Gut Feelings

Gut Feelings

There are many common sayings in our language that express a deeper meaning even though they sound trite. Such things as "a gut feeling" or "a pain in the neck" say something more than the words would indicate. In somaZen we pay special attention to phrases like this, because they tell us something of what is going on inside, which is crucial if a massage session is to be therapeutic. Beyond this, language is important in each special modality and science; somaZen is no exception. I would like to explore the knowledge of common sayings in both lights.

Most people come to massage for a back rub or relief from a stiff neck. There have been many explanations for this, and massage schools generally spend a majority of their time with the back. In somaZen, using a very simple and practical logic, we think of the back as what is behind us, that is, our past. Much can be learned in looking at the back in this way. The neck is more complicated, and if we think of a "bottleneck" or a traffic jam, we can see why. All the systems of the bodymind traverse the neck, so there are several scales of tissue, making proper treatment more complex. Both of these areas are easier for people to sense, or realize, because they are close to the head-brain. This may sound ridiculous, but there is invariably pain in other areas of the body, which are effectively blocked because of the neck’s proximity to the only brain we use regularly.

This brings us to the idea of other areas of cognition beyond the head-brain. This will be an ongoing theme as we explore the ideas behind somaZen. For example, let’s look at the expression "gut feeling." For us to receive a message from the abdomen, we must have a clear pathway for data to travel. Thus, to avoid these feelings or sensations, we may create tension between them and our head-brain. Once the pathway is opened up, we may be uneasy, since we are becoming aware of past conflicts, unresolved because we could not sense them. There are myriad supports for not having feeling in modern society and family, which result in "stiff-necked" people. Unfortunately, when our neck is not flexible, we lose perspective, since we cannot look around. It is also quite true that our actions are guided by something that we are not even in touch with, which is revealed quickly by impartial examination.

Moving further south, through the pelvis and the legs, we contact the ground, the basis, or foundation, of our existence. The term "mother earth" is loaded with meaning. Do we strike the ground, or does it hit us? How does our relationship with our mother figure into this? When we have achieved a balance, we will caress the earth and be caressed by it. So we can look for many issues in the feet in this light. An additional way of seeing things is to look at when muscle groups were first used. The calf muscles, for instance, are first used significantly in walking, which represents a definite period in childhood. Unresolved traumas from this time may well be stored in this area.

Many of these sayings of common wisdom reveal much about our acquired worldview and our "selves." Think of a few from your past. For myself, I remember one thing most clearly from my grandmother, the saying "If a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his hiney on the ground." These kinds of sayings provide a possibility for pondering our nature, the meaning of our existence. When we do this, sayings of common wisdom not only provide opportunities for assessment but also give direction to our own development.

My father always said, "It ain’t help unless they ask for it."

KSR 5/01/00