The Layers of Somatic Education

The practice of somatic education arrives at a number of "layers" of habituation.

When used as a supportive adjunct to clinical sessions involving pandiculation, somatic education exercises serve to reinforce the changes of that session, which has entailed disappearance of patterns of habituation (or dis-intensification/relaxation of memory). In that case, the way has been cleared ahead of time for that new patterning.

When used by themselves, however, somatic education exercises must accomplish both the disappearance of old patterns and the emrgence or development of new patterns.

In that case, the first patterns to go are those that are obsolete remainders of previous adaptations -- injuries that have healed, emotionally traumatic situations that are long past, conditioning from family life or exposure to institutions with a "culture" (e.g., "corporate culture", "military culture"). All of these, because they are not actively called for and actively used in daily life, are subject to easier release. They are not being reinforcced by use, but only persist by memory's tendency to persist.

The next patterns to go are those that now surface. Those patterns are patterns we enact in daily life -- including our mood and attitude of approach to somatic "clean-up". Let me make that point more vividly:  The sense of self that is doing "clean-up" comes from a habituated and remembered entire characer that may or may not yet have been subject to exposure and conscious integration.

If not yet integrated, it is "the one" doing the clean-up, and as such, its own pattern is never subject to clean-up; it's always "behind the scenes".

So, the person tends first to lose the obsolete remainders and then to reinforce, more and more, the mood and attitude of approach (or remembered way of being in the world's situations) characteristic of the daily self. That means that there are "areas" of S-MA that are untouched and seemingly untouchable, and actually, we find, of which we are almost entirely unconscious -- but which others may recognize.

To get at that next layer of habituations, we need to take another angle of approach.

That approach is, on the basis of attention freed up by releasing obsolete remainders, to notice, to catch ourselves at it, in the patterns we live on a daily basis. Since the second layer consists of all the attitudes and moments of reaction of our daily self, to notice those patterns gives us access to the layer of "self" that is doing the clean-up.

Generally, that layer of self consists of emotional tendencies, attitudes, and self-talk by which we activate ourself in life -- rather than merely reflexive after-patterns from injury or long-term stress, which are primitive kinds of reactivity -- typically called, S-MA. For that second layer of self, another term is appropriate: A-IA:  attentional-intentional amnesia.

As such, these patterns must be addressed on their own terms and in their own "language" -- the language of feeling, the language of "I" and of "I's" meaningful terms.

It involves not merely a psychological process of analysis, which is but a start; it involves distinguishing those patterns in terms of the four basic facets of somatic existence: attention, imagination, intention, and memory -- or attending, imagining, intending, and remembering.

There exist specific procedures that use all four of those four facets at once to develop or recover conscious integration of those daily patterns. I present those in detail, elsewhere, in usable form. Ask.

What happens in integration is that the grip of a "daily pattern" that "has" us suddenly loosens and softens, and as that happens, somatic changes occur that might be interpreted as neuro-muscular or sensory-motor, but which are actualy attentional and intentional; we feel our old postural set and we feel how we could be to feel more "ourselves." Our memory set changes, and with that change, our personal quality in the world also changes. We experience the world differently and the world experiences us differently. The old "daily pattern" no longer "has" us, no longer automatically springs into action when circumstances might before have triggered it. A freer response allows for a more spontaneously and more finely tuned, even more ingenious, response.

In the process of dissolving the second layer, we touch repeatedly into what is "beneath" or what pervades that second layer (and also, the first, residual layer); that "what is beneath or pervades" is a kind of formless, impartially present, conscious space. It is not seen, in itself, to be of any particular quality -- other than a kind of radiant presence -- and it's "felt" radiant, not seen radiant. It could be termed, "self-existing", since it has no particular quality and there is nothing in evidence to be creating it as an effect of something else. It is continuous with and gives rise to all things particular. It is their substance. They are a play upon or play of it. It is our experience of "now".

Memory stores the impressions of its shape-shifting and so gives it the sense of duration in time. Attention gets absorbed in it. Imagination anticipates its developments, guided by memory, more or less. And intention reacts to all of that and proels our movement.

Such is the second layer: the deeper layer that persists after somatic education exercises have done what they can in the hands of the "daily self"; and touchings into the intuition of the free, undefined (infinite) condition.

So, the second layer of de-habituation consists of a differently shaped, differently organized, differently responsive self-pattern. But it's still a habituated self-pattern, a pattern of A-IA, attentional-intentional amnesia. Coming out of it reveals something unexpected.

A third development.

That third development consists of integration of the second layer, "daily self"; what we integrate of ourselves ceases to be an "it" to us; it ceases to have any weight, to us, any mass, or so little as to be negligible. Those patterns, before, unconscious and running the show, have been made conscious, lost their automaticity, lost their sense of grip and become more freely available for spontaneous, more subtly fitting responsiveness without a sense of "hard self".  They have been both streamlined and freed from internal conflict, so they are "tuned to the harmonic of the formless ground of being" and simultaneously express their responsiveness to conditions and communicate the formless ground from which they emerge and of which they are actually made.

One term for this is "Wei Wu Wei" or spontaneous right action. Another term is "The Fair State" -- although that kind of fairness is not an opinion; it's an experience of action experienced as "no action" -- and if it's a state, it's a state of flow. It's the foot dipping into the pond without a ripple, unless the dipper wants to make a ripple. The conceptual mind cannot grasp that kind of functioning, but that kind of functioning is recognizable in the instant of its happening, by feel. It draws observers into its own state (or drives them off as an insult to their habituation).

Thus, somatic education first dissolves the residues of obsolete memory, then dissolves the current "do-er" of all things, then itself dissolves to reveal the paradox of embodiment: that our lives emerge from and exist in the continuity of all existence, that before, our habituation and all our efforts did obscure.

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