I lay in my bath, at the end of a long-road day, feeling sore and tired, glad to be held by the water. I came to an understanding that what feels restful is often not about feeling ‘in retreat’.
I feel the support of water across all my limbs, my lower back, my upper back, my neck, my legs…In the bath, my rest-ful-ness is a sign of being engaged, not of retreat. It allows my brain to stop solving, worrying about things. It is a proportional adjustment. How deeply am I present, and in what ways?
I am floating in an element so great a part of me [at least 70%] yet also external to me, and in this day and age being held more and more accountable for…
I perceive the body as a microcosm of all this. I believe the body’s polyrhythm [complex of rhythms] is a key to health, to flow. I hear the rhythms of the internal body as a kind of orchestra. It doesn’t all play in the same time or tone. I tune into this orchestra and try give a kick-start to sluggish bits, parts which have forgotten their distinctive charge.
Trauma and authoritarianism block these tunes, force unity and stagnation. Normally, if given its sense of rightness and strength in itself, the body knows how to function well. The organs like to hear their differences next to each other, take delight in their complexities. When all parts know themselves, it really comprises an extraordinary, self-generating, sustaining tune.
We stop breathing under trauma, in the face of death, or under fear. And like a Great Chain of Whispers, our children carry the burden of our Not Breathing. Full Breath is a great key to full healing, not just for our generation, but also the next. This is why River Junction Curly‘s phrase is so very beautiful–his insistence that everything has life, breath, power, speech: he is speaking from an understanding that everything is equal, everything needs the respect to fully be. When this is the situation, true cooperation is a possibility. When it is not, there is a reduction, a wearing-down, a bitterness, a compromise. Do we want to live with bitterness, or with full-throated expressions of joy?
The role of the shaman has always been to cross the border into the realm of the not-yet-know and bring it back into cognition. Along the way, the shaman may encounter cultural or emotional taboos. It is one reason why the healer exists—to cross the border, retrieve missing information, find links, act as guide. In an era where many systems are threatening collapse, it is more important than ever to re-discover how to search the invisible—what we sense is around us but can’t quite see.
(This is the kind of condition carers of young children exist in for quite a long time.)
The whole universe is trying to communicate, to live in exchange. The philosopher-biologist Charles Birch, observing the behaviour of organisms, insisted that seeking relationship is the core impulse of all of our cells. From microorganisms, to birds’ patterns of emigration and the habits of waterfalls, we have so much we can learn. It is useful to reflect on how much or little we have developed our perceptions.
One day, in clinic, someone came to see me whose tract of land was poisoned, and by reading the “map” of her land from the energy in her body, I was able to help her plan strategies to cleanse the water and soil. To a scientist, this might sound spurious, but I tell you: our body is interconnected with all we live with, and can become a map which shares and distributes this information in different modalities. Just as musical instruments capture the adjustment of a player’s fingers or mouth, the human body can be a conduit for all sorts of information. The trick is learning how to receive and interpret what information it gives.
People come to clinic with questions arising from their senses, their intuitions, but which they can’t answer themselves. There is a blockage to understanding. Why can’t these things be seen?
Like a hologram, our bodies carry the seeds of most of the information we need to achieve change, to re-enter a place of flow. I see myself as someone who has trained her vision to see as much of the hologram as possible, and render it accessible.
APPROACHING THE CONDITION OF JOY
Spinoza, whose philosophy of being-in-the-world includes concepts of joy and sorrow which contribute to or detract from our quality of engagement in the world– outlines two types of joy which are useful to consider. One type is partial, and the other is more of an overarching condition which has the potential to lead to creative fulfilment, purpose, and an ability to act in the world. Titillatio (pleasurable excitement) is only in partial relationship to the organism as a whole. Affecting only a “sub-group of parts of the body,” its interaction is incomplete, and thus deserves cautious attention, because it listens to partial signals, not fully-encompassing ones. It is inattentive to broader details, to other factors in the contexts of its own fulfilment, and can indeed lead to exhaustion (both of an individual, and of the larger cohort to which that individual belongs). Spinoza mentions love of money, sexual fulfilment, and ambition in this category.
The condition of hilaritas, or cheerfulness, however, reflects on the idea of a body as an ecology, both unto itself, and in relation to others. This “joy” is one which calls on the body or self as a whole, affecting “not only a subgroup of functions of the organism, but each and every one,” and therefore its totality. (Arne Naess, Deep Ecology for the 21th Century, 1973; p.252.) This has the potential to be complete in its integration of our knowledge-of-the-world. It is a condition to which one can aspire (approaching what he calls “perfection”) which makes for the circumstances of fulfilment of action, of complex thought, and of making decisions which can be in fuller relationship with more of the world, and with the possibility of a better-functioning world as a result.
Hilaritas is thus a condition which includes a kind of expansion and progression of sensibility and relationship, because it can accommodate more. There is always something more to know, incorporate or acknowledge. This, for Spinoza, brings forth improvement. But one might ask, where does this “more,” this improvement, open out from?
from “Hungry Ghosts.” Full text available at www.bodyecology.com.au/articles.html c.2004, Zsuzsanna Soboslay, BodyEcology.
We live in a combination of soft and hard time. One moment is now and always. We can look forward: project the arc of the comet’s tail. This is not just the knowledge of poets, but of the human body itself.
Breath can change time. It can change emotions, the force of an event.It carries our thoughts, our ideas, the thoughts of whole cultures. How deeply do we breathe in our tight skirts and brassieres, or in the wrong shoes? Breath and body are interrelated. Every living thing breathes. In the universe, there are many breathing rhythms. Imagine listening to this symphony.