The "Can" or "May", "Won't" or "Can't" Rant

The word, "can" has virtually entirely supplanted the word, "may", in English Language usage in the United States of America.  People (and scriptwriters) use "can" when they should use "may".  This is significant.

"Can" refers to ability.
"May" refers to possibility and also permission.

By failing to make the distinction, linguistically, people subliminally confuse ability with permission.  The general trend is to shift responsibility away.

"Can I go to the bathroom?" is a common confusion.  Hopefully, the answer is, "yes,".  Even people with prostate problems or constipation rarely raise the question, "Can I go to the bathroom?".  They just go and hope for the best.

What's really meant, however, is, "May I go to the bathroom?"  This is a different question than, "Can I go to the bathroom?".  It asks permission of someone else.  It's a totally different communication.

Another confusion of "could" is with "would" ,

As in, "Could you come here?"  The word, "could", leads to a similar confusion, to which an understandable answer might be, "Wha'?"  But people actually say that.  "Could you come here?"

Of course, in the situation in which someone might say that, the answer would generally be, "Yes," with a momentary flicker of doubt as to the competence of the person. 

What they mean is, "Would you come here?".  That shifts the meaning from ability to willingness.  Because -- you never know.

But they say, "Could you come here?" instead.  Why?

Ability vs. willingness
Can't vs. won't
Could vs. would

big difference

It has to do with where responsibility lies.  "Can't" may be excused.  "Won't" assumes responsibility for the consequences.

But some people say, "Can't", when what is true is, "Won't".  They won't.   But they say that they can't, as in, "I'm sorry, I can't do that."

It follows that such people are avoiding responsibility for the consequences of, "Won't".  They are assuming a childlike non-responsibility ("can't").  When a child "won't", you know it; and you know when a child "can't".  Same is true of adults.

AND we're back to
"Can I go to the bathroom?"

"I'm SO glad you asked.  How is your health?"


"May I go to the bathroom?"
(an intelligent question, especially under the circumstances)

You may . . . . .
You may not.

can and may
could and would
can't and won't

Catch my drift???

Tight Psoas Muscles? Sit too much?

Recent articles about "sitting injuries" highlight the possible consequences of sitting for too long. 

To that, I add, "sitting at a high level of concentration with minimal movement." The combination sets up a pattern of tension involving the psoas muscles, hip joint flexors (near the front pockets of your trousers), and the low back muscles.

This entry clarifies the "why" of such sitting injuries and how to avoid them.

In the '90s, I became aware of a fanciful seating alternative called 'The Nada-chair".

It consisted of two loops, about thigh length, attached at opposite sides of a back-pad.  The loops went about ones knees, the back-pad behind your sacrum/low back.  The pull on the loops by your knees pulled the back-pad against you, creating a secure support for your back.  All you needed to do was stay balanced.

POINT and CLICK the image, at left, to
get started for Free with the self-renovation program,

Free Your Psoas

The ilio-psoas muscles perform a similar function, although attached at your groins, not at your knees.  The part that pulls on your back like the back-pad (but on the inside), we call the psoas muscles; the part that pulls on your pelvis from the inside, we call the iliacus muscles.  Together, they share a tendon at your groin, and so we call them the iliopsoas muscles.  They span the distances between your groin on each side and your low back and between your groin and your inner pelvis on both sides.  Their pull on your low back is like the pull on the back-pad, only along more of your back as high as your diaphragm; their pull on your pelvis on both inside surfaces pulls the pelvis top-forward, adding to the support of your back. 

In that way, your iliopsoas muscles are like the Nada-chair.  When you are sitting in a chair, your iliopsoas muscles shorten to hold you up, especially if you are sit perched on the edge of your chair (as so many do), but those muscles shorten also in those who slouch back in their chairs and hunch forward.

Tight Hamstrings:  a Big Deal
When your hamstrings get tight, as happens when you get into -- and work in -- a high-stress-state too often and for too long, your hamstrings pull on your sitbones (deep to the creases of the buttocks).  In the sitting position, tight hamstrings pull your bottom out from under you, forward; they cause you to sit too much on your "pockets" (tailbone).  Tight hamstrings are one reason people slouch back in their chairs.

To sit erect, under that condition, people with tight hamstrings must tighten their hip joint flexors and psoas muscles to counteract the pull, to bring themselves forward and lift themselves up.

Then, the same high stress state tightens the back muscles, as part of a pattern of nervous tension.  Eventually, the back muscles tire and the person slumps.

Please see this article and the embedded instructional video to free tight hamstrings.

So, in closing
If you spend too much time in your chair, particularly at attention at a high level of stress, with minimal movement, in either position, you have successfully followed the formula for creating tight, short iliopsoas muscles.  Congratulations.

Not only that, but muscles under tension formed this way and maintained by habit are the first to tighten under stress and the last to let go when the stress is over.  That's one explanation for why people mysteriously tighten up into pain some time after an injury.

We become how we live.  We get more and more familiar with being certain ways, more and more ready to be those ways, more and more set in the muscular tension set of those ways, our attitudes and our remembered reactions to everything that's happened to us in our lives.  It all builds up as our "set" -- as in "set in our ways" -- a pattern of muscular tension as well as a psychological state.

Sit for too many hours all the time, your Nada-chair muscles get set at a shortened length.  You can never really stand up all the way.  If tension accumulates, those muscles may become too tight even when lying down and you won't be able to sleep on your stomach.  The same thing happens with your hamstrings and your back, only it's your knees and back that get affected, until you develop groin pain, deep pelvic pain, a deep belly-ache, and possibly sacro-iliac pain.

Then, your massage therapist gets his or her elbow ready.  Are you ready?

There is an alternative.  
You can do something to change your postural set (which comes from muscle/movement memory) -- besides "trying to have good posture", which doesn't work very well, you may have noticed.

If you take these steps, you'll end the pain, be able to stand up and walk comfortably, at last.

If you don't, you may just stay in the condition you're in, which brought you to this page.


from Free Your Psoas
all most people need

Lawrence Gold is a clinical somatic educator with clients from around the world, in practice since 1990 and with two years' on-staff at a hospital rehabilitation center. His specialty is restoring comfort to people with chronic injuries. Learn more about Lawrence and his practice, here


Definition of Forgiveness

Look "at".  Feel what that feels like.
Look "past".  Feel what that feels like.

Alternate until you can look "past" without being entangled in looking "at".

Then, look both "at" and "past" (combine the two feelings).

Get back to me on your results.

Kosmic Alka-Seltzer

Here's anudder one:
"Kosmic Alka-Seltzer"

  • Egoic self | Nirmanakaya - memory body
  • Evolving Self | Sambhogakaya - dreaming/imagining body
  • Ground of Being | Dharmakaya - no body

The Evolving Self (Sambhogakaya) sacrifices itself
by combining with the Egoic Self (Nirmanakaya)
but the two can merge/integrate only by virtue of
the non-attachment communicated by no-self (Dharmakaya)
and be redeemed by dissolution into the Dharmakaya - no-form.

-- or --

The Ancient of Days
Swallowed a cloud
and cured a bad case
of existential heartburn.

How much do I operate from the egoic point of view? -- memory reinforcement --


How much do I operate as the Evolutionary Imperative?  -- imaginational/creative emergence --
Occasionally throughout the day -- generally, when I'm not in the midst of DOING SOMETHING.  I prefer to pay attention to what I am doing.

You know?

What happens when you combine the two by putting your attention into them?

What happens?

My egotism (a quality, not an object) softens into ego-ism and mutates, then and there, and I take a new form with a breath and a kind of squirming self-adjustment.

I mutate.

Does that make you uncomfortable?

We're living in The Future, now.

You'll have to get used to the idea of mutants being a-l-l-l around.
Just kidding.

Don't worry.  Really.

MORE in the same vein:

On the Spiritual Significance of Bambi Meets Godzilla

Me Bambi.

Life Godzilla.

Foot in Shoe |or| Kosmic Orgasm

Real consciousness is characterized
by allowing all things to be lived.

The transition from experience to experience
does not exclude the earlier, less mature adaptation.

It integrates it with that into which we are transitioning
so that the past (memory) is accepted, but transformed
by the new "emergence" of "old" into "new"
into something new
in which something of the old is recognizable.

is just the gravitational attraction
of the strange attractor
that is our earlier adaptation
to itself.

is accepting the egoity
which is an adaptation
and creatively upgrading
the adaptation of egoity.

Transcendence is the motion
of emergence
as new adaptation

as egoity merges and integrates with motion
and self-transcends into a new form
in which something of the old self-form is recognizable.

If egoity is the activity of gravity,
What must be the activity of levity?
Making light?


What if they all are the same?

Emergent Self (mythic figure)
meets Egoic Self (memory figure)

and Egoic Self
meets Emergent Self

And which is which?

We no longer know which way to push.
(or pull).

We stop.

We let go.

We recognize the self-contraction in which we are set.

We recognize.

We release.

We breathe.


et c.

e t c .

Spiritual practice is a little like trying to look up ones own nose.

Spiritual practice is a little like trying to look up ones own nose.

The seer is always unseen.

But there is a seer,
and that seer isn't just "pure witnessing",
it's laced with biases,
"lookings for"
memory-protection mechanisms.
It's a biased witnessing.

But we don't know that.
We don't know our own biases.  They seem unbiased.

And so our witnessing
is biased witnessing,
focused on particular objects of interest
in space-time.

Our spiritual practice is based on the presumption of a certain kind of witnessing --
the presumption of unbiased witnessing.


The seer,
this spiritual practitioner
however well-meaning and well motivated
is still the experience of a moving point of view --
not "experiencing" a moving point of view
but being the very experience of a moving point of view,
the personal viewpoint
of the spiritual practitioner
of we, ourselves,
with all the memory-based perceptual biases
of an individual viewpoint.

And so, the seer
the subject of spiritual practice --
we --
go unseen
and spiritual practice remains "outside the center"
the activity of "the" ego (3d person) or of "ego-I" (1st person)
the do-er
doing all the wild and wacky things we associated with the word, "ego".  or "I" --
and sometimes in the name of, or for the sake of, spiritual practice
or "life experiment".

Spiritual practice conducted "on the ego"
is "ego-I" expressing as spiritual practice.

The unknown do-er
the ego-conductor of spiritual practice
the behind-the-scenes impressario who makes it all happen
is composed of many biases,
fixated positions that make everything else seem like "other"
duality appears --
but only because of our bias
which we commonly fail to recognize..


As I said, spiritual practice is a little like trying to look up ones own nose. It involves opposing viewpoints, our being biased toward one or the other.

One technique of spiritual practice involves a reversal of position:

If we catch ourself in a bias
and explore its opposite
we've experienced both --
and more than that,
somewhat equalized our bias --
somewhat balanced the two positions.

In that equalization
we no longer really know where our bias really belongs,
no longer really know what is the "right" bias.
Since we've experienced both,
and since we can't really be sure,
we can let go of both.


Even if we got it wrong,
we got it right.