All Notions of Good Posture are Grossly Incomplete and Obsolete

Why are all notions of good posture grossly incomplete and obsolete?

They’re incomplete because they apply to a non-moving position — and life is altogether about movement.  If it isn’t moving, it’s dead.

So, to take “spinal curves”, for example, the lower-back (or lumbar) curve exists to distribute the weights above (chest, shoulders and head) and below (pelvis and legs) for balance.  When you bend over to pick something up, your curve changes.  If it doesn’t change, you’re stiff.  Same with your neck curve.

Balance-in-movement is the overriding “imperative” (or necessary purpose) of all posture; balance is what makes all other actions possible. If you’re out of balance, you’re unstable — and then what happens to you, whichever movement or activity you are involved in?

Your curves change continually, as you move, to maintain easy balance.

This is not to say that there’s no such thing as too much or too little curvature in the spine. There are such things — but they can’t be corrected in any lasting way by adjustments or by holding on to “good posture”.  Adjustments don’t last and holding on to good posture doesn’t lend itself to good movement.  You can’t go through life holding on to “good posture”; as soon as your attention goes to something else, you forget about posture. So, that approach is entirely impractical.

That’s why notions of “good posture” are obsolete.

What’s the alternative?

Good movement.  Good movement takes care of good posture, automatically.

Improving Movement (“Muscle”) Memory

Good movement isn’t something that you maintain by moment to moment discipline, by efforts to maintain good movement.  That’s no more practical than holding on to “good posture”.  Good movement is “good movement memory” — done automatically and fine-tuned by the movements of the moment.

How do you develop good movement memory?  You develop it the same way as you develop any other memory:  repeated experience until the memory forms.  It’s a temporary discipline.

It’s also a discipline that few undertake.  With movement, as with most other activities, most people stop developing with the minimum learning needed to get by, just as with handwriting, cooking — and walking.

Next time you’re out in public, watch people walk.  How few are a pleasure to watch!  Many people lumber; some plod; some bounce; many lean to one side or come down heavier on one side than the other — or come down heavy on each side, as they walk.  So many are ungainly — and it isn’t genetic; it’s movement memory.

Few efforts to improve movement memory work.  Most involve stretching and strengthening.  Just try stretching or strengthening any other kind of memory and see how far you get, changing it.

To be fair, let’s look at each:  stretching and strengthening.


Stretching muscles generally involves pitting one muscle group against another — even the muscles of one person against the muscles of another (as in assisted stretching, massage, or professional adjustments).

The experience is generally uncomfortable and, if at all successful, is only temporarily so.  Old muscular tensions (and posture) reappear in short order.  (That’s why there’s a term, “chiropractic lifestyle”.)  So, movement memory isn’t changed, but only temporarily overpowered.

Now, apply that to other kinds of memory.  Think of an unpleasant memory.  I’m not suggesting this to torture you, but to illustrated a point more quickly.

Stretching an unpleasant memory would be like trying to avoid remembering it — or practicing denial.  How effective is that?  You tend to react the same old way in a similar situation, don’t you.There’s always a strain, isn’t there?

Movement memory is just that: the memory of the feeling of a movement (how to move) that controls action.

If you want to change movement memory, you need another approach, one that deals with memory the way memory actually works.  I’ll get to that once I’ve dealt with strengthening.


Strengthening muscles to improve posture means only one thing:  that those muscles aren’t strong enough to overpower their opposing muscle groups, which are always tight.  

Generally, those “weaker” muscles aren’t really weaker, but just tired from working against their opposing muscles.  They don’t need strengthening, but refreshment — and that refreshment is possible only when their opposing muscles relax from being tight all the time. 

Another effect of muscles being held tight (by movement memory) is that your brain causes their opposing muscles to slacken to allow the tight muscles to cause movement without counter-interference.  We feel that slackening as weakness, but it isn’t weakness; it’s how coordination works.  Although strengthening muscles to improve posture may be meant to work against that, it doesn’t work.

By the way, tight muscles are usually ticklish, sore to pressure, or painful from muscle fatigue —  so, you’ve got painful muscles on one side and “weak” (tired) muscles on the other.  Tight muscles drag you out of good posture and that make good posturing tiring.

Do you think you’re going to strengthen muscles to correct your posture and have it stay “corrected” under those conditions?  You’ll only make them tighter and sore — and make yourself stiffer.

Good posture is natural only as a condition of freely coordinated balance, not as a condition of effort (which you can’t maintain under ordinary conditions of life because you can’t continually pay attention, to it).  You’ve got to free the tight muscles, not make the tired muscles stronger.

Now, let’s take on memory in terms of strengthening.

That would be like trying to convince yourself that things happened differently than they did, that the old memory wan’t real.  That’s known as self-deception.  You can work really hard to convince yourself, but how effective is that?  You will still tend to have stress and strain in that area of life, won’t you?

So, we’ve dispensed with stretching and strengthening as approaches to good posture (because they don’t effectively deal with movement memory) and with the standard notion of good posture, itself.

We’re in the home stretch, now (pun unintentional, but recognized!)

Improving Movement (“muscle”) Memory

By, “improving”, I mean “developing a more satisfactory experience of something”.

A more satisfactory experience of movement memory is a more satisfactory experience of movement — both in terms of comfort and in terms of motion or action.

There’s an alternative to stretching or strengthening that’s entirely natural and that everybody’s experienced in a simple form.  It involves relaxation, rather than stretching, and refreshment, rather than strengthening.  It’s called, “pandiculation”.

I’ll let the video tell and show you, about it.  Click, below:

If you want good posture, learn pandiculation to free yourself of muscle tensions that drag you down, out of good posture, and that make good posture tiring.  Learn pandiculation to make good posture natural.  Learn pandiculation to refresh yourself.  Learn pandiculation.

So, that’s why all notions of good posture are grossly incomplete and obsolete — and what you can do that feels better and works better at making good posture easy and natural.

Lawrence Gold has practiced clinical somatic education professionally since 1990, with a world-wide clientele composed generally of people needing to get out of pain.  All of his clients end up with better posture and movement, along with being pain-free.  You can free the tight muscles that drag you down, by yourself, with  the general program of somatic education (pandiculation) exercises called, The Cat Stretch Exercises (involves neither a cat, nor stretching).

How to Get Lower Back Pain Relief


If you want to know how to get lower back pain relief, you need to learn how to get your back muscles, which never relax, to relax. That’s exactly what’s necessary and is usually entirely sufficient. I explain, below.

To relax your back is not something someone can do, for you; you have to learn to do it, yourself. It’s not difficult, but you have to do it entirely differently from the usual way you try to relax.

To relax your back this way brings lasting relief faster than the usual therapies and without need for long periods of repeated therapy sessions.  It comes from a new discipline in the field of healthcare, called clinical somatic education.

I explain this new way of getting muscles to relax, and the differences between the usual back pain therapies and clinical somatic education, in this piece.  If you’ve been frustrated by the lack of lasting relief from the usual therapies, you’ll like this approach.

Searching For A Solution

I’ll start with a listing of approaches you may have tried, so you know that I’m taking your experience into account.

There are strengthening and stretching exercises, pain meds, muscle relaxants, skeletal manipulation, spinal decompression devices, acupuncture, bodywork of various sorts, yoga and laser therapy.

You may be familiar with these therapeutic approaches. You may have found that they bring relief that lasts no more than a few days or a few hours. Practitioners end up administering the same treatment again, and again and, if asked, tell you that’s what you should expect.

Of the approaches I listed, the ones that sound like they come closest to relaxing your back muscles are stretching and massage. Neither of these approaches works any better than the others because any relaxation they produce is temporary. It’s temporary because your brain controls your muscle tension and your brain is conditioned to maintain your muscular tension at a “set point” to which your back muscles return: always tight.

So, what you need is a way to change your brain-conditioning to change the resting state of your back muscles to relaxation, instead of to, “always tight.”

Another way of saying, “change your brain-conditioning” is, “relearn control of your muscles.” “Conditioning” and “learning” are the same thing.

If, after reading this article, you still want to explore some of the usual therapeutic approaches, perhaps you’d best bookmark this page. You can come back to it after you’ve finished your tour (and testing) of those other approaches. I expect you’ll be back.


What the usual approaches have in common is that they all attempt to counteract  or oppose symptoms that keep reappearing. They address symptoms, not the causes of those symptoms.  “Symptoms” include back muscle pain, spinal mis-alignment, subluxations, disc bulges, facet joint irritation, muscle spasms and sciatica; these symptoms are effects, not causes. 

For example, misalignment doesn’t cause muscle spasms; it’s the other way around: muscle spasms cause misalignment. Bones (vertebrae) go where muscles pull them.

While counteracting symptoms may seem reasonable (and is all many people care about, as long as they get some relief), it’s ineffective in the long term and leaves you having to limit your activities to protect your back.

That’s what happens when therapy doesn’t address the underlying cause.

What’s necessary is not to counteract, oppose, or suppress symptoms, but to undo their underlying cause, altogether. Counteracting, opposing, and suppressing are different from undoing the underlying cause, as I will explain, shortly.

Let’s slow down, here, and make that point clearer.


People often mistake symptoms for causes. The usual therapies all treat lower back pain symptoms as if they’re a sign of something happening to the body, rather than something that the body is doing to itself that causes the symptoms.

In that view, misalignment and subluxations “just happen”; discs bulge and degenerate because of “degenerative disc disease” (the cause of which, therapists wrongly attribute to aging, to your genes, or can’t explain). Sciatica “just happens”. Lower back pain is supposedly caused by conditions beyond our control.

But these symptoms are within your control — if you take the approach that addresses the underlying cause.

The Underlying Cause

Tight back muscles cause most back pain. The usual causes of tight back muscles are

  • an injury such as an accident or hard fall
  • frequent and ongoing repetition of bending and lifting movements
  • long-term stress (nervous tension).

In an accident, the pain, violent motions, and shock of the accident cause muscular cringing, or tightening, a reaction that sets in long-term.

In repetitive bending and lifting movements, we get so ready to do those movements that we never relax completely, and strain patterns form.

In long-term stress, we get tense and stay tense for so long that we get used to being tense and stay tense, automatically.

These situations lead to abnormal brain conditioning. Muscles stay tight, from then, on.

(A “lifting injury” isn’t an injury, at all, but a sudden spasm triggered by an increase of muscular contraction in already-too-right muscles. Contraction – burn – pain – cringe – tighter contraction – worse pain — sounds like a spasm, doesn’t it?)

Abnormal brain conditioning causes overly tight back muscles. Another term for “abnormal brain conditioning” is “abnormal habit”.

Habit keeps the muscles tight, automatically. Habit is what makes the way we move move different from the way someone else moves. Habit controls posture. Habit controls spinal alignment. Habit keeps the muscles in the state of tension originally triggered by injury, repetitive movement, or stress.

Habitual back muscle tension makes muscle spasms more likely; the tighter the habit, the more likely spasm is to occur.

Habitual back muscle tension causes most back pain.

Relief of  habitual tension can’t be done by stretching, manipulation, or any of the usual approaches I mentioned because those approaches only oppose the habit that keeps muscles tight. They don’t change itdon’t normalize it. They try to counteract it. They “resist” it. The tension habit persists.

Symptoms return shortly after the usual kinds of therapy.

Where muscles are concerned, habitual patterns of muscular tension have a special name: muscle memory (more properly called movement memory).

Ring a bell?


When chronic muscle tension ends, pain ends. Pressure comes off discs. Nerves come free from entrapment. The facet joints of vertebrae no longer rub together. Alignment corrects itself to a healthy flexibility. If tissue healing is needed (such as for irritated facet joints of vertebrae) healing can now occur.

Why Did Your Back Muscles Start To Hurt?

Simple answer: muscle fatigue, “the burn” they say to go for, in athletics. What “the burn” is, is oxygen starvation of the muscles from being too tight for too long.

Make sense?

If you pay attention to what happens in you when you’re in a hurry or in a state of intense attention (“stress”), you’ll notice that your back muscles always tighten up.

Over your lifetime, that kind of situation has happened over and over so often and for such prolonged periods of time (in your “way of life”) that you stayed tense and formed a tension habit.

You may never have noticed that you were tense that way until your back muscles started to hurt — and it may not have occurred to you that your symptoms (i.e., pain, etc.) came from your muscles being tight all the time.

Other Conditions of Low Back Pain

Tight back muscles pull neighboring vertebrae closer together, squeeze the discs in between, and cause a host of problems commonly regarded by therapists as different “disease entities” called by different names, but all from the same cause:

  • disc bulges
  • degenerative disc disease
  • spontaneous fusion of vertebrae
  • disc herniation
  • sciatica (pinched sciatic nerve)

The cure for all is the same.

Clinical Somatic Education

The purpose of clinical somatic education and somatic education exercises is to for you to relearn control of overly tight muscles, to create a new movement memory free of the muscle-tension habit. Your back muscles come free and symptoms disappear. It’s a long-term change that occurs relatively quickly, in this approach.

Clinical somatic education has two forms: clinical techniques and somatic education exercises. You may resort to either or both.

How it Works

What makes somatic education different from the usual therapies is that it uses an action related to yawning to relearn control of muscles. That action is called, pandiculation.

Usually, a person with back pain can relax only so far and no farther. They’re stuck tight. Pandiculation causes a much deeper relaxation, so so rest at true rest — which is to say, relaxed, pliant, strong and comfortable.

By pandiculating, you re-learn control of muscles. As you saw in the video, pandiculation produces results different from the usual therapies. You may have noticed that many of the “before” and “after” changes occurred after one session.

What therapies do you know of that produce that much change after one session — a lasting change? So, clinical somatic education is an exception to the rule.

Re-Learning to Control Your Back Muscles

The word, re-learn, might not quite seem to you, to fit, since you have no memory of learning control of your back muscles to begin with. That learning at first occurred when you were very young, at about three months of age, when you were first learning to lift your head and to sit up and to stand and to walk.

You need to re-learn control because, over the course of your life, you went through situations that made you tense up in ways that involved your back muscles.

You developed the unconscious habit of holding yourself tight (as if to be tight were your normal state).

Eventually, you got stuck with tight back muscles and a diagnosis of low back pain, lumbar pain, subluxation, degenerative disc disease (“DDD“), sciatica, spinal stenosis, ankylosing spondylitis, or something similar and frightening-sounding.

All you really need is to re-learn control of your back muscles.

If that seems too simple, it’s likely that you are in the grip of the memories of your previous experience of therapy or the prognosis of doctors and therapists and expect this to be like that. People often try to understand something new in terms of something they already know. But this isn’t like that.

Clinical Sessions

During clinical somatic education sessions, muscle relax and comfort improves during the session. Usually, a few sessions are required for a complete change. You come to a practitioner of clinical somatic education who guides you through pandiculation actions — which are comfortable-to-do (and which rapidly reprogram muscle/movement memory, long-term).

Below, you see a video that shows part of a typical clinical session for clearing up lower back pain.

Some practitioners offer a money-back guarantee of satisfaction.

Somatic Education Exercises

If you can’t get to a practitioner, you can get lasting relief (more gradually) by somatic education (pandiculation) exercises.

Unlike strengthening exercises or stretching, somatic education exercises work by improving control of your own muscle tension. Your muscles lengthen as you relax, accomplishing the hoped-for result of stretching. As you relax, your muscles get refreshed, again, and being refreshed, are stronger, accomplishing the hoped-for result of strengthening exercises. Pandiculation accomplishes the hoped-for result of strengthening exercises and stretching — only better.

In both cases, clinical sessions and somatic education exercises, back muscle tension virtually never returns to the painful level, but increases or decreases within a normal range under life’s stresses.

The exercises enable you to keep yourself free and comfortable so that a recurrence of symptoms is unlikely.

There is an exception. If someone’s back has been so tight for so long that discs have ruptured, or spontaneous fusion of vertebrae has started to occur, or narrowing of nerve channels (stenosis) has occurred, it’s too late. Then, it’s surgery. After that, it’s clinical somatic education to prevent a recurrence.

Clinical somatic education is a highly personalized process, not a one size fits all process, so you will have a functional assessment done of your condition before starting sessions and you’ll know, with a high degree of accuracy, how many sessions will be required (generally, a small number). You can expect relief that lasts because the underlying cause — the muscular tension habit — has been undone.

The most common question I hear from clients after a session is, “Why isn’t this better known?”

How To Get Lower Back Pain Relief

You relearn control of your back muscles and the pain disappears. This result stands in stark contrast to the approach and result of the usual therapies.

So now I’ve told you something new about back pain and how to get lower back pain relief. Consider it fully and choose what you will do. If you’re serious about getting relief from low back pain, you’ll like clinical somatic education.

Lawrence Gold is a Hanna Somatic Educator in clinical practice since 1990.  He spent 1997-1999 on-staff at The Wellness and Rehabilitation Center of the Watsonville Community Hospital, in California, before returning to private practice for a worldwide clientele. Reach him, here, if you’d like to consult him about your back pain; note the free consultation option.

Somatic Education as a Way to End Pain, Speed Recovery, and Reduce Injuries

The years take their toll on our agility and speed of recovery not through the passage of time, but through the accumulated effects of stress and injury — effects that are largely avoidable and even reversible.

Everyone’s initial reaction to insult and injury is the same: we tighten up. Sometimes, we are able to release that reaction quickly; at other times, we retain it — and suffer the effects mis-labeled as “aging” or “injury”. This “tightening up” reaction is the secret origin of the loss of agility and the lengthening of recovery time that accompany aging and that bring many athletes’ sports careers to a premature close.What these effects have in common are habituated muscular tension, restricted movement and chronic muscle fatigue.

What makes these effects mysterious is that people commonly think that if “nothing was broken”, the injury wasn’t “serious”; they ignore pain and fail to notice or give adequate care to changes of movement. So, people don’t connect their injuries (and the neuromuscular protective reflexes triggered by injuries and stress) to gradual and cumulative functional changes in performance. These changes persist because brain-conditioning doesn’t diminish with age; as a form of learning, brain conditioning (residual “muscle memory” of injuries) tends to accumulate as we become “set in our ways” in reflexive muscular tension patterns. “Injuries” don’t heal because they are not injuries; they are habituated muscular tension patterns that often outlive therapy or surgeries.

When muscles go into reflexive contraction from injuries, they generate metabolic waste products (lactic acid and others) continuously. Habituated muscular contraction blocks circulation, slowing tissue regeneration; they muscular contractions lengthen recovery times, often indefinitely.

So, to recover from injuries, two things are necessary: to erase the conditioning affecting our brain and muscular system and to reclaim control of our own bodies. To do so is possible for nearly anyone, once they are shown how.

As part of a general, pre-warmup conditioning regimen, somatic education exercises improve movement and recovery time and reduce the likelihood of injuries, even during maximum athletic activity. These patterned exercises refresh bodily-awareness and improve muscular responsiveness and coordination. Athletes can enhance their performance and reduce the likelihood of future injury.

Brain conditioning is a large part of aging. That is a large part of why pain and stiffness persists and gets worse, whatever part genetics may play. With somatic education, older athletes can improve their mobility, balance and recovery times to younger performance levels. Improvements consistent with age-reversals of ten to twenty years are common.

Somatic education helps prevent sport- and overuse-injuries, reduces post-surgical pain and speeds recovery. To clear up multiple old injures, clients typically need four to eight sessions of clinical somatic education for a definitive outcome– or an appropriate somatic education exercise program.

After recovery, new injuries can be cleared up much more quickly and self-maintenance (somatic education exercises) can reduce the likelihood of future injury.

The Institute for Somatic Study and Development
Santa Fe, NM
This article may be reproduced only in its entirety.
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Avoiding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other ‘terminal’ Diseases

Silicon Valley: home of the computer and of the computer terminal.

A large percentage of people in Silicon Valley have at least one thing in common: they spend many hours at the keyboard of a computer terminal. They have another thing in common: tight shoulders, back pain, tendinitis, and in many cases, carpal tunnel syndrome — “repetitive use injuries”.

So let me say a few words about work hygiene — things beyond “keyboard hygiene” that you may not have heard before — because if you’re going to avoid stress or repetitive use injuries, you’re going to do something different to take care of yourself. More on that, later.

Repetitive use injuries do not come from mechanical problems of the body; they, Themselves, are mechanical problems caused by habitual action patterns, ways of working. Habitual ways of working set up habitual tension patterns in your muscles and habitual states of stress. Repetitive use injuries are one physical manifestation of stress.

Your brain is an organ of learning and the master control center for your muscles and movements. If your muscles are too tight, the problem lies not in your muscles, but in your brain, which controls them. You have conditioned yourself to maintain a state of muscular tension. The mechanical problems of the body come from how you have applied yourself to your work.


You may notice that people who work at a keyboard spend long periods sitting in one position. As they do, three things happen: they enter a heightened state of concentration, they hold relatively still during those periods of concentration (except for their hands), and their breathing and circulation decrease.

Let’s look at what happens with each of those aspects of self-programming.

High Concentration for Long Periods

Usually, keyboard workers enter not merely a heightened state of concentration; they enter a state of high-speed concentration — the race to beat the deadline or to meet the quota. To work at high speed involves a heightened state of tension.

This heightened tension affects workers in two ways: their whole body gets tense, particularly in the low back, neck and shoulders; and the muscles of their forearms, which control the movements of the hands, get especially tense, possibly leading to tendinitis in the wrists or carpal tunnel syndrome. Neck tension pulls the neck vertebrae closer together and can cause pinched nerves.

Long periods of tension, like long periods of exercise, create a kind of conditioning. As someone programs themselves (i.e., learns) to meet the demands of a job — they get used to the tensions it entails. These tensions tax the body and form the bodily basis for job stress, burnout, and medical consequences.

This kind of self-conditioning also creates carpal tunnel syndrome. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which involves burning sensations and numbness down the arms, has the same origins.

Lack of Movement 

Movement interrupts tension habits. Conversely, lack of movement while under tension leads to conditioning into a state of tension. Postures become set; people “set up” like jello –but without the jiggle! They get stiff on the job. Stiff jello.

The position most people adopt when working at the keyboard involves suspending their arms with bent elbows, hands over the keyboard. This position places strain on the muscles of the back and shoulders below the shoulder blades, which prevent the shoulders from rolling forward. Those muscles get tired and sore and produce mid-back pain.

The combination of intense concentration and lack of movement is a sure formula for stiffness and stagnation. It is an often unrecognized fact that muscles pump blood as they relax and contract. Muscles that stay in heightened tension produce metabolic waste products that accumulate. The effect is stagnation and fatigue.

Circulation Decreases

In addition, muscular tension blocks blood circulation (since blood must circulate through the muscles). This tension-induced blockage makes the job of the heart even harder, deprived as it already is of the pumping action of muscles in movement.

Decreased breathing leads to decreased mental clarity and decreased productivity — not to mention decreased vitality.

Lack of good keyboard hygiene contributes to tight shoulders, to low back pain, and to Worker’s Compensation costs.


Take “stretch breaks”. A stretch break interrupts the formation of a tension habit and flushes out stagnant body fluids. There are certain movements that you can perform to prevent tension from accumulating in your back, shoulders, and forearms — not stretches, actually, but related to yawning.

Here’s a video that talks about and shows what I am talking about.

Better than a stretch break, however, is an exercise break. Five minutes of calisthenics — windmills, side-bends, and running in place — can make your morning break feel like a vacation (or at least highly refreshing).

Another way in which you can reverse the effects of prolonged keyboarding is with somatic exercises. These exercises reverse the conditioning that result in habitually tight muscles; they refresh your ability to relax.

So break your concentration. Interrupt your “productivity program”. Take care of yourself. You’ll be more productive.



Accumulated tension takes its toll. Once accumulated past a certain point, tension cannot sufficiently be eliminated by mere stretching and calisthenics. The person has lost too much bodily awareness to release the stored tensions; you can voluntarily release only the tension you can feel. So the “tension program” continues to run on automatic.

People at that point turn increasingly to massage therapists. Massage therapy produces healthful benefits, and it can be habit forming! On-site massage has become increasingly popular in recent years.

However, massage therapy has a big limitation: its benefits are temporary. Due to the need for repetition, massage therapy can become an ongoing expense of which people may tire — at the expense of repetitive use injury. Often, by the time chronic tension has produced a Worker’s Compensation claim, the person is generally beyond the help of a massage therapist. Their brain is too conditioned to let the muscles relax for long. Something else is needed.

That “something else” is control of your own muscular tension. One name for the training process that gives you back control of yourself is, “somatic education.” Somatic education is a kind of self-preservation through grooming out accumulated tension.

Somatic education gives you back control of the brain conditioning that keeps you tight. Once done, you don’t need to pay special attention to your muscles or state of tension; you’re freed — and you have sufficient bodily awareness to notice when you need a break — basically, because you notice that you’re not comfortable, any more. You take a break and take care of yourself.

Somatic Education improves or restores natural control of muscular tension by a short-term, physical learning process in which you participate actively, coached as necessary by a somatic educator. The somatic educator’s job is to make it easy for you to regain control of your muscular tension. This approach differs from massage and chiropractic because it leaves you self-sufficient and able to manage conditions that might otherwise ultimately worsen until you require medical intervention, such as surgery. There are numerous forms of somatic education: the Alexander Technique, the Trager Approach, Feldenkrais Somatic Integration, Rolfing Movement, Hanna Somatic Education, and others. Some produce results faster than others, and some produce significant improvements nearly immediately.

Of course, if you let things go for too long, you do have a last resort: your doctor — or his favorite surgeon.


Lawrence Gold is a certified clinical somatic educator who has been in practice since 1990. His clients are typically people in pain who have not gotten help from standard therapies. Contact Lawrence Gold, here. Read about his background, here.

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What Happens When We Ignore Pain?

The question seems to bring its own answers: “Uh-oh!” or its opposite, “No pain, no gain.” But there’s more to it than that, a bigger picture.

True of Everybody

People have a universal reaction to injury: we tighten up. This reaction occurs in everyone, from infants to adults, and in all animals. It is a universal reaction: to cringe, to pull away, to avoid pain. Our brain senses the pain of injury and causes muscles to contract. It guards the injured part. Everyone has experienced the guarding reaction, but the role of the brain may be new information for some.

Most injuries heal in days or weeks. When pain persists for a long period, it warrants attention. Such pain may indicate, not an injury, but the residual reaction to an old injury, and that reaction can and often does create more consequences than the original injury.

Injuries That Linger, Injuries That Mysteriously Surface

Reactions to injury often persist, sometimes for years after an injury has healed. In my experience, it is common for the muscular tension of the guarding reaction triggered by injury to persist decades after healing has occurred — and even to surface mysteriously, decades after. The reason: the brain, the master-control organ of the muscles, has made a conditioned habit of the guarding reaction. The guarding-habit becomes part of the brain’s conditioning.

Interestingly, it is also common for pain to surface long after an injury has healed. What is interesting is that the pain signals, not an injury, but the brain conditioning that keeps muscles contracted after an injury. Contracted muscles get tired and sore.

Why the pain surfaces when it does involves numerous factors. It could be nervous tension, or overuse, or poor posture has added to the muscular tension of the guarding habit.

Consequences of Unattended, Lingering Pain

Another factor: joints and soft-tissue degenerate under the unrelenting tension and pressure of contracted muscles – with consequences: arthritis, bursitis, disk problems, bone spurs, facet joint syndrome, spondylosis.

That’s what may happen in the long-term when you ignore pain: pain, tissue degeneration, poor aging, loss of mobility and at last, for many, decrepitude. Even if you’ve tended the injury, if you haven’t tended the residual muscular tensions, this may become your destiny. It’s what we haven’t handled that gets us.

Where Do You Go to Correct the Problem?

Having heard this explanation and recognized that it applies to themselves, some people may turn to their chiropractor, their massage therapist, their acupuncturist, their herbalist, their nutritionalist, their surgeon, not recognizing that these health professionals don’t deal with the condition described: the brain conditioning that causes residual muscular tension. People sometimes choose a familiar course of action, rather than a relevant one. They act out of habit; the habitual guarding reaction persists, the pain returns.

Others may hear this explanation and do nothing. They may not believe that this explanation is correct and remain unmoved. They may adopt a wait and see attitude. They may lack the will to take action until the situation is unbearable. Sometimes, it’s a matter of whether someone is interested in handling the problem or entertaining it. This solution is for handling the problem quickly and directly.

A word, to the wise, is sufficient: Somatic education typically ends the pain and can protect you from the effects of reflexive muscular contractions by easing those contractions.

Lawrence Gold was certified to practice Hanna somatic education® in 1990. For two years, he was on-staff at the Wellness and Rehabilitation Center of the Watsonville Community Hospital, in California. Click, here, for his background, credentials, published articles, and public speaking engagements. Here’s his email address:

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Activation Energy | The TetraSeed

ONE OF THE PRIME CHALLENGES OF ANYONE WORKING with transformative processes, self-generated evolutionary processes, is the matter of Activation Energy.

The intensity of your impulse to change (cumulatively, to evolve) must be at least equal to the intensity of the tendency of things to stay as they are (the intensity of  their integrity).

What that means in Earth language is that the urge to move something must be at least equal to the force keeping it in place for a change to be possible. That amount of force, in any particular case, we call, its Activation Energy. This much is obvious, upon looking at it.

Working at transformation with insufficient Activation Energy makes the going slow, at best, and one never really gets to the root. So, one keeps pursuing the root more and more. This takes time, but it does eventually result in your gathering Activation Energy and you will eventually get to the root and dissolve it.


Recognizing and not being satisfied with, “eventually”, practitioners of certain approaches employ a measure to “charge up” Activation Energy — everything from Bellows Breathing (pranayama) to Holographic Breathwork, BioEnergetics, and related approaches.

Other approaches use awakening and self-grooming practices: The Avatar Course, The Lineage of Don Juan’s Warrior’s Way, and numerous others. These latter teachings employ practices used to gather or recover the force of one’s being from ensnarement by subconscious memory patterns. They are grooming processes, preparation for personal evolutionary (and maturational) changes.

Other practices involve wisdom-contemplations that lead beyond mind, leaving a trail of “clean-up” in their wake.

For my part, what I found, when confronted with dense activation patterns in myself, that felt like they would never change, was that the way that works easiest was to confront each such dense activation pattern, as felt (as an involuntary state of tension), to find in it the four operation sets of intelligence:


nicknamed, The TetraSeed.
Upon sufficient activation of that set of four operations, the denseness of one’s condition is overcome and it starts to soften. It does so without any special extra effort to make it soften — just by virtue of finding those operations in that item, that stress pattern, whatever it may be: the operation sets of 
and their corresponding objective aspects, as shown, above (color-coded)

One might immediately wonder how one does that. There exist procedures that use those four operation sets in special patterns, patterns that produce specific kinds of changes to how one operates. In other words, they tune up your operating system, they debug you. They allow you to uncover mental viruses in yourself that are pervasive in these times, and to remove, dissolve, or tame them.

In other words, instead of them having you, you have them, and you discover the previously unconscious way you are keeping yourself that way, and then you can relax something in yourself and have those things simply dissolve away, commonly with postural shifts of shape.

The success of all of this depends upon your having sufficient Activation Energy available to match the intensity of the integrity of the item in yourself you want to change, upgrade, or dissolve. You’ve got to be equal to it — and that’s what the TetraSeed Transformation procedures end up doing.

That being so, these procedure would jet-assist other kinds of transformational procedures and processes from various transformational teachings.

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The Gold Key Release app

The Gold Key Release is a psychoactive procedure that liberates the mind from the sense of predicament, in this moment, and liberates intelligence to receive new ideas.

“Google-search” the keyterm, “Gold Key Release”

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How does Hanna Somatic Education Work?

The following explanation makes sense of Hanna Somatic Education and gives people a way to talk about it that makes sense to their friends.

To begin with, it helps to understand why people get stuck in pain and discomfort. Then, you can understand what Hanna Somatic Education “handles” and how it handles it.

About 50% of chronic, severe pain can be traced to the effects of muscular contractions formed by physical injuries and high-stress emotional states. What follows, below, applies to that kind of pain — and not the pain that results from organic diseases.

Here are the key terms:

  • muscle-memory (muscle:movement memory)
  • sensory-motor amnesia
Muscle memory is what you formed when you learned to walk, to ride a bicycle, to ski, to touch-type on a keyboard (as speed-typists do), or hunt-and-peck type (as in everyone who uses a smart phone or operating-system based device with a miniature alphanumeric keypad, does).

Sensory – motor amnesia is what happens when a  high-intensity memory forms, either from a high velocity experience or a prolonged one, a high-intensity memory that interferes with muscle movement memory of how we are, when we are free to move. Sensorimotor amnesia occurs, generally, in a state of activation triggered by something that’s happening. When a triggered state of activation becomes a remembered state of activation, a remembered state of activation becomes a general state of activation.
“General state of activation”means an ongoing state of activation, a kind of readiness for experience based upon learning about experience.
Much of the pain that we endure in life has to do with generalized states of activation that have become submerged in the obliviousness of familiarity. In other words they are there, still activated, but, our awareness of them has become subdued. We may intuitively feel how that is so.
Because our awareness of them has become subdued, our control of them has diminished.
That’s how a personality forms. It’s how a tension set forms. It’s how a chronic feeling state forms. It’s how our condition forms. It’s how our complaints form.
It’s memories affecting how we move.
Movement involves the muscles — and of course, other systems.
Let’s talk about the muscles.
Any talk about action involves talk about muscle tension and relaxation of tension. Every state of readiness involves a heightened state of tension.
Memory shapes readiness.
Memory shapes muscular tension.
Injuries form intense memories.
Memories are states of readiness. Always.
Injuries form intense states of readiness, heightened tension, ongoingly. Heightened tension, after a short while, becomes painful — not just psychologically, but also bodily.
The key to the pain are the memories.
Hanna somatic education cleans up muscle movement memory. By cleaning it up, we eliminate unnecessary states of readiness, unnecessary states of tension, unnecessary discomfort, unnecessary limitation of movement.
The pain people bring to a Hanna somatic educator is the pain of residual conditioning by experience in which they hold and stay tight, habitually, but without recognizing they are doing so: sensorimotor amnesia.
So, in a roundabout way, we’ve just covered “what”  Hanna somatic education handles.
Now we start on the “how”.
Sensorimotor amnesia is another term for the muscle-movement memory of natural maturation “influenced” by the muscle movement memories of injury and prolonged stress. Hanna somatic education is a way of teaching people to take back influence over themselves, or to throw off the lingering influences of past experiences — in this case, the lingering influences of past injuries and stress periods that lead to cumulative, muscular tightening up that “becomes who they are” (but are not).
What we need to do is to delete the automatic impulse to tighten up, to make “starting from rest” the default or customary disposition. The first way of doing that is to make them aware of the impulse to self-tighten. And then teach them to stop tightening themselves up — not by effort to remember not to tighten up, but simply by not tightening up, in the first place, unless they mean to. They start at rest instead of from a an automatically-disturbed state of readiness. (Consider the mind of such a person.)
That’s what the techniques of Hanna somatic education, and the intention behind their use, is. It’s to teach people how to free themselves of conditioning influences, so they can feel more like themselves.
That, by the way, is the stated intention of many disciplines, but is most clearly stated as the intention of bodywork and somatic disciplines, in general. Some approaches are more effective than others.
When it comes to muscles, it means to awaken better control over our own tensing and relaxing of our muscles, of ourselves.
What Hanna somatic education does is clean up muscle movement memory so we can feel more like ourselves, when we are all right.
Hanna somatic education cleans up muscle movement memory and then improves it.

  • movement, better
  • pain, gone
  • ability restored and enhanced
Hanna somatic education cleans up muscle movement memory.
Everything else that may be said would be the particulars of techniques and of somatic education exercise patterns – details that you might try to liken to therapies or exercises you already know. That might give you the wrong idea, if your ideas are based on approaches that work from the outside in, “on” you.
Hanna somatic education doesn’t involve techniques that someone applies to you. It involves techniques of teaching you to get back influence over yourself. It’s an outside-in AND inside–out job. That’s why it works. We use an action or movement pattern “hard-wired” into us, programmed into everyone (and their dog), one related to yawning, called, “pandiculation”. Yawning is pleasurable because it releases some of our tension. Hanna somatic education applies this “hard-wired”, natural action pattern to clean up muscle-movement memory.
And by the way, because we’re working with the programming side of things, meaning our memory conditioning, it works quickly and efficiently, in harmony with our influence over ourselves. Because it works in harmony, it works far faster than approaches that attempt to counter muscle-movement memory instead of dissolve its grip and then organize it. Being “worked with” works far faster and better than being “worked on”.
Hanna somatic education works by cleaning up muscle movement memory that influences us in how we move and how we feel.
Muscle movement memory.
That’s how Hanna somatic education works and what it does.


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Imagination and Memory, Together, Act Like Valve and Reservoir

I’ve kept coming back to the same thing in my experience, so I want to put it out there: It seems to me that in the TetraSeed, the aspect we call, “imagination”, operates as a valve, opening and closing.

When imagination is closing, attention and intention are turning toward memory, closing in on memory.

When imagination is opening, attention and intention are turning toward imagining, opening to imagining.

Feel that?

Somas (living beings) open toward or close away from experience.

Attention and intention focus the power of attention on what is remembered in memory, or focus the power of attention on what is emerging in imagination.

I’ll say that again.

Attention and intention focus the power of attention on a memory – or – attention and intention focus the power of attention on what is emerging in imagining. Attention and intention focus the power of attention on a memory — or —  attention and intention focus the power of attention on what is emerging —  in the making — in imagination.

In closed-minded individuals, memory dominates imagination by habituated intention. Memory “suffocates” imagination.

In open-minded individuals, imagination exceeds memory by free attention.

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What is ‘Self-Identification”? | Somatology

After reflection upon the nature of self-existence during a time of particularly intense affliction — during and after a period of illness in which I felt particularly vulnerable to suffering, it has at last become clear to me what is the nature of “self-identification”.

To the point:  self-identification (self-contraction) is the feeling of an automatic action of tensing that happens so automatically and so involuntarily as to compel one to accept, “this is myself.” It the sense and assumption that one is “a self” compelled by the inability to “be anything different”.

In that state, efforts to get relief from that uncomfortable state of self-contraction merely use and reinforce that very self-contraction. It seems inescapable and it is this seeming inescapability that seems to make acquiescense to this state of contraction, inevitable, that makes us surrender to the sense that, “This is myself.”

It ain’t.

It’s a sense of self-contraction, a state of automatic self-activity, ongoing habit, that comes from one or more of the faces of the TetraSeed — ATTENDING | INTENDING | REMEMBERING | IMAGINING — operating in the background without conscious involvement.

This “without conscious involvement” entails automaticity — happening by itself, seemingly as an unavoidable feature of existence. This automaticity makes it seems as if it something that “we are” rather than as “something that we are doing — and can stop doing”.

I have referred to, “tensing”. To tense oneself is the first step to readying oneself for action of any kind. It is “readiness for life” — often taken to be “maturity” or “competence.”

This “self-identified” state of contraction has myriad forms. It is a complex “wad” of contraction-activity made of all the memory impressions acquired over a lifetime. These memory impressions form automatically as the “recording activity” of life-experience. This recording activity has adaptive value — up to a point. It equips us to be ready for more experiences of the kinds we have already experienced.

It becomes a problem as this “readiness” piles up from some experiences that seem to repeat themselves — and from many that never repeat themselves, but that have left their mark on us as a state of readiness for “more of the same”. It is a kind of stupid, rudimentary intelligence that is supposed to serve life but that does so without the conscious, deliberate participation of the individual; it is a primitive artifact of earlier evolutionary times, when individuals had yet to become so distinctly different from one another (individual), when they were so much more embedded in “nature” and “tribe”, expected to conform out of survival-necessity, that automatic recording (learnings) of experience adequately served the survival of individual and tribe (or culture).

Again, as this readiness piles up automatically and we remain “perpetually at the ready,” we become more and more self-identified, self-contracted. “Perpetually at the ready” is a kind of attitude. It is also a feeling — the feeling of “self”. People who think they “know themselves” merely know this pile-up of readiness.

Because it forms and plays out automatically and without our ability to stop, it seems to be self.

Like so many patterns of involuntary self-limitation, it entails the automatic functioning of one or more of the four faces of the TetraSeed — ATTENDING | INTENDING | REMEMBERING | IMAGINING. As with all patterns of involuntary self-limitation, the key to release is to bring all four faces “on-line” and awake. When that happens, what has been running “on automatic” ceases to be automatic and becomes subject to observation (non-identification) and voluntary control. Efforts to become “non-identified” without that awakening merely become new, unrecognized forms of self-identification.

When that voluntary control awakens, two things happen:

  1. The activity ceases to occur automatically and thus to seem inevitable.
  2. One no longer regards it as “self”, but now recognizes it as a mere conditional (or temporary) activity. Activity no longer automatically triggers self-identification/self-contraction. One can act without becoming loaded with self-contraction — without intensifying involuntary self-identification. It’s the capacity for free action without the affliction of inevitable “self”.

It is the sense of “other”. We consider others to be selves like ourselves — but what makes this form of “other-as-self” unrecognizable is what may be called, “the blame factor”. We hold others culpable for their actions, as if they were voluntary, rather than as stupidly automatic as our own unconscious self-identification. We assume a “self” over there to be praised or blamed for behavior. This sense of “self-over-there” IS IDENTICAL to the feeling of “(my)self, here”; it is self-identified self-contraction attributed to “an other” over there.

It is a form of self-identification because we consider ourselves to be “not like that” or to be “like that”. It is “other-identification”. It makes things, “personal.”

Prior to recognition of one or more of the faces of the TetraSeed running “on automatic”, we feel stuck with “the other” and with the dilemma of “blame or forgive” — both of which are ridiculous, absurd, and unworkable alternatives — pretenses, actually, based on idealisms built upon the automatic, evolutionary survival program that records experience without conscious participation and makes us into “robots of the past” (robots of memory).

What’s so pathetic about it is the degree to which the mass of humanity continues to operate in this way — so unconscious, so automatic, so habitual, so entranced, and so unintelligent.

“Awakening” is not an idealism. It is a functional actuality. It is the one thing we can do, at least partially voluntarily, as human beings. We can inspect our reactions to experience for “asleepness” (automaticity) in terms of the four faces of the TetraSeed — ATTENDING | INTENDING | REMEMBERING | IMAGINING.

By its ongoing trials and insults, the life-process highlights areas of our lives that are running on automatic. The reason it does so is that the sense of “trial” and “insult” is always a trial and/or insult of an identification-as-self. “Someone” is felt to be undergoing a trial; “someone” is insulted by life.

The sense of a “someone” is always some form of automatic readiness, felt as inescapable, to which we acquiesce as if it were,” self”. The “we” who acquiesce are more of the same.

When the four TetraSeed “faces” come awake, the compulsivity of self-identification is over — at least in the area awakened. What awakens is tacit, intuitive freedom felt as adequate in the moment, free of the sense of “self” under the thumb of experience. The sense of “conditions” and creative responsiveness remain — and the uncomfortable sense of contraction (self-imploded, self-implicated readiness) of self-identification eases, and with it, the self-imploded sense of personal suffering.

copyright 2017 Lawrence Gold
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