Saturday, November 07, 2020

Tada Hozumi: Woke Soy Boy Macking On Patchouli Pannies ...,

selfishactivist |  I understand that for some people this may draw confusion because the hall-of-fame of somatics in our minds is plastered with the images of white teachers and innovators.

Yet, somatics remains an Asian cultural form in its modern roots.

Acknowledging this is similar to how we may appropriately recognize funk and rock n’ roll as Black music. While robust polyrhythms and boisterous dance circles are a feature of almost any culture if you excavate deeper, it is undoubtedly Black people and their culture, i.e. the collective work of their ancestors, that have kept alive these Afro-diasporic traditions and gifted them to those of us who live in the context of the modern post-colonial project.

Somatics, the practice of affecting change through felt-sense interoception of the body, has a similar story. Since the post-war era of the 1950s, and even before that on a smaller scale, Asian cultural practices such as qigong, yoga, zen, energetic martial arts, energy work, and Chinese medicine proliferated throughout the Western world, often accompanied by a variety of Asian philosophical orientations from Buddhism to Daoism.

The modern Western somatic modalities we have come to commonly know, from Somatic Experiencing, Hakomi Method, Generative Somatics, Embodied Leadership (Strozzi Institute), Feldenkrais, and so on, all derive their foundational somatic practices from these Asian cultural traditions. In more recent years, these embodiment tools that have been traditionally accessed for individual healing are now more and more being accessed for politicized collective healing.

Now, here is a question: with all this resourcing from our ancestors, how much do people actually know about Asian cultures? Or even better, how much can people humbly admit that they DON’T know? Because while our ancestors’ treasures have been sending gifts to the West, there has been very little understanding of who we are, what it is, the essence of ‘Asianness’ we embody, even within social justice circles that purportedly are about exploring and celebrating that which is marginalized.

The reality is, we have continuously been the last thought, constantly triaged out of relevance using a metric that we know as the hierarchy of oppression. And perhaps, there is some twisted validity in the idea that things just aren’t as bad for us so we matter less.

But lying deeper than this surface logic is a problem that eats itself. The supposedly semi-reasonable idea that we are the least important issue in the problem of racism, doesn’t mean that healing anti-Asianness can’t be the most critical key to solving the koan that systemic oppression is.

My aspirations in cultural somatics have always been about addressing this very core issue – to reclaim somatics, as an Asian cultural form, as an Asian person. In my own first explorations of the work that I now refer to as cultural somatics was a yearning to create a framework that understands change, even social change, as wholly encapsulated in the body and its innate mysterious non-dual nature, that flips and synthesizes yin and yang in a constant process of alchemy.

This mattered to me deeply because in all honestly, I just had enough of activist spaces that touted banners of ‘resistance’ and ’solidarity’ but consequently had no room for the distinctly Asian embodied sensibilities of ‘yielding’ and ‘fluidity’ as power and resource. I definitely have the first-hand experience of getting shut down for suggesting that these may be also valuable strategies for ‘fighting the enemy’.