Autonomy is a wonderfully appealing concept. Who wants King George dictating whence we import our Breakfast Tea? In the context of Rolfing® Structural Integration, autonomy is not-too-shabby an objective either. By this I mean to suggest that we seek a condition in which each part of our being contributes to the whole according to its design—not more, not less. Take a pointer-finger: autonomy of the phalanges is when I don’t have to contort my entire body to lift a finger. Unfortunately, customs of habitual tension determine that many of us move more like blocks of wood than living organisms, with all the subtle diferentiation of a two-by-four. But I met a fellow once who moved with autonomy, gracefully. He must have been a dancer. In any case, I bore witness that it’s possible.
Just as we seek diferentiation of the mechanicals, we also seek autonomy in the psyche. This is to say that cortical tyranny does not strive to dictate the tasks of the lower brain. The brainstem won’t throw a tea-party, but the entire organism will suffer when meddling from conscious thought makes a morbid muddle of autonomic processes.
Try this: stand on one foot, close your eyes, & really try hard to balance. Really hard. Until you start to tremble & perspire with discomfort at the effort.
Observe the precarious consequences of the whole affair.
Then, in a sense, give up.
Surrender authority to the reptilian brain.
Become a spectator.
And watch as the body eases.
The lizard emerges from the subliminal mire.
King George can well preside, but a monarch’s no hand at the smithy. It takes a real reptile to work the bellows.