Praxis, Dreaming Praxis – Distributed Networks & “The ODDI Approach” to wellbeing, trauma and creativity
Hello & Blessings, I’m Dare and my website is www.bodyaltar.org
I’ll cut to the chase and then expand.
5-10 minutes daily (i.e. consistently & frequently) actually works better than 1 hour once a week. Nibbling is better than binging.
Your job is enjoyment – become process oriented rather than goal oriented – the process brings immediate pleasurable results that sustain longer, more confusing goals
Let yourself off the hook a bit – you are not an individual which means your problems and trauma response are not *only* yours. Emergence is, by nature, unpredictably timed.
A ritual sequence breakdown for practicing is here, check it out if you haven’t and then continue reading: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1B-DnPPoXl_F42MwkFWL-2ZHd299BuFunIHrZGYZ-cwE/edit?usp=sharing
There are conscious motor movements, and there are reflexive motor movements. There is a physical 3D world, and there is a non-physical non-3D world where all “things” arise. There is a bridge between these two worlds. Because life itself is a fractal, your body IS that bridge, your body IS earth, your body IS a ritual, your body IS an altar, your body IS a cauldron… whatever magical metaphor you want to use, your body IS the living interface between your consciousness/ego/self and the collective unconscious/nervous system, the collective dreaming, the self yet-to-arise.
This collective has layers and levels, so I’m not just talking about the human collective. Other beings, Lands, the Earth and other planets, etc ALL DREAM and are all being dreamed by the larger body of all reality. We can call her Goddess, Death, Holy Mother, The Singularity, HunTun, The Tao, etc.
I feel it’s good to have multiple ways of describing similar beings, relationships and phenomena, because using language in an animist way (poetic-journalist) will supercharge the embodied learning.
We want to eventually become like wise octopi – bear with me – an octopus, is a decentralized nervous system network. Each tentacle can “think” and make decisions in real time on its own, but ALL the tentacles are in service to their shared hub, aka the center of the octopus. This is sometimes called embodied cognition, and I am interested in how a hierarchical or centralized network (pyramid scheme) transforms into a decentralized network and then transforms into a distributed network (Indra’s Net) – a distributed network that makes automatic, useful, pleasurable decisions.
Ok, so now that we’ve laid out some maps of WHERE we want to go, let’s chat about HOW we are going to navigate.
Look, we all have trauma responses to chronic and acute distress – a resilient, distributed system doesn’t eradicate feelings or emotions, but it does know how to automatically approach and avoid – the core movements of navigating life as a mammal on this planet. Most of us though, have some stuck patterns that freeze or otherwise feel painful when confronted with certain stimuli. We need a pleasurable approach-avoid framework in order to replace our protective strategies, which is all that “trauma responses” are – protective strategies.
Our model can be chunked-down into an “Orientation-Differentiation/Distribution-Integration” model. I’ll go into each step briefly. Keep in mind this is not necessarily a linear sequence, though it absolutely can be used that way.
Orientation is using the senses in a variety of ways in order to spatially and physically understand the environment we are in. We can use orientation via the senses to map our external world, and our internal or imaginal world, and also where and how those worlds intersect and relate with each other, like two gardens overlapping and creating a third garden.
Differentiation and Distribution are two sides of the same coin. As we orient, we are able to differentiate more and more different kinds of qualities and nuances in our environment. If we use the metaphor of a room, the whole room “feels” a certain way based on the way the furniture in that room is arranged. The furniture, each different one, with their different qualities, both create and distribute tension in the room.
Tension is not all bad, the best music has lots of tension, but it is particular tension, the just-right kinds of tension. However excessive tension is like a knot in the system or a kink in the hose. So we’ve slipped from the room metaphor to other useful metaphors, keep layering these metaphors over the body and mind.
Check out these Buckminster Fuller domes, they are an example of a tensegrity structure. Our bodies and our minds/spirits can also act more or less ‘tensegrous’. Tensegrity is how a physical network distributes tension or force in such a way that no part of the network ‘breaks’ under the loads of gravity, pressure, or movement. Our fascial system is a tensegrity matrix that can be trained to distribute force more efficiently. For a very cool chat about “unwinding” from a neuro-fascial & cranio-sacral perspective, check out this 2 hour chat.
Here is a cool example of designed sculptural tensegrous structures IN MOTION.
Now, our bodies and the earth are full of many kinds of decentralized, tensegrous networks communicating together automatically. Mycelium is a perfect example. So too are the imaginal, dreaming and spirit worlds.
As we orient and enjoy orientation, and then move into a pleasurable differentiation process, we can begin to ask shaping questions to prime our systems to distribute material, tension and force and feel that distribution as relief, as joy, as digestion, as pleasure… perhaps even as “healing”.
These shaping questions are things like: “Who else is here that’s good for me to notice?” “Who and or what is this xyz material connected to?” “How large does this landscape spread?”
And many more.
Tuning in to this distribution process actually allows it to occur. Following it with our attention in particular ways allows for continual emergent effects to occur. Which brings me to Integration.
Integration is often a mysterious, unpredictable and surprising process. It is also where we can be our most creative. Because integration is unpredictable, we can shape the container for it to happen in good ways. Good, non-cathartic Integration follows some patterns and principles that are useful to describe.
It can be (more) gentle. Start small and start slow. Increase amplitude, volume and intensity gently and gradually. Treat it like a tiny dance. We are aiming to open up to and receive ever more subtle layers of wellness and coherence. We don’t necessarily need to scream and shout in order to do that. Aim to receive the most material from the least effort and scale up from there, finding and following the just-right places and actions that your system needs NEXT. moment by tiny moment.
Move from specific/local to general/global and back again, over and over in oscillating waves of attention. One way to do this is, is when we locate a specific pleasurable sensation in the body, we locate it, describe it, enjoy it more, and THEN ask “What is this doing for my Whole Self?”
Prioritize Novel Sensations – when in doubt, or feeling stuck, switch channels. Often there are just bandwidth limits and metabolic rates happening inside the system that take time. Forcing through them isn’t a great idea. Soothing and supporting are better. And sometimes just switching channels, akin to just moving your workstation to a different place and switching topics, is very helpful. As a personal dance, we would move and touch ourselves in ways that are novel – do things in your movement that you haven’t done yet today. Play with variables like speed, character, shape, elasticity, percussion, massage, sound & voice, isolation, etc.
Reflect using different modalities – this can be like journaling, writing poetry, singing, painting, scribbling, becoming different characters and using different voices to reflect, etc. The sky’s the limit. I do recommend at least attempting to reflect using language in a poetic way and then moving to integrating more and more accuracy in your words, speaking from a living felt sense rather than an abstract concept.
This ODDI navigation model is nonlinear, so we can oscillate between orientation and differentiation for a while before feeling into distribution and integration. We can make tiny cycles, we can mix & match. Sometimes we won’t know what “part” of the frame we are in until way later. Let the body playfully lead and let the mind playfully follow.
A cautious note to finish this article
This is absolutely not a “discharge” model, we are not actively seeking to dive into the content of our traumas, tremoring or even to “complete defensive actions”. That may happen emergently, or it may not. Discomfort will inevitably arise, but we are not focusing our efforts on fixing, healing or otherwise intervening directly with discomfort, pain or trauma. This model posits that what we call “healing” is actually a network effect of dynamic distribution and redistribution throughout a network or system. Prayerful embodied actions and shaping questions are how we prime the system to allow this indirect network effect to occur. Animals don’t need to spend energy ruminating on grand meanings and fears at the expense of actually living, sensing, navigating and relating. The gentle, creative versions of “discharge” that we are cultivating in this process are ones of just-right disinhibition – the releasing of unnecessary tension patterns, the spontaneous expressions of joy and art and curiosity that arise from feeling more supported, more entwined and more distributed amongst non-human forces and beings.
Thanks for reading!
Flavors of ODDI
There are many ways to “do” ODDI, just as there are many ways to hold space, craft ritual, make art, etc, but that all hold shared principles and patterns. Some flavors might be like a restorative justice flavor, some might be more like a tantric-erotic flavor, some might be more of a non-dual equanimity flavor. So when swimming in a particular flavor, you might look at each step and ask, “what practices or behaviors correspond to this step?”