Mainstreaming Hanna Somatic Education, part 2

What would happen if Somatics went mainstream?

Some people are concerned that we couldn't meet the demand resulting from mainstream attention and that Hanna somatic education would then, somehow, "look bad". 

At worst, people would end up on our waiting lists, as they did for Thomas Hanna (who was booked a year in advance when he trained us).  The more people want it, the better it looks.

Another concern is that, if we train too many people, the quality of practitioners may go down, and again, we could "look bad".

And another concern is that many practitioners are not able to improvise or to handle conditions not well handled through Lessons 1, 2 and 3.  It's a limitation of "rote learning", rather than learning with understanding.

Finally, and this may be the biggie:  that if (and when) Hanna somatic education goes viral and gets huge, we will lose control of it and of quality control.

I believe those may be legitimate concerns, and we should consider the trade-offs of this magnitude of success.

One way to handle these considerations is to sort out the best practitioners who are interested in training people and encourage them to train people -- and to offer advanced trainings so everyone is up to speed -- another one of Thomas Hanna's stated intentions.  People trained outside of Novato Institute-sponsored trainings would then pay a fee to come be evaluated for competency and certification.  This possibility is workable, if done with integrity and with the intention to succeed.

Serving People on the Waiting List
Many people on a waiting list could adequately be served through an alternate avenue.

That alternate avenue is somatic exercises, which can be learned and taught by people already in place in different sections of mainstream culture, but who do not do clinical somatic education:  movement educators. Instruction can also be broadcast (e.g., "Lillias on Yoga", on PBS) and it can be mass-published and purchased on distributable media.

Later, I'll say more about four easiest "mainstream culture" avenues through which somatic education can penetrate.  For now, I'll say that it involves somatics "going viral".

Would you like that?


What you can do, right now:

1. Do this procedure to free yourself from both fear of failure and fear of success.  If you're good to go, you're good to go; if not, you know where you need training or coaching.

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.

Full-Spectrum Somatics

There's a misconception that the field of somatics is about the body and limited to the senses and control of movement.  That misconception leaves people with the view that the mind, or consciousness, is outside the field of somatics and somehow above it.  The loftiness of the mind and all that -- or the more pedestrian, "I, the mind, am in the body like a passenger in a single-person vehicle.  Or a bus."

But this is wrong.

There is no "passenger", pe se.  The "passenger" is a self-concept made up of various contractions in the soft tissues of the body and various internal, kinesthetic and proprioceptive sensings, felt as the self-sense

The self-sense is a sensation -- and generally an irritating one -- arising from being aroused and tense in one way or another and so in one or another physiological state.

And that physiological state is like a genius's artistic expression of the psyche appearing as physiological state.  The physiology is the living expression of what is going on psychically (of and by psyche). The sense of all that is the passenger; the "passenger" is "I", is soma. 

The passenger is living a fabrication made of memory called, "Life". The "passenger" is a fabrication -- a fabrication of conceptual memory patterns, the reputed owner of memory, a body of living, moving memory -- memory enacted in tangible form as physiological activity with a name and a social standing.  Physiology substantiates psychology, it is not a vehicle for it. It is it as the movements of the particle are controlled by the field in which the particle moves.

There are not two: psyche and soma,
from which the redundant term,
"psychosomatic" derives.

"Somatic" is sufficient.

"I" is the body, experienced from within
known as "soma".

"You" is some body, experienced from outside
known to yourself as, "soma".

And there you have it.

BUT -- never mind.


From the somatic perspective, there are not two, "mind" and "body", nor is there a mind-body connection.  There is no connection because there are no two to be connected; they are one -- and not "fused" into one, but rather two perspectives or views of the same thing.  What people see as body, we feel as the sensations of mind, movement, and the sense of change.  Whether it's the body thinking or it's thought that moves as the body they are one and the same, not identical, but identity.

Now, there is a reason that people consider that there are two -- "mind" and "body".  It's that so much of our bodily processes run on automatic without conscious mental involvement.  The distinguishing word, here, is "conscious"; our involvement with those physiological processes -- breathing, balancing, digesting, etc. -- occur subconsciously, from deep levels of mind that run the show automatically, unconsciously.  Those things that run on automatic, we consider the body; their very automaticity naturally gives rise to an "other", not self -- the body.  From that springs, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" and similar sayings.  "The Devil made me do it." (temptations of the flesh).  Sin.  Uncontrollable Silliness.  Understandable.

But misunderstood.

It's that so much of what's going on in us is maintained by memory and by refreshing memory of experiences so they make an imprint on us.  We remember.  But then we forget that we are remembering, while we are remembering.  We remember so well that we act automatically, habitually -- with "steering capability" only to the degree that we remember that we are remembering, while we are remembering. Stick with it, Bunky.

To the degree that we forget that we are remembering, to that degree things seem to be running with a life of their own -- and hence, the the seeming intractability of "otherness" that makes it seem, "other".

the body


my body

The Marvellous Machine

But, let us say, everything we experience is memory
and it's not the memory of a machine.

The "machine" is memory,
memory maintaining itself.

Our senses lag behind what is happening
limited as much by synaptic speed
as by our need for time to recognize anything,
making our experience of All That Is
the experience of the past.

Short-term memory fades,
allowing attention to be refreshed.

Long-term memory lasts and may fade
or it may get stronger.
Long-term memory shapes attention
and also captivates it
so that the tensions of the hour
become the tensions of the day
become the tensions of the week, month or year
placing demands upon the musculature (tension)
the heart
the hormonal/endocrine system (stress chemistry)
the joints (compression)
and the brain (stress depletes brain chemistry) --

Sleep well?


"Nervous Tension" was an apt phrase used in the advertising of decades past for a headache remedy.  Very apt.  Perhaps they had no idea how apt.

Now, they say a similar thing about "Fibromyalgia" -- being an "excessive activation of nerves" allll over your bodyWhat's the inside of fibromyalgia like?  Hmmm?

Mind and body, indeed.

Somatics is more than joints, tendons and flesh.  That's anatomy, the study of the dead.  Somatics is about how the inner/subjective ("mind") and outer/observable ("body") correlate.  Simple enough, when directly observed (not speculated about or analyzed).

How soma manifests as higher reaches of attention become available is a very interesting topic.

At base, however, whatever subtler intuitions or perceptions one may have, they have their correlate in somatic expression.

A couple of clues:


Here's a little experiment we can do in this moment.  Move a little and notice how you can feel bodily sensations.  Now, sit very still and notice that those sensations disappear.  The sense of "body" is the sense of movement, or of change, in general; the sense of movement (a sensation) creates the body sense. (The basic movements that maintain the body sense are the heartbeat, which sends waves of pulsation through us, and breathing.)

The same applies to mind.  Habits go unnoticed; only things that change get noticed. (The movement of attention is the basic movement of mind without which the mind subsides and disappears.)

The difference between "mind" and "body" is a matter of content.  The principles of experience are the same: we notice change and don't notice no-change (unless attention moves to notice).  That's because "mind" and "body" are one and the same, the difference being a matter of experiential content.

That said, we can say the next thing:  the principles governing change and development, whether of mental content or of physical sensations, are the same.