Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Part Five: Practice as Chrysalis

This week's post is the fifth in a seven-part series of excerpts from our soon to be released companion video to the book, Awakening Somatic Intelligence: The Art & Practice of Embodied Mindfulness.

"You can use the Somatic Learning practices to hold the field, like a chrysalis, for you to unravel, from one state into another … letting go of our dualistic orientation of the observer and observed, to enter into a non-dual realm of pure presencing. This practice is a portal into vast, unbounded spaciousness.  At the same time, You can receive the structure of your practice as an embrace, a container where you can feel safe enough to enfold into a more fluid state and drink in the deliciousness of being fully alive.

In the same way that the chrysalis supports a caterpillar’s metamorphosis from one state of being into another, and a womb allows an embryo to grow into a fetus bathed within the amniotic landscape, your Somatic Learning practice can womb you, so that you can give birth to yourself as the embodiment of the vast, unlimited consciousness that is your birthright.

I want to speak to you, dear viewer, about how to best receive this practice. Employing your will in an effort to achieve some predetermined goal or image turns your determination against you, perpetuating a subtle kind of violence. Our belief that we need to fix or improve ourselves reflects our identification with a very limited image of who we are. If we could see ourselves as source, then we would not feel the need to fix or improve ourselves. We would simply want to live the fullest expression of what we really are, unmediated by limiting beliefs and images."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Part Four: Leisure as a Practice in Detachment to Time

This week's post is the fourth in a seven-part series of excerpts from our soon to be released companion video to the book, Awakening Somatic Intelligence: The Art & Practice of Embodied Mindfulness.

"When we engage our somatic intelligence, we awaken to our true nature as the embodiment of luminosity and spaciousness.   This awakened mode of perception dispels the curse of mis-identification with image/object bound experience.  You are already home, expressing in the world all the juiciness of this ecstatic union with the beloved. 

Let’s begin by exploring how we relate to the idea of “practice” to enter into  dimensions of experience unlike anything you have ever done before.

Your practice is the time you create for yourself to give birth slowly. It is an embodiment of leisure, or timelessness, the way you detach from the pressurized field of time. 

As my friend, Brother David Steindl-Rast defines it: “Leisure is the expression of detachment with regard to time.” He goes on to say that “leisure … is not the privilege of those who can afford to take time; it is the virtue of those who give to everything they do the time it deserves to take.” 

This is one of the best descriptions of practice I’ve heard."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Part Two: An Open Dialogue between the Conscious and Subconscious parts of the BodyMind.

This week's post is the second in a seven-part series of excerpts from our soon to be released companion video to the book, Awakening Somatic Intelligence: The Art & Practice of Embodied Mindfulness.

Click here to download the audio excerpt.
"The art and practice of Somatic Learning optimally supports the full embodiment of the quality commonly referred to as “mindfulness” in our lives through awakening somatic intelligence.  Somatic Intelligence refers to the way life knows itself in the bubbling, bursting, blooming forth of consciousness in the here and now. This is how we know ourselves at no distance, from the inside out.  In contrast, to how we were conditioned to know ourselves from the outside in.  In other words, assuming that the object we are perceiving at a distance - the way you look to me from a few feet away or I look in a mirror - is the same as what is actually here at no distance. 

Somatic Learning develops an open dialogue between the conscious and subconscious parts of our body-mind. This dialogue allows what we sense in the depths of our silent level of experience to influence and update our way of perceiving ourselves and the world.  Like fine tuning a radio receiver, Somatic Intelligence enhances our ability  to accurately attune with the body’s impulse to thrive. ,As we sense the feedback arising from the body-mind, we learn new ways of functioning that are congruent with non self-limiting beliefs. The old programmed  reactions are gradually erased, and our habitual tensions release into a more enlivened and integrated functioning. 

We learn from utilizing feedback - just as we wouldn’t learn to swim without water - we need the feedback of our feelings and sensations to become more self-organizing.  This changes not only our awareness, but our actual physical structure and physiological functioning.  We learn to bring spaciousness throughout the body-mind, allowing us to move with grace and efficiency, to prevent injuries and reverse the deterioration that often accompanies aging.  We strengthen our immune system, change the stress responses to ones that are more restorative and intelligent, and heal from trauma and stress related illnesses.   

And, Just as our physical movement becomes less dense and mechanical, so does the way we think and feel, become more fluid, creative and resourceful. 

Through the Somatic Meditations we develop a more highly differentiated response-ability.  This enhanced capacity for self-sensing, self-organizing (self-correcting), and self-renewing is the hallmark of the practice of Somatic Learning."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Part One: Journey into Embodied Mindfulness

This week's post is the first in a seven-part series of excerpts from our soon to be released companion video to the book, Awakening Somatic Intelligence: The Art & Practice of Embodied Mindfulness:

"Hello.  I feel so grateful to share this journey into embodied mindfulness with you.

In this video series, you will learn how to engage your innate Somatic Intelligence, feeling and sensing from the inside-out to transform pain stress, trauma and aging.

All living things, even a single celled organism, or a plant, are continually growing, responding, moving - becoming.

They are designed to respond to the environment around them, as well as to their own internal needs.

You too are designed to tune in and learn from your inner sensing system. Most of us lost this capacity as we were socialized. Much of what we learn about ourselves we learn from external sources. We learn that we have only five senses - all for gathering external data. In reality, we have an unlimited capacity to receive from within and to shape our own experience.

This video series is divided into sections.  Some provide a conceptual framework.  Others introduce and demonstrate somatic mediations, while others guide you through experiments that support the integration of somatic intelligence into every aspect of living. I encourage you to watch the practices first, before going back and trying them yourselves.

In volume one you will learn how to breathe with a new awareness --  in such a way that everything inside you move.

You will learn to differentiate the movement of each of your respiratory diaphragms, freeing your bones to float in the sea of soft tissue. I think of this as "gravity surfing."

Using your breath you will be able to elongate your spine and open all your joints, so your bones float freely extending on the waves of your breath.

We practice this process while sitting and lying on the ground in volume two, we extend this practice to sitting on balls and chairs,  while standing and walking, learning to fluidly change plains between these positions.

This practice is a wonderful opportunity to shift the way you approach learning and movement, no pushing to achieve an idea, no strain or struggle with the somatic meditations.   Trust yourself to open and learn at your own pace and tune in to the beauty and wonder of the living system that is you.

As my beloved yoga teacher, Vanda Scaravelli, often said; 'you must start with beauty and no ambition.'

Lets begin joyously."

How do you journey into embodied mindfulness?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Breathing: Drinking in and kissing back, a Somatic Meditation®

Presencing is a way of learning into the infinite as the beloved, just as a cat will sometimes lean into stroking, expressing its enjoyment in purring.

Try this Somatic Meditation in breathing, then ask yourself:
  • When you lean into this vast spaciousness, can you sense it more deeply?
  • Does kissing back the infinite as intimately as kissing the beloved make this simple moment of breathing even more luscious?
  • Do you feel renewed in this mode of breathing?
  • Can you sense this drinking in and kissing back with your breath as an expression of gratefulness?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Risa on "Inner Speak Soul Adventures"

Dear Friends,

I had the pleasure of speaking on Inner Speak Soul Adventures with Jeane Adrienne this past Tuesday, and wanted to share this with you!

All love,

- Risa

On this Show:
Current western scientific research verifies that you can use your mind to change your brain, producing not just short-term effects, but permanent changes. These shifts can result in profound improvements to the physiological, mental, emotional, and interpersonal aspects of our lives.

Healthy Longevity:  
For the 75 million baby boomers who are facing the realities of their aging bodies, beliefs, and habits, Awakening Somatic Intelligence teaches how to awaken the potential of the body-mind and to use that untapped potential to create a healthy, vibrant, and graceful aging process free of pain, injury, suffering, and confusion.

Life-Long Wellness:
Awakening Somatic Intelligence empowers people to achieve goals like healthy longevity, inner peace and happiness, weight loss, freedom from pain and trauma, and alleviation of the negative effects of stress based upon the untapped capacities of people to utilize the finely tuned feedback of their own bodies.
Integrated into Daily Life:
Awakening Somatic Intelligence provides simple, easy to learn practices that can be applied  “anytime, anywhere” to live more mindfully, effectively, and joyously. These practices are integrated into the normal flow of life so that waking, sleeping, walking, driving, and eating are all gymnasiums for discovery.

More Benefits in Less Time:
Sometimes, relief is as close as a breath away. Just five minutes of daily practice can be sufficient to turn the tide of even chronic and degenerative conditions. Given that people have less free time yet greater economic and personal stress, the need for approaches that naturally integrate into ordinary everyday activities is now greater than ever.
Awakening Somatic Intelligence takes daily practice beyond the meditation cushion or yoga mat and supports the integration and stabilization of non-dual consciousness and optimal cognitive, emotional and physiological functioning into a new way of living with ever-greater freedom and aliveness.

**Be sure to check out The Awakening Zone, which is full of a great interviews and helpful information!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Conscious Talk Radio - Featuring Dr. Risa Kaparo

Dear Friends,

I'm very excited to share with you one of my recent interviews on Awakening Somatic Intelligence: The Art & Practice of Embodied Mindfulness - Transform Pain Stress Trauma & Aging, with Rob Spears and Brenda Michaels of Conscious Talk Radio.  I really recommend you take a look at their website, which has tons of archived interviews with many prominent researchers, writers, and doctors.

- Risa

Friday, July 27, 2012

This Week: Jim Oschman Introduces Somatic Learning

Jim Oschman,

Dear Friends,

Since I was first introduced to Jim Oschman's work over thirty years ago, he has been an inspiration and one of the few sources of scientific research and theory that went beyond the determinism, materialism, and reductionism of general science at that time.

He is such a pioneer in his field of understanding the bodymind and its intelligence, its capacity for healing and renewal that I recommend to everyone that you read his books and explore the research he's done at depth.

It has been a great privilege to have had the honor to teach with him, and I am so grateful both for the beautiful foreword he recently gave me for my book Awakening Somatic Intelligence as well as this excerpt of an introduction he did for one of our Somatic Learning video series.

Click the links below to easily order Jim's books, and don't forget to pick up your copy of Awakening Somatic Intelligence.

- Risa

**Click here to order your Somatic Meditations DVDs**

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quick Spinal Release from Supine

This week's post is an excerpt from the book Awakening Somatic Intelligence, and its companion video.

Gravity Referencing Scan
Lie with your back flat on your bed. If this feels uncomfortable, raise your knees. But if you can lie flat for a minute, do so. Take a moment to sense what you notice in this position. Where do you not make contact with the ground? What would the imprint look like if you had ink on you? Notice any differences between your right and left sides.

Now shift to a more three-dimensional perception and see if you can feel the shapes; for instance, where you don’t touch the bed or mat. How high do the bridges span over the surface? Could an ant crawl through? A mouse? Or a kitten? How big are those spaces underneath the neck, the lower back, underneath the shoulders, underneath the thighs, and the wrists?

Now sense your weight distribution. Does your weight fall to the bed in clumps? If you were to drop a sack of potatoes on the bed, certain potatoes would be held up by the others, and some would be held directly by the mattress. Do you feel clumpy? Or to what extent is the weight distributed throughout your system fluidly? There may be some places where it is fluidly flowing and others where it is simply sitting there on the bed. Sense where you are held by the tightness of your musculature.

Take a moment to notice your breathing, just to sense what moves when you breathe without trying to do anything. Maybe you feel it in your belly, or your chest. You might try to sense, Where does the movement end? Which ribs move and which do not?
Do you feel it in the lower back, or the arms or neck, or is it contained within the chest and belly? Sense what moves.

Then notice how you are attending to your experience. Are you scanning it from the outside with your mind’s eye—using your visual-perceptual mode? Or can you sense this proprioceptively—meaning through the tissues themselves? And can you sense through the whole structure without focusing on any part, while paying particular attention to specific movements or parts of your structure within the context of the whole? This will reveal whether you have employed your visual perception where it does not serve you best. Using visual perception, you have to track—as though you were moving a scope around you. If you are using your proprioceptive mode of intelligence, you can sense everywhere at once. Because you sense from the tissues themselves, there is no observer, and no object being observed. Notice how you are now sensing this. Do not be concerned if you do not sense everything mentioned here, or if it feels differently inside of you. Listen to what opens now and reveals itself to you. With continual practice your sensing can open infinitely.

Note: While practicing the ground reference scan, refrain from making any mechanical adjustments to your structure unless you are uncomfortable. Otherwise, it will prove more valuable to discover ways of self-organizing from the inside-out during the practice. You need to close the door to mechanical interventions (self-management) to discover a non-mechanical mode of self-renewal. For instance: do not adjust yourself when you notice any bilateral asymmetries. Simply notice them as references to gauge change against later.

Quick Spinal Release:

Set Up:
Lie supine on a firm mattress (you can also do them on carpet, or a mat. If you are using a yoga mat, position the bottom of your torso two feet from the bottom of the mat, legs on the floor.) Position yourself on ground where outstretched arms can comfortably, with a gentle grip, above your head, hold onto a post or legs of a piece of furniture that will not move; or if in bed- use your bed board (often, even if your bed board is solid, you can squeeze your fingertips beneath the frame just below the top of your mattress line). If there are corner posts on your bed, you can lie on a diagonal. Lastly, in the worst case, if you have no bed board at all, you can use the upper edge of your mattress to grip with your fingertips with your arms still resting on the mattress. However, if you do not have firm support from your mattress, we do not recommend that you do this in bed.

Do Not Strain: If it is uncomfortable to rest the arms on the ground (meaning mat or bed) or if they cannot touch the ground—place a pillow under your elbows to provide support. It is important not to leave the arm hanging unsupported or feeling strained.            

Practicing: The Quick Spinal Release

When you bend your knees so that the feet are standing, the lower back rests on the mattress or floor. This practice supports you in releasing your spine so that even with the legs extended, the lower back rests on the ground.

From the ground reference scan, bend and lift one knee, as if it was a marionette hanging off a string, passively, placing your foot with your lower leg as close to perpendicular to the ground as comfortable, aligned with your hip. As you slowly pour the weight of your leg through your foot into the ground, especially through the heel, feel the support ripple up through your spine, all the way out your crown.

Resting your lower back into the ground begin your exhalation from the floor of your pelvis, using the snake breathing, (making the “hissing sound.”like a snake, placing the tip of your tongue on the upper palate while exhaling, especially in the beginning of your practice.) Often people will hold their breath and use it as leverage to push from, without realizing it. When your exhalation is accompanied by a sound, you will notice when the sounds stops. The snake breathing also helps you bring the breath back along the spine. (For more info see Snake Breathing in chapter 6.)

Do not try to push the surface of your back into the ground, but rather deepen the pool of your lower back by becoming more fluid. Enjoy a few elongations in place, gravity surfing on the waves of your breath. As the pelvic floor diaphragm lifts, anchor the sacrum extending the base of the spine toward the feet and the center of the earth. Invite the wave through and beyond your physical structure. As the diaphragms move, space opens and the sacrum anchors naturally. (Review the instructions for gravity surfing in chapter 6 as necessary.)

When you feel ready to move, slowly extend both legs on your exhalation, (heels first, flexing the feet, so the toes point towards the ceiling), while gently drawing the support of your head board or post through your hands and spine. Pour the liquid crystal matrix of your bones down into the ground like salt crystals through an hourglass especially at your elbows, even as you use the resistance of what your holding in your hands, to draw support though your arms and spine. You are extending your spine on the exhalation, anchoring the sacrum towards the ground and through your feet- as one continuous motion. The legs should not feel like appendages attached at the hip but as fluid extensions of the wave traveling omni-directionally: down from the waist and up through the rest of the spine, head and arms. Maintain the connection and flow all the way through, so there is no break. The extension of your spine continues to flow through the extension of your legs.

At the end of the exhalation, as you slowly release the diaphragms, gradually relax all the tension, receiving the support from the ground as it rises up through your bones. Imagine your bones were logs lying in a dry streambed, in which rising water causes them to float. Do not begin the next elongation until you relax the entire surface tension, so that you begin each new elongation fresh, holding onto nothing. In this way, surfing the waves of your breath, gravity can deliver you from density and habitual tensions.

Repeat the quick spinal release a couple of times until you feel the space between each of your vertebrae and joints open. As your tension melts sense your fluid presence like a clear lake, feel the thirsty earth drink you in on each inhalation. As you interpenetrate with the earth, you will come into a much more pervasive extension of presence, that is both relaxed and alert. This alertness does not arise from stimulation and can be as easily taken into a deep restful sleep or into a wakeful attention, according to your needs at the moment.

Bring your arms down to your sides one at a time. While keeping your shoulders down, slide one arm along the mat or mattress till it extends out from the spine at a 90-degree angle (we call this “arms on the horizon”). Moving the arm from the horizon the remainder of the way to your sides represents a new challenge. Keeping the space under your armpits from collapsing necessitates shape shifting through your arm. As if you were gliding your hand down through water, use the resistance of “the fullness of empty space.”to invite space into the structure of your arm. In this way, the energy releasing from your spine on the exhalation, will flow through the open channel of your arm. As the breath flows in, the arms will float gently on the waves of your breath. Then repeat this process to bring your other arm to rest at your side.

When we use resistance to more fully experience the wave of elongation, it feels like what I see when a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis. The way the butterfly presses against the walls to unfold the wings, drawing blood through them. I have been told, that if someone tries to help a butterfly out of the chrysalis, it will never be able to fly and so die. It is in the act of breaking out of the chrysalis that they extend into themselves, and emerge fully into their new life.

I have seen the quick spinal release used very effectively during a human birth. I held the hands of one of my students in this position while she gave birth, and she used the flowing support I offered her to extend her elongation, getting even more out of the way …  so that the baby seemed to emerged without strain.

Pour your bones further into the ground as the soft tissue disorganizes into a more fluid matrix. You may notice as the relaxation deepens with each subsequent breath, how quiet the mind is: relaxed, alert, and extensional. As you rest, repeat a ground reference scan to notice what is changed since you began.

Getting up from a practice without resting at least enough for the system to settle into a new order, meaning that the structure has self-organized to functionally integrate the new space you’ve invented and discovered, is a little like preparing the soil, planting the seeds and leaving before harvest. You lose what you gained too quickly, rather than coming into a new integration.

This is why it is so helpful and efficient to do before sleep as you will be naturally resting for the remainder of the night. However, even in the morning, you can use the time before rising from bed to extend your presence, to receive the infinite as beloved, drinking in and kissing back—so that when you do rise to start your day, you do so with your energy in alignment with your deepest longing …  to live in love, fully awakened in creative, compassionate and empowered participation with all that is.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

This week: Demian Mckinley, Structural BodyWorker

This week we interview Demian Mckinley, a teacher of yoga, somatics, and structural bodywork therapies in Hawaii:

"Though Dr. Kaparo’s work is still new to me, I almost immediately recognized her work as a missing link between the physical and spiritual.  She has been the only one who has guided me into an understanding of how these two aspects, physical and spiritual, interpenetrate and are one and the same. She then gives a map to explore it as a real practical experience, not just philosophy. Because the path to her understanding was entirely experiential, she has been outside any spiritual system, which showed me how the spiritual is inherent in nature, not something born of eastern or western spiritual or religious traditions.   This knowledge almost immediately switched my inquiry away from looking for the “spiritual” or being on a path, to having an appreciation and direct experience of the vast beauty that I am composed of, and the incredible intelligence that is the foundation of my being. I have been able to relax and trust the process of awakening for the first time, not as something to figure out, but as something to rest in and savor.  This understanding has allowed my potential and talents to be actualized much quicker, and has accelerated my authentic creative process."

Demian Mckinley

What do you think of the relationship between your embodiment and spirituality?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Science backs claims that Yoga changes brain chemistry, reduces anxiety, and improves mood

Dear Readers,

I just came across this article on the power of Yoga to change mood and alleviate anxiety published in the The Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) supplementation has long been used to treat anxiety and mood disorders, but a 12-week study lead by Chris C. Streeter of the Boston University School of Medicine and colleagues has demonstrated significant increases in thalamus GABA levels in subjects after doing Yoga, as well as decreases in anxiety and improvements in mood.  GABA has long been regarded as one of the primary "feel-good" chemicals in our brains.

The study compared similar metabolically matched 60 minute sessions of either walking or yoga, 3 times a week, with the subjects performing yoga reporting better moods and more reduced anxiety levels than their walking counterparts.  The findings were corroborated by magnetic resonance spectroscopy scans.

This is the first mainline study proving a direct correlation between yoga and increased GABA levels, and is huge leap forward towards validating claims of therapeutic intervention via mind-body methods like yoga.

Chris C. Streeter, Theodore H. Whitfield, Liz Owen, Tasha Rein, Surya K. Karri, Aleksandra Yakhkind, Ruth Perlmutter, Andrew Prescot, Perry F. Renshaw, Domenic A. Ciraulo, and J. Eric Jensen. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. November 2010, 16(11): 1145-1152. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0007.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quick Spinal Release - Part 3

Quick Spinal Release - Part 3

Opening the Heart:

The arms serve as an anchor to hold open the portal of the heart you opened drinking in the horizon. You will extend your presence along the horizontal dimension now, carrying or expressing into the world (through your arms), the energy flowing through the heart and central vertical channel (through the spine, head and legs).

There is a release of energy when the wave moves through the thoracic spine, making space between vertebrae. When you drink in the energy through your arms, the space in the armpits opens, floating the arms freely in space. As you channel it down through the elbows, wrists and fingers, the energy will flow unobstructed through both the horizontal and vertical channels. The arms will elongate, opening the joints, lengthening the muscles. Thus, the arms will hang more like pendulums rather than at foreshortened angles due to habitual tension.

Without this unobstructed flow, the space between the vertebrae that emerged in the wave of elongation will collapse back in on itself. It is this collapsing of the energy that densifies the structure. When the energy is able to flow unobstructed, the structure sheds its density.

Instructions: Right Arm
On the wave of your next breath, extend your presence through your right arm as described above. As the elongation moves down your arm, maintain the space in the armpit. Savor this for several breaths.

What did you notice as a result of this practice?

Does your right arm feel different than your left? What about the throat? Can you sense a difference between the right and left sides? If you make an open throated sound like an “A,” do you sense a difference in vibration from one side to another? Does your right eye and ear feel more open than your left? Does it feel lit up, like a monitor came on?

Left Arm: Repeat channeling the wave through the left arm. Then integrate both arms.

What did you notice as a result of this practice?

Do you will feel more openness in your chest? less density in your upper back? more energy flowing through your arms and hands?

Variation: Using Weights

Instruction: Placing a light weight (1–3 lbs) in each hand, repeat the elongation. The weight can vivify the anchoring through the hands, to help you sense the elongation along the entire length of the arm. If you have ever seen a salt-water taffy machine, you may remember how the weight at the bottom lengthens the taffy.

Now without the weights, repeat the elongation imagining invisible weights in your hands.

This series' was excerpted from the book, Awakening Somatic Intelligence by Dr. Risa Kaparo. (North Atlantic Books, 2012).

Videos were filmed by Richard Quinn

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quick Spinal Release - Part Two

Quick Spinal Release Part Two
Breathing & Spinal Elongation

Practice Suggestions: Begin with Calling through the Horizon Practices. (See last week’s video post – Part One)

 To find Neutral Position in Standing please see standing practices in chapter 9 of Awakening Somatic Intelligence. (

Instructions: Leave the mouth closed with the jaw relaxed. Imagine for a moment that you had a bellows extending from the floor of your pelvis to the base of your skull.

Exhalation: Now empty the bellows without tensing the muscles of your back, especially activating the pelvic diaphragm at the floor of the pelvis. Do not strain to push all the air out using pressure—just let the bellows empty as fully as possible without straining.

Inhalation: Then slowly relax and feel how the bellows fills up with air on its own- without straining to suck air in through your nostrils. Gradually relax the diaphragms and any muscular tension that you find to receive the breath more fully. Repeat several times- emptying the bellows and letting the breath come to you without effort.

Now place your hands over your kidneys at the base of your rib cage in back. As you exhale follow the movement of the bellows closing with your hands, empting out from your sides at the level of your kidneys. Again, when you come to be empty, relax and slowly let the breath come to you. Do this several times until you feel your lungs empty smoothly and gently from the base all the way to the top.

Now combine both the vertical and horizontal flows to feel yourself rhythmically emptying from all directions and filling out into all directions effortlessly. Allow the exhalation to be more active and the inhalation to be more passive.

How can you assess your practice?
Do you feel more freedom and aliveness?
e.g. is your breathing fuller or deeper?
Does more of your structure move with your breath?
Do you feel more relaxed and more alert at the same time?
Is your mind quieting down?

Quick Spinal Release: Standing

This is an extension of the spinal elongation that utilizes the flexing of the knees to amplify the omnidirectional wave going through the spine. We will anchor the wave through the arms as well.

Quick reference: take a moment to bend your knees slightly as you regularly would to have as a baseline for later comparison. As always, make sure you do not strain yourself. Do not overdo. (Bigger is not better!)

Notice: where does your weight fall in your foot? How much weight is in your knees? Does your body go down when you bend and up when you straighten your knees?

From a neutral standing position, imagine that you are being held up from a string attached to the top of your head that does not let your head go down as your knees bend. Your spine will elongate to make the extra space needed to bend the knees.

Exhaling—initiate the emptying from the pelvic floor (see instruction on restoring natural deep breathing.) As the sacrum anchors, slowly soften the knees so they bend naturally, but only slightly.

By anchoring, I mean, extending your presence beyond your structure as you sense gravity pull you toward the center of the earth. Sense the anchors as portals, opening you, to an immediately apprehendable felt/sense of your connection to both heaven and earth, and all that is.

Notice that your weight does not go into your knees- but transfers through them- and goes down through your heels. Inhaling- relax everything completely and sense the breath coming to you as your relax your diaphragms—let the bellows open on its own—as you rest with your knees slightly bent.

Now slowly extend (straighten) your knees while you sense the force of gravity anchoring you. Even though these instructions are given sequentially ultimately you will practice them all at once. Initially, you can try one quick spinal release (through a sequence of two exhalations and two inhalations which constitutes one knee bend as you are both bending and extending the knee on one exhalation each.) Focus on each of the anchors to ground them.

1.     Anchoring of your sacrum—amplifying the wave up the spine. The anchoring of the sacrum will pull the lower couple of lumbar vertebrae downward, while the upper two lumbar vertebrae will ride the wave releasing the spine upwards. Thus, the center of the omnidirectional wave occurs around the waistline. Anchor the base of your skull (occiput and jaw)—amplifying the wave up through the head. Rather than the head bobbing like one ball over the spine, finding the subtle anchor of the skull, engenders movement throughout the cranium. Thus the 22 bones of the face and skull can gently open like the petals of a lotus flower.
2.     Anchor through your heels—amplifying the wave through the legs and the base of the spine. This enables us as bipeds to enjoy a connection to the ground through our spine, similar to quadrupeds. All 28 bones of the foot elongate and root into the ground like a tree. The heel sends a large taproot, while the other bones grow a finer lace of roots, deeper and deeper into the earth.

Inhaling—relax everything completely and sense the breath coming to you as you relax your diaphragms—let the bellows open on their own.

Now sense the omnidirectional wave through the spine as a whole, while you repeat the quick spinal release. While the primary wave moves vertically, from the waist down and from the waist up, you can sense the convergence of these waves moving omnidirectionally through all parts.

How Can You Assess Your Practice?

At this point, you may feel your spine elongating in both the bending and extending of your knees.

Do you feel more freedom and aliveness? Generally when our knees are bent our lower back relaxes and extends. With this practice, we learn how to elongate our spine, so that even in an extended knee position—the lower back remains open.

Note: This is essentially the same as the Quick Spinal Release from supine position that appeared in the bedtime practices. The difference is the change in your relationship to the gravitation field from lying to standing.

The practice vivifies the reciprocal relationship between your knees and your lower back. If your lower back remains open- the knees cannot lock no matter how much you extend them. Conversely, if you compress your lower back, your knees will lock or bare weight. This is why anchoring down from your sacrum is so important. It holds your lower back open.

This series' was excerpted from the book, Awakening Somatic Intelligence by Dr. Risa Kaparo. (North Atlantic Books, 2012).

Videos were filmed by Richard Quinn

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Calling through the Horizon from Standing Position

Calling through the Horizon from Standing Position
Receiving through the Eyes
Duration: Two minutes
To feel greater freedom and aliveness by inviting more space into our structure.
Look through a window with an open view of the horizon. Or you can just imagine the horizon in front of you as far as you can see. Imagine the horizon coming to you, through your eyes and through the back of your head. Let the horizon in front of you connect with the horizon behind you. Keep your gaze relaxed, without trying to focus your eyes on any- thing. The eyes act as a lens, but the seeing is occurring from the visual cortex, at the back of the head.
If you are finding this a challenge, try it with your eyes closed. Now open your eyes slowly as though you were opening the shutters on a cam- era and just letting in the light.
How can you assess your practice? If you measure yourself against an image of how you think you should look from the outside, you will start compensationally adjusting and thereby perpetuate the violence inherent in this disassociated orientation. It will prove more valuable to sense from the inside.
Do you feel greater freedom, e.g., does the head feel less fixed or held? Do you feel greater aliveness, e.g., more energy, more flow, more connection? You may feel like your head is floating—like a bobble-head doll. You might even notice a change in the position of your head without trying to adjust it muscularly.

Receiving through the Navel
Bring the horizon through your center—just below your navel and out the other side.
Try cupping a hand and placing it on your lower back. Sense the energy overflowing your hand. Now remove your hand but keep sensing the energy flowing through—you can invent an imaginary partner that helps you, and their support can be as real as your imagination is vivid. Another way to think of this exercise is to imagine an ocean in front of you, and you are drawing it through your navel, as if drinking it in through a straw.
Assessing your practice
Do you feel greater freedom, e.g., does the sacrum gently release when you bring the horizon through your center? Do you feel greater aliveness? You may feel like your pelvis is floating on top of your legs.
You might even notice a change in the curvature of your spine or less tension in your legs, back, neck, shoulders.
Receiving through the Heart
Drink in the horizon from as far as you can imagine behind you as it enters through your thoracic spine (at the level of your ribs) and over- flows through your heart and lungs, pouring out your chest wall and kissing back the infinite. Savor the spaciousness you presence by sensing the omni-directional convergence of inexhaustible emptiness and luminosity in embodied mindfulness.

This series' was excerpted from the book, Awakening Somatic Intelligence by Dr. Risa Kaparo. (North Atlantic Books, 2012).

Videos were filmed by Richard Quinn

Friday, May 18, 2012

Loving what is...

I spent today enjoying the beauty of Mount Tamalpais, just north of the city of San Francisco.  This week, I wanted to share with you a reverie on how loving what we love grows us into the fullest expression of ourselves.  This is the heart of Somatic Learning ® - how gratefulness expresses itself in our fruitfulness. There is no act of will necessary to grow into what we yearn to become.  This is our flowering of our longing into loving, as a plant’s yearning for the light shapes its growth, whether we need to relax out of a stress response or dissolve a pattern of tension that has lived in us as chronic pain.

By opening ourselves to loving what is, we begin to engage the self-sensing, self-organizing, and self-renewing capacities of the natural wisdom of our Somatic Intelligence.

Also!  I want to invite you to send your questions, as I will begin answering one of them every week.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A little love letter to yourself...

On my last trip to the big island of Hawaii, I stayed in a wonderful space akin to a tree house, and woke up each morning to the sound of the birds at sunrise.  Each time I would listen to their jubilant song, I felt an overflowing sense of gratefulness.  I want to play a recording we made of them to share with you now...

As you listen to the bird songs for the next few minutes, see what happens when you relax the doing, and open yourself to let the sound play through you.  What happens when you stop doing and begin savoring?  You can experiment practicing with your eyes open or closed, and see what difference it makes when you open them.  If you find you lose the sense of spaciousness in the looking, close your eyes again and invite the horizon through them, then slowly open them again.

What if  we could receive everything as such a gift?  Would we not ride the waves of joy and interest throughout our days?

You can replay this whenever you want to enjoy a moment of somatic meditation.  If you download it onto your phone, it can serve as an invitation to presence spaciousness even between small breaks, like between emails or phone calls, like a little lover letter you send to remember when you get busy, that this very moment the universe is offering itself to you as a gift.


Click here to download the bird songs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nothing to do, nothing to fix.

I’ve just returned from Hawaii – a place where the mild climate, soft breezes, moist air and unmatched natural beauty remind us of what a magnificent gift it is to be alive, receiving all of this beauty and splendor.  But even on the islands, there are times when the nervous system reverts to habits of tension and will then pressurize the situation - not intentionally, but out of fear and subconscious beliefs.

This is one of the reasons I feel so grateful for my practice, which allows me to sense these habits at play and see them without identifying with a story and perpetuating shame scripts by making it about me.

It becomes very simple: awareness itself is self-correcting.  It stops feeding the habits, and without trying to fix anything a course correction is made.  Simply by ceasing what takes me out of a sense of connection, the connection once again becomes obvious.

There is nothing to do, nothing to fix.  The beauty inherent in this moment naturally reveals itself, and we are renewed in the receiving.  What a gift!