The price of busy-ness. If you need a massage, call me. I’m good.

I just encountered this great article, an opinion piece from the New York Times, about busy-ness and thought I’d share my thoughts.

Not only am I a recovering serious person, I’m also a recovering busy person. For several years, I worked full-time and went to graduate school while raising a child as a single mother. In hindsight, that was insane.

This downtime after my last contract job in the technology world ended about six weeks ago has been lovely. I’m recovering from adrenal exhaustion, and then, just when I was starting a running practice that I felt joyful about and ready for, I pulled a calf muscle and have had to lay low for longer while it heals. (It’s healing very nicely, with self-care and other healing hands working on it. Thanks, Brigitte and Pauline!)

The universe is telling me to slow down, and I’m listening. I’ve been letting a lot of stuff slide, trusting that the important things will rise to the top of the list and the rest will get done when and if they get to the top. One day at a time. I’m loving my daily Tarot readings, the cards that influence my awareness and development and trust in the universe. My favorite deck is the Osho Zen deck.

During this period I’ve also attended several trainings in Somatic Experiencing, which is based on the truly great trauma recovery research and writing of Peter Levine. (I’m currently reading In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.) I fell in love with it. The main premise is that trauma deregulates the nervous system (into freeze or fight or flight), and that the body can heal itself, with loving attention and guidance.

I’ve been practicing body awareness as well as writing about grounding, centering, and having boundaries. You can expect more posts along those lines.

I also seem to be developing an organic vision for my bodywork and changework practice that involves more teaching and writing. And—I am available now! Call me if you need a massage. I am really good, my rate is reasonable ($1 per minute), and I give discounts for regular customers and referrals.

Who knew that all this time, throughout the history of the human species with all of its atrocities and traumas, that the secret to trauma recovery was right there all along, being ignored by the mind, which in order to “be civilized” began to believe itself superior to the body?

How cut off are we from our own lives? Have you ever had something like this happen to you?

I recently wrote a friend to ask if he wanted to do something this week, and he answered that he didn’t have a lot of time but if something was going on to let him know and maybe he could ditch work for a few hours. I wanted to clarify that my question had not been a preliminary heads-up to some future invitation; this was the invitation. But his busyness was like some vast churning noise through which he was shouting out at me, and I gave up trying to shout back over it.

Self-importance is a joy killer, and that’s all most busy-ness is, when you get right down to it. If you are swept away in a current of busy-ness, why, then you must be somebody important! Or at least somebody.

It’s the opposite of being here now, of being present and grounded/centered/boundaried/etc. in your own body. It’s dissociation.

Here’s more, about a New York artist who moved to a village in the south of France:

What she had mistakenly assumed was her personality — driven, cranky, anxious and sad — turned out to be a deformative effect of her environment. It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this, any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school — it’s something we collectively force one another to do.

How do we collectively force one another to be too busy to be real? It’s as I suspected:

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

I’m listening, feeling, and letting each day unfold while not losing myself in breathless busy-ness. Isn’t that what summer is for?

The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.

Well, it’s almost noon, and I’m still in bed on this Monday morning, in bed with my laptop, tarot cards, book. Actually, my butt is getting numb, and I feel thirsty. I believe I’ll get up, stretch, drink some green tea, and mosey over to the yoga mat. I hear a down-ward facing dog calling my name.

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A model for experiencing and recovering from trauma: Peter Levine’s story

A few days ago, I finally started reading In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, by Peter A. Levine. This book comes full circle from Waking the Tiger, Levine’s first book, the book that changed my life.

It changed my life by giving me a new understanding of how trauma affects people and how to recover. Trauma is actually stored energetically in the body.

Levine, an ethologist, noticed the shaking that animals who narrowly missed being killed for dinner did, once free of their predators. That shaking allowed them to rejoin the herd not much worse for the wear.

When I read the book in 2002, I was skeptical but open. What Levine said was so different from what any other experts on trauma (psychotherapists) were saying.

One day, feeling exhausted from dealing with difficult emotions and memories, I flopped down on my bed and started to doze off.  The next thing I knew, my body was moving spontaneously, and I knew from having read the description that I was releasing energy blocks from trauma.

In the new book, Levine describes his subjective experience of being hit by a car.

Importantly, he describes PTSD as not an illness but as an injury that can occur from war, rape, sexual abuse, assault, and the like, and also after surgery, serious illnesses, falls, abandonment, receiving shocking or tragic news, witnessing violence, and getting into car accidents. Major shocks to our sense of well-being, in other words.

Some excerpts from his experience:

I can’t figure out what has happened. How did I get here? Out of a swirling fog of confusion and disbelief, a crowd of people rushes toward me. They stop, aghast… Slowly I orient myself and identify the real attacker… A wide-eyed teenager bursts out. She stares at me in dazed horror. In a strange way, I both know and don’t know what has just happened… I sink back into hazy twilight. I find that I am unable to think clearly or to will myself awake from this nightmare.

A man rushes to my side… he announces himself as an off-duty paramedic. When I try to see where the voice is coming from, he sternly orders, “Don’t move your head.” The contradiction between his sharp command and what my body naturally wants — to turn toward his voice — frightens and stuns me into a sort of paralysis. My awareness strangely splits, and I experience an uncanny “dislocation.” It’s as if I’m floating above my body…

…I need to have someone’s comforting gaze, a lifeline to hold onto. But I’m too terrified to move and feel helplessly frozen.

…Finally, I manage to shape my words and speak. My voice is strained and tight. I ask him, both with my hands and words, “Please back off.” He complies.

After a few minutes, a woman unobtrusively inserts herself and quietly sits by my side. “I’m a doctor, a pediatrician,” she says. “Can I be of help?”

Please just stay with me,” I reply. Her simple, kind face seems supportive and calmly concerned. She takes my hand in hers, and I squeeze it. She gently returns the gesture… I feel emotionally held by her encouraging presence. A trembling wave of release moves through me, and I take my first deep breath. Then a jagged shudder of terror passes through my body. Tears are now streaming from my eyes…

I am sucked down by a deep undertow of unfathomable regret. My body continues to shudder. Reality sets in.

In a little while, a softer trembling begins to replace the abrupt shudders. I feel alternating waves of fear and sorrow… I’m afraid of being swallowed up by the sorrow and hold onto the woman’s eyes. Her continued presence sustains me. As I feel less overwhelmed, my fear softens and begins to subside. I feel a flicker of hope, then a rolling wave of fiery rage. My body continues to shake and tremble. It is alternately icy cold and feverishly hot. A burning red fury erupts from deep within my belly.

I hear my shirt ripping. I am startled and again jump to the vantage point of an observer hovering above my sprawling body..The Good Samaritan paramedic reports that my pulse was 170… The paramedics are requesting a full trauma team. Alarm jolts me… As I am lifted into the ambulance, I close my eyes for the first time. A vague scent of the woman’s perfume and the look of her quiet, kind eyes longer. Again, I have that comforting feeling of being held by her presence.

Even though my eyes want to dart around, to survey the unfamiliar and foreboding environment, I consciously direct myself to go inward. I begin to take stock of my body sensations. This active focusing draws my attention to an intense, and uncomfortable, buzzing throughout my body.

…I notice a peculiar sensation in my left arm. I let this sensation come into the foreground of my consciousness and track the arm’s tension as it builds and builds. Gradually, I recognize that the arm wants to flex and move up. As this inner impulse toward movement develops, the back of my hand also wants to rotate. Ever so slightly, I sense it moving toward the left side of my face — as though to protect it against a blow. Suddenly, there passes before my eyes a fleeting image of the window of the beige car… I hear the momentary “chinging” thud of my left shoulder shattering the windshield. Then, unexpectedly, an enveloping sense of relief floods over me. I feel myself coming back into my body. The electric buzzing has retreated…  I have the deeply reassuring sense that I am no longer frozen, that time has started to move forward, that I am awakening from the nightmare

…I feel tremendous relief along with a deep sense of gratitude that my body did not betray me… As I continue to gently tremble, I sense a warm tingling wave along with an inner strength building up from deep within my body.

And it goes on. He gets the ambulance paramedic to tell him his vital signs: heart rate is 74, blood pressure 125/70. Normal. He knows from research that he won’t be getting PTSD.

Thank you, Peter Levine, for providing this fabulous first-person account of the subjective experience of someone who experienced trauma. The body and emotional awareness, the knowledge to tell the paramedic to back off, to receive comfort from the pediatrician, and mostly to allow his body to do what it needed to to — shake and make defensive movements and allow intense emotions to flow — is just brilliant.

I want to be able to witness another’s trauma and not be triggered myself.

What if there is no “normal” to return to after long-term PTSD? Be unfaithful to your sorrows.

I tagged a customer review of a book on Amazon because it moved me and I wanted to track comments on the review. It spoke to me.

(The book is In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness by Peter A. Levine, author of Waking the Tiger, a book that changed my life.)

Fred wrote:

I agree with the comments about this book. I have the book and a couple of his other ones and I learned from them, they were my first knowledge of what trauma could do. I want to make a specific trauma comment and since the author has helped me alot what better place to do it!

At age 60 I am finally and only recently past the terror of early, continuous and prolonged childhood abuse because of the healing work I have done on my own. I recommend books and techniques from Alice Miller, Peter Levine (of course!), David Berceli, Babette Rothschild, EMDR, EFT, PARTS/EGO STATES work, NLP. I am a little leery about unsupervised guided imagery and meditation because they can be so close to dissociation, I sure did.

My comment is that with early abuse in whatever form the child has to create coping and defensive mechanisms to be able to survive mentally. These PARTs then prevent the child from growing naturally like all children should. As an adult these PARTS drew me to abusers and perpetuated actions which continued to retraumatize me. I didn’t know any better.

People who experience trauma as adults can use the techniques the author describes and those listed above to get back to normal. I have come to the awful realization that I have no NORMAL to go back to! My former desires and reasons for living no longer exist. They were based on avoiding reality, lessening the pain and terror, and plowing through dissociation to be able to function. While I don’t have the terror anymore I am still trauma parallyzed (Freeze, surrender) as I have been for most of these 6 decades and I don’t have the NORMAL interests and motivations which would help me get past that. “I” do not exist.

My hope from this review is that this Catch 22 can be added to trauma discussions. I don’t know what can be done to create a resource or if there are even more people like me out there.

I guess a correlary is to emphasize the need to help children who do experience trauma, as early as possible. (Another of the author’s books.)

Fred says there’s no normal to return to because of childhood abuse.

I ask Fred and others who have experienced long-term PTSD who don’t believe they have anything like a “normal” self to return to:

What if “normal” is an illusion? What if there is no normal?

Really, if your trauma began at age 1 or 11 or 21, the “returning to normal” is returning to how you were before the trauma began. What would it look like for a 60-year-old healing trauma victim to return to being a normal one year old? It doesn’t seem to work like that.

Perhaps “normal” is a concept that the mind desires that doesn’t really exist. Even for so-called “normal” people!

If that’s the case, then I say you get to determine what normal means for you.

Maybe normal means being a more present, heart-centered, resourceful person.

Maybe normal means finding what you believe you missed out on: a sense of worthiness, love, inner peace, trust, self-respect, and so on.

Maybe it’s having a strong connection to an enlightened witness. Maybe that enlightened witness is an inner part, Divine Essence, or another person.

Maybe normal is being a valued member of a community and building close relationships.

Maybe normal is being playful and having fun. Maybe it’s setting the boundaries you need to thrive.

Maybe normal is feeling centered in your body and having your energy flow freely, and learning how to return to that state when you become uncentered or blocked.

Maybe it’s wanting to experience the most joy, connection, sanity, and love — both giving and receiving — as you can and having a damn good reason for doing so. Living really well is the best revenge and the best healing you can possibly do.

Imagine that you fully and completely have the experience of being normal. What would that do for you ? Let’s hear it! “Then I’d be…”

And what would that do for you?

Take it as far as you can and enjoy experiencing that staate.

There’s a Zen phrase “unfaithful to my sorrows” that I use on my About me page. To me, it means that no matter what your sorrows are, or how many or deep they are, or how long you’ve had them, there are at least moments when you’re unfaithful to them — times when you forget them and notice something else. A rainbow. Some music. A dream image. A dust bunny. A release of tension.

We tend to believe we’re defined by our sorrows and traumas, but we’re not. We can let these non-sorrow moments become large.

Krishnamurti put it like this:

What can be described is the known, and the freedom from the known can come into being only when there is a dying every day to the known, to the hurts, the flatteries, to all the images you have made, to all your experiences— dying every day so that the brain cells themselves become fresh, young, innocent.

My dear friend Keith Fail says it more simply,

We’re always bigger than we think we are.

A reader shares her awesome trauma releasing experience; another TRE video

I checked my email this morning right before work and saw one saying that someone had posted a blog comment. It was in response to my very first post on the Trauma releasing exercises, posted way back in May of 2010, close to two years ago.

Jen wrote:

Learnt the TRE technique from a friend. After my 4th session (last night) I got up and my body started swaying at the hips, then shoulders went mad, neck went into awesome neck rolls (felt a lot like yoga) and then an intense feeling from the centre of my belly, rolling upwards. Went on for at least an hour before I eventually went to bed to sleep. Just the one hand kept doing a little shake.

This morning on my way to work, my neck started rolling. Once at work I was standing telling my friend about this when my entire body started swaying and all morning (at least the last 4 hours) have been spent with my neck going into involuntary neck rolls, shoulder rolls, back stretches. It has finally stopped, but I am just a bit concerned. What does this mean?

I got really excited reading this! The trauma release process is working for Jen very well. To have this response after only four sessions is excellent. Her body is releasing trauma! To have a release from the hara (belly center) like that is very liberating. Maybe her yoga helped.

When I was first experimenting with the TRE exercises, I remember feeling some fear around the idea of “letting go”. What exactly is being let go of, and if I let go (i.e., lose control), will I get my self-control back?

Then once I started shaking, trembling, rocking, and rolling, I wondered: Would I be able to stop? What if it was embarrassing?

I needn’t have worried.

I responded right away:

It means you are unfreezing and coming alive, Jen! Do it as much as you can when it feels right. Enjoy and know it will eventually slow and become “more voluntary” when you’ve released more of your stress. Awesome to hear from you!

She wrote back:

Wow, thanks for getting back to me so soon – you have put my mind at ease. My friend and I were laughing hysterically this morning as it just wouldn’t stop and then we started getting a little worried that it would NEVER stop. But this afternoon has been fine and when it starts again I will know it is normal and let it out!

Keep well
Jen

I haven’t blogged about the trauma releasing exercises for a long time, but I haven’t forgotten them. Once I learned them and began shaking, the process deepened. I released long-held tensions, especially in my shoulders. Every time I did them was different. I did them frequently for a while.

Sometimes nowadays when I am at Ecstatic Dance Austin or at home, I release tension in my legs and occasionally my arms/shoulders. I don’t think about it too much; if the thought pops into my mind, I never second-guess it. I just allow the release to happen. I’m standing, and my legs are shaking or my arm is writhing — something is moving, for sure.

And when I’ve had enough (again, without thinking about it), I dance (or rather, I do a more intentional dance, becaus release is dance) or go onto the next activity.

I’ve considered doing the training to become a TRE facilitator and may still do that when the time and money come together. For now, I’m happy to answer any questions that readers may have based on my experience and what I’ve seen and read of Berceli’s work.

I’m also happy to watch the exercises on video and do the exercises with anyone who wants to try them and prefers to have an experienced companion. There is something contagious about doing them with someone who already releases. It’s like permission to your body. (And a few people don’t need this; in my experience, it’s helpful to most newbies because releasing goes against the grain of what we’ve been taught, to be “in control” at all times.)

Also, I viewed David Berceli’s 2004 video, Mitchell Jay Rabin’s A Better World presents David Berceli Trauma Release, and I don’t think I posted anything about it.

Berceli tells Rabin the story of how he began developing the exercises, which I’ve read in abbreviated form but had not heard from Berceli before.

He was a Catholic missionary in the Middle East, living in Beirut during a civil war in the late 1970s. He was working with war refugees, and he himself became traumatized.

When he came back to the U.S., he was suffering from PTSD. He went to counseling (the only thing he knew to do) for two years, and at the end he realized he was still suffering very severely from PTSD, but it seemed to be more in his body than in his psyche.

That started him on the journey of exploring what PTSD is, how it affects us as human beings, how it affects the psyche and the body differently, and what healing processes need to occur to effect a complete resolution of trauma recovery.

He learned that the body holds in memory the contractions from trauma as a defensive behavior. He studied bioenergetics, tai chi, yoga, and other modalities, but was seeking a quick, body-based method of trauma release that could be taught in any cultural context to a large number of people even without knowing the language. 

Berceli then worked all over Africa and the Middle East with people traumatized by conflicts and civil wars. He discovered that conflict resolution is useless unless the underlying emotions can be released, that trust is impossible as long as the body holds the memory from trauma.

He worked with 150-200 people at a time, teaching the exercises to create neurogenic tremors and release the terror, anxiety, hurt, and fear of trauma, and then people would feel their bodies letting go of trauma behaviors embedded in their musculature.

Berceli relates the same knowledge that Peter Levine discovered and wrote about in Waking the Tiger, that animals don’t get PTSD because when they get out of danger, they shiver and shake and release the trauma from their bodies.

People tend to stifle the trembling after a trauma, and it remains embedded in the musculature. Berceli developed exercises to target the core muscles deep in the body affected by trauma (the psoas major, which impacts the energetic centers of the root and sacral chakras, the dan tien, the hara). Release of the psoas ripples throughout the body.

I love the psoas. It connects the legs to the torso and is the “fight or flight” muscle. We palpated it in massage school, getting to it through the lower abdomen.

I know that doing the trauma releasing exercises has been instrumental in releasing more trauma and defensive armor from my body. TRE has freed up my body and my dance! And in case of being retraumatized, however slightly, these exercises are good to do again.

There are more good stories on this video, even praise of dance as release, release, release. It’s inspired me to do the TRE exercises more frequently. Who knows what else can be released?

Getting over trauma and moving on with your life: some core questions

I was revising the About Me page of my blog recently, the page where I tell you guys that I’ve mostly recovered from PTSD.

It occurred to me that if I shared a little more about that, it might be very, very useful to someone. PTSD is becoming more common, unfortunately.

What I’m coming to understand now is that it’s not so much what you specifically do to recover, although some ways of healing work better than others.

The bottom line is that you have to want to heal in order to heal. And nothing outside of you can get that wanting for you. It has to come from within, that desire to heal. You begin intending to heal, and healing begins to show up, and from then on, it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. It may be one step forward, 9/10th of a step back, but the spiral has begun.

Others can influence you to expand in that direction, though. For instance, believing it’s possible to heal. Some traumatized people are not in an environment where they hear that message. Sometimes everyone else has been traumatized, and no one has any resources to help. Some people have erected internal defenses that protect them from really hearing that message because suffering has become such a part of their identity that giving it up might leave a frightening void. Who would you be without your story? How can you intend to heal if you don’t believe it’s possible? 

Sometimes just knowing that another person has done it can make it possible for you. I can just encourage you to know that it’s possible to recover, to explore and discover, and use joy and expansion as navigation tools. Use your brain, too. 

What would it take for you to believe that recovering from trauma is possible for you? 

Honeys, so this is the thing about healing from trauma or loss: At some point, you realize that you’ve given enough of your life to suffering about that past event, and you’re still alive and likely have a good number of years left. What do you want for yourself? What do you really want? 

You can ask yourself these key questions:

  • Who would I be if that hadn’t happened to me? For sure, I’d be a lesser person if I had not suffered. At the same time, I grieve because it took me so long to get over it, to even know that I had PTSD and that I even could get over it. I cannot get those lost years of my life back, which makes my life now so much more meaningful. In the years I have left, I intend to make up for the lost time and be as happy and alive and myself as I can be. And, it is worthwhile to imagine your life if you hadn’t been sidetracked by trauma. What would you have gone on to do? I imagine that if I had really had the courage and confidence to develop my skills when I was a young woman, I might have gone to New York and worked in publishing and writing. So…guess what? I’ve worked in publishing and writing not in New York, and blogging was unimaginable back then. In some strange way, experiencing trauma did not derail my life as completely as I thought.
  • What gifts has your suffering brought? Although everyone’s story of suffering is different from mine, I do have a clue about how hard life can be, and it gives me a lot of compassion for people’s suffering, from war, famine, natural disaster, genocide, the many cruelties and tragedies that we all know exist and that some of us have experienced up close and personal — and the way these terrible events can influence beliefs about oneself, one’s fellow humans, and life in general, beliefs that can perpetuate the suffering, sometimes for generations.
  • How has your suffering shaped you? Knowing that one of the worst things that can happen — if you haven’t read About me, the brutal murder of my young sister when I was a child myself at a time when no one knew anything about PTSD — has already happened has helped me to have more courage. I spent years waiting for the other shoe to drop, and then one day I realized it probably never would. And…if it does, guess what? I have experience with trauma and now know so much better how to move through and beyond it.
  • If you choose not to have PTSD, where do you go from there? I recall a day after I had been diagnosed with PTSD, when I realized I didn’t like having it one bit. I actually was pretty clueless about it then. It was like being diagnosed with any incurable condition. I remember thinking to myself in a very surly manner that I want to beat the shit out of PTSD with a baseball bat. I didn’t ask for this, and I don’t want it! The mainstream psychiatric thinking (i.e., Judith Herman, DSM) back then, a mere 10 years ago, was that PTSD was incurable. Once you have it, you always do. Well, a lot has changed — notably, the work of Peter Levine and David Berceli showing that trauma resides in the body and can be released, and brain wave researchers finding signature brain wave patterns for PTSD that can be changed with brainwave optimization. I had to accept that the PTSD was in me, not outside of me, and if I were going to beat the shit out of it, I’d have to beat myself up! And I didn’t want to beat myself up in any way any more — which left me with this option: I’d need to somehow become sane and healthy. I gave up focusing on anyone but myself. I stopped blaming (including myself), and I put my heart and mind and body and spirit into examining and changing and updating my identity and map of reality. Not that that’s ever done and fixed. Now, I’m not immune to trauma. No truly alive person could be because being truly alive means being vulnerable. But I believe I could move through it now and not become stuck there, which is what PTSD is. Stuckness. Developing flexibility is the antidote.
  • What unknown joys await you? Yeah, I know. If you’ve experienced trauma, you may not be able to imagine them now, but they do lie waiting for you to want to experience them. You can just make a space for them now, and sooner or later, they will show up — maybe in your dreams at first, and then in your waking life. For me now, many of my joys are about relating to other people and connecting with them and loving them as deeply and unconditionally as I am able, being appreciated and recognized and accepted for who I am, and being able to use my gifts and talents to be of service in this world.

Serendipitously, a friend just emailed me this Native American quote:

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.

These are just some thoughts I wanted to share with you guys today. I imagine I will have more thoughts on this topic, so please stay tuned. And of course, your feedback and comments are welcome.

What if the human species became really good at recovering from trauma and even preventing it when possible? What kind of world might we live in?

A reader’s experience with shaking medicine

I’m feeling very blessed to have recently had two readers of this blog respond to it in depth, either by sending me a personal email with questions or by leaving a lengthy comment on a post and sharing their experience.

Readers, you are welcome to comment on anything you read that so moves you. You may also email me privately with questions. I love the personal connection.

My theory is, if you take the time to ask your questions or share your comments, there are at least 10 people behind you with questions and comments, and I’d like to share them publicly, disguising your name to preserve your privacy unless you explicitly give me permission to use it. This is one of the great strengths of blogging — the community aspect of it. I’m currently getting about 50 views per day and one or two new subscribers a week. This blog is reaching and speaking to people interested in at least some of the things I blog about — people who want to come back. I’m really tickled about it!

Jose Luis shares his experience with shaking medicine, and his experience is worth sharing in a post

Hi Mary Ann,
just a sharing… Shaking Medicine emerged in my life spontaneously during a series of Holotropic Breathwork workshops I attended years ago…and then 12 years ago, I found Brad Keeney’s work: everything fitted… Brad Keeney’s “The Energy Break” is a nice, friendly-user introduction (you can begin inmediately!). Amazing medicine! Finally I could attend two three-days-gatherings: As-toun-ding! It’s a deep mystery, but this I know: It’s heart medicine, for sure…and it keeps “cooking me”…

“Bushman knowing is inspired by feeling love rather than thinking ideas. The more they feed love – loving the loving in a recursively spun positive feedback loop – the more they amplify its presence and impact on their body. It causes them to tremble and shake, an indication to them that they are awake and in the only state worthy of trustworthy knowing. For them, thinking should serve authentically experienced love rather than the latter being an abstraction for intellectual word play. Bushmen seek to make their “ropes” (a metaphor for relationship) strong. They do so by shooting “arrows” of amplified love into one another. You might be tempted to say that they are “cupid scholars” who hunt for “n/om” (the soulful life force). They work to make themselves “soft” through absurd play and open hearted expression so that the arrows and ropes that enhance relational connectivity may pierce and join. Bushman stories emphasize changes that surprise and trip you into being off guard with any convenient category of understanding. In effect, Bushman knowing is all about letting yourself out of any and all typological grids of abstraction so that the Heraclitean movement of spirited love can dance you into ever shifting relations with life.
***
A group of elder women n/om kxaosi were asked what made them so strong in matters of n/om (Keeney 2010). They replied, “we are this way because of the tears we have wept for the ancestors who have passed on.”  The deepest longing human beings experience often comes from the loss of a loved one. Rather than trying to emotionally get over it, these Bushman elders keep the longing alive, feeding it until it breaks their hearts wide open in an awakened way, bringing them inside a more expansive and intimate relation with their ancestors. In this connection tears flow along a channel that keeps their relationships strong and permits a never-ending expression of love and soulful guidance.

Another intense form of longing is familiar to all lovers who fall deeply in love. In this infinite ocean of Eros we find there is more than simple love. There is loving love. When we become lovers of loving, the ropes are inseparable from us and carry our hearts into the highest realms.”

Nice interview with Brad here:
http://www.futureprimitive.org/2008/05/shaking-up-bradford-keeney-phd/

warm regards
Jose Luis

PS (Peter Levine speaks briefly about the connection between trauma and spirituality at the end of his latest book…in fact he is writing a book about the spiritual experience…)

Thank you, Jose Luis. I took the liberty of making bold some things that popped out at me.

I’m adding Brad Keeney’s The Energy Break to my next book order. I love what he has written about love in the Bushman culture. I’m still reading Shaking Medicine and recently got Shaking Out the Spirits.

I would so love to know about these gatherings! Please email me about these.

Love is embodied experience. It does mean opening to our own softness and letting down our defenses, which once protected us but often become habitual. I thank healer and bodyworker Fran Bell for showing me the difference.

The intent of Bushman storytelling seems very Zen-like.

What you shared about Bushman grief expanding the heart came just in time for me to share with a friend who recently lost her mother and is grieving deeply.

Peter Levine’s latest book, In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, has been highly recommended to me by others as well, and it’s now on my list. His book Waking the Tiger changed my life. One of my friends just got certified in Somatic Experiencing.

Thank you for the link to the interview. Thank you again for sharing.