The Enigma of Changing Habits — You Have to Get Somatic (Part 1)

30 years ago this year Job’s Body was published. This 8-part essay is a tribute to Deane Juhan’s unparalleled narrative of the body.

“I am free to create a new stable pattern, but once it is established, I am not free to dismiss it with a snap of my fingers… I do not have to consciously think about what to do with all of my muscles; on the other hand, my muscles are not necessarily doing what I consciously think.”

— Deane Juhan, Job’s Body

(image used with permission of the author)

The first of 8 parts

Job’s Body

Thirty years ago Deane Juhan picked up where a good deal of the literature of physiology and psychology leave off. With Job’s Body Juhan connects the dots between the vicissitudes of the self and the intricacies of matter. And through his rendering of the Story of Job (see the Introduction), Juhan shows us how reckoning with our own physiology is a crucial endeavor on the road to self-knowledge:

Deane Juhan

An Intersection through the Works of Deane Juhan and Eckhart Tolle: Permeating Physiology with Presence

Through this essay I spotlight a few of the countless intriguing lessons of Job’s Body, each of them pointing to the need for directing attention to the physical body for transforming the quality of our experience. One of these lessons is how the gamma motor system (the involuntary aspect of our muscular system) plays a substantial, yet vastly underappreciated role in the resistance to changing any unwanted habit. While discussing some of the features of the gamma motor system, I underscore the implications of:

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

“Intellectual agreement is just another belief and won’t make much difference to your life. To realize this truth, you need to live it. When every cell of your body is so present that it feels vibrant with life, and when you can feel that life every moment as the joy of Being, then it can be said that you are free of time.” (Tolle p. 71).

Like Juhan’s physiological narrative of the mind, Tolle belongs on any somatic psychology hall-of-fame roster for his championing of somatic awareness as the pathway to presence.


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