the minimum acceptable standard -- which is getting the results I get.  Why?  Because the students should exceed the teacher; if they don't, the teaching is in decline.

For my part, in addition to giving private sessions, I have created and am still adding to my website, which nowadays gets about 30,000+ visitors, monthly and comprises some 245 pages.  That means that, since 1996, some millions of people who were looking for help with chronic pain have at least been exposed to somatics.  Through that website, I do what Tom Hanna did:  I publish information about somatic education and I sell somatic exercise programs to people, worldwide.  (I'm now considering re-doing the look of the site -- another large task for which I'm hoping to find a shortcut.)

Let me add another perspective.  We are all aware of the "health care crisis"; we are all aware of the "economic meltdown".  What do you think is the relationship between the "health care crisis" and the "economic meltdown"?

How about this:  Pain management is a major cost in medical treatment.  Huge amounts of money are spent on pain management, on conventional physical therapy; huge amounts are lost in productivity due to the three reflexes of stress and the inability of the medical system to manage pain and lost mobility effectively.  Do you know how large the Medicare budget is?  how much is spent on medical insurance that covers procedures that get so little done so slowly, compared to what we can do so quickly?  I'm talking about a major proportion of our country's gross national product, comparable in scale to the military budget.  Kind of awes you, doesn't it?

We have a role to play in the recovery of the world economy.

Now, how are we going to do it?

One key is "mass production".  We can't mass-produce proficient practitioners -- not, at least, until we have enough highly-proficient trainers producing highly-proficient students who become trainers, to support exponential growth.  The only way it's safe to "slack the reins of control" is if exactingly high training-and-certification standards result in top-notch practitioners who become top-notch trainers.

What can be mass-produced are self-relief, somatic exercise programs.  We need to infiltrate social institutions.

Let's not be lazy; let's be creative.  Let's not cop out; let's develop ourselves and our skills.  Let's not sit on the sidelines; let's make the contribution only we can make.  Let's not "go with the flow"; let's be the flow.  Let's not be foggy-minded; let's be clear about our situation.  Let's not be old and tired; let's regenerate and rejuvenate ourselves and this teaching.  The more we do, the more we'll have the resources to do more, to more effect and with less effort.

I think it's a little like pulling a cork out of a wine bottle.  It's "stuck in there good".  So you pull and twist and wiggle and it comes out a bit.  You pull and twist and wiggle some more and it comes out further. 
That makes it easier.  At some point, it starts to come free faster, and then it's out -- with a pop.

We're the wine -- but still new wine.  Standard and most "alternative" practices and the mindset that they embody are the cork.  They should and will stay in place until the wine is ready -- and then they should be pulled from their closed position so we can pour out.  Maybe we can do that by positioning ourselves as "helpers" to them, but ultimately "the truth will out".  We're the vanguard.

Know that whatever we decide and do (or don't do) has consequences.  We need everyone's higher intelligence.

I have set myself to the task creating mass-producible instructional programs that address needs not being well-met by bodywork, therapy, and standard medicine.  My most recent was a program to address TMJ dysfunction.  I've also had new success with improving eyesight (mine) and with resolving deep pelvic pain and S-I joint syndrome.  People need a program for resolving neck pain, and I've got the essentials for that done in raw video.  I've developed a technique for multiplying the effectiveness of somatic exercises (fewer repetitions, less time, more accomplished) and written on somatics from "unusual" perspectives

Personally, I am more interested in training practitioners than in doing one-on-one sessions (which are about the closest thing to instant gratification that I know) or in producing publishable programs.  Training others is a way to multiply myself and the benefit I can bring to others.  However, I've delayed organizing trainings until I've gotten those other tasks done, even though I've had quite a few training inquiries in the past few months.

That's where I stand.

Lawrence Gold

LISTEN to the forward to
The End of Tyranny, by
Thomas Hanna, a voice in
the tradition of Thomas Payne:

Purchase The End of Tyranny

PTSD -- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) hinges on the interrelation of mind and body.  However, exclusive emphasis on chemistry or psychology misses the point.

The point is the relationship between memory, sensation, and action (or movement).

Every traumatic event triggers some sort of impulse to action (or movement).  If the event is intense enough or repetitive enough, that impulse to action becomes ingrained and habituated (memorized) as a chronic tension pattern, i.e., muscular involvement.

Every muscular tension pattern or action has a corresponding sensation.  The habituated sensations of patterns formed during a traumatic event are the sensations of the event, itself, the sensations of the tension pattern formed in that event.  However, the vary nature of habituation is its unconscious automaticity, so those sensations remain semi-conscious or unconscious impulses that get triggered and activated by similar, even remotely similar, events.

Bodywork, by contacting habituated muscular tension patterns, awakens corresponding habituated (and so, faded or semi-conscious) sensations.  That's why bodywork triggers memories.  However, it may or may not be sufficient to release the grip of those memories.

Somatic education, by awakening internal awareness of ones habituated states and by awakening from them into new patterns, supports a person's recovery from and growth past habituated trauma patterns.  This principle and process is the basis of Peter Levine's work (although his work intervenes at the autonomic level and not the voluntary level).

In my view, both psychological and sensory-motor approaches to memory are needed.

somatic exercise for Startle Reflex

The View from Inside The Big Bang (or The Big Flash)

Admittedly, we can only speculate – and there's something about speculating that involves a kind of inspecting -- and introspecting.  Let's follow the bouncing ball.

The Big Bang – or The Big Eye-Opening – was an emergence of “something” from “nothing.”

Leaving aside the question as to how something can emerge from nothing, for the time being, the nature of that “something” was very different from what we conceive of as, “something.” It was a “something” that was, in a basic way, indistinguishable from “nothing”; it had no form, it had no length in time, and it had no size. I’m referring to the immediate product of The Big Bang.

How can that be?

Here’s the first problem with the scientific description. At the beginning, before the Big Bang, science posits the existence of the “seed” from which everything emerged: a “naked singularity.” Everything was within that naked singularity in potential form; nothing was outside it. From that naked singularity, the entire Big Bang emerged, so it is said (never mind where that naked singularity came from, a point too easily glossed over, since it is really basic to the whole consideration … but even excusing that question, we ask …)

Where was that naked singularity? Since the naked singularity was the repository of all that could be, there could be nothing outside it, not even space, and certainly not a viewpoint from which to view the naked singularity. There was only an inside. (That, in fact is the definition of a naked singularity: a celestial body with no “event horizon” – i.e., defining boundaries.) There could be no boundary, no ‘skin,’ no limit, since such would have had to be a boundary between the inside and something outside, and there was nothing outside.

Outside was absolute zero. If you think you have a grasp of it, that cannot be it because that would be something.

The naked singularity, itself, had no size. It wasn’t “very small,” since size is relative and there was nothing outside the naked singularity against which to compare it, in size. All comparisons of size are based on what is “within” existence, which meant within The Naked Singularity, which at the time had no distinguishing features to permit comparison. Our conception of size is based upon ourselves; the “inch” is based on the approximate length of the thumb from tip to first joint. Since The Naked Singularity was The Only, comparisons of size are impossible.

Scientists who speculate about the size of the Naked Singularity, from which The Big Bang was said to emerge, do so in a very slippery mental environment, given the relative nature of everything. Size requires a frame of reference for measurement, and astrophysicists infer the size of The Naked Singularity from what they can see, today (which assumes certain things about the unchangeability of space – which astrophysicists say is expanding!). To The Naked Singularity, itself, from its own point of view, it had no size; it had only Itself, and not even any parts of itself by which to compare one part to another. Nothing can be said about its size in absolute terms or in relative terms.


The Naked Singularity existed in a “condition” of no space, no time.

Said to have expanded in a Big Bang, the expansion of The Naked Singularity took time. From astronomical data, scientists have arrived at an educated guess (based on a cosmological upper limit, the speed of light) as to how much time was required for the Naked Singularity to go from its seed state to the first stage of its expansion – raw energy of inconceivable magnitude.

The estimate of time is something like a billion times faster than the blink of an eye. The Big Bang, in a sense, was The Big Eye-Opening.

Of course, that estimate is based upon an objective comparison with time as we experience it.

But there was nothing outside or inside The Big Bang against which to compare it, in terms of length of time. Our conception of time is based upon ourselves, as the frame of reference: the “second” is the approximate length of time between a first heartbeat and a second heartbeat (hence the term, second). Scientists who speculate about the time involved in that Event do so with a bias: their own frame of reference, which didn’t exist at the time of The Big Bang. Time requires a fixed point of reference against which to be measured (which astrophysicists assume to be related to the speed of light and measures of distance). However, since there were no objects by which to measure distance, to the Big Bang, from its own point of view, it took no set amount of time, neither large nor small: it had only Itself and no frame of reference outside itself by which to compare its beginning to its progress.

At the moment of The Big Eye-Opening (if we can locate such a point in time), there was nothing – no form. The first moments of The Big Bang consisted of pure energy, pure motion, but nothing in particular to be in motion – again, no form – because no matter had condensed, yet. If you can grasp it conceptually, that’s not it, since concept-formation developed long after The Big Bang.

No size, no time, no form. The emergence of nothing from nothing. No problem.

Now, if we identify with The Big Eye-Opening, as if it were ourselves (which is in fact true – since existence continues in perfect continuity from then to now), what we might experience is, in a metaphorical way of speaking, the Rousing of a Sleeping Giant, perhaps something like what you may have experienced forcibly rousing yourself from a dream -- a primal urge to motion to wake up in possession of your full faculties. Only, The Big Eye-Opening had no faculties, other than that of the motion of emergence – the emergence of something from nothing – but with a lot of enthusiasm!

Let’s take a fresh look at The Big Eye-Opening.

First, a new assertion: The Big Eye-Opening didn’t expand into anything; what it did was divide itself -- another case of, “How Can That Be?”

Let’s try a metaphor. Among living creatures, reproduction (multiplication) is accomplished by means of division – whether division of a cell, of a seed, or of a fertilized egg.

Let’s use an egg as an example. An egg encompasses the entire potential of its lifeform. When an ovum, or egg, is fertilized, the first thing it does is divide (meiosis).

One cell, the egg cell, becomes two cells.
The two divide, and two becomes four.
Four becomes eight.
Eight becomes sixteen.
Sixteen becomes thirty-two.
Thirty-two becomes sixty-four.
Sixty-four becomes one hundred twenty-eight.
One hundred twenty-eight becomes two hundred fifty-six.
Two hundred fifty-six becomes five hundred-twelve.
Nine steps from one to five-hundred twelve. And the multiplication goes on. Multiplication by dividing. A spherical ovum becomes a spherical blastula, which then shapes itself to become an embryo, and away we go.

A blastula is bigger than an ovum, but it gets bigger by incorporating nutrients from its environment into itself. The Naked Singularity had no environment from which to build itself or expand into; all it could do was divide.

The act of division was the first creation of relative size. But from the point of view of the Naked Singularity, there was no size.

The Naked Singularity had no material existence; it was energy, only. Its very intensity precluded the condensation of matter; it was raw flux, pure motion, again inconceivable. If you can conceive of it in your imagination, that wasn’t it.

Let’s talk about energy and motion.

In our present Universe, light energy exists in a continuum (spectrum) of frequency, which we experience as color, from low (the red side of the spectrum and below) to high (the violet side of the spectrum, and beyond).

Again, in our present Universe, different atoms give off light at different and unique color combinations of the spectrum. Atoms can be identified by the light they give off.

But there were no atoms at the time of The Big Eye-Opening – no matter, no anti-matter, no nothing. At most, there was light (as in “Let there be …”) and since all light travels at the same speed in a vacuum (which was all there was, if that), there was no way of measuring time (which is only known in terms of motion) because everything was the same and there was no scale of differences in size by which to make comparison of distance from “here” to “there.” No time.

The first emergence, beyond mere timeless, sizeless formlessness, would have had to be the emergence of wavelength, or color, of light. In particular, it would have had to be with there being more than one wavelength, or color of light. The “oneness” of all colors would have had to divide, at minimum, into a basic, primordial “twoness,” or more than one wavelength, in order for there to be a difference, and from there, the full range of wavelengths along the mathematical lines discovered by physicists. Again, multiplication by division. There is a paradox inherent in this appearance of “more than one”; the paradox is that, at the time of The Big Eye-Opening, every ray of light exists at a certain frequency and moves at a certain speed, which is the same as that of all others; but from the position of any ray of light, all others exist at a different frequency, even if they all move at the same speed. Things that are the same appear different – another, “How Can This Be?”

For preliminary answers to these questions, we must do something dangerously anthropomorphic; we must speculate on a teleological (developmental) imperative – let’s call it, a tendency. We can speculate this way only because we have, as part of our nature, all of the attributes of our origin, and we have the tendency to develop, just as this essay is developing, and just as the Universe is developing. (The danger is in taking the analogy too literally, because the state of development of our attributes is different from their primordial state. But since they still exist on the same line of development, so we can make metaphors that give us some sense of understanding.)

Because The Big Eye-Opening happened, we seem compelled to allow that some tendency was at work.

Here’s the speculation: The tendency of emergence of something from nothing involves two beginning steps; there are more than two, but for simplicity at this point in our consideration, we will confine ourselves to the first two steps, and those are: awakening and differentiation. Awakening is the emergence into a new realm of existence; differentiation is the distinguishing of the features of that new realm of existence. The tendency behind the emergence of The Big Eye-Opening is the impulse To Be.

The first moments of The Big Eye-Opening can be seen as an emergence of (or into) something new – a new realm of existence -- physicality. But without distinguishing features such as size, shape, or time (motion), no experiencing of that emergence is possible, since there is nothing to experience and no one to experience it. But the impulse To Be, as a drive, has within it a Drive to Be Something. (I told you this line of thought is anthropomorphic.)

The Drive to Be Something has in it two faculties: an outward impulse (radiation) and an impulse to take things in (gravitation). These two faculties show up in living beings as (yang) the impulse to move into experience, intention, and as (yin) the impulse to take experience in, attention. Intention and attention. I’ll touch on this point only that much, for now, and go much more into it as we proceed.

Back to the two faculties.

Scientists who discuss The Big Eye-Opening state that somehow, gravity trapped light and turned it into matter, starting with the simplest sub-atomic particles (if there is such a thing as a simplest particle) then forming hydrogen ions -- protons and free electrons, and proceeding through cosmic evolution (star formation, planetary formation and development) to develop all of the complexities of matter and chemistry we see, today.

There is a big, big gap in that explanation. First of all, if all light was radiating evenly throughout the nascent Universe (and it had to be, or some prior, organizing principle would have had to be operative), why would matter have congealed more in some places than in others? The tendency for matter to appear would have had to be the same everywhere; with equal distribution of forces, nothing could have congealed, anywhere, or everything would have congealed evenly, everywhere. Equal gravity everywhere, equal light everywhere, equal congealing everywhere, including in the space between particles. It is a puzzlement. Again.

So let's look at a "what if".  What if everything expanded outwardly, evenly, and no congealing of matter would happen throughout the expanding sphere of existence.  It would only happen when, at the end of the expansion cycle, the mass / motion at the center of that moving sphere gravitationally drew the periphery back into the center, where all would congeal with a single "clap".  Repeatedly.  If it made a sound, the sound would be, "wacka-wacka".

But that didn't happen, did it?  Noooo. Somehow, the works got stirred up.

The simplest way it could get stirred up was rotation.  Could have been a simple, down-the-drain type vortex --- but that only applies to rotation in a single plane, spin.  We're talking four-dimensional, here, pal, maybe five.

The point is -- TURBULANCE!  And we're not talking fluid turbulence, here.  There are no fluids.  What there are is movements of radiating light.

So, the question, How do you get mere outwardly-bound radiation of some wavelength to stop traveling in lines and to coalesce into localized spaces?  That's some pretty tight curvature.  Gravity won’t do it, since gravity, as the weakest basic physical force, can’t even retain an atmosphere on a celestial body as large as our moon, which, compared to you, is huge. How’s it going to get motion occurring at the speed of light to Hold it Right There! and form matter?

Question:  What force physically affects the physical manifestation of light (hint: "electromagnetic radiation").
Answer: magnetic fields, verrry strong magnetic fields, with innumerable magnetic vortices, or centers, many with features in common.  Patterns.  Strange Attractors.  Probability Wells.

Mere dumb physical forces is an insufficient explanation. There has to be an organizing principle beyond the organizing of inert matter by uniformly active forces. I’m not saying what that is, but let’s take a look at the usual way of explaining these things.

In science, the structure of organizing principles is defined mathematically. Laws of physics and chemical behaviors follow mathematically defined and definable patterns. It’s these definable patterns – predictability -- that give science it’s vaunted air of reliability.

But let’s pause. We cannot let the logic of this speculation escape unquestioned. When did mathematical laws come into existence? For that matter, why did mathematical laws come into existence? Why are there mathematical laws, at all? Why did things “develop,” instead of stay the same? The contemplation of these mysterious questions is “similar” to the contemplation of, “where did The Naked Singularity exist?” Isn’t it?

I suggest that mathematical structure isn’t a primary cause, but is a secondary development of The Big Eye-Opening, itself.

Again: from nothingness, somethingness indistinguishable from nothingness (oneness). From that somethingness (oneness), the emergence of difference (twoness). Awakening and differentiation. Now, for some smoke and mirrors.

The two different elements of a two-ness have no distinct existence apart from each other; neither can be known as “something” except by its difference from and comparison to something else. That’s the “mirrors” part.

However, I used the word, “known,” didn’t I? Oops. That implies a knower. In a dead, unconscious Universe, no knower, no perception, is possible. However, we know that the Universe isn’t dead, at least not completely, because we exist and we know, from our experience of the existence of things, that there is consciousness. Question is, How far back does consciousness go? We have no basis for asserting any beginning point other than The Big Eye-Opening.

Why did I raise this point about consciousness? The reason has to do with the imperative, To Be. I am developing a view of an increasingly sentient (conscious) Universe, starting with consciousness in its most primitive, primordial forms – the impulse To Be and the impulse to experience Being -- the Rousing of The Sleeping Giant.

Here’s a principle peculiar to all living beings: we perceive change, and that’s all we perceive. Stare into a mirror for long enough, features of your face start to disappear. To get them to reappear, you have to move. We perceive motion (or change).

From the first moments of The Big Eye-Opening (if there were any) to now, there has been only a succession of changes and that is what has kept The Big Event in view. But I get ahead of myself.

The driving impulse of The Big Eye-Opening (now, we have to change the name, since we know that a succession of events has been involved – OK, let’s call it “The Big Show”) the driving impulse has been To Be Something. To Be Something requires, at first, emergence, and then, differentiation (formation of differences), the pre-requisites for change to occur.

Differentiation is very nice, except it’s not the full story. (Nothing ever is.) Let’s take a look back at The Big Show, just after two or more frequencies (or wavelengths, or colors, starting with the first line of the Lyman Series, for all you physics fans) of light appeared within view of any viewpoint.    Wherever rays of light of any two frequencies interacted, by proximity, they formed a third frequency (or wavelength, or color) – just as by adding red light and blue light, we get yellow light.

That’s a way of looking at the process objectively. However, all experiencing involves, at minimum, two viewpoints: objective and subjective. Let’s speculate about the subjective side of things.

Working with the premise that the primal impulse or tendency of the Universe is To Be, and to experience Being, why the differentiation of one color of light into two? An answer: as a necessary continuation of the impulse To Be. Remember that experience fades with monotony. The impulse to experience requires the emergence of The New, and when your playing pieces are as sparse as they were at the beginning of the game, you use what you’ve got. The next possibility, from Oneness, is a movement of (or within) Oneness. To experience existence over a period of time requires movement. How does mere movement result in the experience of more-than-oneness?

Let’s bring in a little thought experiment. Paging Dr. Einstein. Paging Dr. Einstein …

A peculiarity of light is that it moves at a uniform speed in a vacuum, regardless of the speed of its source. If the source moves toward the viewer, the light gets to the viewer no sooner, but appears to the viewer to shift frequency in the “violet” direction of the spectrum ("Blue Shift"); if the source moves away from the viewer, the light appears to the viewer to shift frequency in the “red” direction of the spectrum ("Red Shift"), again, arriving from the light-source to the viewer (or view-point) in the same amount of time.

Remembering that peculiarity, let’s say that primordial light, all of one frequency, has traveled a certain distance since the inception of The Big Show. Let’s allow that the boundary of conscious existence (the world of form) exists at the farthest reach of all the light that has radiated outward and that this consciousness, as it fills or pervades The Big Show; let us allow that conscious existence gathers in primordial experience from all directions. At the boundary and facing outward, there is an Unknown, Unknowable Mystery; at the boundary and facing inward, toward the origin, is all the radiation that has yet to reach the boundary. Assuming that The Big Show is expanding in a sphere, light moving away from this side of the expanding sphere of The Big Show and toward the other side is invisible to us (assuming there was someone to view it, which there wasn’t). Light moving somewhat away from us would be perceived from this side as radiating at a lower (redder) frequency. Because opposite sides of The Big Show are moving away from each other at twice the speed of light, neither side of The Big Show could be seen from the other. However, lines of radiation moving somewhat in the same direction would be seen as being a slightly different, redder color from each viewpoint, even if both were vibrating at the same frequency. Oneness experienced as twoness, because of differences in direction of movement.

The phenomenon of attention works similarly: If you project your attention forward, you can’t perceive things behind you; if you project your attention forward in time (imagination), you still encounter an Unknown at the limit of your imagination. You can perceive things to your sides, but they always appear as being other-than you and different from you. And if you project your attention back in time (memory), there is a limit beyond which lies a mystery – the same mystery as exists forward in time.

Getting back to The Big Show … The mere difference in direction of lines of motion makes for a multiplicity of objects of perception, even if they are, in their essential nature, the same.

We’ve talked about the first two processes of emergence, awakening and differentiation, and we’ve discussed how differentiation follows naturally from motion, even the motion of light, by virtue of differences of direction of movement.

However, we haven’t discussed how matter forms.

See, in the primordial scheme of The Big Show, everything is light. The odd thing about light is that there is no way to perceive light without matter.

Consider: the stars in the sky radiate light in all directions; outer space is full of light. But the night sky appears dark except for points from which light comes directly into our eyes – stars, planets, our moon. Whether radiated directly or reflected from a material body, the outpouring of light from all the stars is invisible from the side and visible only when it strikes our retinas directly. Doesn’t that strike you as odd? The sky is full of light but appears dark, except as it impacts us, directly.

Consider the primordial Universe. Light everywhere, no matter anywhere. Light everywhere, darkness everywhere. The experience of light comes from the existence of a perceiver, and not just the physical existence, but the conscious existence that somehow interprets inanimate, mathematical vibration into living color. The universe generated lifeforms that could generate the experience of light from what was otherwise darkness. The experience of light comes from lifeforms.

The concretizing of light into matter comes not only from gravity, which is only a physical force, but also from the ingathering tendency of the primordial awareness. This is to say that awareness is an inherent feature of the Universe, a living element of the causality of existence. I’ll say more about this point as we get to the discussion of The Ladder of Experience, which shows the correlations of the basic physical expressions of the physical universe – matter and energy – with the functions of movement and sensation, intention and attention, attributes of living beings that experience life.

For now, let’s say that there is an organizing principle whose function is to generate centers, of which matter with gravity is one physical expression.

So, now, we have identified some.
  1. The primary impulse of all impulses is to Be.
  2. Differences of movement make two objects that may otherwise be identical apparent as two different things, and thus knowable as “something” different from “something else.”
  3. The multiplicity of objects starts with the multiplicity of their directions of possible movement.
  4. Experience is possible only by means of contrast, differences between two or more objects – at minimum an experiencer and an object of experience, which must seem different from each other, when regarded individually, conceptually, but experientially, cannot be distinguished as "two".
  5. Light, or free outgoing motion, is invisible unless met directly by a material object, and is then experienced as incoming experience.
  6. Gravity is the incoming counterpart of outgoing light, just as attention is the “gathering” counterpart of intention, which is outgoing.
We are verging on a discussion of the next process of emergence: integration:
  • step (1) awakening
  • step (2) differentiation
  • step (3) integration
Integration is the gathering of things into a pattern, a whole that, by virtue of the pattern, is more than a mere collection of different things. Integration of things brings into existence a new pattern of function.

Back to light and matter.

Light can’t be perceived without matter. In fact, it can’t do anything but move outward without matter. Even if rays of light intersect, they still can’t do anything but move outward. All we have is motion.
The only way to know something is moving is to have a fixed point of reference. Matter provides that. The appearance of matter came into existence as a necessary means by which to witness the nature of light as a distinct, observable “something.” (Observation always requires a viewpoint separate from that of that which is being observed.)

This line of consideration, as worded, implies some sort of intelligent intentionality, a Primordial Impulse. To entertain that viewpoint, of course, flies in the face of scientific materialism, but dovetails with our own living nature and that of all living beings. (Just an aside to chew on, for a moment.) This conception of the impulse behind The Big Show requires a shift of point of view from that of the Universe as a dead process of mechanical objects haphazardly assembling themselves into chemical processes called, “life,” to that of an ongoing emergence of a living impulse, islands of organization coalescing within a sea of chaos.

We’re at the point where matter emerges to provide a fixed point of reference from which to experience motion, present as free light.

Matter has this handy little property: as soon as a fixed point of reference appears (matter), something else appears: gravity. Gravity didn’t cause the appearance of matter, its congealing from light; it coincided with the appearance of matter as a simultaneous expression of the impulse to gather experience of a new kind. Of what kind, we ain’t sayin’, yet.

Let’s just say that just as the primordial light became divided/differentiated into different frequencies of light, the spectrum (or continuum of color) of light consisted of frequencies of light that were multiples (or fractions) of some constant:  Planck's Constant (or the Planck Length). There was a mathematical order to that spectrum – a structure, a regularity -- another dimension of experience to be known.

To experience light required a contrast of some sort to be introduced, some sort of variation. Gravity provided one variation: it could bend light. This bending exists in contrast to the straight lines in which light otherwise would tend to travel (Law of Inertia), if it weren't being bent up and wriggled along by gravitational fields along its path of travel. Gravity also causes changes of the speed at which bodies of matter move, providing variations (frequency shifts) in the spectrum of light, making things appear redder or more violet, according to the speed and direction of the movement of material objects radiating or reflecting light.

(deep breath)

Our Universe, such as it is, provides examples of how gravity bends light, but no examples of how light might behave in the absence of gravity. That’s because gravity extends throughout the Universe; it pervades it, strongly or weakly. Magnetic fields, on the other hand, also extend throughout the universe, and they have a strong influence on light at a much more local (smaller) scale.  Conclusion:  Light is there to be bent.  We’re now at a stage in The Big Show where the interaction of energy, matter, magnetic fields and gravity are at Center Stage.

Matter provided another variation in the experience of light. Light could change from a freely moving phenomenon to one almost completely stopped, and then reappear again as a freely moving phenomenon going an entirely new direction and at a different frequency or set of frequencies – the process of reflection of light by matter, which is really absorption and re-radiation of light by matter. New behaviors! A little bit like a rabbit being chased.  How novel!

The emergence of matter is a new integration of tendencies of experience: speed, duration (time), and transformation. By itself, light doesn’t transform; it just goes. Matter transforms light.

And light transforms matter. Thing is, matter can’t be known in and by itself. It can only be known by the energy (light or electromagnetic radiation) it absorbs and re-radiates and by the distortion of the gravitational field. Even its motion can be known only by the motion (behavior) of its fields. The kind of matter is known by its electromagnetic (electrical field) properties, which underlie and are part of its chemical behavior. The behavior of matter has a structure that is related to the structure of the light spectrum. We see these differences of kind and behavior categorized in the Periodic Table of the Atomic Elements.

With matter, another set of experiences emerged: attraction and repulsion. Whereas rays of light neither attract nor repel other rays of light, they do repel matter; they exert a pressure upon matter, both a physical force and an electro-magnetic force. Light (or energy) induces matter to vibrate, to radiate light, and even to disintegrate, both at the level of molecular structure and at the level of sub-atomic structure. Think "microwave oven", which uses radiation to make water molecules vibrate -- or for you retro types, think "radiometer" (a kind of toy with a four-paddled rotor mounted balanced like a compass on a needle point in a bulb containing a vacuum, made to rotate by light). Radiation exerts pressure.

Both | matter/congealed gravity | and | light/radiation | are needed for experience to happen. Light provides a way to have a "matter" experience, even as matter provides a way to experience light. Light and matter are interdependent.

Now, it’s one thing to know these things as a matter of scientific theory and another thing to experience them, directly. You might remember that the theme of this essay is, “The View from Inside the Big Bang.” Inside.

And we have a view, from the inside, of the interaction of matter and energy (or light). It’s our experience of being alive.

Now, we don’t generally experience the molecular, atomic, and sub-atomic subtleties of matter. We experience matter at a higher level of organization. Remember, I made reference to integration. As living beings, we have a physical existence as organisms (somas), which has both common and unique characteristics of organization, relative to non-organismic matter. Likewise, we have an experience, from within, of those unique characteristics. Those characteristics are the characteristics of the body (and world), as sensory experiences.

Our being alive is a way of The Big Show experiencing the emergence of yet another dimension of experiencing: not only are we centers of experience with characteristics of both light (sensation) and matter (motion); we are moving centers. Not only are we moving centers (planets move, as do other inanimate processes affected passively by physical forces); we are self-moving centers.

It seems that the emergence of something from nothing has gone full-circle in us, living beings. We all seem to come out of nothing; we know life and we know ourselves by means of contrast of ourselves with our environments and relationships; we grow in our experiencing by moving into new domains. We distinguish ourselves from others and we integrate our lives with those of others.

With us, first comes The Big Eye-Opening, then, The Big Event of Emergence, then, The Big Show. We know ourselves by our reflections from others, from the ways we are stopped by life and the ways in which we are redirected, the way we put our lives together and by the changes we go through as our lives disintegrate and reintegrate in epochs of universal ("kosmic") and biological ("somatic") evolution.
The Universe emerged as a way of experiencing (existence), first in inanimate ways with no center and then in self-moving, animate ways with centers. The Universe persists by transforming; so do we. But we are not the same as the inanimate Universe, or rather, we are a new emergence of its potential and its new potentials emerging.

The Universe is expanding not only its physical limits (into what we do not know), but also the range of possible experiences within its potential. We are the product of The Big Eye-Opening without a break from ancient time and we exemplify its principles in our conscious life, which is still emerging at an accelerating rate, it seems. We are the Big Eye-Opening Experienced from Within, pressing outward into the Unknown and taking experience in. The Big Bang (or "Big Flash" or "Big Eye-Opening") isn't something that "happened"; it's something that is still happening, and we and our current universe are IT.