~The Paradigm Shift~

It's all Emergent

  • Introductory video
  • A Paradigm Shift in Health and Medicine: From Machine to Music
  • What is this Project All About?
  • An Index of the Paradigm Shift: Key Ideas
  • The Need for a Revolution in Health and Medicine
  • From Machine to Music: Listening & Attunement for Health and Wellbeing
  • You Are Not Broken - You Do Not Need "Fixing!" We are Dynamic Quantum Systems Stuck in Rigid Dualities - We Need to be Set Free!
  • The Embodied Mind and the "Inner Teacher"
  • Overview of Other Pages
  • Sources

It is all simpler than you think, while more complex than you can understand."

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A Paradigm Shift in Health and Medicine: From Machine to Music

"Concepts which have proved useful for ordinary things easily assume so great an authority over us, that we forget their terrestrial origin and accept them as unalterable facts. They then become labeled as 'conceptual necessities', a priori situations, etc. The road of scientific progress is frequently blocked for long periods by such errors. It is therefore not just an idle game to exercise our ability to analyze familiar concepts, and to demonstrate the conditions on which their justification and usefulness depend. In this way, they are deprived of their excessive authority."

~Albert Einstein~


"Out of damp and gloomy days, out of solitude, out of loveless words directed at us, conclusions grow up in us like fungus: one morning they are there, we know not how, and they gaze upon us, morose and gray. Woe to the thinker who is not the gardener but only the soil of the plants that grow in him!"

~Friedrich Nietzsche~


"The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."

~Daniel Boorstin~
(former librarian to Congress)

The life and mind sciences (inclusive of biology, physiology, medicine, psychology, neuroscience, anatomy, cognitive science, ecology, evolutionary theory, botany, etc.) are currently in the midst of a dramatic paradigm shift. This entails radical (Latin radix, i.e. "root") changes in how we understand, experience, perceive, and study "reality," "life," "mind/cognition," "the body," "consciousness," etc. Similar paradigm shifts in the past include the shift from assuming the Earth is the center of the solar system and universe (geocentric cosmology) to learning that the Sun is the center of the solar system (heliocentric cosmology); and the shift from assuming that the Earth is flat to realizing it is spherical.

The current shift in the life-mind sciences involves a similar de-centering and expanding of perspective. Rather than assuming that the forms of cognition unique to modern civilizational humans (especially forms characterized by white, patriarchal, physicalist-materialist, and industrialized commodity-economic values and cultures) should serve as the standard or exemplary cases of intelligence, sentience, cognition, and cultural organization, this emerging paradigm radically and comprehensively undermines modern anthropocentrism and humbly engages human inquiry and experience as one element of an infinitely-diversified yet functionally-unified complex of cosmic mind-consciousness events (see, e.g., Theise & Kafatos, [2016] - source below). As John Dewey -- one of the pioneers of the American school of ecological psychology, neuropragmatism, embodied cognition, and autopoietic biology -- says, the entire universe is "a unity of interrelated members...an organic unity, not a mere self-identical oneness...a unity of activity, a dynamic process." (Leibniz's New Essays Concerning Human Understanding, p. 415)

What is this Project All About?

This website is a creative extension and application of my doctoral research, which critically synthesized evidence and insights from a wide range of life and mind sciences, including autopoietic biology; embodied cognition; the neurophysiology of trauma and emotional regulation; mindfulness studies; neuroquantology; neuroscience; cognitive science; clinical psychology; polyvagal theory; ecological psychology; neurophenomenology; process ontology; complexity theory; and socio-enactivist approaches to cognition, among others. Given the extensive hyper-specialization characteristic of scientific, medical, and clinical research and practice today, I believe it is imperative that experts and lay persons alike learn to make substantive connections across various fields and disciplines -- especially when it comes to health and wellbeing.

Animating this paradigm shift is the core idea of the deep continuity of life-mind. In simplistic form, this means that "where there is life, there is mind." This new paradigm totally jettisons the modern dualistic ontology that divides mind from body, which posits two separate, independent realms of "mental mind" and "physical body." An abundance of evidence (see the selected list of resources on the Bibliography page) from dozens of scientific, clinical, and medical fields now shows emphatically that there is no such duality: everything is mind. In other words, there is not mind and body somehow joined or integrated by a mysterious connection. Rather, everything in our being and existence constitutes, and is a functional process of, mind/cognition defined as the total complex of functionally-integrated biophysiochemical-neurophysiological-ecological processes that create and sustain the manifest world in which we live, move, and have our being. What the modern paradigm mistakenly and naively calls "physical body" actually refers to specific functions of mind, and what the modern paradigm calls "mental mind" is likewise a specific level/type/function/dimension of mind. All levels, aspects, and functions of mind find material expression in the tangible features of our world, which are the manifest expression of those patterns, sequences, and creative functions of mind. As Humberto Maturana says:

matter...is the creation of the spirit (the mode of existence of the observer in a domain of discourse), and the spirit is the creation of the matter it creates. This is not a paradox, but it is the expression of our existence in a domain of cognition in which the content of cognition is cognition itself." (Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living (1980, p. xviii)

Those familiar with this research might think that I'm presenting some form of idealism, phenomenalism, mentalism, or non-physicalism. This is understandable (given I am still using the language/terminology of the old paradigm), but inaccurate. In a paradigm shift of such extent, virtually all relevant terms, concepts, and methodologies of scientific research and theory must be redefined (and some simply jettisoned) in favor of new concepts, methods, and frameworks (see, e.g., the Einstein quote at the top of the page). As this paradigm shift is ongoing and the new picture is still emerging, I decided to try my hand at presenting an accessible way to understand the most important -- i.e. practically relevant -- aspects of this major shift in understanding life-mind-cognition-health.

On the other pages of the website, I summarize and synthesize a handful of key ideas that, I hope, present this research in such a way as to enable each of us -- in our own unique ways and contingent situations -- to better understand ourselves as the infinitely complex quantum-analog cognitive systems we are. More specifically, I highlight the practical implications of this new paradigm for health and wellness, specifying and emphasizing that one of the central and most exciting lessons of this new paradigm is that we possess profound capacities and abilities to self-heal, collectively heal and naturally heal from some of the most intractable and widespread health issues of our day (namely, the global pandemic of chronic depression, anxiety, and related dis-eases that are mistakenly categorized as "mental disorders" treatable by synthetic pharmaceutical drugs; see below for more detail). 

We now have extensive empirical evidence detailing the many amazing ways we can self-heal (and, when aligning ourselves with others also doing this, relationally and collectively heal) from a wide range of chronic symptoms that currently plague contemporary humans and society. With even a basic understanding of our nervous system and the endocannabinoid system, we can learn to engage, enhance, and extend these abilities with simple practices that anyone can integrate into their lives in a wide range of adaptive ways. To present this picture, I integrate insights from the following fields of study and experience:

  • The Polyvagal Theory of the vagus nerve and neurophysiological regulation
  • embodied cognition and contemplative somatic exercises
  • endocannabinology: the endocannabinoid system is our primary harm-reduction system and homeodynamic regulatory system, fundamentally essential for the health of all other neurological and physiological systems and processes. It's the most extensive and most important physio-cognitive system you've never heard of! (And, sadly, most doctors have not learned about this vitally important system.)
  • artistic and mindful principles and practices, especially "contemplative listening" to the inherent intelligence of our embodied minds engaged as somatic symphonies

By framing all these complex, dynamic, and interdependent phenomena in terms of music, sound, singing/playing, and tuning, I hope to make accessible and practical some of the remarkable insights from these varied fields of research and clinical practice. In a nutshell, the idea is this:

Just as a musical instrument needs regular tuning to resonate harmoniously, so do we need "tuning" to sustain an optimal state of functioning in our bodily systems. What our excessively-pathologizing modern paradigm calls "mental disorders" or "mental illness" (i.e., depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, mood swings, insomnia, etc.) are more accurately understood as symptoms of an underlying neurophysiological dysregulation within our nervous systems, the endocannabinoid system, and by extension any number of other physiological systems and functions whose own health and balance relies on those regulatory systems to be properly resourced and "tuned" (i.e. "regulated").

The global pandemic of chronic depression-anxiety is primarily reflective of a profoundly dysregulated sociocultural ecology. As social beings and ecological creatures, we attune to the qualities of energy surrounding and sustaining us at all times. Contemporary civilizational culture is an extensively traumatized, threatening, and dysregulated social condition, so it is understandable and natural that we would come to adopt a sustained defensive-protective posture toward this world. While temporarily adaptive, remaining in such a state too long is what constitutes trauma. To re-tune (i.e. emotionally regulate) our systems, we need a "reference tone/pitch" for how living systems naturally function. The natural quiet and sound of unpolluted acoustic ecologies can support and enable us to re-connect with the intelligence and emergent healing inherent in our bodies, or what I call our "somatic symphonies." When made to feel safe, our somatic minds will naturally and spontaneously self-heal, or regulate, back into the functional coherence that is health as harmonious energy flow.

Musical instruments need regular tuning simply due to the vicissitudes of life and playing. Whether the result of frequent playing and/or changes in environment (e.g., variations in temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, etc.) while transporting, storing, and handling an instrument, all musical instruments (aside from digital/electronic, which reveals a crucial difference between digital systems and analog-quantum systems such as ourselves as living systems, which involve nothing dualistic/binary in the manner of digital systems/computers, etc.) require adjustments to resonate harmoniously and play in tune.

As living systems, we are very similar in this sense: our body-mind systems require regular "tuning" and upkeep to function at their best, which is to say resonate harmoniously (see below for how we can understand health as a condition of harmonious resonance among our various neurophysiological systems/functions). This is especially true today, as we live in one of the most chaotic, dysregulated, and rapidly changing socioeconomic-ecological situations in all of human history! Nobody can be realistically expected to remain in an optimally "tuned"/healthy/regulated state without at least some intentional care and support of our many, complex, dynamic bodily systems.

Research has demonstrated, thoroughly and extensively, that all living phenomena (and all manifest/explicate order [see David Bohm] phenomena for that matter [pun intended], but I'm not going to delve into process-ontologically emergent quantum field/systems theory here) must be understood primarily in terms of systems or ecologies. Modern American liberalism has it exactly backwards, in this sense. Classic liberalism views society to be the result of a set of independent individuals intentionally coming together and agreeing to create some form of "social contract," and these shared agreements and the collective organization and coherence following from this willful meeting of otherwise individual people is the society created by those pre-existing individuals. But all our best sciences (from physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, ecology, evolutionary theory, etc.) show the opposite: the field/system/ecology/network is primary, and what we abstractly name "individuals" or "parts" of such systems are secondary or derived, and functionally only make sense in reference to their emergence from one or more encompassing systems/ecologies.

This field/social-primacy view is easily seen in a cursory glance at humans. There isn't a single case in human history of a human baby being dropped by itself in the middle of a forest and surviving and growing into a fully mature, healthy, long-living adult. In the very few cases where young humans have been raised by wild animals, they were not newborn babies, and besides, these cases merely prove the exception, not the rule, which is that humans are constitutively social beings who are thoroughly dependent on caretakers for the initial many years of our lives, long before we develop any sense of individual, self-aware, reflective consciousness. All I'm trying to say here is: our social ecology/system is our primary, initial, and forever all-encompassing environment that allows and/or disallows the development of individuality. Indeed, the very concept and phenomenon of individuality is constitutively defined by/in reference to a surrounding ecological niche, system, or field.

This has profound implications for understanding "mental" health (and all other aspects of human existence, really). In modern and contemporary civilizational culture, we have been conditioned to believe that if someone suffers from depression and/or anxiety, it is their problem. The medical establishment largely still views and pathologizes depression/anxiety as an individual issue, reducible to and explainable by faulty brain chemistry. But from a systems/ecological perspective, what we call "depression" and "anxiety" are actually the symptomatic manifestation of a larger social-systemic-ecological dysregulation, in which an individual exists and to which an individual is structurally-coupled, or "attuned" (see Maturana and Varela, 1980, Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living).

Ecological-Relational Trauma: The Social Water in Which We Swim

We have to acknowledge that human beings are a traumatized species."
Stephen Porges, Ph.D.

To understand what is happening today, I claim that we must take this perspective more seriously. The reality is that a majority of people in civilizational-industrial societies are chronically depressed and/or anxious. A few years before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the World Health Organization reported that depression and anxiety are now the globally-leading causes of health disturbances, outstripping cancer and heart disease. And, studies have shown that during the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety among Americans have more than quadrupled. This scale and extent of chronic depressive symptoms has never before occurred in human history. But why? Because humans somehow evolved fundamentally deficient, faulty brain chemistry? To me, that is a sad and baseless hypothesis. Rather, we must look at our surrounding environs, our social ecology. The "depression" and "anxiety" plaguing so many people from thousands of distinct communities and cultures around the planet are symptomatic of our collective condition, which is profoundly dysregulated, unsettling, unsafe, uncertain, unpredictable, and chaotic on so many levels. Today, we have abundant neurophysiological, biological, ecological, psychological, biochemical, and clinical evidence showing that symptoms of "depression" and "anxiety" are the manifestations of underlying neurophysiological dysregulation, and that such dysregulation is a direct result of unhealthy, unsafe, dysregulated social-ecological conditions, which are inextricably tied to and partially creative of our individual physiologies and health.

Thankfully, many other psychological, psychiatric, and neuroscientific experts are realizing this, too. As Stephen Porges, Ph.D., creator of the Polyvagal Theory of the vagus nerve (the clinical-theoretical-empirical cornerstone of the contemporary revolution in understanding and treating trauma), explained in an online webinar:

Our society is a society that's under chronic threat. And society shapes individuals because the physiological state of individuals are now threat-oriented and can't utilize, literally, their evolutionarily-given privilege of co-regulating and feeling safe in the arms of another." - Stephen Porges, Ph.D.

Here is another example: Dr. Stephen Ilardi -- a clinical psychologist with expertise in depression -- discusses this in his TED Talk -- "Depression is a Disease of Civilization." As Dr. Ilardi says,

I believe 'depression' is one of the most tragically misunderstood words in the entire English language."

An Index of the Paradigm Shift: Key Ideas

There is no easy way to comprehensively summarize the total set of relevant changes in this paradigm shift, but here are a few key elements:

    1. Mind is not inside our heads -- we are inside mind.
    2. Mind, cognition, consciousness and intelligence do not require a brain, nor a nervous system, nor even cells. All living systems are cognitive systems. (Where "living system," i.e. an organism, is defined as a process-ontologically emergent complex of trans-spatial, diachronic functions spontaneously organized stabilized in a condition of far-from-thermodynamic equilibrium so as to manifest an autopoietic-metabolic ecologically-sensitive functional coherence which is self-recursively structurally-coupled to the other functionally-integrated organizations of energy flow constituting such a system's environmental/ecological niche.)
    3. Mind and cognition are characteristically embodied. Concerning the mind sciences, the "mind-body duality" (i.e., mind = mental; body = physical) is as naïve and obsolete as the flat earth theory in geology.
    4. Life and mind are of a piece: where there is life, there is mind. Living systems are cognitive systems, inclusive of everything from acellular slime molds to the entire Earth as a unified, process-ontologically emergent autopoietic planetary ecosystem (in other words, an organism).
    5. Mind-cognition (and all related phenomena such as perception, communication, behavior-action, etc.) cannot be understood via input-output informational computer-machine models that assume mentality functions like digital-binary computer systems. Digital computers and machines operate dualistically, e.g. in binary code (1's and 0's). Nothing about living systems is dualistic nor binaristic. We are quantumly-emergent analog story-ecologies characterized primarily and ultimately as functional qualities of complex, self-organizing, trans-spatial and multidimensional creative activities. Or, as Joy Harjo says, "Each human is a complex, contradictory story. Some stories within us have been unfolding for years, others are trembling with fresh life as they peek above the horizon. Each is a zigzag of emotional design and ancestral architecture. All the stories in the earth's mind are connected." (from Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings).
    6. There is no "most intelligent" species of life on Earth, any more than there is a "most woody" species of tree. There are various types of wood, with unique qualities and characteristics, which are each adapted to their ecological niche and which can be used for different purposes. To say that humans are more intelligent than coyotes, for instance (because we have more brain cells and more complex nervous systems), is like saying that redwoods are more woody than maples because they are bigger and have more needles than maples have leaves. This is a dubious criterion for determining degrees of "woodiness," just as it is dubious to normatively rank forms of intelligence based on the complexity of an organism's neurophysiological structure. All types of trees are woody, and all forms of life are intelligent. There are simply qualitative and functional variations of wood and intelligence.

    The Need for a Revolution in Health and Medicine
    Besides an exercise in theoretical curiosity, learning about this paradigm shift has massive implications for understanding health and medicine on all levels of life -- individually, collectively, ecologically, globally. A few years ago, the World Health Organization reported that chronic depression and anxiety are now the globally-leading causes of disability, outstripping rates of cancer and heart disease. And, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety among adults and children have more than quadrupled in many civilized populations. This is a remarkable situation that must be confronted directly and honestly. As Joy Harjo says, "Let us not shame our eyes for seeing; instead, thank them for their bravery." The reality is that a majority of people in the civilized world are chronically depressed and anxious. This is a relatively very recent phenomenon, and has never before occurred in human history; not on this scale, at least. 
    Regardless of explanatory story, I think most everyone can agree that our world is a mess. In the past few years, I've rarely encountered a person who is deeply and sustainably regulated energetically (i.e., "emotionally" and "physically" - scare quotes because even though we separate these concepts terminologically, they are not separate ontologically-neurophysiologically). And, sadly, traditional psychotherapies and folk-psychological advice often don't support people in generating thorough, lasting health and wellbeing. Likewise, synthetic pharmaceutical drugs have proved to be woefully inadequate in deeply and sustainably redressing depression, anxiety, and related symptoms arising from chronic neurophysiological dysregulation. For example, Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D., writes in a Psychology Today article "It's Time for Psychology to Lead, Not Follow"...
    The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), under the direction of Tom Insel, made the assumption that mental health problems are "brain disease" and neurobiology would unlock the cure for all manner of mental and emotional suffering. NIMH bet the farm and failed spectacularly."
    So, what do we really need? Well, that's what this whole website is about. In the other sections of this website, I weave together a handful of insights, modalities, theories, stories, poetry and practices that have rarely been integrated. I've endeavored to dance between theory and practice in such a way as to make accessible and practical a wide range of remarkable insights, developments, and advancements in the interrelated fields of psychology, therapy, medicine, health, ecology, mindfulness and communication, among many others.
    If there is a core idea animating this whole project, it is this:
    Rather than relying on "single-molecule, single-target" synthetic drugs as a primary means of addressing disease, we need to expand our perspective of health and wellbeing to the entire planetary ecosystem and re-establish the continuities among, across, and between all levels and forms of life. We need holistic, collective healing, because for living systems, conditions of holistic connection and integration are health, while conditions of separation, fragmentation, opposition, and battle are dis-ease. When the functional integration of a living system is disrupted, a "wounding" (i.e. trauma) results. Today, our collective condition is extensively traumatized. To heal ourselves is simultaneously to heal one another, our communities, cultures, ecosystems, and the planet as a whole. And we do this by restoring the connections within ourselves, to Earth, and to one another that were severed by the various traumas/woundings we have endured.

    From Machine to Music: Listening & Attunement for Health & Wellbeing
    Throughout this project, I use the metaphor of music to reveal how health and disease can be fruitfully understood as being "in tune" or "out of tune," much like a musical instrument can be tuned harmoniously or dissonantly. The term "health" derives from the Old English hælþ, meaning "wholeness; being whole, sound or well." But "wholeness" here is not merely a matter of physical intactness. An amputee, for instance, may be perfectly healthy, while millions of people who are physically intact are nonetheless chronically ill. Health as wholeness refers primarily to a dynamically functional condition, wherein all our body's systems are working smoothly and effectively, individually and in relation to one another. There is a holistic functional coherence among all aspects of our being.
    The framework of process ontological autopoiesis helps us understand what this really means, theoretically and practically speaking. In a nutshell, it means this: health is a condition in which all bodily systems are engaged in a sustainable, harmonious, rhythmic oscillation along a spectrum of more and less tensional activity (or, along a dynamic spectrum of excitation--relaxation). Too much or too little "tension," or nervous system activation, is unhealthy over time. And, remaining in a condition of too much or too little activity for too long leads to disease (literally, our systems become dis-eased). Just like a musical instrument, our systems must be "tuned" proportionally in order to resonate/vibrate harmoniously-healthfully. There must be some tension (activity, engagement, etc.), but not too much. This is what allows musical instruments to produce a resonant, harmonious, pleasing sound. It is enjoyable to hear such sounds because rhythmic harmony is quite literally the acoustic manifestation of a condition of health, neurophysiologically speaking.
    Recent advances in the life and mind sciences -- especially the neurobiology and neurophysiology of trauma and emotional regulation -- evidence this empirically. This website details the basics of this groundbreaking science to reveal how we can contribute to our wellbeing by thinking of ourselves as musical instruments (or voices) to be properly tuned and played with rhythmic harmony -- within ourselves, in relation to others, and as an organic instrument within the ecological symphony that is planet Earth.
    The modern paradigm of life-mind casts the body as a machine or computer that can be broken, diagnosed and fixed like a car or laptop. Namely, our medical system tends toward a reductionistic analysis/diagnosis that breaks down the whole system into parts and identifies one or more discrete parts as the site of the problem, and attempts to restore the system's function by "targeting" the defective part(s) via top-down, linear control mechanisms. This is what Ethan Russo, MD calls the "single-target, single molecule" paradigm of pharmaceutical drugs: a synthetic drug is created in a lab to "target" a specific, often single part or process in our bodies. The idea is that by "fixing" the defective part, process, organ, tissue, or whatever by directly acting on that part and altering its activity, such a drug will restore health by eliminating the problem at the source.
    While such therapeutic action may have legitimate application in some cases, when it comes to holistic health and what is mis-named "mental health," this reductionistic approach will be limited at best and potentially exacerbating of neurophysiological dis-ease at worst. This is because "mental" health issues like depression and anxiety are not, in principle, reducible to isolated aspects or parts of our being, but are symptoms of a disruption-dysregulation of a complex of neurophysiological processes as an inclusive, holistically-organized integrated functioning. It is precisely the separation, fragmentation, isolation, and disconnection within such a holistic functioning that constitutes the neurophysiological dis-ease that manifests symptomatically as "depression" (too little nervous system activation; i.e. hypoarousal; i.e. tuned "too low") and "anxiety" (too much nervous system activation; i.e. hyperarousal; i.e. tuned "too high"). To move from a condition of dis-ease (dissonance) to ease (harmony/health) is to restore the dynamic, holistic integration of our bodies' complex neurophysiology.
    Dualizing our being into "physical body" and "mental mind" indelibly truncates our ability to self-heal and collectively heal. Machines and computers operate dualistically, humans do not. There is nothing dualistic nor static about our being, yet these assumptions dominated much scientific and medical research and practice throughout the past few hundred years. Every aspect of our existence is in continual, dynamic flux, from the moment we're born to the moment we die. When such fluctuations in our energy flow rhythmically and harmoniously through our whole being, health results. When energy flow/fluctuation becomes dissonant and rhythmically inconsistent, dis-ease results.
    When we conceptualize ourselves not as machines, computers, or programs but rather as somatic symphonies, we can view ourselves not as needing "fixed" but as needing to be tuned from dissonance into harmony. "Regulating" energetically (emotionally/neurophysiologically) is akin to tuning our energy systems back into a dynamic, holistic integration. If there is too much tension in our nervous system (i.e. "anxiety"), we need to "tune down," or down-regulate. If there is too little tension in our nervous system (i.e., "depression"), we need to "tune up," or up-regulate.
    Turns out, this variable balancing ability is the expertise of a little thing called the endocannabinoid system: our body's primary homeodynamic regulatory system. Recent research has shown that ALL neurophysiological systems and functions are at least indirectly regulated and/or modulated by the endocannabinoid system (ECS). With a basic understanding of the roles and functions of the nervous system and ECS, we can tap into our ancient, powerful, innate self-healing abilities. So, rather than first seeking synthetic pharma drugs or surgery for symptom relief (as is typical of contemporary "medical" practice), this new (and old/ancient) paradigm of health first seeks to support and expand our inherent healing powers. At our core, we possess immense healing potential -- the ECS, after all, is 600 million years in development. It knows what it's doing!

    You Are Not Broken - You Do Not Need "Fixing!" We are Dynamic Quantum Systems Stuck in Rigid Dualities - We Need to be Set Free!
    Rather than approaching health and wellness from a deficit or scarcity mindset (e.g., "I am ill/diseased/broken/faulty/deficient, therefore I need fixing or correcting"), this paradigm of emergent health shifts the focus from "what is wrong" to what is right. As G.K. Chesterton proposed in his book What's Wrong with the World?, what's "wrong" is that we're not asking what's right. This is essentially the basis of most contemporary professional medical practice. As David Bearman, MD explained in a recent conference hosted by Pivital | EDU, "medical doctors are experts in disease, not health." Gary Fettke, MD echoes this sentiment:

    Medical education is far and away focused on investigating and treating sickness rather than keeping us healthy. It's reactive rather than preventative. We spend infinitely more time and money treating the sick rather than being rewarded for keeping people healthy." - Dr. Gary Fettke, The Failure of Medical Education
    Rather than viewing the problem purely or even just primarily within, we must expand our perspective to include the many energetic ecologies in which we move and breath daily: sociocultural, political, cultural, familial, educational, historical, ancestral, environmental, global. The global pandemic of depression/anxiety is not reflective of some inherent "flaw" or "fault" or "defect" within humans, as if we are naturally prone to such dis-ease. Rather, our collective sociocultural-political-economic-environmental condition is currently profoundly dis-eased. The entire planet is out of balance! We are part of nature, so of course we would feel this planetary dysregulation within our bodies! (For a related perspective, see Dr. Stephen Ilardi's TED Talk discussing how "Depression is a Disease of Civilization.")

    From Escape to Engagement

    Typically, people try to relieve the symptoms (namely, "depression" and "anxiety") attendant this situation by escape: escape through distraction (mindless scrolling through social media, binge-watching TV, workaholism, serial dating/hookups, virtual reality, shopping, etc.); escape through substances (alcohol and other numbing agents); escape through denial or suppression/repression of our emotional energies. But, as I detail throughout this website, such escapism only exacerbates the feelings from which we are trying to escape! Chronically manifested, this strategy becomes a self-recursively triggering positive feedback loop: this is the neurophysiological process underlying/manifesting as a panic attack.
    Rather than escape or avoidance, this paradigm gently encourages us to engage our somatic sensibilities as the doorway into the wisdom and self-healing inherent in our somatic minds. Our bodies possess immense, even infinite, wisdom -- if we know how to embrace this and hear what our somatic/embodied minds are saying. We shift from seeing ourselves as faulty, broken, deficient, or otherwise inferior, to understanding that we are inherently, intrinsically, naturally enough: we are abundant, strong, powerful, resourceful, adaptive, intelligent, wise, and competent. We are the result of literally billions of years of brilliant co-evolution with the rest of the planetary biosphere. Evolution does not produce inherently flawed, faulty, or incapable forms of life: evolution (or God, the gods, the Divine, the Universe, the spirit world, deities, Consciousness, Brahman, Fundamental Awareness, etc...choose your essentially arbitrary collection of letters to designate whatever the heck is happening on Earth and in this cosmic dimension; see, e.g., Theise & Kafatos, "Fundamental Awareness: A Framework for Integrating Science, Philosophy and Metaphysics," Communicative & Integrative Biology 9, no. 3 (2016)) produces beautiful, brilliant, magical beings capable of miraculous means of surviving and thriving. This is true of humans no less than trees, fungi, whales, butterflies, birds, or turtles (and all other forms of life, for that matter).
    I believe that our collective task today is to re-engage these ancient capacities, competencies, and abilities to jointly self-heal and collectively heal. In the end, healing is precisely the re-integration of previously separated elements within what is naturally and originally an internally-diverse yet functionally unified and dynamically-emergent whole. Earth is an organism, and we are functional components/processes (scientifically speaking) -- or voices/instruments (musically speaking) -- of this planetary being as much as our own hearts are a percussive part of our bodies as somatic symphonies of sensation, sensuality, song, and sentience. To heal is to convert conflicting polarities into complementary partnerships (e.g., yin-yang; female-male; subjective-objective; self-other; individual-collective; ideal-real; precarious-stable; one-many; etc.)
    When we are traumatized, the tempo, rhythm, and tone of our energies become rigid and dissonant. We cannot resonate harmoniously and rhythmically when our neurophysiology is dysregulated. Returning to a regulated, healthy, harmonious flow requires releasing stuck/stored energy from a previously incomplete defensive/survival response. So rather than "fixing" in the sense of "securing in static form" (e.g., when one fixes their gaze on an object), to heal is to be enabled in allowing our powerful, complex, and dynamic energies to flow freely.
    So, from the perspective of the paradigm I promote here, healing and health is a question of creating, re-creating, and sustaining rhythmic harmony of life energies. With just a basic understanding of our nervous systems and the ECS, we can learn to engage and develop our innate healing abilities to create a more harmonious balance within ourselves and throughout our various relationships with other people, animal people, plant people, fungal people, insect people, weather people, and all other forms of sentient intelligence that populate this planetary organism we call Earth.

    The Embodied Mind and the "Inner Teacher"
    This paradigm of deep life-mind continuity and embodied cognition enables an approach to health and intelligence that understands how our greatest teacher and healer is ourselves, if we learn how to connect with the wisdom of the somatic mind. The crucial matter is being supported in connecting with the extensive and direct wisdom that inheres in our being -- your experience is the expert! Nobody -- no doctor, expert, therapist, guide, coach, parent, colleague, partner, guru, teacher, or mentor -- can know you the way you can know yourself, given sufficient time and the conditions necessary to develop direct self-knowledge of your existence in this bodily form of life. Accessing and developing this knowledge is an endless process: anyone who claims to be straightforwardly "enlightened" or to have "arrived" is just fooling themselves and whoever is naïve enough to follow them. Of course we can learn things from others! But there are elements of your unique conscious-sentient existence that can only be felt/understood/known by you, in direct relation/experience with the natural world from which we were birthed and into which we will reintegrate when we pass into another form of life beyond our tangible bodies. As Sherri Mitchell (Weh'na Ha'Mu' Kwasset) says:

      The primary role of an external teacher is to empower your relationship with your inner teacher. Your inner teacher is the all-knowing part of you that is connected to the Creator and the entire creation. In order to find our inner teacher, we have to stop running and start being comfortable with the silence within us. It is in this silence that we learn to hear the small, still voice that is often drowned out by all the noise and distractions in our life. It is only in the quiet and stillness that we find the guidance that we need." (from Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change)

    The challenge for contemporary humans is that in many civilizational cultures, we are taught to ignore, deny, neglect, or denigrate our somatic sensibilities (bodily experiences) and emotional energies. We have been conditioned to think that emotion makes us irrational, that emotions are untrustworthy and a liability for serious thought, and that our embodied experience must be abstracted away from, if we are to think "objectively" and "logically." This perspective is, quite ironically, irrational! (I discuss this more on the Embodied Cognition page.) Direct experience and now abundant scientific, empirical evidence reveals that well over 90% of our cognitive experiencing is embodied-somatic: it is emotional, affective, sensuous, tangible, non-conceptual, non-linear, spontaneous/emergent, imaginative, feminine, aesthetic, ineffable, and qualitative.
    To uncover, expand, and be guided by the innate self-healing wisdom of our bodies, we must engage rather than escape from our somatic sensibilities. So much of modern medical treatment is satisfied with merely reducing or numbing symptoms -- but these symptoms are the concrete cues our body sends us when something deeper needs our attention. Imagine if we took the same approach with the vehicles we drive. Let's say your car starts making a disconcerting noise. Would you be satisfied if your mechanic simply installed a device to cover up the noise so you didn't hear it? Or do you want the mechanic to find the underlying cause of the noise and make the changes necessary to eliminate the cause of that noise?
    In like manner, when we experience the myriad symptoms associated with depressive and anxious states, we must look for the underlying cause of these symptoms rather than merely cover them up, numb/reduce them, or repress/deny them and carry on as if everything is okay. We now have abundant scientific, empirical, and clinical evidence revealing the neurophysiology underlying depression and anxiety. And the sum result of this picture is that to resolve the condition of neurophysiological dysregulation that underlies such states of nervous system dis-ease, we must learn to listen inwardly, hear/understand, and carefully, compassionately, and creatively respond to the somatic signals our bodies are sending us when in distress.
    While simple in concept, this can be a very complex, non-linear, and sensitive process in practice. That's why I've created this website and also offer (for those local to northern New Mexico) individual sessions in trauma-informed yoga therapy, which I call Somatic Attunement™ . To "re-tune" our somatic symphonies from dissonance to harmony-health, we often need the supportive guidance of those who deeply understand the dynamic complexities of neurophysiological dysregulation. There is no formula, no equation, no 10-step process to move linearly from dysregulation to regulation. But when we are supported in opening to our inherent self-healing/self-regulating capacities, we will naturally and spontaneously navigate this path with the ancient adeptness built into our amazingly complex, intelligent, and adaptive systems.
    Overview of Other Pages
      ***Please note: there is much more to say about all of this, so please explore these pages carefully and fully so that the whole picture may cohere. Virtually everything I have included is relatively simplistic, so know that I am fully aware that there is more to the picture. There is always more.***

      This site has two main elements:

    • First, there are the "Topic 101" pages on the landing page. On these pages, I provide relatively detailed discussions of the key theories and neurobiophysiological systems relevant to questions of health, healing, and medicine as they are understood in the new paradigm of life-mind. These are basically introductory, "101" crash courses in these areas (e.g., the polyvagal theory, the endocannabinoid system, embodied cognition, etc.).

    1. Second, there is a blog section (Mind Musings) where I will discuss in more depth, specificity, and/or practical application the broader ideas surveyed in the other pages. Here, I hope to weave together these various ideas and perspectives to create a holistic picture that reveals how all these elements fit together like a puzzle -- or, a better analogy might be how the pieces fit together like the many life forms comprising a forest ecology. I.e., we can identify and name countless specific "things" in a forest (trees, plants, fungi, animals, insects, water, weather, geology, atmosphere, etc.), but we can also understand how a forest as a total ecology/integrated system is simply that: a unified organization of systems, processes, and dynamics that cohere in such a way as to yield the phenomenon wherein the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.


    Here is a brief description of the content on the other pages within the Somatic Soundings menu, and some preliminary notes on how they weave together into a tapestry of tangible application. For more detailed discussions, see the blog page, Mind Musings, on which I post elaborations of the ideas developed on the other pages.
    The vagus nerve complex and the nervous system: our nervous system manages (and partially creates) feelings of safety or danger and serves to keep us alive by shifting our various energy and movement systems into a survival response when threatened. Being stuck in such a survival/defensive response for prolonged periods is deeply detrimental to our health.
    The endocannabinoid system: the most ancient and the most extensive neurobiophysiological system in our body, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is our primary regulatory and harm-reduction system. Virtually all other bodily systems and functions are regulated and modulated by the ECS. The ECS is central and fundamental to health: "modulating ECS activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans" (Pacher & Kunos, 2013, p. 1918 -- full source below).
    Embodied mind/cognition: cognition is characteristically embodied. In quantitative terms, 99% of cognition is somatic, meaning non-conceptual, non-linear, qualitative, affective/emotional, aesthetic, emergent, and sensuous. The embodied mind is vastly more efficient and extensive than the reflective-analytic-abstract-conceptual mind (i.e. "higher" cognition), and our holistic cognitive abilities and intelligence are optimized when these two general "levels" or "types" of cognition are substantively integrated and aligned. When we are triggered into a defensive or survival response, however, a functional rift is created within our cognitive processes, and we cannot theel (think+feel) effectively, creatively, constructively, patiently, or compassionately. To heal and to creatively and sustainably address our collective challenges, reconnecting with our somatic minds is of paramount importance.
    Listening and attunement: Due to the pervasively and characteristically non-linear/spontaneous/emergent nature of our being, we cannot directly (i.e. linearly) dictate or control our neurophysiological activity. Healing, therefore, by definition emerges spontaneously, for health just is a condition of spontaneously self-organizing emergent holism. Rather than dictating such a condition within ourselves and with others, we must enable this via dialogue. "Listening" to the harmonics of our energy systems -- and learning to hear what our somatic sensations are "saying" -- is the most direct and effective way to detect dissonance and respond in such a way that we transform dissonance (dis-ease) into harmony (health).
    Social Trauma and the Culture of Excitotoxicity

    Trauma is primarily a sociocultural-political phenomenon, manifest secondarily/derivatively through individuals. The global pandemic of chronic stress-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.

    The Other Pages

    This page provides a brief description of my doctoral research, education, experience and training.
    This page provides information on how you can support the creation of this website and its ongoing development.

    This page contains bibliographies and lists of resources I have referenced in the other pages, as well as many other resources to explore for yourself if you want further information on anything I've discussed.

↓ Click the button below for the main page with links to all the other pages ↓

  • Bapteste, Eric, and John Dupré. 2013. "Towards a Processual Microbial Ontology." Biology & Philosophy 28 (2): 379-404. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10539-012-9350-2.
  • Bateson, Gregory. 1979. Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. New York, NY: E. P. Dutton.
  • Bateson, Gregory. 1987. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.
  • Bohm, David. 1994.Thought as a System. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Bohm, David. 2002. Wholeness and the Implicate Order. New York, NY: Routledge Classics.
  • Bohm, David, and B. J. Hiley. 1993. The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Bohm, David, and F. David Peat. 1987. Science, Order and Creativity: A Dramatic New Look at the Creative Roots of Science and Life. Toronto, ON: Bantam.
  • Brocklesby, John. 2004. "Reconnecting Biology, Social Relations and Epistemology - a Systemic Appreciation of Autopoietic Theory." International Journal of General Systems 33 (6): 655-71. https://doi.org/10.1080/03081070410001728080.
  • Campbell, Richard. 2015. The Metaphysics of Emergence. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Carsetti, A., ed. Causality, Meaningful Complexity and Embodied Cognition. New York, NY: Springer, 2010.  
  • Damiano, Luisa. 2012. "Co-Emergences in Life and Science: A Double Proposal for Biological Emergentism." Synthese 185 (2): 273-94. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-010-9725-3.
  • Dupré, John. 2014. Processes of Life: Essays in the Philosophy of Biology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Nicholson, Daniel J., and John Dupré, eds. 2018. Everything Flows: Toward a Processural Philosophy of Biology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Harjo, Joy. 2017. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems. Reprint. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
  • Heras-Escribano, Manuel, and Paulo De Jesus. 2018. "Biosemiotics, the Extended Synthesis, and Ecological Information: Making Sense of the Organism-Environment Relation at the Cognitive Level." Biosemiotics 11 (2): 245-62.
  • Horst, Steven. 2007. Beyond Reduction: Philosophy of Mind and Post-Reductionist Philosophy of Science. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Kelso, J. A. Scott. 1995. Dynamic Patterns: The Self-Organization of Brain and Behavior. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Kuhn, Thomas. 1996. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Third. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Kuhn, Thomas. 1977. The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. 1999. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. 2003. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Maturana, Humberto R., and Francisco J Varela. 1980. Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living. Boston, MA: D. Reidel.
  • Maturana, Humberto R., and Francisco J. Varela. 1992. The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding. Revised. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
  • Mayer, Emeran. 2018. The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health. Reprint. New York: Harper Wave.  
  • Mitchell, Sherri. 2018. Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change. North Atlantic Books.
  • Nicholson, Daniel J. 2018. "Reconceptualizing the Organism: From Complex Machine to Flowing Stream." In Everything Flows: Towards a Processural Philosophy of Biology, edited by Daniel J. Nicholson and John Dupré, 139-66. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Pacher, Pal, and George Kunos. 2013. "Modulating the Endocannabinoid System in Human Health and Disease - Successes and Failures." The FEBS Journal 280: 1918-43.
  • Rockwell, W. Teed. 2014. "How Computational Neuroscience Revealed That the Pragmatists Were Right." In Neuroscience, Neurophilosophy and Pragmatism: Brains at Work with the World, edited by Tibor Solymosi and John R. Shook, 57-70. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Solymosi, Tibor, and John R Shook, eds. 2014. Neuroscience, Neurophilosophy and Pragmatism: Brains at Work with the World. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Solymosi, Tibor, and John R. Shook. 2013. "Neuropragmatism: A Neurophilosophical Manifesto." European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy V (1): 212-34.
  • Theise, Neil D., and Menas C. Kafatos. 2016. "Fundamental Awareness: A Framework for Integrating Science, Philosophy and Metaphysics." Communicative & Integrative Biology 9 (3): e1155010 (1-19).
  • Thompson, David L. 2014. "The Self as an Evolved Organism That Lives in a Pragmatically Defined World." In Pragmatist Neurophilosophy: American Philosophy and the Brain, edited by John R. Shook and Tibor Solymosi, 203-22. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Thompson, Evan. 2007. Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Uexkull, Jakob von. 2010. A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: With a Theory of Meaning. Translated by Joseph D. O'Neil. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Vernon, David, Robert Lowe, Serge Thill, and Tom Ziemke. 2015. "Embodied Cognition and Circular Causality: On the Role of Constitutive Autonomy in the Reciprocal Coupling of Perception and Action." Frontiers in Psychology 6 (October).
  • Weil, Andrew. 2000. Spontaneous Healing: How to Discover and Embrace Your Body's Natural Ability to Maintain and Heal Itself. Ballantine Books.
  • Witherington, David C. 2011. "Taking Emergence Seriously: The Centrality of Circular Causality for Dynamic Systems Approaches to Development." Human Development 54 (2): 66-92.
  • ---. 2017. "The Explanatory Significance of Wholes: How Exclusive Reliance on Antecedent-Consequent Models of Explanation Undermines the Study of Persons." New Ideas in Psychology 44 (Journal Article): 14-20.
  • Yan, Qing. 2018. Psychoneuroimmunology: Systems Biology Approaches to Mind-Body Medicine. Springer.
  • Ziemke, Tom. 2016. "The Body of Knowledge: On the Role of the Living Body in Grounding Embodied Cognition." Biosystems 148 (October): 4-11.

*For all sources referenced for this project, see the Resources and Bibliography page.

jQuery Tlačítko na začiatok by William from Wpromotions.eu