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Tending to Our Resilience Now

New Moon: Tension of the Opposites


It’s an April spring new Moon with 70 degree weather in some regions, such as the West and East coasts while a blizzard is roaring down from Canada onto the Plains. The change of seasons tends to be chaotic; the opposites of winter and summer fighting it out in the Midwest, producing those dreaded tornados. Alas, I’d rather live with earthquakes, droughts, floods than tornados. May you all be safe and sound!

As mentioned in the website, Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a therapeutic model to address residual trauma in the autonomic nervous system (ANS). My teachers, Peter Levine, the founder of SE, and Steve Hoskinson, a senior international teacher, talk about ‘vortexes’, ‘oscillation’ and ‘pendulation’ as aspects of the ANS.

In SE, we speak of the natural state of oscillation in the ANS from sympathetic, (fight or flight), to the parasympathetic, (calming down or metabolic ‘harmonizing’). Our nervous system is always oscillating between the differing states, unless it gets ‘stuck’ whirling in one vortex because it cannot find an exit. Pendulation is a term Peter uses to describe the organismic oscillation that occurs.

In the March full moon blog, I talked about river running as a metaphor for a resilience strategy. SE also uses the ‘river’ motif to describe the main channel of our life energies with the vortexes, or eddies, of ‘red’ and ‘blue’ (sympathetic, fight/flight and parasympathetic, release). When the force of a traumatic reaction enters the river, it creates a strong vortex of swirling red energy that has it own internal organization. It also hi-jacks energy from the main river current, or our life-force, to fuel it’s ‘life’. We see this phenomena in tornados, hurricanes and eddies in rivers. The gentle natural oscillation/pendulation of the river’s currents, or our life force, is interrupted. It becomes aggravated, agitated, disrupted, perhaps destructively so.

It is along the line of demarcation from hot and cold, winter and summer, active and passive, old and new, or ‘red and blue’ that the most polarized energy reactions occur, as seen in the formation of tornados and river eddies. This is where the full force of the “tension of the opposites” can be felt. Each force is very distinct and differentiated. Each force wants to pull the other over to their side.

Here are two resilience strategies that can be helpful. The first is to develop the capacity to tolerate the strong opposing forces, not rejecting either, thus “holding the tension of the opposites.” In one’s personal process, this requires cultivation of an inner attitude that is inclusive to all the aspects of one’s beings, i.e., not throwing anything away.

The second resilience strategy is to learn to read the river, or the situation, and be skillful about either staying out of the demarcation zone, or learning how and when to exit a vortex when you have become captured by it. Each strategy has its proponents and opponents.

As this April new moon unfolds with it’s promise of new beginnings, new projects, and a new growing season look around for those areas where the demarcation lines are the strongest. Perhaps this is internal, within oneself, or perhaps it is situational, or collective. Where can you allow the oscillation to just occur, trusting that it will shift back and forth, and where do you notice that you are stuck and need assistance to return to the flow?

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