Are we truly free?

If ever there was a time to dive into the philosophy of Somatics, this is it. I'm primarily referring to the attempted coup last week in Washington DC. 

I've kept politics and business separate, but the fact that so many people are not just out of their minds, but out of their bodies, and since I am a Clinical Somatic Educator in the tradition of Thomas Hanna, I can no longer stay silent. This is no longer just about politics, it's about humanity. We all must do something in our own way to set humanity back on an even keel. 

So here we go.

 Most people come to Somatics because they are in pain. But it's more than that. Somatics with a capital "S" is based on the work of Thomas Hanna. Hanna was a philosopher and his driving philosophical question was how do humans stay free and autonomous? 

The world is a place of constant pressures, all causing us to contract and tighten. Stress to our bodies is like water to a fish. It's so normal to be in a state of tension, that we aren't even aware we are swimming it.

We may think we are free and functioning under our own will, but are we really? I mean if you can't sense how you physically react to events around you, who is really in charge of what you do and how you act? 

Whether it's pulling your hand from a hot stove, chronically arguing with your partner, raging on social media, or witnessing a demagogue incite a coup, they all trigger reflexive full-body contractions. Experience events like these over and over, with never truly return to a state of homeostasis (calm, neutral), you no longer have voluntary control of how you respond to the world around you. You are learning to remain stressed. 

Fear is the opposite of freedom. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of "others," fear of being vulnerable means one lives a life in a state of threat and always lacking. It also makes one easy to manipulate by playing on those fears. 

Fear breeds hate. Those who stormed the capitol, and those who incited them, and those who continue to think the evil done is OK,  are ultimately cowards. Their belief of superiority goes back generations. It's ingrained in the culture of our country that again, it's like the fish in water. Through awareness people can step up and rebuke these beliefs.  

It's challenging though. It's hard to reach and rationalize with someone who lives in a chronic state of fear and hate. They are not functioning under the executive functioning portion of the brain that thinks and rationalizes. They are running under the control of the limbic ("lizard") brain which is responsible for basic survival. This portion of the brain reacts to everything as a potential threat. 

To release oneself from fear requires curiosity, compassion and willingness to accept change.

Because we are culturally trained to give up our sense of autonomy and agency, we are led to believe that there are experts that know us better than we know ourselves.  Collectively we are all doing this to some extent. 

As Somatics Educators, we say if you can sense it, you can change it. Many of us are trying to improve the situation on a cognitive level, but ultimately we need to address the body.

The fear response reflexively triggers a closing up of the body, and the brain follows, not the other way. The fight or flight response is another state of being that people are stuck in. This may be woo-woo to many, but its all about neuroplasticity. Change is achievable but only when it incorporates the mind and the body. 

The Greeks referred to the entity of mind and body as the Soma. You are not just a physical body, but a mind, body and spirit. 

What is a Soma?

A Soma is a citizen who is 
physically fit,
emotionally balanced,
mentally alert,
and spiritual, with a moral compass.

A Somatics practice helps you reclaim your awareness of what is happening within your nervous system as you react to the world around you. Developing this awareness means you can reclaim your ability to calm yourself. By learning to self regulate, and having a better understanding yourself, you can better relate to others around you. 

peace and justice for all,

PS Like I said, this blog post is about how to help humanity. If you want to make the world a saner, safer place, please subscribe. If you haven't already, please start a Somatics practice to help you stay resilient. Learn more on my website.


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