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Somatic Development As Biotechnology

By Sylvain Méret

What is “biotechnology”? Is it the capacity to produce fire, or to sculpt sharp tools, or to have the Internet? What if there was another side of technology? Could we flip the coin and realize that we may be a technology of life itself? Maybe the body is a living, biological technology?

At an early age, I was very uncomfortable with my body; it was a source of discomfort, fear, and sometimes suffering. I could feel so many discordant things. Breathing was never enough. My body didn’t look like my mind wanted it to. My body and I were not good friends.

In my early twenties, I first experienced that bodily sensations could change my relationship to my body for the better, through movement awareness. At the time, I was learning contemporary dance, and I thought this was a revolutionary discovery. I also discovered the Alexander technique of achieving new balance, and the Feldenkrais method of exercise therapy. These methods resonated with my contemporary approach to dance and movement.

I realized that my condition as a human being— being rather disconnected from my body—could change drastically through simple movement explorations and bodily awareness. This felt as important as Einstein’s discovery of relativity, but nobody in my cultural environment was talking about this new way of relating to the human condition.

Twenty-five years later, here in France, there are still only a few people who seem to have realized this new paradigm. A century ago, pioneers like Rudolf Steiner, Rudolf Laban, and F. M. Alexander understood that the rhythms of movement and breath are the foundation for our human experience.

Scientific discoveries have focused on understanding the universe around us, understanding our behaviors, developing technologies to alleviate pain, changing our biochemistry, developing weapons that have the potential for mass destruction, and traveling to the moon. And yet inhabiting our own body has been ignored, like the dry desert soil. This lack of appreciation for the body reveals itself in our general cultural fear of death. Our lack of understanding the experience of embodiment leads us to deny death, the end of our inhabiting this physical self.

Pioneers like Emilie Conrad have created the realm of somatics, the study and the realization that we live together with a body, whether we like it or not. For most of us, living in touch with our body is like living in a foreign land: We are not tuned to our body or sensations, because our focus is to live with an external focus on our existence, which is integrated in the collective cultural attitudes that deny the body. Unfortunately, cultural attitudes dominate and dictate the norm that defines the relationship we have with our bodies, rather than valuing our personal sensory experience of embodied awareness.

Conrad was one of the first to dare to mention the bigger picture to the collective. What if we are heading to an evolutionary wall with our scientific and military technologies? A technology evolves according to its means and functions. How do we upgrade or fine-tune our body technology, which is organized into fluids, tissues, cells, proteins, DNA, and more?

The revolution in somatic approaches, and Continuum specifically, is to flip the coin and look inward to unlock the biotechnologies within Life. We may be part of a hidden gift, not knowing that the technologies for our own evolution are sitting inside of us. What if the biotechnologies may be activated through awareness, sound resonance, cosmic waves, photons, electromagnetic forces, and movements?

Science is starting to take the perspective of somatics into account. Are we ready to move in and inhabit our bodies?