Thursday, January 3, 2013

Gratefulness, the heart of the Somatic Learning practice: Receive the gift of your embodiment.

The following is an excerpt from our November 17th 2012 Somatic Learning workshop:

Brother David Steindl-Rast tells a story of going to visit a family and bringing a gift to a child. The child takes the wrapped gift and very politely says “thank you.” Then carefully opens it and says “thank you” again, then puts it down and goes and plays video games all day. Another day, he visits another family and brings a gift to a child there. That child rips open the package without remembering to say thank you and plays with it all day, finding every possible way to use it. Which child is really grateful?

How do we receive? What is most delicious in any moment that we can lean into, like a swan gliding through water, the full depth of this fluid substance completely supporting it. Giving yourself to what you love and being able to find what you love.  When you have to wait for evidence from the Universe that it’s all going to turn out all right you are in a state of distrust. We are wired/oriented to catch every possible negative threat (from our days on the plains with lions, tigers and bears). Our brain is tuned to negative states because at that time, we had to be aware of all impending dangers or we might not be around another day to enjoy life. Now our stresses are less immediate and longer term, but we are stuck in a stress pattern. This doesn’t serve us any longer.  It is destructive to our immune system, deep thought, creativity, compassion. Instead, lean into riding the waves of joy and interest. These are the only two positive affective states—joy (on a scale to ecstasy) and interest (on a scale to excitement).  When we are in these states, we are functioning optimally.

All other affects—shame, fear, disgust, dismell, etc. take us into bracing and constraint in the system.

Gratefulness—recognize this moment and find how you can receive what’s there. All the efforting and tensing towards a goal, protecting, defending, upholding and bracing will never serve you. Just lift the oars up and the boat will turn around on its own.

Many thanks to Lisa Chipkin for this transcription.


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