Somatic Finance - The Landscape


This month, with courage, I continue the journey of unpacking, illuminating and sharing the depth and breadth of the new field of exploration which I have named Somatic Finance. Last month's introduction, (click here to view) establishes my motivation. This month, I invite Somatic Finance to find its breath, legs, arms, and dare I say, wings to fly.

Most basically, Somatic Finance means: including the body, as well as the mind, in all matters of finance. Somatic is derived from the Greek word Soma, which denotes relating to the body. Somatic indicates an association to the human body, as distinct from the mind. For example, a somatic disease. As an alternative to the predominant mode of operating primarily (if not solely) from the head when dealing with money matters, Somatic Finance calls us to open to the wisdom which each of us already carry in our body.

When we are able to open to the wisdom which is held in the body and to more of who we really are, we see more. We experience more. We grow more. We make better choices. It is that simple.

Let me emphasize Somatic finance does include the mind as well as the body. To be specific, there are three major areas: the head, the heart and the belly. Each of these areas warrants a full article; so for now, recognize that our body centers (head, heart & belly) are the locations of deeper meaning and insight.

Body intelligence ranges from tightly closed to vastly open. Most of us are somewhere in the middle on this continuum. Movement on the continuum in one direction or another (towards opening or closing) depends upon our ability to live curiously, master the art of wonder, and be willing to grow. If you are not practicing curiosity, wonder and growth, most likely you are moving toward a closed state. We do not stay still - we are always, always, always, moving one way or the other. If we are open, we gain access to body wisdom. If we are closed, we are missing a source of priceless intelligence.

Let's begin our exploration with the tightly closed state, where our lives manifest through a cloud or lens of fear, guilt, shame and anger. In this state it is highly likely that we are unconscious of the emotions, sensations and energy coursing through our body. This denial of feeling catalyzes destructive behavior. Frequently the patterns of people in this state are reflected in addictions - take your pick: over-eating, over-spending, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, to name a few.

If you have seen the recent Academy Award-nominated movie August: Osage County, two characters - among several - aptly portray this tightly closed state. [SPOILER ALERT] Yes, there is a lot of dark "stuff" going on in this movie. But if we put the lens on the concept of Somatic Finance, the closed state, and destructive behavior, you can see the two lead characters, Violet, played by Meryl Streep, and Beverly, played by Sam Shepard, manifesting this way.

When we are scared, angry, or riddled with shame, unable to constructively process the energy in our body, numbing body sensations with alcohol or drugs is a common chosen path. Fearful of survival and angry about past events, Violet functions in life with the use of myriad pills, numbing her body of all subtle feeling. Her husband of fifty-plus years has chosen alcohol as his medicine of choice to hide the demons. Fear and anger hold Violet captive; her survival depends upon the contents of a bank deposit box, and verbal manipulation of written estate plans. She is angry about her life circumstances and the thread of survival is directly linked to money, even as her husband commits suicide.

In the very open state, or the most open state, one would be enlightened and concepts like somatic finance, money, wisdom, and even body would appear as lively displays of energy without assigning meaning. Suffice it to say, the space between open and closed is vast. For our unenlightened culture, our studies will focus on the space in the middle.

Being tightly closed is painful. The mind hijacks life, spins story after story, and concludes that money is the only answer to the pain; completely ignoring the embodied essence of being human. I will not disregard this situation and the many folks who inhabit this place. However, it is the end of the spectrum and highly likely most of these people are not reading this message. In this introduction I wanted to frame the spectrum so that you are aware of the importance our body plays - not only for our financial well-being, but even in a moderate level of functioning.

Exploring with you,

Be Moved...
Knowledge is acquired by grasping things. 
Wisdom is acquired by something grabbing us. 

 ~ Brother David Steindl-Rast