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Somatic Resonance is So Good Y'all (pt. 2)
second half of the list - mostly going on about coherence and eros
previously, on Somatic Resonance is So Good Yall (pt. 1):
River likes somatic resonance and wants to talk about it.
Most specifically he likes
thought loops and inner critics getting power-drained by somatic meditation
endless possibilities for how to practice somatic resonance—not just more sitting practice in a life where, let’s face it, you’re already too good at sitting and don’t need the practice
open awareness (contrasted with concentration practice) is such a natural salve to the issues almost all of us already have from concentrating too much in unhelpful ways
Are we all caught up? Are you ready for the next thrilling adventure in this week’s episode? Right after this message from our sponsors:
I heard a rumor that Grimes & Timothée Chalamet are paid subscribers PLUS they both joined the Somatic Resonance course. Isn’t that wild??? Don’t you want a chance to run into both of them casually and say hi?? Do the right thing here.
Aaand we’re back. Let’s get to it: what are some of the other things I love about Somatic Resonance that I’m pretty sure you’ll love too? (Just to rip the band-aid off right away: I know I promised that Number 4 would be The Coherence to Eros Pipeline, but I had to move that down to 5 to set up coherence first—so sorry, please forgive me.)
4. Un-Dissociating (Re…-ssociating??)
I spent a lot of time feeling more like I was watching my life than living it. Like I was about 6 inches outside my life, not quite touching any of my own experiences, relationships, or activities.
Moving into adulthood, this felt increasingly like a curse. I wanted to connect with people, but couldn’t stop holding them at arms length. I wanted to feel alive and purposeful, but couldn’t stop holding all my experience at a distance.
The basic problem here, as I later came to see it, was that I’d driven all my awareness up above the shoulders, into the mind—and the mind had developed a habit of breaking everything in my life down to parts. My mind was turning everything I experienced into objects to look at and tinker with, never allowing me to be a subject of that experience.
The unravelling of this habit came about as yet another side effect of somatic meditation. The more time I spent in the body, allowing the body to be aware of itself, allowing the “me” in my head to step back and dissolve for awhile—the greater presence I was able to bring to my experience. The more I was able to Be Here Now in a very direct and simple way.
My body was no longer some assortment of useful objects that was (literally and metaphorically) beneath me—what a silly view. I finally grokked that I am this body. My presence in my legs, my arms, my chest, my gut—it was all grounded and foundational to my life.
It’s harder to dissociate and hold life at arms’ length when your awareness has gotten into the habit of grounding itself in the body.
This is the first element of what I call coherence. It’s easy to spend life scattered and diffuse, floating around in a tangle of stray thoughts and drives orbiting the head. But when we begin to ground experience directly in the body, we begin to pull together, to cohere, to become a recognizable presence that we (and the people around us) can depend on.
5. The Coherence to Eros Pipeline
Another element of coherence has to do with what drives us.
Most people have very confused drives. Mine were absolute chaos until the last couple years, and judging from how people talk, what kind of characters they sympathize with, the kinds of things they write about and wax poetic about—it seems like the majority of people walk around with very confused drives most of the time.
You’re not unhappy, per se, but there’s a feeling in the air. Like you’ve only partially chosen the path you took. Like most of it was chosen for you by parents, teachers, cultural norms, things you were talked into believing as a teen; employers, advertisers, books and tv shows—like your own drives are almost impossible to distinguish from the cacophony of other voices tugging at you. —Even now, you feel that there are a thousand things you could do, a thousand directions you could set off in. But none of them distinguish themselves from the others, not really.
You remind yourself that any decision is better than no decision, and you try to pick one thing and stick with it. This works for awhile—but a couple months later, the energy has drained out. The arbitrary choice you made wasn’t a sustainable one. There wasn’t enough of you in it. And now you’re back in the cloud of possibilities, feeling pulled first here then there, and unable to tell which pull is the tug of your soul. Unable to distinguish the authentic tug of the unlived life within you from the thousand urges and shoulds and duties installed in you over the course of your life. How could you possibly tell one urge from another?
A lot of my old journal entries carry this vibe. I felt tugged in a dozen different directions, a dozen different things I might dedicate myself to—but zero clue which ones I actually wanted and which ones were just some kind of conditioning or cultural hypnosis.
The answer, as it turned out, was coherence. By grounding in the body and allowing my life to cohere into the soma, I had started a process: restoring coherence.
This wasn’t the second, third, seventh, or tenth side effect of Somatic Resonance. It’s one that has built slowly and patiently over time, and that I don’t think will ever truly complete. But it does pull together, with time and practice and patience.
With increased coherence and sensitivity to the soma, it’s much easier to tell—to directly feel rather than intellectually puzzling out—which drives and desires are yours. It becomes hard to avoid, like a current at your back, pushing you along. This sense dissolves your old challenges and replaces it with new ones; but to me, the new challenges are infinitely more rewarding. Questions stop beginning with What? and start to center more on How?.
As I said up top, this one is a pipeline. You might never reach The End of it, but the simple act of restoring coherence lets us become sensitive to Eros1 and be driven by it. Personally, that's not something I'd ever willingly give up.
6. The Vibes
I’m gonna keep this one short, but for real: the vibes of Somatic Resonance are immaculate. When I started somatic meditation, I didn’t decide to stick with it because of any of these benefits—I stuck with it because it was the first time that meditation felt grounded and profound and open and resting in the depthful heart of a living earth.
I was used to contemplative practices feeling kinda tinny, kinda cerebral and airy—focusing on breath and thoughts and riding the wave of their self-organizing ecology. It was fine. But it wasn’t that different from the cerebral, airy life I was already living in a cerebral, airy culture.
Dropping into the body, though—connecting to and building a wordless relationship with the unspoken richness of the soma,,
I kept coming back every chance I got, just for the pure marinating yes of it.
7. Mythopoetic Emergence
I’m really not sure how universal this one is. It’s been the richest unfolding for me, but I don’t have the sample size (either in number of people or amount of time passed) to make very many assumptions.
If untangled thought-loops and the joys of open awareness seem like pretty reliable outcomes for 95% of folks, Mythopoetic Emergence might be closer to a coin flip. My suspicion is it’s closer to 75% or so. But let’s humbly assume it’s a coin flip.
Mythopoetic awareness feels like an emergent property, built on everything else that Somatic Resonance provides—the description can’t be linear. But one attempt at a linear explanation looks something like:
You deepen awareness into the body
The inner monologue is depotentiated, drained of its power
Your life-force begins to cohere, grounding into the sturdy existence of the soma
You feel present in the world
You sense Eros more directly—you’re not pulled around by the drives and whims of others
You follow Eros, letting it drive the path of your life
As you untangle from older drives, drives installed in you early in life, you start to notice how deeply woven they are—not only inside you, but inside your culture, your friends, your family.
You notice how entire lives, entire societies, entire sweeps of history are driven by these pulls, these constellations of felt-symbols.
You become implicated.
Once you notice the world-shaping force of these myths, these felt-symbols, these third-person drives - you can’t simply continue on your way.
You’re a gardener now, whether you like it or not.
You have to do what you can to perceive these myths (they begin in the soma, and in the culture-soma),
To poke around at their interactions, to uproot the sick-myths when you can, to nurture the hale ones when you can, to plant new ones and tend to the ecosystem when you can.
You have to notice that the intellect cannot be a primary tool in this endeavor. Many of these myths are driven by (and in turn, they drive) a sick relationship with the intellect.
The mind has to be reapproached, re-integrated as a humble tool in this endeavor. Leaning on it is like trying to tend a garden by planting weeds.
You must ground in the soma; you must deepen into the soul; you must perceive and enliven with the heart; you must invite mind into this 4-part family, but only on the terms that all 4 set together.
It all begins in the body; it all begins with Somatic Resonance, with restoring coherence, with excavating Eros.
If you’re looking for my ulterior motives, read that a couple times. That stuff is necessary work, and it requires a lot of heavy lifting by a large web of competent, trustworthy people.
The ulterior motive is: I’m looking for more people who want to train up for that kind of work, who are able to dance with myth and aliveness and re-weave our broken myth-ecology. And as far as I can tell, almost none of the available paths reliably produce the people this work needs.2
Well that got heavy. Let’s shake it out a minute, take a couple deep breaths. Noticing and becoming competent with the felt-myths that live in my body, heart, mind, and culture is maybe the most important task I can think of at this point in history, but that’s no reason we can’t be calm and playful about it.
Which, bonus reason I love Somatic Resonance: it gives me an opportunity to notice that a lot of the things I used to catastrophize about are actually pretty manageable, if I don’t abstract them. If I pick up my tools and get to work on my part of the task, it can be a playful and rewarding way to spend my life.
Like that bit in the beginning, about Grimes being a paid subscriber? That was playful, wasn’t it? We have fun here. Let’s keep having fun here.
If you want to keep the fun rolling (and also restore coherence to your lived experience and find eros and wage war on invasive psychofauna and all that), you know where to find me:
Take the Somatic Resonance Course
Sign up for Mythosomatic Dreamwork
Support my work on Patreon
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Eros is a term I use pretty ambiguously to refer to the profound inner drive of Soul. The current that pulls you through the world to step into the full specificity of your being, to undertake the tasks that must be done through you, the duties the gods have given you. (It’s appropriate to wax poetic here—if your drives feel pretty linear and mechanical, they probably ain’t eros.)
This is also why I’m pretty dedicated to offering help and practice to whoever feels interested in and called by them. Financial aid and personal advice are always available, don’t be afraid to get in touch.