Here’s a thought-in-process you might find useful:
Your fascia is your past. Your fluids are your immediate present. Your nervous system is your future.
Of course, all of these tissues are present now, so this is more like Metaphorical Anatomy. Let me expound.
Your connective tissue body, as much as any division of reality is actually a thing, is what’s been created by your past: every nook and cranny of experience happening to, by and through you.
Think of it as one of those slime trails left by a slug, an echo of where you were and who you’ve been. It’s called Wolff’s Law in bones, and Davis’ Law for connective tissue, but the premise is the same: what you’ve done, you are.
As one of my teachers, Tom Myers, said in our recent interview on The Body Awake, fascia is the tissue of our beliefs. It’s the firmness, rootedness, “I believe this to be true because these things happened, or didn’t” nature of us.
In a movement practice, this is “working with the body you’ve got.”
And it is always, of course, in process. (Alternately, we might say, it *is* a process.)
Or as David Whyte said much more simply and beautifully
We shape our self
to fit this world
and by the world
are shaped again.
The fluids of the body — and there are many — are differentiated largely due to fascial membranes. Within these structures — lymphatic ducts, veins and arteries, interstitial spaces — flow our life waters.
Why fluids as present?
Our hormones — the endocrine system — are the currency of these pathways.
And if you’ve ever experienced depression, or an orgasm, or taken LSD or even drank a cup of coffee, you know the power of a change in an almost unimaginably small amount of hormones.
Those are all in-the-moment, and only in-the-moment, experiences. Once the hormonal balances shift again, you are suddenly (or not so suddenly, depending) having a very different experience.
Consider, too, the fluid-like verbiage of emotion and sensation, often used as a tool to anchor into presence. Swelling, falling, shrinking, warming, pain surging, the rushing of desire, anger rising, an inner breeze cooling … all “-ings,” all happening now. (This borrowed almost verbatim from my most recent The Body Awake interview with Susan Harper.)
In a movement practice, this is the breath, and the acceptance if not embrace of what is occurring, in real time, now.
Of course the nervous system does a bajillion things (so does fascia and so do fluids), but considering the lens of time, most of the nervous system’s function has an element of the future, of prediction.
We know already the process of thought has an element of “not here”-ness to it. Right? Not even like that’s a bad thing. But the very act of thinking about something that just happened means … of course … it’s not happening anymore.
“So Liam, that’s the past, and you said fascia was the past,” you say. You cheeky devil, you!
Well, a) you’re right, and b) consider that any pontification of the past only makes sense to a thinking mind if that same mind believes there’s something to be gained. None of us would dwell on what just happened if we didn’t think there was something in it for us — however misguided that belief can be.
To build something that’s not been built, it must first be imagined. (Or created spontaneously, but that’s of course different than “I am going to build X, and X hasn’t been built before,” which is a very real thing one can do.)
This kind of scanning the past for help with prediction happens unconsciously all the time. That’s another bajillion things, like you having an aversion to a smell, a sound, this person or that sport, all more or less beneath the radar.
(One good thing to know is that we are passed, and we will pass if we bear children, these cravings and aversions between generations, i.e. you’ll likely have nonsensical likes and dislikes that your grandparents had even if you never met or knew anything about them.)
This is, of course, also one way of framing trauma, of what has happened holding the steering wheel of the thing that tries to predict what will happen. Bang = bomb. Man = danger. Alone = death.
In a movement practice, this is visualization, intention setting, the “cut and paste” nature of our perception that can take something that hasn’t happened yet, visualize it as though it has, and depending on how this aspect is playing with all the others, it might happen.
(One little side note here, consider that movie The Secret, where they’re essentially suggesting you anchor “future you” into “present you” by anchoring the thought of what you want into the fluids, i.e. the feeling of having it.)
AND SO OUR WHEELS TURN
I’ll close this by re-emphasizing that this is but imagery, metaphor with its roots in truth as best as I know it. Your nervous system exists in isolation about as much as the leaves of a tree exist independent of the branches, trunk and roots … not to mention the soil, the sun and the pollinators.
Helpful? Infuriating? I’d love to hear if you care to share.
With love, LB