Until Attention Steadies . . . | A Simple Way to Potentize Somatic Education

This entry is about a simple technique for potentizing somatic exercises (and clinical pandiculation maneuvers).

In the recorded instructional programs I offer, I've put an instruction to "hold the moment of contraction long enough for the sensation of it to surface."  The purpose of this instruction is to get people to put attention in what they're doing -- the basis of all learning -- somatics being a learning practice for modifying dysfunctional patterns in the direction of health or soundness.

More recently, I remembered an instruction I gave to people I was teaching, years ago, that produces more profound results than merely waiting for sensation to surface.  The instruction is, "hold the contraction until attention steadies."

I forgot this instruction because, in my own practice, for myself, this is how I naturally operated.  It never occurred to me that people need explicit instruction to steady their attention.

But it makes sense, doesn't it?

To steady attention is a major missing link in all public education.  It's sort of "hoped for", but never explicitly taught.

So now, I am explicitly teaching it.

Any time you are practicing an exercise from a program of mine, hold the contraction phases of exercises until your attention steadies appreciably -- meaning you can detect the steadying.

This action of steadying attention potentizies any somatic exercise and complements the variation of The Diamond Penetration Pandiculation Technique.  (That technique, itself, potentizes somatic exercises by focusing memory, making it possible to change deeply habituated patterns of tension and movement that have been unaffected or minimally affected by standard practice of somatic exercises.)

The Diamond Penetration Pandiculation Technique (so-named because it's like a diamond-bit used to drill into rock) potentizes somatic exercises.  Getting attention to steady potentizes The Diamond Penetration Technique.

Test it with any somatic exercise you do.  Hold contractions until attention steadies, then slowly relax to complete relaxation.

The 'proof' of the 'pudding' is in the 'eating'.

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Somatic Education Exercises | potent combinations

In this entry, I present some combinations of somatic exercises that have special potency in changing tension-and-movement patterns -- preceded by a bit of explanation.


Anyone practicing somatic education should be familiar with -- and use -- the power of synergy.

"Synergy" isn't some New Age froo-froo concept; it's the way "a whole is more than the sum of its parts" -- it's organization.  It's what makes a system a 'system' and not just a collection of unassembled parts.  It's coordination.  It's integration.  For more on Thomas Hanna's take on coordination, read his book, The Body of  Life.  He also referred to synergy in his published Wave 1 lectures; whether you are a student-in-training or a certified practitioner, if you don't have those lectures or haven't listened to them, get them and listen to them.  They are a major part of his functional legacy and will boost your effectiveness.

Synergy is part of what makes the standard lessons of Hanna somatic education so powerful.  In those lessons, multiple movement elements, e.g., the steps of Lesson 1 / the Green Light Reflex lesson, combine into an overall action pattern. Those movement elements are "the parts"; the action pattern you are addressing -- Landau Reaction, Startle Reflex, or Trauma Reflex in its multifarious forms (see The Handbook of Assisted Pandiculation) -- is the 'whole'.

Piecework -- going straight for the painful location to "get at the problem" right away, is never as effective as dealing with whole patterns, in the long run and often in the short run.  Sometimes, when a client is insistent that we work in the painful region immediately, I'll do it.  I call this form of client placation, "Kiss boo-boo."  But then I get straight away to the overall pattern and I explain to the client, why, if necessary to his or her wholehearted participation in the way I want to proceed with sessions.

By the same token, combining somatic exercises to address a single location is more potent than addressing it with one somatic exercise, only.  Thomas Hanna's comment on afternoon, leading us in somatic kinesiology -- that using more than one somatic exercise to reach a problem region is more potent than using only one exercise (because learning the same thing multiple ways is more potent) -- may have slipped by unnoticed by many, but it's worth noting -- and acting upon.

So here are some collections of somatic exercises that are synergistic in this way.  You'll notice two things.  That I:

  1. start with gentler somatic exercise and progress to more demanding ones
  2. combine somatic exercises published in different sources

A certain class of somatic educators continually explores for ways to improve his/her own functioning and well-being.  Such people have an advantage over those who go only with the basic material conveyed during training:  they can understand more forms of Sensory-Motor Amnesia (from the inside) and deal effectively with them, unlike those with less-developed somatic competency.

If, in yourself, you can find new and effective somatic exercise patterns, that's best; if not so much, various programs exist that can give you a leg-up.


  1. Myth of Aging Lesson 3
  2. Quadratus Lumborum pandiculation (YouTube video / End Your Own Sacro-iliac Pain)
  3. Yoga of the Reclining Buddha (Free Yourself from Back Pain)
  1. "Dishrag" / 4-Way Twist (Myth of Aging Lesson 4)
  2. Startle Reflex somatic exercise (YouTube video)
  3. Hokey-Pokey Hidey Ho (YouTube Video)
  1. Myth of Aging Lesson 8
  2. The Gyroscopic Walk (YouTube video)
  3. The Scottish Geezer's Walk (YouTube video)
  1. Hamstrings somatic exercise (video)
  2. The Athletes' Prayer for Loose Calves (YouTube video / Free Your Psoas, lesson 9)
  3. Spine Waves (The Five-Pointed Star / Quick Help for Back Pain) | arm reach addition
  4. The Dolphin 
  5.  Freeing the Neck and Shoulders (from The Magic of Somatics, section 2)
  1. Myth of Aging lesson 1
  2. Myth of Aging lesson 2
  3. Lazy 8s (Free Yourself from Back Pain, module 1B)
  4. Centering the Sacrum (End Your Own Sacro-iliac Pain)
This is a fairly "minimum" collection of exercises -- enough for you to test to feel their synergy.  People with sacro-iliac pain almost certainly need more -- and I've published an entry that explains why and gives access to a complete regimen here.
  1. Myth of Aging, lesson 6
  2. Freeing Tight Neck and Shoulders (The Magic of Somatics)
  3. Getting Kinks out of Your Neck (The Magic of Somatics)
  4. The Yoga of the Reclining Buddha (Free Yourself from Back Pain, module 2B)
  5. Spine Waves with Arm Reach (The Five-Pointed Star plus YouTube video)
  6. The Folding See-saw with Head-turn (Free Yourself from Back Pain, module 1C)
  7. Myth of Aging, lesson 4 with modification for neck (YouTube video)
  1. Myth of Aging, Lesson 2
  2. The Dolphin
  3. Spine Waves
    You notice that this collection of movements is fairly large.  That's because our necks are mobile (and can become restricted) in so many directions. Gotta do it. Neck issues are a big deal (and often involve TMJ issues); a person with pain in the spine, low back or pelvis that doesn't resolve as expected is likely to be tight in the neck, with the distant pains reflexively caused.
    That's quite enough to get you started.  If you have the ambition, it's an eye-opener.