All posts by Kevin Roberts

A Healing Agenda

Healing has become a popular word, even a catch phrase, in our society. Lots of people are quick to tell me what they think healing is, or what they envision their agenda as. So many of these definitions are confusing to me. Perhaps we can explore these ideas and create a higher level of understanding for all of us. My don’t-know mind is quite curious.

The human bodymind is a complex web of interactive systems that are in constant motion, seeking to maintain homeostasis. Communication inside and outside each system and the whole creates perpetual change. When physics discovered the relationship between the observed and the observer, we had scientific "proof" that these changes had to happen. Many therapeutic modalities today seek to balance various systems in the bodymind, thus restoring health.

Is health a state we can restore or return to? This static model sounds good in theory, but reality tells us we are not still. When things quit moving they are dead. Andrew Still said that movement is health, which is an interesting idea that is somehow incomplete. Movement is an aspect of health and that tells us static models are inaccurate. A favorite research study1 of mine was done on 100 people with "healthy" (no pain) backs. Shown MRI scans, doctors recommended surgery on over 65% of these people. How many procedures have been performed based on these static images? The numbers are staggering.

Have you ever noticed how resistant you are when someone forces an opinion on you? Or how reluctant you are to follow a new routine or exercise program touted as the perfect cure to all your ills? Taken in the broader view of our own experience it becomes clear that imposing an agenda on another human being or ourselves based on a static image, statistic, or "fact" is violence. How are we to know if a symptom is part of the sickness or a healing attempt toward homeostasis? Medicine that approaches health by reducing symptoms could therefore be hindering the bodymind in its own healing efforts. Certainly violence is not usually associated with healing, although, again, a change in our perspective reveals that it is commonly basic protocol.

How do we get away from violent healing agendas? For me the somatics movement is a step in the right direction. Thomas Hanna wrote "The life sciences in general and the sciences of physiology, psychology, and medicine in particular lack valid grounds for what they assert to be established fact and sound theorizing exactly to the degree that they ignore, willfully or innocently, first-person data. To avoid evidence that is "phenomenological" or "subjective" is unscientific. To dismiss such data as irrelevant and/or unimportant is irresponsible."2 Once we start to listen, not only to the voice but to all of the bodymind, an incredible wealth of information and understanding becomes available. This new input reflects the current directions of the organism and adjusts spontaneously as changes continue.

As this model begins to be understood, many ancient healing rituals are being reevaluated and again becoming popular. Unless we approach them in a similar way to our ancestors, though, they will likely backfire. This is because we carry our agenda into the process. We may not need to spend our whole lives preparing ourselves as the shamans did, but a thorough change in attitude is in order. We cannot develop spiritual coherency in a weekend workshop; it is an ongoing journey that takes dedication and practice.

Recent research in cell biology3 shows how the extracellular matrix or living matrix penetrates the cell walls and even the nucleus of the cell. This provides an internal holographic referencing system that compares incoming stimuli to past experience or body memories at a rate of 100 billion times per second. A constant flow of information about genetics, history, systems status, emotional states, etc. is available in this system. We call this domain the unconscious.

Notice how your body adjusts when you walk into a room full of a strangers and you will get a glimpse of this system in action. The faces and postures, among other things, of all these new people are compared to past experiences at a speed that is astonishing. Without careful observation it happens so fast we may not even notice it, or if we do, it will just be as a strange feeling or a rush.

My work, somaZen, is focused on approaching and languaging directly with unconscious systems, with or without conscious involvement. Developing a new language is quite a task. My experience is that when we understand each other we are in agreement. I hope to see the day when practitioners of all somatic techniques can work with the same focus, efficiently network, and share the many wonderful discoveries that we are soon to make, God willing.

In conclusion I would say the true healing agenda is not to have an agenda. It seems useful to hold an intention to help us focus, while at the same time it is vitally important to keep as big a perspective as possible. As a wise friend told me, "Paradox is the truth standing on its head in order to get your attention." I wish you peace and growth as you continue your journey.

1 BodyMind: A Journal of Alternative Health
2 Thomas Hanna, "What is Somatics?" in Johnson, Don Hanlon, ed.: Bone, Breath & Gesture: Practices of Embodiment.. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1995.
3 Information available from James L. Oschman, NORA (Nature’s Own Research Association), PO Box 5101, Dover NH 03821-5101.

Somatics 1: Beginning the Journey

By now you are learning that bodywork has become much more than relaxation and stress reduction. It is the essence of transformation, an evolution of body structure, self-image, neural networks, emotions, spirit and more. It is emergence of the true self, the God within.

These words, from a flyer I made last year, describe what somatics is to me. As I found out in San Francisco at the 1995 International Somatics Congress, many people have different definitions. The brochure for this event said it this way: "Somatics is an emerging profession concerned with how life takes shape in the human body, a discipline which studies, explores and works with feelings, thoughts and actions as they are expressed and transformed in every dimension of our physical selves."

Somatics, a term coined by Thomas Hanna in the seventies, started with a newsletter of the same name that served as a forum through which practitioners could exchange ideas. Some were counselors and analysts, others bodyworkers and Rolfers®, and still others movement and breath therapists. As these helpers shared the commonality of their experience everyone gained. And so it continues.

In Hanna’s book Somatics (Addison-Wesley, 1988) he talks of "the myth of aging" and "sensory-motor amnesia," concepts that he developed in his work as a Feldenkrais® practitioner. These lines of thought are now being validated by scientific studies*.

If all of this sounds like Greek to you, do not despair. The work is experiential and does not lend itself to verbal description. Even with lengthy descriptions and my own enthusiasm I have not been able to deliver the information to many colleagues, clients, or the Department of Health. So rather than doing this all at once, I will attempt to arouse your curiosity and give you a little more in each article.

If we look at the time period when modern science and medicine were developed, it is not surprising that sensate experience was left out of the five senses. The religious dogma that dominated those times labeled the flesh as evil and accordingly any body sensation was not considered "scientific fact." Unfortunately this idea has been passed down through generations of scientists and doctors.

For now it is enough to know that all you need is willingness to embark on the journey that lasts a lifetime. Thank you for reading.

*information available from NORA, Nature’s Own Research Association, PO Box 5101, Dover NH 03821-5100, 603-742-3789

Somatics 2: The Meridians

My first experience of using somatics as a tool for self-assessment was during my shiatsu class when we regularly practiced "Zen Imagery Exercises." These gentle stretches use the breath to contract and relax the meridians, often called rivers of chi or energy. Developed by Shizuto Masunaga, creator of Zen Shiatsu, these exercises help the soma to balance itself by going through the daily cycle.

I was astonished at the far-reaching effects of this moving meditation, which were realized quickly. My curiosity piqued, I investigated further. These meridian pathways, which I experienced in my body, were related to specific organs and functions, which in turn were related to elements found in all creation. The elements are known as Fire, Earth, Metal (or Air), Water, and Wood.

The Five Elements, or Transformations, have been the basis for Chinese medicine for about five thousand years. Each element flows into the next, while at the same time controlling another. They are also assigned smells, sounds, colors, seasons, and emotions. Interestingly, in this system there are no "negative" emotions, just relative balance or imbalance within the soma. Thus fear is not bad if expressed, but represents an imbalance if repressed or expressed instead as anger (or another emotion).

Most people associate the meridians with acupuncture. The points used in acupuncture are located on the meridians. They are powerful information junctions, much like computer terminals in a large office system. In the East acupuncture was used instead of surgery prior to the westernization of their cultures. Here, in my opinion, we do not take the power of this work seriously. Who would have surgery for a headache or PMS? The most experienced acupuncturist will use few or just one needle to encourage balance. There is a danger of this work becoming allopathic, or symptom-oriented in its approach.

I encourage clients and students to notice, when doing the zen stretches, which meridians have the least resistance (are the easiest). This indicates a deficiency and by putting our focus there we draw energy away from symptomatic areas, creating balance. People are surprised that I tell them to avoid the hard exercises and concentrate on the pleasant ones. This is the basic difference in holistic therapy vs. a reductionistic "problem"-oriented approach. We are grateful to the symptom for alerting us to the imbalance. It is just an alarm clock telling us to wake up and we must look deeper to find the actual cause.

I really like the Five Elements because they give me a simple yet sophisticated way of seeing the interrelationships of the bodymind. The meridian system seems to be have preceded our nervous system and brain in the evolutionary process. This would explain many phenomena where we react faster than the nervous system can work. Perhaps someday we will appreciate the vast wisdom incorporated in the limbic and reptilian areas of our brain. For now I’ll continue with the process of getting to know myself. Till next time….

Resources Shizuto Masunaga, Zen Imagery Exercises. New York, Japan Publications, 1987.
______________, Zen Shiatsu. New York, Japan Publications, 1977.

Somatics 3: The Breath

We talked of using the breath last month in our journey of discovery. Breath work seems to be where modern somatic work started. Elsa Gindler, considered by many to be the pioneer of somatics, said "It must take place without pressure, it must be elastic, it must be like the gentlest breeze, and it must bring about the greatest possible emptying." She spoke of "open" breathing to her students and taught the use of breathing in every movement.

You may be wondering, as I did, "Why do I need to learn how to breathe; I’ve been doing it all my life!" For me the answer is more about learning from rather than learning to. The breath is the meeting place of our inner and outer worlds, conscious and unconscious, and as such has much information for us. As a practitioner this is where I learn the most about the efficacy of my treatments. Many of the subtle changes brought about with bodywork elude the conscious mind, but I am confident of the effect when I am validated with changes in breath. It is simple and direct and as best I can tell, completely honest.

Another way of looking at it is as a way for the cognitive brain to listen in on the emotional (limbic) and primitive (reptilian) brains. Ever notice how infectious yawns are? Try this experiment: Next time you are in a tense situation with a number of people, maybe at work, quietly take a slow, deep breath and see what happens. Invariably the tension level of the situation will drop, often significantly, and there will be less stress and trauma. Use of the breath is an effective tool in our daily lives that is always available and that we can begin to use immediately.

In his wonderful book Inner Bridges , Fritz Smith speculates on the relationship of breath and molecular vibration of the air we breathe. The energy we absorb from these vibrations is similar to what we get from food, only it is available instantly. Remember a time when you were sick and it is easy to understand. When our nose is stuffy or clogged, we do not get as much benefit from the vibrations because when we breathe through the mouth there is less absorption of vibration. Perhaps this is why nature endowed us with nasal cavities or sinuses to gather vibrations. When this system is bypassed we feel run down and are constantly hungry.

"The breath is the intersection between mind and body. The breath is the most readily available channel for tuning into the mind/body dialogue." This is the foundation for the work of Marion Rosen and many who have followed. I think the ancient sages would agree, for the importance of breath has been stressed for centuries in healing rituals around the world. Even the Bible says God breathed life into man. For me, any new awareness is accompanied by a "breath of fresh air."

Perhaps if we can learn from our breath, our health will improve organically and the next right thing will become obvious.

Somatics 4: The Tissue

As a somatotherapist, or if you prefer, a bodyworker, the tissue is what I am most fascinated with. Why does touch feel so good? How does massage do the things they claim? If deep tissue massage hurts why do people like it? Who would pay that much just to get rubbed on? What happens if you don’t get touch? Asking these questions and others eventually led me to Where do I sign up?

When we talk of tissue most people think of the skin. While the skin is our largest "sense" organ it is just the beginning of the tissue which is the substance of our bodies. Reductionistic science and medicine would differentiate organs, bones, glands, etc., but on the inside tissue is continuous, seamlessly blending together. There is some level of individuation but it always serves the unified whole. The checks and balances and compensations possible in human beings are truly amazing.

As I began to put my hands on people as a bodyworker, I was astonished at what happened. The tissue communicated with me – if I was listening clearly it spoke quite specifically. So it rang a bell when my friend Jim Oschman* explained the term "living matrix" to me. Also known as the extracellular matrix (plus the cells) the living matrix is a better description of what tissue really is. It not only communicates within and outside the system, it stores information. This is called tissue memory.

Recent discoveries in cell biology show that this living matrix is continuous through the cell walls, forms the cytoskeleton, and connects directly to the cell nucleus, including the DNA encoding. In this way a network is set up throughout the being. It is no wonder science has not found a memory-specific part of the brain – memory exists everywhere! Now we enter the new paradigm – the bodymind validated by science.

Regeneration of the tissue, a concept made popular by Deepak Chopra, might make you wonder "Why do people get old?" Somatics has a lot to say about the myth of aging, although it does stop short of explaining death. My understanding is that unresolved or repressed experience, commonly called trauma, creates gaps in our internal communications systems resulting in ‘dis’ease. Restoring the integrity to the living matrix creates health. We will look at these issues in upcoming columns.

As I see it, the challenge of my work, somaZen, is developing a language, with precise vocabulary, to communicate directly with the living matrix. In this shared conversation the topics will be levels of health not disease, living fully not just surviving, integrating not repressing. Just as a bone becomes stronger when healed from a break, so do we become stronger when we integrate and resource our trauma. This is the powerful message that I and other body therapists carry.

If this all sounds serious remember there’s fun to integrate also. As my Rolfer© used to say, "All Kleenex is tissue but not all tissue is Kleenex."

*information available from NORA, Nature’s Own Research Association, PO Box 5101, Dover NH 03821-5100, 603-742-3789

Somatics and the Unconscious

One of the premises of somatics is to operate on information of the first person, the clients subjective experience. The western scientific and medical paradigm is based on objectification, it has failed in most cases to validate or capitalize on the clients inner knowledge, yet it does not account for the subjective perception of the observer. Many argue, and rightfully so in my opinion, that clients do not possess enough self awareness to give the practitioner adequate accurate information regarding their process verbally. Perhaps though, there are other modes of communication that we are overlooking. Finding a simple way to access this information would be of great help to facilitators of healing.

Definitions of the various states of consciousness are not specific in the contemporary dictionaries that I have seen. Bringing up this subject in medical or new age communities can get even more confusing. For the sake of clarity I propose the following meanings be assigned in the context of this article. The conscious mind, or ordinary consciousness, will be defined as the thinking brain, favored by western science/medicine for its dualistic, rational, and reductionistic processes, commonly known as the cerebral cortex. The subconscious will refer to emotional processing, popular with psychotherapists/analysts, also called the limbic system. The unconscious will include what is left, the moving and autonomic functions associated with the cerebellum and brainstem, or reptilian brain and the connective tissue system that may be accurately described as the living matrix. My purpose here is not to enter a philosophical discussion but to provide easy reference points, please do not discard your own notions of these concepts.

The general population is beginning to learn what body therapists and healers have known for centuries, that posture effects thought, thought effects feelings, emotions effect movement, i.e. these functions are all interrelated. I’m sure you can recall a situation where you were overwhelmed with emotion and couldn’t think, or were sick and got depressed. The good news is that "pschosomatic" is no longer a dismissal that nothing is wrong. The bad news is that you may get referred all over town and not be addressed as a whole person, each specialist, like the story of the blind men and the elephant, sees their own part accurately but misses the big picture. If you are interested in somatics you may already know these things.

My experience in bodywork sessions suggests that these states of consciousness not only effect each other but that they operate at different speeds, or times, if you will. Perhaps you remember a personal experience where "time stood still", such as an automobile accident. Listening to Peter Levine lecture on the biomechanics of trauma, I found several ideas, up to then unrelated, coming together in my mind. I remembered Jim Oschman’s story of Albert Szent-Gyorgyi’s cat, jumping faster than the nervous system could account for. Could we work on and resolve our traumatic issues in this way and was that in fact what I was seeing in my clients? Jim’s reply to these questions set alot of things in motion. The work of somaZen had a quantum shift towards coherency and the importance of language became clear.

In Jim’s letter he talked of a holograghic referencing system within the living matrix. This system worked at about a hundred billion times per second verses the ordinary "stream of consciousness" which moved at ten bits per second. This seemed to tie into the "space between thoughts" that the Zen masters and meditators often refer too. It also matched Gurdjieff’s explaination of the different speeds of the "centers", the thinking center being slowest (conscious), the moving center moving at thirty thousand times faster (unconscious), and the feeling center another thirty thousand times faster (subconscious). In my judgement these numbers are too close to be mere coincidence.

In Levine’s work I learned that this holographic referencing system was able to prioritize and organically unwind trauma with a level of efficiency that could not even be approached by a therapist. Peter is quite intuitive and he works in the somatic realm of sensate experience by using primarily verbal interaction, as well as I could ascertain in my brief exposure to his work. What I am proposing is to interface client/therapist unconscious directly, communicating through shared sensate experience. While this process has always happened in every human interaction, it is not tracked by ordinary consciousness, and has lost any chance of therapeutic change. The therapist must mindfully follow this exchange of information for it contains the key to the unique protocol each client brings to the session.

My experience is that we can work in a quantum realm rather than a linear one. When this sensate flow is established shifts occur on multiple layers/levels simultaneously, organically and painlessly. I call these quantum passageways "vortexes" and believe it is a similar phenomena to the so called "universal mind" described by various meditative practices. For these brief, according to "normal conscious time", vortexes to open a space must be created where the conscious and subconscious of the client are at ease and trust the therapist enough not to disrupt the process. So I may spend fifty eight minutes preparing for a few seconds in interface.

During this preparation time I must also use alternate modes of communication. Using, as I am able, all three states of consciousness together I can "listen" with my hands to the living matrix and allow it to direct me. I must empty myself of notions and agendas to become teachable. The masters of Zen Shiatsu constantly remind students that the client is your instructor and to gratefully receive instruction as you work. Responding in the clients preferred language ,which may be any one or a combination of these conscious states, is a way to validate their message. This way of working is called "intuitive" and must be learned, it is not a random inborn function as is commonly believed. Sincere listening and intuitive response are powerful tools to establish trust so that interface can be achieved. Every client has an amazing story to tell if we are able to listen.

In summary I am saying that we limit ourselves with the construct of normal conscious/time and linear language. By allowing concepts of multidimensional time and quantum language into our practice many unexplainable, or lucky, phenomena become easily understandable. When we are able to master these new languages many previously impossible achievements will become the new reality. Then holistic healing will be ready to move to the next step, community.

The Language of Movement

I remember back in the seventies when the term ‘body language’ was coined. The experts claimed that communication was 7% verbal, 28% tone and 65% body language. I’m not saying these figures are exact – I’m not an expert – but they show what we are semiconsciously aware of, that we language with our bodies. What I am interested in is bringing this language, which may indeed be the majority of our communication, to full consciousness so that we can, so to speak, choose our words. Such expressions as "I can tell by the way she walks" bring to light the fact that we are giving and receiving information all the time, though perhaps not the information we would like. What messages are you giving out? Are you willing to take responsibility for what you attract through these advertisements? And wouldn’t life be more peaceful if certain people, places and things did not create such a strong reaction in us? Perhaps a deeper look is in order.

There are many types or amplitudes of movement and each communicates in a different way. Just as we might respond to the wave of a traffic cop, movements within the bodymind coordinate systems and maintain homeostasis. Take for instance the chewing of food, which stimulates the muscles in the temples, through which the gallbladder meridian travels. This tells the digestive system to release fluids, in this case bile, which in turn puts other processes into motion. In the same way, groups and societies send messages to one another, and I would imagine humanity describes itself to the cosmos. Movement is the universal language, whether we talk about cell biology or supernovas.

Enough theory; let’s be practical and use this knowledge to create understanding. A good way to start is to observe, and to observe not just others but yourself. Notice how postures change when surroundings, people and emotions shift. Imagine a romantic candlelit dinner for two and notice what happens to your body. Now imagine being called in to your supervisor’s office and again notice your body. You will quickly see that we are all just big reactions, sometimes trying to make the biggest, most visible wave, sometimes attempting stillness to be avoided. We are attracted mysteriously and repeatedly to the same situations and people and have seemingly little control. It is not hopeless though. Mastery of this language is possible.

One of my favorite laws of physics, which will be useful in our experiment, is that the observer affects the observed. This is counter to the reductionistic scientific paradigm upon which western medicine is based. As we observe and remember ourselves, we will gain, through our acceptance of our lack of control, a modicum of power over our situation. As the intensity of our observation increases, so also does the effect on our "language" and we gain understanding of the subconscious workings of the bodymind. Many strategies that have served us well in the past are soon abandoned for more effective, appropriate and efficient approaches.

If all this seems a daunting project to face alone, let me encourage you to seek support through a teacher and/or group. There are many approaches to gaining awareness of movement patterns. Choose one you are attracted to and commit to its practice. somaZen, like some other somatic therapies and bodywork modalities, is designed to facilitate this organic unfolding of the language of movement.

Since our culture is not adept at this type of communication, you will likely confront and work through societal taboos, and possibly glimpse a vision of living you never dreamed possible. You needn’t change jobs, relationships or any particular aspect of your routine. A change in attitude, often a profound one, accompanies a change in posture and gives a different appearance to your current reality. Possibilities for the future will become evident.

Just as a fish does not learn about water until it is out of the water, we do not see ourselves as slaves to our movement habits until we get a taste of freedom. I know that you will hunger for this experience, as I have, and I look forward to visiting with you as we continue to evolve in our understanding.

The Inner World of the Bodymind

Today we explore so-called automatic functioning, or the inner world of the human machine or bodymind. The internal language of the bodymind is much the same as our external communication in that it consists of vibration and movements. However, the smaller inner world is more subtle than the gross movements that our sense organs ordinarily receive. By quieting external noises we can begin to appreciate the sensate experience that is continuous inside. Direct your attention inward and you will realize the observations offered in this article.

In Thomas Hanna’s book, Somatics, the concept of red light/green light is discussed in relation to posture and gross physical movement or mobility. This idea can be taken into the inner world. The range of motion internally, called motility, consists of rotations or oscillations. The green light reaction can be described as sympathetic and the red light as parasympathetic, in terms of nervous system function. Certainly the inner worldÕs communication includes much more than the nervous system, but this simple description will be useful as we follow the trail of sensate experience. Instinctively we are set up to move toward balance, or homeostasis, by engaging these opposites as a default when we lean in one direction too long. For instance, overwork (green light) creates illness and mandates rest (red light). Unfortunately this instinct, which in its natural state operates efficiently, is tampered with due to the many conflicting messages and abnormal stresses of modern life.

Just as rigid postural patterns limit our mobility, rigid or jerky internal communication limits motility . Constant jumping from red light to green light or even attempts to do both at once, like a business lunch, break down this balancing system of communication. Take a slow deep breath and notice the motion within your abdomen. Undoubtedly some areas or organs will be sensitive enough for you experience movement, while other places will be blank or blind spots. These blind spots represent segments that are out of the communications loop, and therefore vulnerable to dysfunction or disease without the support of the instinctive and organic homeostasis of the inner world. Take a breath again, this time pressing lightly with your fingers on your blind spot. As your fingers sense the movement, this information is transmitted to the blind spot and it begins to sense also. The better "understanding" the hand has, the more communication is established.

While the idea of motility has been used by somatic practitioners for quite some time, perhaps since the beginning of time, emphasis upon the communicative aspects of motility and its relationship to the bodymind, i.e. spirit, emotion, thought and physical form, is lacking in modern paradigms. That fascial adhesions could cause emotional or mental problems or vice versa is an undiscussed possibility in modern medicine; you might even call it a blind spot. This denial of responsibility is passed on to us, as patients and clients, and we are hypnotized, believing that our disease indicates some outside thing has invaded us, that we are helpless.

We can, as you have just experienced, awaken to this inner world and, if patient, we can learn the language. By exploring this world we will find our lost parts, wandering blindly, and welcome them home. Help from one who knows will guide you until the time when you awaken to the sensation of motility of each of your organs, including the brain, your joints, and even your bones as they rock back and forth like a boat at dock. Learning from these sensate experiences, we become able to rest fully (red light) and work efficiently (green light) and to allow space for transition and balance.

The Paradigm of Fear

I once suggested to John Bradshaw, after a presentation on anger and its expression, that fear was a bigger problem. Surprised, he said that we all "do" fear but then concurred when I added that there is no support for the healthy expression of fear. We are, in fact, a society driven and manipulated by repressed fear. Let’s take a look at resolving this situation.

Perhaps a good start would be defining fear.We tend to associate fearlessness with foolhardiness, but is this really the case? Interestingly, the dictionary defines fear not only as anxious anticipation of danger but also as awe or reverence. When we move beyond reductionistic thinking that would identify fear as a "bad" emotion we have a new possible perspective. As a basic, or fundamental, emotion included in five element theory, fear needs to be in balance for it to be health. This can be thought of as respect, as perhaps is meant by fear of God. Certainly fear is a necessary component for the survival of any animal species, and humans are no exception. As with all responses, be they emotional or instinctual, a balanced or neutral fear will serve us the best.

So where have we gone awry? In his easy-to-read book "Waking the Tiger," Peter Levine describes how the repression of fear, or as he calls it, traumatization, creates an energetic blockade in the bodymind that affects all areas of function. Many symptoms develop around the "freezing," or repression of this necessary emotion, both physical and psychological, which will be relieved only upon the successful resolution and expression of it.

Unfortunately under the current paradigm there are not many advocates for the emoting of fear. Have you ever had a friend tell you to "let it all out" when you became scared? I think not. People may even become indignant if you stop them from patting you on the back and telling you that everything is going to be all right. How things turn out is not as important as healthy emotional expression. Truly, unless fear is completely expressed, things will not be all right. Unresolved fear thwarts our ability to think and act in stressful or dangerous situations, restimulating the freezing response and effectively perpetuating the so-called "victim/perpetrator" cycle. Living in fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Catching up with a big backlog of fear can be a scary thing (pun intended). The basic ingredients are patience and a safe environment. Just as water seeks its own level, emotions come into balance when given a chance. Since creating safety is new for many of us, seeking outside help, if available, can make initiation of the process smoother. Be sure to take your time and use all available resources. If working with a friend be sure they can stay present and not get caught up in their own fear.

Once you gain experience in expressing fear, which may include trembling, chills and even vocal sounds, you will know a new freedom that will empower you to live more fully. And perhaps most importantly, you will have the tools to transform potential traumatic events into positive growth experiences and teach others by example how to "roll with the punches." As Peter Levine says, "Trauma need not be a life sentence," and I would add, the experience of fear is nothing to be afraid of.

Consciousness as Healer

"Scientists tell us that we are machines, but if you tell a scientist that he is a machine, he is annoyed."* This quote, from fifty years ago, well sums up the current state of externalization in contemporary culture. Everyone wants to point a finger at someone else and never admits to their own process, or their own mechanicalness. We must become aware, or become conscious, of ourselves first before even the slightest real understanding of the external world is possible. We can collect facts, to be sure, but understanding of even the most basic meanings of the integrated whole will continue to elude us until we look within.

The "holistic" and "organic" movements give us clues to our dilemma. We are fragmented and do not heed our innate call to order. We fail to see how our psychological, or spiritual, world is overlaid by the physical. We are indeed machines but with one important difference – we have the potential to be more than machines – if/when we become more fully conscious. If we are always double clutching and spinning our wheels, no miracle "tune up," i.e. external cure, is going to help for long. Our awareness of structure and function on all levels and dimensions: instinctive, moving, emotional, intellectual and perhaps other, "higher" aspects of the bodymind, must gradually become complete for us to become a "whole" capable of its true "organic" potential.

Let’s take a simple physical dysfunction, say indigestion or constipation. Now it is possible, with practice, to become aware of and directly sense the intestines and other abdominal viscera. By monitoring tensions or distress in these organs we may quickly discern the "source" of stress, or better said, the external manifestation to which we are having a mechanical reaction. Whether it is an admonishment from the boss or the kids are in trouble at school, we can consciously decide, again with practice or practical work, to not have the reaction of tensing or stressing our abdomen, instead of using mechanical quick fixes like antacids or hemorrhoid medications. (Ongoing use of these external ‘cures’ increases the number and size of blind spots in our bodyminds which are the perfect breeding grounds for disease such as viruses and tumors.)

Similarly, we can use consciousness to heal or make whole all the aspects of the bodymind which will eventually become integrated. This integration means that there is constant communication between all parts and perhaps more importantly, that all aspects are doing their own work and not tinkering outside in others’ affairs. How many times do we say "I think…" followed by what in fact is a feeling or sensation (and vice versa). By clearly defining and establishing our many functions with an increase in our level of consciousness, we are healed and indeed move to a whole new level of living.

Ultimately what happens when we use this tool, always available to us, of inner awareness or "self"-consciousness, is that we undergo a change of being and create understanding. This essential being is the unique part of us that we are born into, separate from the more or less uniform "personality" that we acquire from external life. It becomes possible now to grow the seed of essence in the light of consciousness, as is suggested in all esoteric and religious doctrines. I know you will find that as your being changes, a different life will be attracted to you and the monumental problems of the external world will miraculously soften or even become insignificant. Then you will see, in your own inner world, the meaning of life, that is, that life indeed has meaning.

* Nicoll Commentaries p1012