Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Somatic Approach to Patience

Managing the ebb and flow of attachment and desire would seem to be a spiritual issue, or an issue of managing the ego. But somatic theory frames it differently. How can movement be used to work with the excitement that comes unbidden when the seed of desire is sown? Posted by Hello

"A man watches his pear tree day after day, impatient for the ripening of the fruit. Let him attempt to force the process, and he may spoil both fruit and tree. But let him patiently wait, and the ripe fruit at length falls into his lap." - Abraham Lincoln

I will say right off the bat that this is not one of my strengths. If there is something I want for myself, I am terribly impatient about it. By contrast, I am much more resilient when dealing with others. I am endlessly patient with muscle and fascia. I can wait for the unwinding to occur as it will. Sometimes just a minute or two, sometimes more, according to the length of time the restriction has been present. When I work with others, I enter a state where time does not exist. I enter the universe of their experience as evidenced by the consistency of their musculature. The history of your everyday activities, your proclivities and your personality is all written in the warp and weft of how you hold tension and where you have none...

But working with others is different because I have no attachment to the outcome, only an endless fascination with the process. Each soma is a magnificent conglomeration of physical, mental, and emotional responses, some spontaneous, some conditioned. As such each is entirely unique. Each time the process is completely different, and yet, patterns emerge. Patterns that I also see when looking at the fabric of my own life. When faced with my own motivations to begin this project or to end that one, for example, I am entirely human. I am pulled back from the curiosity that lures me into universe of the microcosm inside another. I get confused, just as we all do, by superficial appearances. I get sucked into expectations, diverted by life and tripped up by the unexpected that seems to occur consistently when I am busy making other plans.

I forget to make a back up plan. I forget that I have options. It's only when I lie down on the floor and reawaken my own creativity in the way I have learned to do in AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT (ATM), that I regain the endless capacity for patience that is an ocean. Only in working with myself in this way, can I access the same level of presence that I am able to draw upon when working with others. Time recedes and suddenly I drift gently, like Alice in Wonderland, into a rabbit hole. Only the path is one of fascinating discovery. I drop attachment to worldly things like a worn-out toy, in favor of a glistening bauble infinitely more immediate: the universe of sensory experience.

One of my favorite sayings is, 'The map is not the terrritory.' We never deal directly with life. We deal with our interpretation of it. This is why different people experience life in such blatantly contrasting ways, even when in similar circumstances. We 'make sense' of the world by stuffing what happens into the framework of what we know, how it relates to what we have known and what we are afraid might or might not happen in the future.

Interesting idiom, 'to make sense of,' considering that the only way we can interface with the physical world is by using the information our senses provide. Our footsteps on the path give us a sense of the terrain. Our sense of smell can dictate whether to feel comfortable or disgusted. Our visual field, now more than ever before, is assaulted daily with images that make the world a larger, more aggressive place. Images of war on foreign soil burst into the tiny interior of my car before I have time to change the station.

In the places where my map is inaccurate, I get lost. We all have preconceived ideas. If I am overwhelmed by unwanted input and need to tune out just to get on with life, I loose out. If I have to dull my senses to survive, I diminish myself. My aliveness is compromised. If I live in impatient desire for some future outcome, I starve myself in the presence of abunce. I can read about eating, but it will not nourish me. I can read about eating chocolate, but it's not the same as actually biting into the silky sweetness of it. And I can read about doing ATM, I can write about it forever, but it too, will provide no sustenance until I actally lay down, put a lesson on the CD player and give myself the gift of time for myself. Ironically, time, it seems, is the antidote to impatience.

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