Somatic Ethics

There is a way about somatic education that can be seen as a kind of ethic or approach to life.  By that same token, there is a way of seeing how the way someone participates in somatic education is the way they participate in life.

For one thing, we're dealing with matters of relationship, where relationship isn't a static thing like an abstract concept, but a dynamic of play -- how we do things.

For our first example, let's take the case of how a somatic educator may conduct a session of somatic education with someone.  In general, our way is to observe and understand, from within, the predicament of our client.  We may look at him or her standing full length, and by observing the stance of that person, replicate its feeling in ourselves.  There's a feel to what we see.  We kind of get inside you like a hand in a glove and, aided by our theoretical understanding of the behavior of the three major reflexes of stress and our recognition of interconnected movement patterns, we discern what's going on in you.  Of course, we cross-verify those findings with your history of injuries, palpation (manual assessment)  and your current sensations.

So, here's the first ethic:  We get information from both inside and outside, in feeling and in understanding.

Having done that, we choose and guide you into the easiest, most accessible, and generally, most direct route into what you're already doing habitually.  We have you make it more.  To do so, you must first recognize it as something you can do -- and then do it.  So, we guide you, we direct you, into replicating elements of the action you are habitually doing (differentiation) then guide you into assembling all those elements into an integrated pattern -- the more integrated and complete, the better.  You go in; you come out.  You learn the path into and the path out-of.  We help you find it.

You see what I mean about relationship, yet?  There's are patterns in us formed by the physical, emotional, mental and intuitive stresses of experience, patterns of remembered tension in our musculature and arrested-but-held impulses to action.  We guide you to awaken to what each one is -- and generally, no sooner has that awakening occurred then you are already at least partially, if not largely, out of that pattern.  It happens before you know it, actually (although we feel it).  Then we have you move about so that you can feel what's changed.  Then we do some more.

Into . . . . . out of

The Rule of Thumb, here, is "Whatever they are doing 'wrong', have them do it MORE, and then less -- alternately.  Imagine the liberation.  "Destination -- Jello" -- but Jello with an attitude!

Now, I suppose there are various ways of going into and out of -- some of which look like going around the problem.  So there are degrees of relationship -- degrees of directness -- degrees of relevance -- degrees of comprehensiveness.  See?

Now, consider that language:  relationship, directness, relevance, comprehensiveness.  Those four terms are sufficient to define an ethic.

Relationship | Directness | Relevance | Comprehensiveness

Here's where some variation can creep in.  An additional "point on a continuum" is "more and less", "consistent and inconsistent".

"More or less" may be more or less force, more or less speed, more or less intensity, more or less subtlety.

"Consistent and inconsistent" are terms having to do with times and occurrences and also with changes of rules.

Do we change the rules in the middle of the game or do we change the rules between games?

In the case of somatic education, since we are showing a person how to go into and come out-of, some consistency is "desirable".  We want to make enough of an imprint in a person's memory that they can find it at will, and then they have also found the way out.  In general, "The way it goes in is the way it comes out - and "The way it comes out is the way it goes in."

That's a high-speed strategy because it makes the greatest imprint with the least effort.  Another ethic:  A case of "get more result with even less effort".  Targeted, rhythmic repetition helps a bit.

That kind of high-speed strategy makes even lesser efforts cumulatively effective.

But of course, the point is to get the result -- not to reduce effort.
Another ethic:  The way to conserve effort is to get the result very efficiently -- at least as efficiently, and perhaps even more subtly than by less focussed, less specific, less intent, less attentive efforts.

Those are just of few of the ethics we may see in the process of somatic education.

I have observed other variations on ethics among clients.


There are some interesting ones.  I gave them names.
  • The Cooperative Helper
  • The Wooden Man
  • Half-Hearted Participation
  • The Really Hard Worker
  • It's Over Before It's Really Over
  • "Doesn't Know When to Quit"
  • All-or-Nothing
  • Criss Cross
Cooperative Helpers go right along with you but never really relax at the core: they've learned to be in control in your groove -- they-re very cooperative -- but if they get into anticipating too much, they get jumpy and never relax.

The Wooden Man appears, to others, to change slowly, if at all, but he reports how much change he is feeling.  This is a really sensitive individual.

Half-Hearted Participants don't really put much into it.  They don't "ramp up" enough really to engage.  You've got to ask them.  Repeatedly.

The Really Hard Worker on the other hand, never quits!  (S)he springs into action, sometimes ahead of you so it's a little like reigning in a horse.  Thoroughbred.  Jumpy.  A bit high strung.  Tends to hurt him or herself by excessive effort or by never taking rest.  We repeatedly have to remind him or her to use less effort and to go more slowly.  Be more leisurely.

It's Over Before It's Really Over is the person who, somewhere near the middle or three quarters through a movement, suddenly gives way and quits.  Understand, this is a movement for which the person set the effort-force level to begin with -- and (s)he gives way, feeling overpowered by someone who matched her example at the beginning!  Misconstruing that she is resisting being overpowered by them, rather than they that are respectfully resisting her, she feels overpowered.  Pacing, follow-through -- and recognition of responsibility -- are the teaching, here.

Doesn't Know When to Quit never takes a vacation.  This is a person who is a bit slow to enter the relaxation from a "movement into tension" and a bit slow to relax faster.  Even after a move to complete relaxation, this person also springs into action at a moment's notice -- even when you want him to relax and have said so.  It's a learning thing.  We take such a person down in stages, having him/her use progressively less effort with each repetition.  We sneak up on the relaxation state.  (Shhhhhhhhh.)

All or Nothing -- such a person in a high-powered sports car would be dangerous.  (S)he knows only "all on" and "all off".  It's "pedal to the metal" or "hit the brakes!"  Fitful.  Sudden.  Not much gradation of control.  Can you imagine?   Workaholics.  Such people may look forceful, but tend to cave in a bit more suddenly than you might expect.  They just need practice floating in the mid-range of things -- the so-called "Middle Way" -- which is not mediocrity or "centered balance", but variable, floating self-regulation with capacity for the extremes.

and Chris Cross -- this is a very interesting person.  Confuses right and left.  Ask him to lift his left arm and he lifts his right, for a moment.  Sometimes a long moment.  You ask him to look right, he looks left, for a moment, then looks right.  Catches himself.  Feels dumb.  This typically happens with new, non-habitual movements.  Here's the news:  four (4) out of five (5) people do this a few times during a session.  It's very confusing for the person when I bring it to his attention -- and it is for that eventuality that the sayings, "the other right" and "the other left" were framed.  This is a person who means to do one thing and does the opposite.  Which can be handy -- if we're engaged in learning the way in and the way out.  But also amusing.

Anyhow, you can see that these types together define a kind of ethic and more types could be added to make a more complex ethic.

But let's look again at what we have, here.
  • The Cooperative Helper MEETS Chris Cross
  • Half-Hearted Participants MEET Wooden Men
  • All-or-Nothing : It's Over Before It's Really Over
  • The Really Hard Worker : "Doesn't Know When to Quit" 
Looks like we've defined some ethics, here, doesn' it?

Here's the last somersault:  We contrast/relate the sets of ethics:

  • The Cooperative Helper MEETS Chris Cross   |   Directness OF Relationship  
  • All-or-Nothing : It's Over Before It's Really Over   |   Comprehensive Relevance
  • The Really Hard Worker : "Doesn't Know When to Quit"    |   Getting More with Less
  • Half-Hearted Participants MEET Wooden Men    |   Focus with Consistency

We get information from both inside and outside, 
in feeling and in understanding.
It goes "Inside-out" and comes "Outside-In".
Somatics has an inside.
Fun, huh?

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