Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2018 >Daily Dispatch #311

November 7, 2018: Future Somatics to-do-list

I am on the Poetry Foundation Poem a Day List. Most days I’m too busy to read the poems, but today the title of this poem leapt out at me. Somatics, by Jen Hofer, this is what I have been studying so intently these past few weeks. Defined in the book that I’ve been reading, The Body has a Mind of its own: How body maps in your brain help you to do (almost everything) better. I found this $2.00 book at Bishop’s Attic thrift store. I do the things that I enjoy doing quite well, so it wasn’t the subtitle that grabbed me. I purchased it because I immediately realized that for me, this was a missing piece of the puzzle I’ve been working on now for three years. I had gained a fairly good understanding of what comprises a nerve, a neural pathway, and neural plasticity. But I did not know how or where the brain processes the information that it receives. The authors of this book answered this question for me.

Somatics, defined, are senses brought to a person by receptors that suffuse the body’s skin and inner tissues, including touch, temperature, pain, position, motion in space (proprioception,) and balance. According to Wikipedia (sigh) the somatic nervous system (SNS or voluntary nervous system) is the part of the peripheral nervous system associated with voluntary movement of the skeletal muscles. The somatic nervous system consists of afferent (think of away from the brain) or sensory

Painting by Jackie Welsch
Painting by Jackie Welsch

nerves or efferent or motor nerves. Somatic experiencing helps people access their bound-up energy and release it in a gradual, titrated way by tracking felt sensations in the body.

It took me a while before I’d internalized the above. For some time I scooted around the term, hoping it would go away. It was like a floaty toy – it kept resurfacing and I kept pushing it back down, into the water. The harder I pushed, the more resistance I felt.

I now understand that I felt this resistance because I had not crossed the science/art divide. It was like one of those rickety suspension bridges, one that was missing a few slats. I chose then, to stay safely on the science side. I do write in my journal, and I use writing to problem solve; however, I did not cross the chasm. Instead, I viewed it from afar, well knowing that Art Young, a man who in further defining the key tenets of writing to learn was ahead of his time, would have encouraged me to put my heart and soul on the line.

This writer did what I did not do, and this sparked considerable envy on my part. The question form gives this poem a speculative feeling that further enables her to make some rather splendid free associations, all of course being related to our somatic senses. This is totally a treatise about the body/mind relationship. As both William James and Carl Georg Lang believe, emotion arises when you perceive changes in your body, hence the questions “what word makes the body?” “What body makes the word?”

Beautiful imagery here – “may I hold your hand? to feel your hand as its actual shape, clothed in its papery useful unequivocal skin, bones stacked like tiny branches, the balance of a bird, joints unlocking, span from thumb to pinky octaving out toward unfamiliar harmonics?” Reading and rereading this stanza brought tears to my eyes.

Tomorrow I am going to write an ode to somatics. Why not?

Next: 312. 11/8/18: Message from Bill

Horse Care Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles