Layer of Touch

I wish I had a lover who would allow me to touch.

A quiet night in early summer I would lay you down on the slightly wet grass

My hands will follow the lead of your skin

To the superficial fascia that stores the sorrow and joy of your being and that

Forms your form you present to everybody else but to me.

Lead my hands, My Love, toward your deep fascia that holds

The strength and vulnerability of your physical being.

My hands travel over the ever-changing topology of your muscles

In awe of a wayfarer who has found the land of grace nobody ever touched.

My hands are a witness of the grace unfolding

Layer by layer you allow me to touch,

And then I hold your heart in my hands

And dance the heart dance to the beat of our heart.

Then I will let you go, My Love,

Your peaceful skelton to the waves of the ocean that caress the sands

Where our castles once were.

I had the most profound learning experience in Integral Anatomy Workshop.  This poem is dedicated to “Tony” and  Dr. Gil Hedley and Somanauts.

Mindfulness of Changing Blades

When you find yourself in a new group setting, it’s a great opportunity to learn about yourself.

In the first week, I assumed my usual role in a group.   I was that person who perform mundane tasks in silence.  During the first week, I changed hundreds of scalpel blades for the entire class at the instrument station.

Each table were supposed to be responsible for taking care of the instruments, but there are always some who do it for everybody, and there are always some who just like to pick up a scalpel with a new blade.  The first time I came up to the instrument station holding a scalpel with a dulled blade, I saw scalpels with new blades already there.  I thought “Sweet!” and grabbed some back to my work station. The second time around I tried to change the blades by myself and I couldn’t do it.   Somebody nearby showed me how to do it and still I had a great difficulty and struggled every time.

As a kinesthetic learner, the best way to learn is to do it.  I decided to be the blade person in the group.

Drawing by Tam Tran Valenti

Drawing by Tam Tran Valenti

It is my way of introspection, grounding, taking a refuge from the group dynamics, or just to standing up and walking away from the work station.  I create a safe place for me by assuming an unremarkable role.  It is a way of hiding and anchoring at the same time.

Every time I felt tired, frustrated, or just lost concentration, I left my table and went to the instrument station and placed new blades on scalpels.  My hand learned the subtle angle to slide a blade into the notch and the pressure needed to pull the blade out.  At the end of the week, I was a quick and deadly blade changer.

Then the familiar pattern emerged.

I took dozens of “dirty” scalpels left to the sink to rinse them and found one scalpel with a blade still attached.  The used blade was supposed to be removed and disposed into a medical waste container by the user.  One person failed to do so and tossed the scalpel with a dulled blade into a pile of scalpels.

I could have cut my hands rinsing it.

I felt the familiar rage rising up from my gut.   I felt disrespected and taken for granted.   My historical anger dating back to the old days started to bubble up along with this particular anger.  I’ve been there.

I caught it in time.

Nobody asked me to change the blades.  It was not my job.  I was doing because it served my purpose.  Did I do it because I wanted to be appreciated and loved, desperately trying to fit in the group by being useful?  Then it’s an old pattern.  It won’t work.

I reassessed the situation.  I’ve learned how to change blades expertly.  I’m already an integral part of the group and feeling safe.  I don’t need to hide.   It doesn’t serve me anymore.

By 10th day I stopped being a blade changer of the entire group and only took care of my work station.  When I came up to the instrument station to change MY blades, I saw one person struggling with the blade.  I showed her how to change blades and left for my work station.

Now somebody else is changing blades for the entire group.

Every day is a good day to learn something.

Deep Rollers Club


“There are shallow rollers, and there are deep rollers. You can’t breed two deep rollers… or their young, their offspring, will roll all the way down… hit and die. Agent Starling is a deep roller. Let us hope one of her parents was not.”     Quote from Hannibal

Work of deep psychology requires us to roll.  There are shallow rollers and there are deep rollers.  We need to teach the young how to roll deep without crashing.

I used to roll deep.  I guess one of my parents wasn’t a deep roller.  I survived.  I don’t deep-roll anymore.

I believed that I should roll deep, that I should risk crashing and dying, and that the psychological work should be painful.

I suspect that I was addicted to the sense of elation after the deep roll. From the bottom of self-hatred, we soar to the high of “I am different because I roll deep.”

After all it was millions of rolling without crashing that saved me.

Psychological work is just like athletic training.  You need to train your mind’s muscles to roll deep.  I hope you find a good trainer/coach/therapist, who could teach you how to roll without crashing.

About Diagnosis

It is useful to have a trail map when you hike unknown territory. It will save you from getting lost at dusk or falling into an abandoned well. When I become familiar with the territory, I’ll know the trail is not the territory, and I’ll start to communicate with creatures in the woods.

DSM V is merely an incomplete and tentative trail map of the vast and unfathomable territory of our psyche.  I hope your therapist is willing to communicate with creatures in the woods without getting lost.