The body is our main tool for experiencing the world. In a manner of speaking, I feel like I’ve always centered my body in order to navigate my encounters through life. I’m not sure if I chose this centering due to the disconnected feeling from my body I experienced as a child. (Check out S|F Blog for more on this feeling.) An aspect of this centering involves creatively employing my body|mind connection (what I call ‘will’) whether in everyday problem-solving or in artistic endeavors such as writing, painting, or dancing. My main goal here at Sōma|Flourish is to help people see and understand—by example and through interaction and exchange—that maximizing your body’s structure has the potential to improve your sensory appreciation, overall quality of life. This potential flourishing requires willful body movement and attentiveness to the stories that knowingly and unknowingly shape us, including our bodies being the narratives that they are. Another way of saying this is that my goal is toward creative self–fashioning, i.e. “making your life art,” and flourishing in life. Since this process for me is synthesized, I don’t usually break it into components. However, in some form or another, I typically focus on five (5) areas when thinking about my own and others’ questions and concerns.
1 – Centering Circles
Life is ultimately about making sense of the bodies, moments, energies, histories, and memories of which we find ourselves co-creators and stewards. Context, “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed,”* is one key to successfully navigating life. With the body at the center, we move outward and backward through circles both near (‘I’) and far (‘Universe’) as we contextualize, tell our stories that reveal and inspire.
2 – Somatic Narrative (Body Story)
Whether it’s a scar on your knee from falling off of your bike; a missing limb either congenital, from war, or disease; or body size, shape, and color: Every body tells a story. Uncovering a body story is an ongoing process in which we explore various narrative options, including creating a body map, to help a clearer story emerge. A key notion of Somaesthetics is that our sensory awareness and appreciation are improved with attentiveness to our bodies, usually in the form of a somatic practice like yoga, nature walks, tai chi, dance, bodybuilding, and even something as sedentary as writing.
3 – Willpower
“The ability to control your own thoughts and behavior, especially in difficult situations” (Oxford). Willpower is a difficult concept because it requires us to project into the future, whether willing a moment to be over, an ideal career to manifest, or a perfect life into existence. How do you project into the future while staying as present as possible? You turn to your body.
4 – Bad Faith
The existentialist notion of giving up one’s freedom by not choosing, or claiming that someone else is impeding my choice. According to Sartre, “Only a being which was free, and knew that it was free, would go out of its way, as we all sometimes do, to pretend that it was not free.” Freedom is choice and we are always choosing.
5 – Discursive Arsenal (Creativity)
We are constantly being deployed against by levels of power, including other individuals, organizations, corporations, media, and even our own bodies (eating, sleeping, excretory functions). We need a way to navigate the many levels of discourse, even ones of which we are not aware. Discursive Arsenal is a way to acquire, gather, and identify discursive tactics necessary for survival.
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*New Oxford American Dictionary
(c) 2021 Lawrence D. Benson. All rights reserved.