Not Knowing

Michael J Shea, PhD


Biodynamic practice is the study of perception and embodied wholeness. It is plain and simple from our teachers. In this re-ordering of our world that is happening, it is important to name a third aspect of biodynamic practice. And we should make it the first and most important part of our practice. Biodynamics is the study and practice of compassion and compassionate action. Compassion is feeling our own pain and suffering from social distancing to the deeper states of mind that keep us locked in compulsive behaviors. This also includes the natural fear of change process that is so deep and that we cannot control because we don’t know. If we can recognize this awkward movement within ourselves, we can then feel what everyone else on the planet earth is feeling inside their body and mind. The heart of compassion.

So, the priority is to open to our heart of compassion in this time of social distancing and daily death counts. We must take refuge in our heart at 70 beats per minute and lower the beats per minute! We must drop our breath down deep into our belly of not knowing. It is vitally important to feel sad and feel the warmth and tenderness that this sadness brings to our cardiovascular system and body-mind in general. It softens the mind and creates humility from the not knowing rather than chaos.

Two years ago, I spoke at a biodynamic craniosacral therapy conference in Spain. I was asked what I thought was the most important part of biodynamic practice. I answered that the practitioner should periodically simply bow their head when they have their hands on the client. It is the gesture of humility and a gesture of recognizing our own sanity, wisdom and generosity intrinsic to our being. In this gesture of bowing there is a recognition of that same state in the client. What better way to make a client feel safe than to bow in recognition of their own health and well-being that is inside of them already operating under the metaphors that we use of Primary Respiration and dynamic stillness. This bow is also a short prayer in which we offer our own helplessness and state of not knowing as a compassionate action. Such a truth will set us free.

When we bear witness to our own pain and suffering, we more fully recognize our own not knowing. It can greatly decrease the amount of wasted time, energy and technique to try to fix ourselves and others. It invites and gives the more potent spiritual aspects of Primary Respiration and dynamic stillness complete freedom to transform what needs to be transformed in one’s body and mind. This is the gesture of transformation. It is simply a bow of the head.

Since many of us are not treating clients, when we read the latest piece of bad news, we can simply bow our head in the space of not knowing. This act deeply engages the potency of the health intrinsic to Primary Respiration and dynamic stillness. We must understand the dynamic stillness is a metaphor for not knowing. Dr. Sutherland said “trust the tide.“ Now we must trust the dynamic stillness in its deeper transformational state, the simplicity of not knowing.

Trust the not knowing. It gives us freedom from compulsive thinking of trying to accomplish something more. It activates the very core of compassion and compassionate action to accomplish less, less thinking, conceptualizing and generating emotions that are unwholesome. To embody this is to feel our heartbeat and feel our breath into our belly. Keep it simple. Stay with your literal heart.  That is the center.  Do not move until the health of the client requests your attention.

What a gift we have been given by the masters whose shoulders we all stand upon. I have profound gratitude and respect for all those teachers, the osteopaths, the healers, my mother and father, the Navajo shamans who initiated me and all those trying to help others including the cashier in the grocery store.

The Buddha said, “be a light unto yourself.” Sutherland called that light the Breath of Life from the Bible. That light is in your heart and it will attract and draw forth your skillfulness in treating yourself with biodynamic compassion and your clients. Bow to turn on that light. It is the bright light of the Breath of Life, the very breath of compassion.

2 thoughts on “Not Knowing”

  1. Sue Watson says:

    Thank you
    I struggle to find words for what we do (or don’t do), how we work (or be) and the possibility of biodynamic craniosacral therapy – your words give me hope that one day I will find my own way of articulating this profoundly wonderful offering

  2. L aura Sexton says:

    so beautifully put!
    I feel like Sue too, I have difficulty even beginning to describe it to people who ask “what is it exactly” I feel my understanding of what it is will deepen as i understand more about myself and the human condition and just keep doing it. Initially I had regrets at not finding this wonderful discipline at an earlier stage of life, i am 67 and just half way thru my basic training but the truth is this is the right time for me. For the first time in my life i feel happy to be here right now, just doing what im doing, it is changing me in so many ways.

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