Somatic Meditation on Somatic Experience

What we mean by, "soma", 
is ourselves as we experience ourselves,
as a living experience of life
with sensory awareness of our surroundings
and of our interior experience
the capacity for self-movement
and impulses to creativity and procreation.

Three fundamental processes exist in every Soma, every one of us:

Those three processes form or constitute the essential basis of all living things:

Memory informs intention.
Intention shapes action.

Attention apprehends it all and informs memory of the effect of intentions carried out.  Attention is also the "probe" that captures new possibilities that extend memory, new possibilities called, "imagination".

Memory (or imagination)  then provides a guide for actions
carried out intentionally.

To all that are added three more pairs of functions:
eros, the movement toward the unknown
agape, the movement toward the known

stop (stopping ourselves), the impulse to synchronize with our surrounding conditions
go, the impulse to change our relationship to surrounding conditions

open, permission to change
close, refusal to accept change.

Memory (or imagination) controls them all.

"Stop/Go" shows up as a general activity level of somatic experience.
"Eros/Agape" sets the direction of growth -- taking in what is new or integrating it with what has gone before.
"Open/Close" sets our disposition to allow experience to make an impression on us, or not.

All of this happens in the combination of

In maintaining our memories of Stop/Go, Eros/Agape, Open/Close
we maintain ourselves and our lives.
In allowing our memories of Stop/Go, Eros/Agape, Open/Close to change
we allow ourselves and our lives to change.

Our intentions maintain our lives.
Our attention feeds ongoing reports of our experience
into memory.
Our memories shape our intentions and direct our attention.

Short-term memory receives impressions of moment-to-moment experience.
Short-term memory impressions resonate and activate long-term memories.
Long-term memories come to the surface when short-term memories activate them.

The experience of the present moment exists in short-term memory.

We make sense of short-term memories with our long-term memories.

Thus, the experience of the present is a memory
and not "the eternal now", as in "be here now".

Since our memories strongly shape our intentions,
and since intentions become actions
and actions come to our attention,
attention registers the "flavor" of our actions
and records it memory,
then memory shapes intention and action
attention senses it all
and imprints it all on memory
in a moving, ever-changing feedback loop.

Thus, soma is self-regulating and self-reinforcing
by its own self-aware processes,


"Stop/Go" (or agency) increases or decreases the speed of change
and the capacity for memory to accept new impressions.

"Eros/Agape" (or communion) draws us toward experience
either into the unknown (the movement of eros)
or toward the known (the movement of agape).

"Open/Close" sets the aperture or sphincter valve
determining how fast experience gets in
and how impressions get made on memory.


Tom Hanna referred to four basic somatic functions:

Arising from Rest
Movement Toward Experience
Gyrating (turning or changing direction)
and Handling (manipulating, whether by hand, mouth, prehensile trunk, tentacles, tendrils, or chemical interaction).

All of those functions rest and depend upon


He also wrote and spoke of learning,
the function of memory,
as a somatic capacity,

and of coordination
the timing of multiple movements
for a single purpose
as something learned
and so coordination is also a function of memory.


Drawn into activity
by Eros and Agape

Regulated by


and so on

Long-term memory
maintains patterns of readiness for the experiences remembered
sometimes with more "go" that the current circumstance calls for
sometimes less
patterns of readiness sometimes more constrained by memories
sometimes less.

With more "Readiness" and more "Go",
long-term memory heightens arousal
in a fixed, habitual, familiar, or otherwise "remembered" pattern of "Go".

It's like, whenever Smokey-the-Bear's mate was feeling hot and bothered
Smokey went and got the shovel.
Dominant memory dominated action.

Responses to experience are often inappropriate
when long-term memory dominates attention and intention.

On the other hand,
when attention and intention are free from domination by memory
memory and imagination combine to guide what to attend to and how to act intentionally
in keeping with the present moment, less so, the past.
This more healthy form of somatic behavior
allows intention to engage in new behavior
and allows attention to lay down new patterns of memory.

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