paralysis as brilliant sanity

“i do yoga everyday, but i’ve never made a habit of it.”                        ~ J. Krishnamurti (back of original Yogaspot t  😉 )

oops. ok. really this is about, “repetitive movement is a form of paralysis”, credited to Emilie Conrad.

a wonderful number of my embodiment/bodyworker/yoga teacher type loves have ‘quandaried’ about this quote that appears in the signature of my emails.

some vocab: (with help from and

movement – motion, eventfulness, a group of people, sign of life, change of position…

paralysis – impairment of voluntary movement, stoppage…

stimming – (shorthand for self-stimulation, can be associated with autism) repetitive body movement to stimulate one or more of the senses, functions as sensory input

stereotypy – repetitive movement (ex- tic disorders within Tourette Syndrome, teeth grinding/bruxism, …)

repetition – act of repeating

petrificus totalis – a spell that freezes the victim, incapable of moving but for breathing and gazing around

sanity – quality of ‘sound’ mind and/or health – that’s a fun one. of course i find no definition of sanity that i can grasp onto 😉

brilliant – magnificent, showing great intelligence

brilliant sanity – a concept from contemplative buddhist psychotherapy that is difficult to articulate. has to do with the full spectrum of human responses being conditionally appropriate given the tools and experiences added up into the nature of the self at any moment. ex.- to freak out with the demands on our egomindbody mechanisms these days, is a brilliantly sane response…

or think of it this way: “Our senses, after all, were developed to function at foot speeds, and the transition from foot travel to motor travel, in terms of evolutionary time, has been abrupt.” ~Wendell Berry, p. 17 in Andrea Olsen’s Body and Earth

reflex – an involuntary response to a stimulus (as in Moro/startle, Babinski, plantar/palmer grasp, rooting, etc)

repeating signs of life sounds like a good thing!

repeating something is not the same as repetitive movement… beginner’s mind, starting over… coming back to the cushion to sit again and again… ashtangis takin’ it to the mat everyday with the same series of postures to practice- it’s a new practice everyday- like krishnamurti said, eh?

and then there’s this – suffering a repetitive strain injury- literally yielding decreased mobility in that moving part… repetitive movement as a form of paralysis, anyone?

my digestion of emilie’s quote is around habituated patterns versus conscious, free, creative unpatterned ways of waying. when stimming is helping someone integrate their sense of self or feel free, it is a great example of what trungpa rinpoche coined brilliant sanity.

yet, when someone feels the stickiness of a patterned behavior, or routine, or movement – we might call it being in a rut – a deep pattern that is super hard to jump out of… yeh? no? (technically the deepest darkest pit of that trench is still brilliant sanity, as such experiences continue to evolve us – push us on towards whatever the mechanism needs for the next phase…)

(if you’ve read the previous post – you might can imagine what a twitch i’m in, with these suchnesses of “next”, “evolve”, …as if there could be a now and a then… alas, this is the it-ness of it 🙂 )

suggested experiments in the body, to discern repetitive movement as paralysis versus free/reflective/useful:

~ it’s winter. i’m guessing many of us are putting on open front coats and jackets more often these days. swing your coat on with the ‘other’ arm going in the sleeve first! i’ve been playing with this one. it’s easy to form the new habit, and entertaining to keep going back and forth – confusing myself as to which one was/is dominant even…

~ shove the ‘other’ foot in the pants leg first

~ brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand

~take a brand new route to and from work

how does emilie’s quote sound/feel to you?? what are youz thinkin’ out there in human land?

wishing every sentient being freedom from clinging, craving and aversion



3 Responses to “paralysis as brilliant sanity”

  1. corpse pose « embodhiment Says:

    […] Some of us, or course, experience all this as ironically stagnant and resist it. This touches on a prior post I wrote on repetitive movement as a form of paralysis – an Emile Conrad concept. We get so set in our sense of self and doing and being, that even the shape of our shoulder […]

  2. movement = life? | embodhiment Says:

    […] As such, the mind is not a thing but a process – ever changing/shifting/moving – whether it is a still stone or an atrophied human on breathing and heart beating machines. Mind is a minor facet of consciousness. And if we are minded beings – best described as movements in change versus the outdated states of being –  yah, we are alive. Not sure then what qualifies as dead – unmoved, unconscious, unminded… I can’t really think of anything. Paradoxically, full-stops, breaks, gaps, rest, letting go, pausing, exhaling, death to what came before actually allows for and creates the space for movement (life) to continue… Re-think on this’n: “repetitive movement is a form of paralysis.” credited to Emilie Conrad […]

  3. silent tidal breath | embodhiment Says:

    […] by the miraculous Rebecca, in the lineage of the one who spoke: “repetitive movement is a form of paralysis,” in a post that helped start this whole […]

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