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The Possibility of Stability

Updated: May 28, 2023

In recent sessions with my somatic coach, I've spent most of our time together just marveling at my own access to stability and neutrality. Although people have always described me as a "calm" person, my internal experience has been rife with conflict and chaos for as long as I can remember. I've spent decades in various loops of obsessions, miseries, fears, and self-surveillance. So, the stability that I have access to right now feels pretty astounding, and, frankly, a little bit suspicious.

Here's what it feels like:

  • I'm spending way less time in my own head. Sometimes that means I'm in my body, sometimes that means I'm present with my environment, sometimes it means I'm connecting to something or someone other than myself, usually it's a combination of these.

  • I am not seeing myself through other people's eyes. I used to walk down the street and make all sorts of assumptions about what other people were thinking about me - this rarely happens anymore. I prefer to hang out with myself, the music in my ears, the sunshine on my face.

  • I don't have as many expectations. I don't expect myself to feel a certain way, I don't expect others to respond or act in a particular way, I rarely try to guess how others might be feeling. I don't find myself trying to force an experience to be anything that it's not.

  • When I notice a familiar pattern come up, I have access to choice. I can pretty quickly ask: does this work for me right now, or do I want to do something differently? and I usually have enough resources to access something else, if I so choose.

  • When difficulty arises, I rarely get caught in the current. I'm able to witness myself in relationship to the challenge, notice what support I might need, and access & receive that support. When I do get caught in a current, I know how to find my way back to shore and I'm less rattled by the experience.

My waves of experience are generally softer and gentler. This one's important, because I think it is often an overlooked and misunderstood side effect of practicing somatic and nervous system work. I initially was drawn to somatic work because I wanted more access to pleasure. From where I stood at the time, I saw pleasure as the other end of the spectrum of sensation; I was familiar with the valleys of depression and numbness, and I wanted access to the peaks of joy and pleasure.

My experience, at least right now, is that pleasure is not necessarily a peak on the opposite end of despair. As my nervous system has slowly moved out of the spikes of survival physiology, and towards the rolling hills of presence and resonance, I'm noticing that there is immense pleasure in the stability, the neutrality, the mundane, the previously dismissed as boring. I still feel deeply, but I am not as easily overwhelmed.

What many folks run into when they begin to even contemplate the possibility of stability is this: there is a particular pleasure in chaos and instability. We don't like to admit it, but the emotional, mental, and sensational terrain of ragged cliffs and canyons can be thrilling. Yes, it might wear on our bodies, and sure, the lows are really low, but those highs! Plus, this is what's familiar! Does stability even exist?

Yes, and.

Life will keep life-ing. There will always be movement, and change, and challenge. Stability isn't inert. Stability is tidal, it shifts with its environment, like a riverbed, gently holding the currents of our lives. I wonder: In the context of this revolution that we're living through, how will this hard-won stability ripple out to those around me? What might I have the time and energy and space to imagine and create? From here, I can sense more possibility, spaciousness, and openness than I ever thought possible.

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