Every day we steer the battered hulk of our body to port many times, as the smooth functioning of our organism requires inputs from food, water and then more subtle additives like shelter, sex, status, meaning, and so on. The physiological losses and inputs are balanced by autonomic adjustments every second in the chemical bustle of the cell and the level of the organ, with delicate tuning, trading and compensating to maintain what is called Homeostasis, the condition of optimal functionality of all bodily systems. In reality, this state is not static at all, so homeodynamism is sometimes the preferred title. Even in the doldrums of a dog-day afternoon, in the backwoods of your house, as you sit in deep silence reading a pleasure tome, in the fiery furnace of your cells you are burning with formulae that clash, seethe and cleave to make up the proteins and hormones and other man-named substances that flow through the pipes, ducts and gutters of your plumbing; you hum with muffled fuses streaking through neurons; your lungs haggle oxygen for Co2 in the deep souks of the lungs; the pink walnut-shaped court of your brain receives a thousand Pheidippides every second, recounting the Marathons that clash in your immune system, as scavenger cells seek burgling bacteria, alien proteins and every ruthless virus.
Meanwhile, floating above and beyond the Rabelesian throng, your conscious mind is serenely looking at squibbles of black ink arranged in a certain manner, and interpreting the inner life of another organism through the decoding of this sequence.
This would be fine if we were living in a time of stablility and mutual entwinement with nature and ourselves.
Homeostasis, in our insane society, is almost dead from exhaustion. The tiller is unmanned, the rudder is locked and fatal reefs are ahead. The ports are full of denatured food, the water is tainted, the muscles are turning to either granite or dough. Millions of beings are serried in ranks to stare all day at tiny arabic numbers or write meaningless reports in a mantis position, sapped in amber, a petroglyph, the exoskeleton of Joseph K, Kafka’s creature, a drone in a hive, a worker termite, a cypher, harassed in his “spare time” to “become an individual” and buy garbage produced by other drones in other mounds.
The worst-off stumble into my class, blinking and limping, desperate flotsam from the wake of the factory ships, dumped overboard as they can’t keep up, vertically ill from the fiats of the whitecoats to take more drugs or screamed at in gyms or by videos to do this or that crude exercise. They are propelled into the eddy and calm pool of my studio, where, often despite robust declarations of seaworthiness, they are listing badly and sinking.
Deaths from cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders are now of epidemic proportions.
As the climate-deniers are now demonstrating with impeccable stupidity, if you pay enough money to enough people to peddle a lie, it becomes Dogma. But the burning of Earth is hard to ignore like an economic theory can be. Likewise, the streaking decline of health in the general population is burdening the “Health” system to eyeball-popping levels of strain. Shrieking avatars of Economic Growth At All Costs must know that Economy Equals Ecology, but they are determined to flush out every last buck from the blasted planet before they seek shelter in their “country” retreats ( where their land is somehow immune from climate change?) while we little folk buy their crap and die without even a whimper, grateful to die in a hospital bed, and not a trolley.
And this has to do with what I teach….how?
It is difficult to avoid stale cliches. But I will try.
Stand still to listen. Stillness is the center of movement.
Learn to breathe. There are at least 6 different ways of breathing. Fear stuns the breath. Stomachs cohere into a spiral of stuck organs when fear strikes. Awakening the diaphragm can begin a process of deep breathing with the many well-documented benefits ( see Breathing essay)
Move intelligently. At home, at work.
Sit comfortably for hours and practise at work. Eat foods which will make you well, not sick. Stage a daily putsch against the little regimes of oppression that dominate your day. Question authority, object to advertising, stop watching television! Go for walks in a forest, buy your food close to the source, support local traders against the cancerous leviathans who sterilise the high streets.
Become aware. Pay attention to what is happening even around you now. Notice how the mind works, how you become, how you want to become, distracted.
Start with your body, then with your town, then with the country. Get the balance back. Fight back. Homeostasis cannot deal with the human caprice to self-annihilate. The trillions of Athenian city-states that are your cells need to fight together to reclaim your internal polis against the behemoth called “Modern Life” and then, when you are strong and clear, maybe you can fight for Gaia herself.
Do not stand still in your head. Do something. Stand still in your body to start.