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This post is about how the contours of harshness in our society / culture / family structures are pernicious and pervasive. You can find them everywhere. They even, or especially, come forward when we are looking to relax and move toward restful states of being.
What do I mean by contours of harshness? Think about all the euphemisms there are for working hard. “The only way to move forward is to push through.” Or “No pain, no gain.” Or “Gotta muscle through.” Or “No risk, no reward.” Or “The early bird gets the worm.” Our culture is chock full of these statements which reflect the rat race culture we live in.
I teach Zapchen Somatics – a system of simple exercises for getting back to well-being. There are basic moves for well-being, intermediate moves and advanced moves to well-being. But when I teach these to people (just the basics), I am shocked to discover that they try to push further and do more and more. Or they are most concerned with “doing it right,” rather than enjoying the new sensations or attempting something new in spite of possible “mistakes.” It really requires telling them several times, it truly is a somatic transmission – that sometimes requires hearing it / experiencing it several times.
I have to tell them, less is more. I must emphasize that. Seriously, just doing two or three of the intermediate or advanced techniques is enough. The I Ching, at least the interpretation I work with, also by the founder of Zapchen Somatics – Julie Henderson PhD, says, “better to stick with fullness, some people will encourage you to move to over-flowing, but fullness is just fine.”
And honestly… I feel myself speeding up just writing about this topic… time to create some space… to slow things down… to take some deep breaths… look out at nature… think of people who really support me and make me feel nourished…
This is a culture of extremes and pushing the envelope. If a little bit is good, then more must be better! Nope! The nervous system can only digest so much new information. And somatic information is often novel for most people. It needs to be enjoyable. If it seems like work, we are recapitulating the old patterns. Only do enough for it to be enjoyable. Even if that means I yawn twice and then have to take a nap – perfect!
Each month, I am realizing more and more how Zapchen is a somatic transmission. Being kind to yourself is a somatic transmission. We must work with someone who has done this work themselves. Someone who has spent years practicing compassion with themselves! Then we can get the somatic transmission from them. 🙂
And let me be exacting in my assessment of my own patterns, while on this complicated topic. I am seeing some contours of harshness creep in, even following me to my meditation cushion. When I don’t do “X” number of mantras in a day, I might get a little hard on myself. If I don’t do “X” prostrations daily or every other day, again a little harshness.
I am noticing though that the amount of screen time I log correlates to the amount of buoyancy in my nervous system. The more time I sit out on my porch staring at, listening to the song of the river, the more resiliency there is in my CNS. The more I walk down by its gentle gurgling rapids, the more resources are at my beck and call. It is very subtle, but I am starting to pick up on these things (as I sit here at my computer typing away…).
Therefore I am intending to take 7 – 10 days away from miscellaneous screen time (no youtube, no prime video, no sports highlights, etc) and do an hour of Zapchen to start my day. Zapchen Somatics is almost exclusively designed to playfully, sneakily and gently eradicate harshness to self. Of course it has other benefits, but it is very difficult to be hard on yourself when you are lying in bed yawning (yawning is the first Zapchen exercise and it is extremely beneficial). At least at my stage, having been practicing Zapchen since 2005, and having some transmissions directly from Julie Henderson herself, I am going to be gentle on myself at least with some of its wonderful methods.
Hopefully this feeds me, moves me toward kind motivations, gentle intentions and softer concentration. 🙂
May all beings move toward enjoyment, ease-full abundance and having settled nervous systems which laugh at the mistakes we make because we are human! ❤
Thank you for reading!