This is the homepage of this project I call The Somatic Symphony. There's no easy way to summarize everything this project entails, so just below I've included an introductory video that provides a brief overview of what you can find on the other pages.
Essentially, The Somatic Symphony is a real-time, experimental inquiry into and advancement of the paradigm shift currently occurring in the life-mind sciences and the evolution of life on Earth (the focus of my doctoral research). At the core of this shift is a recycling of the old, obsolete view that divides reality into "mental mind" and "physical body" in favor of an emergent, holistic, heart-based intelligence and embodied cognition that serves to support collective and ecological healing by reestablishing humans' original place within the planetary organism we call Earth: as stewards and servants of all life, rather than dominators, conquerors, and colonizers of life.
There is a global, emergent movement toward this new (yet also ancient) paradigm, which itself is all about how life-mind is a spontaneously emergent and ecological phenomenon! Mind, cognition, and intelligence are not the exclusive properties of human brains and nervous systems, nor even humans and nervous systems at all! Life as such is intelligent. (Yes, even organisms without nervous systems or cells!) At this pivotal moment in human and planetary history, I believe that all forms of life will be optimally benefited to the degree that humans learn to respectfully engage and cooperate with -- rather than fight, battle, combat, or try to control -- the intelligence of all the other forms of life we share this beautiful planet with.
Our Collective Challenge
A curious challenge confronts us. At the very moment we most need to draw on the deep, Earth-based, heart-centered intelligence and wisdom we're all capable of connecting with, most of civilizational-industrial society is cognitively blinkered by our addiction to computers, machines, and so-called "smart" gadgets. While impressive in its own right, today's digital technology nonetheless doesn't come remotely close to the literal quantum intelligence that inheres in each of our body-minds and through our cultural organization as a profoundly social species. Sadly, most people have no clue how extensive and powerful is the potential of this innate, embodied cognition.
I believe that one of the primary factors in this limiting of our potential intelligence is the global pandemic of trauma, which severs our relationships with the Earth, with ourselves as Earth, and with one another. Depression and anxiety are now the leading causes of health disturbance worldwide, even more than cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and COVID. And, contrary to the now-obsolete modern view of mind-cognition, depression and anxiety are not "mental illnesses:" they are the symptoms of an underlying neurophysiological dysregulation which is "trauma." This is our collective condition; everyone, at some point in life and in some way, is traumatized. As the world-renowned neurophysiologist Stephen Porges, Ph.D. says, "We have to acknowledge that human beings are a traumatized species."
But wait, there's more!
The good news is that we have evolved remarkable abilities to naturally and emergently self-heal and relationally heal, even from the most seemingly intractable traumas. To suture the wounds plaguing our hearts-bodies-minds-spirits, our cultures, and the countless natural ecologies harmed by the relentless industrial exploitation of our Earth mother's precious life resources, we need not resort to synthetic drugs, digital devices, computer technologies, or machines of any sort. Instead, the openings of this worldwide wounding present the opportunity to reach deep into the heart of an embodied, Earth-based intelligence, wisdom, and healing power that slumbers within everyone, no matter how long forgotten this power is.
Recovering, cultivating, and extending this innate healing power and cosmic intelligence is what this project is all about. Drawing from my doctoral research in embodied cognition, quantum neurophilosophy, process autopoietic biology, and decolonial/social justice education, as well as from extensive experience in mind-body healing modalities such as trauma-informed yoga therapy, I endeavor to build a bricolage of radically new yet simultaneously ancient perspectives, practices, and potentials that I believe may find fertile soil in the ruptured ground of our collectively displaced, disconnected, and traumatized condition. For in the end, trauma is not a weakness, an illness, or a disability, but a repressed strength waiting to be unleashed. It is a potential praying for actualization. It is a call...not to arms, but to heart. The pain of trauma is the grieving voice of our Earth mother weeping for her human children lost to the vain, vacuous vicissitudes of a civilizational culture addicted to distraction, fear, and war.
We are being called back to Earth. To ourselves. To one another. We are being called to turn away from tiny two dimensional screens, glitchy gadgets, and the false promises of the self-appointed secular priests and savior figures of an industrial, capitalistic commerce economy that sees green only as money and people as mere economic commodities exploitable for the profitable gain of a select few financial elites. Computers and electronic cars will not save us. Nor do we even need to be saved! We need to be healed... and healing is to reconnect with Earth, ourselves AS Earth, and in community grounded by an embodied, Earth-based wisdom. To disconnect from abstract, asocial media and to reconnect with the living, divine, cosmic-yet-earthly intelligence streaming through our veins is to heal. Trauma is the twisting of originally complementary tensions into conflictual tensions. Healing is to reconnect, reunite, and bring back into mutually-supportive balance all those forces turned against one another in service of an unsustainable economic project that has reached its nadir.
This project is my contribution to this healing; to converting conflict into complementarity; to turning bullets into corn; to re-tuning our hearts-minds-spirits-bodies from dissonance to harmony. To helping us hear the somatic symphony that plays long and resonant when we live as voices within the chorus of creation, when we align our energies, efforts, and powers with the grand organismic orchestra that is planet Earth, Gaia, our Earth mother.
To harmonize with others, we must simply learn to listen and respond with gratitude and joy to the organic intelligence manifest in, through, and as all forms of life.
The Earth itself never stops talking out its Big Story, it is the people who stop listening. The Big Story needs the Earth to hear its tale and the people need the story to be on the Earth. But that means we have to have good open ears to listen. The indigenous soul hiding inside us has just such ears."
~ Martín Prechtel, Stealing Benefacio's Roses: A Mayan Epic
Overview of this Website
There is much here....far more than what you typically find on websites and social media these days. This is unavoidable, as this site explores the countless, complex dimensions of human and non-human cognition, mind, sociocultural organization, science, research, trauma, health and healing, evolution, endocannabinology, and related phenomena. None of this can be simplistically reduced to a few flashy talking points or formulated into a 10-step program. Life cannot be respectfully or accurately discussed in a discontinuous series of flippant 280-character posts (looking at you, twitter).
Nonetheless, I understand that many of you reading this endure significant, if not extreme, demands on your time and energy, so you may not be able to read much right now. I hope this doesn't dissuade you from exploring here at some point. As a teaser, here is a summarizing list of the some of the key ideas I discuss and develop through this project:
Cognition, mind-body, and trauma
- all trauma is relational-social-ecological
- "trauma" is getting stuck in an active-but-not-resolved defensive-survival-protective response (thus trauma is not an illness, weakness, or pathology, but a repressed strength and unactualized potential)
- "depression" and "anxiety" are not mental illnesses: they are the symptomatic outgrowths of unresolved trauma
- The social organism of which we are parts, civilizational-industrial culture, is deeply traumatized and dysregulated; the distress we experience is primarily the distress of this social system manifest in/through our individual body-minds
- resolving trauma does not require difficult or convoluted procedures, drugs, or treatments. Resolving trauma is one of the most natural, ordinary things in the world
- Regardless of your opinions on cannabis, you benefit from cannabinoids every day! Your body's primary harm reduction system and regulatory system is the endocannabinoid system, which is an extensive network of naturally-produced cannabinoids, enzymes, receptors, and signaling chemicals that directly or indirectly influence everything else in our body-mind.
- The human body produces its own cannabinoids that mimic the activity of phytocannabinoids (THC and CBD, from the cannabis sativa plant). You are currently full of cannabinoids!
- The endocannabinoid system is 600 million years old and exists in all animals (except insects) on Earth
- There are more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than receptors for all the neurotransmitters combined
- By understanding the functional nature of endocannabinoids, we can quite literally self-heal by making our own medicine within us. Forget expensive, dangerous, synthetic, side-effect riddled corporate pharma drugs...nature has already made the best medicines available to us
- the body is not a machine and the mind is not a computer: biotensegrity replaces biomechanics; and embodied cognition replaces computational model of mind
- the body is "the mind," and vice versa (no such thing as the mind-body "duality")
- all forms of life are intelligent, cognitive systems
- we are literally self-healing via the endocannabinoid system, our primary harm-reduction system and homeostatic regulator (but this is compromised in trauma; and restored via trauma resolution)
Goals of this Project
Summarized simplistically, the goals of this project include:
- Describing and encouraging an approach to "personal-individual" health as a component element of relational-collective health (rather than "individual" healing as in any way separate from social-systemic-structural healing)
- Making (at least somewhat) accessible to a lay audience some of the amazing insights of the paradigm shift in the life-mind-health sciences, while also challenging the dogmatic and obsolete beliefs still held by many credentialed experts who work in these fields
- Inspiring a renewed engagement with and respect for the natural, emergent intelligence that manifests when we understand and experience ourselves as inextricably part of nature, in no way separate from or better than the rest of life on Earth
Overview of this Project and Website
The video below provides an overview of what "The Somatic Symphony" is all about. In this video, I essentially weave together all the main points from the other pages on the website. The "main pages" (links below) discuss all the major components of the paradigm shift in the life-mind-health sciences in detail. On the "blog" section (the "Mind Musings" page), I play with various of the concepts from the main pages and elaborate the basic themes.
The Paradigm Shift: From Dualism to Emergent Holism
The mind-body/mental-physical dualism is out. Emergent holism is in.
From contradiction and conflict to connection and complementarity. A whole new meaning of "survival of the fittest."
The Somatic Symphony
Weaving it all together. From individual isolation to communities and cultures of connection and healing.
Dis-ease = dissonance.
Health = harmony.
The Polyvagal Theory and the Vagus Nerve
Our somatic symphony's protective-defensive-survival system and social engagement system. To be ignorant of the nervous system's power is to suffer; to surf its waves is to somatically soar.
The Endocannabinoid System
Our primary harm-reduction and holodynamic regulatory system. The ECS is among the most ancient, highly-evolved, complex, and pervasive systems in our lives and animal life generally. The neurophysiological basis of our innate self-healing.
Silence and Slowness: The Utmost Importance of Sound and Speed
The unique roles of sound and listening in health, and how qualitative slowness and silence supports healing.
"Silence is not merely the absence of noise, it is the presence of eternity." - Terry Theise
"The times are urgent; let us slow down." - Bayo Akomalafe
Social Trauma and the Culture of Excitotoxicity
Trauma is primarily a sociocultural-relational phenomenon, manifest derivatively through individuals. The global pandemic of chronic anxiety-depression is symptomatic of the profound dis-ease of civilizational culture.
The antidote to this toxic culture of fear and shame is listening to natural quiet as a means of connecting with the inherent wisdom and self-healing capacities of our embodied minds, or somatic symphonies. Nature is the "reference tone" to help us re-learn what it means and what it's like to live grounded in the Earth, as part of Earth.