Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Stanley Keleman

American Bioenergetic Therapist and Psychobiologist

"Experience is connected to myth. Being immersed in self-experience is living one’s own myth, one’s own life story… As our connectedness to living depends, we learn that experience is the teacher. And experience cannot be programmed. We are our own mythmakers, knowingly or unknowingly."

"When you begin to think about the concept of mirror neurons, you realize that talking is a form of muscular gestures making particular sounds that other people are muscularly and behaviorally resonating with. So that even in talking back and forth, you are invoking basic body orientations between people. To say speaking is not anatomically based, it has consequences."

"If you say that anatomy is behavior, and that behavior generates experience so that experience is anatomically-based, then of course embedded in that statement is that there’s sensation, there’s feeling, and there’s primitive and sophisticated cognition as well as expression. And so you already have a subjectivity that’s inherited in that statement. It’s not exactly that you’re talking about a robot or a silicon chip, that the behavior is self-regulating, it knows itself about what it does, and how it does, and what the consequences are. Now this has an enormous practical and clinical application."

" I think that a human being is an organizing process that changes its shape over time and I don’t know about other species, but a human being certainly is capable of personalizing its inherited body to create a personalized entity; it is capable of making say impersonal processes like sexuality, nurturing, breeding children, personal experiences that help form a person, form a family, form a society into a process of continual differentiating and inventing behaviors that change the nature of human existence."

"What I’m describing is clearly an evolutionary process and I think we have to align ourselves with evolutionary theory from a biological and a psychological point of view. We’re part of an evolutionary process, and therefore all life, all living, is part of this evolutionary process, or changing shape. Whether it’s planetary--I can’t talk about the universe because I’m not a physicist--but certainly the biosphere is changing. And the surface of the earth and the interior of the earth have changed over time. So the human being is a suborganization of a bigger animate process which is embedded in the biosphere. And there’s a relationship between the large organizing process, biosphere, and its suborganizations— human beings and other animate forms. And that relationship seems to be similar to the body and its cortex, in which experience and novel events generate changes that can be preserved and differentiated and transmitted to others as a way of changing its own environment and its external environment. And that seems to be the story of our living. That is the narrative of every human being; forming a personal world in an impersonal world."

"We fear the heights and depths of our own excitement. Above all, we abhor the open-ended pulse of our formative process... We want power, we want potency, but we will not risk even momentary powerlessness for the sake of contacting the power inherent in our own formative process."

"I think the basic message could be to remember that the anatomy, the body, the soma, is the behavior. And a behavior as a structure generates experience. And that if you alter the body shape, you are altering anatomy, you are altering behavior, you are altering experience, and this feedback mechanism between the shape that was and the shape that you’ve just altered begins to re-organize and form another person, a more differentiated person in the world. And if we keep that in mind, we’ll recognize that we’re helping people shape their lives."

"You can see that how we address a person’s bodily stances as a form that has been habituated and practiced and become part of ourselves, that has rules of organization, that can be influenced, that can be disassembled or reassembled, whether it’s premature ejaculations or episodes of impulsiveness. [You can see] that one can help disassemble patterns of behavior, that is, anatomical forms, change them temporarily, and learn how to give those forms through a practice of using muscular effort, duration over time, so they themselves become memories of our efforts and of our new experiences which change how we are in the world. That’s the clinical application—almost like teaching a depressive person what it feels like to be less depressed, and how to use the less depressive state to form another way of expressing yourself."

"The deeper we live the life of our bodies, the deeper is the upwelling of love. "

"Human shape is marked by love and disappointment."

"Each person’s response to the world marks him."

"The human form as a whole is made up of living events."

"Two facts are central: that life is a whole event and not a series of sub-systems, and that all life is inter-connected, springing from a common single matrix,"

"The source of myth and body knowledge is in ourselves. It is intensified by somatic (body) interactions and conversations. If somatic experience and language are separate, we try to make sense out of our life experience by means of symbols. But when we reflect on our experience, we find that the symbols don’t quite make sense. We have to re-experience the somatic aspects of our own body’s symbol making."

"Myth is about the body’s journey, recreating itself endlessly in a particular way, to form an individual personal structure called self."

"We live in two realms. One of direct experience and the other of representational images. Being able to live in both realms and dialogue between them is the very nature of somatic experience. What has happened is we have mistaken one realm for the other. The image has become our direct experience."

"You are expansive; you’re moving toward the other, not knowing."

"You are willing to involve yourself. There is no performance."

"What happens when we accept our continual forming instead of seeking permanence?"

"Those of us who are continually bounding and unbounding, forming and unfolding ourselves, feel neither trapped nor lost."

"We discover that our lives are an adventure, an emotional odyssey."

"And emotional anatomy was laying the foundation for how the body grows into the shape that it is, that we use as a diagnostic category as a way to appreciate what it is that we?re working with. So the seed was there, about what Formative Psychology is, and why it?s grounded in the life of the body. So that?s a background for it. What I understood, that is, when I wrote Emotional Anatomy was that the central truth of human life is that we?re bodied, and that having a body has different shapes over time, in child and adolescent and adult and older adult, and that these shape changes are built in. They?re our inheritance. And I saw that actually, shape?and now I mean body organization--is our inheritance and that it?s the manifest principle of all animate existence and as far as we know, the living and the living environment is driven by anatomical form."

"Formative psychology suggests that we have many somatic selves waiting to be bodied. Our life is continually forming and re-forming, and from birth to death the shapes of our fate present themselves to be lived. The appearance of each new shape is another incarnation. We are not just waiting to die; we are living ourselves. Each of our bodied selves is a distinct self, and has its special feelings, needs, images, actions, and a consequent world view. Throughout our lives we form bodies appropriate to the age we are."

"If you say that anatomy is behavior, and that behavior generates experience so that experience is anatomically-based, then of course embedded in that statement is that there?s sensation, there?s feeling, and there?s primitive and sophisticated cognition as well as expression. And so you already have a subjectivity that?s inherited in that statement. It?s not exactly that you?re talking about a robot or a silicon chip, that the behavior is self-regulating, it knows itself about what it does, and how it does, and what the consequences are."

"Humans have a sense of an inner organization, of a potentiality and possibility. This organization is a source of optimism and connects us to a bigger reality. Most people lack a way to volitionally actualize their personal present. We shape this embodiment when we organize an individual expression of universal qualities, such as gender and sexuality. Through commitment to ourselves and others, we form contact into intimacy and create the relationships that give the body its personal fate."

"Life makes shapes. Life is a natural, evolutionary process in which series of shapes are continually forming. These shapes are part of an organizing process that embodies emotions, thoughts, and experiences into structure. This structure, in turn, orders the events of existence. Each person?s shape is his embodiment in the world. We are the body we inherit, the one that lives us, and a personal body, the one we live and shape through voluntary effort. We are citizens of two worlds, rooted in the animate, immortal and timeless. Molecules and cells organize into clusters, which further organize as layers, tubes, tunnels and pouches. These give structure to liquid life and set the stage for embodied human consciousness. Through the act of living, a personal human shape grows, one that is changed by the challenges and stresses of life."

"Somatic work begins with discovering our individual patterns of self-use and the emotional body states that give us a primary reality."

"Well, once you realize that when you see any anatomical form, when you see, say, a cell, and when you look at the cell as inside a microscope with a structure, you see that it?s doing something. It?s behaving. And if you excise say, the nucleus, or other things, the cell behaves differently. So you get the idea on that small level, on a microscopic level, that anatomy is in fact not pictures in a book, but a living behavior that?s doing something. You can say that it?s expanding and contracting, you can say that it?s moving liquids, you can say that it?s making chemical exchanges, you can say that it?s making cellular relationships from one cell to another, and so forth. But it is behavior. So then you recognize that a body shape is already a behavior. Standing upright is a behavior. And then you realize that anatomical behavior, anatomical organization is a behavior, and as a behavior it?s an experience, and that as anatomical change happens, so does behavior and so does experience and so does meaning and value."

"The body is a living, creative process? In the most basic sense we are our bodies, and more, that our bodies are an expression in microcosm of the creative organizing principle of the universe."

"What if we choose not to do the things we are supposed to do? The principal gain is a sense of an authentic act ? and an authentic life. It may be a short one, but it is an authentic one, and that's a lot better than those short lives full of boredom. The principal loss is security. Another is respect from the community. But you gain the respect of another community, the one that is worth having the respect of."

"Somatic emotional education uses individual experience, emotions, states of feeling, action patterns, insights and images to discover how life has been shaped and what is seeking to emerge. The key issue is how we use ourselves; learning the language of how viscera and brain use muscle to create a personal skill for managing one's life, in one's own way, with vitality and emotional truthfulness."

"To be grounded is to be connected to our emotional-electrical currents, to the waves of our needs and images and the rhythms of actions which comprise our physical-psychic processes: the rhythms of the human and the natural ground."

"With this self-knowledge, we learn to grow an interior presence, to be grounded in ourselves and to sustain our process in relationship to others. Growing ourselves, then, is not a state of mind but a state of the somatic entity."