Home july-2019-issue The Embodiment of Primary Respiration: Order, Organization and Transparency

The Embodiment of Primary Respiration: Order, Organization and Transparency


Stillness in the midst of motion and commotion is free of will, direction, and time.
It is a complete letting be of what is from moment to moment.
—Toni Packer, “Unmasking the Self”

By Michael J. Shea, PhD



Biodynamic practice is a study of embodied perception of primary respiration (PR) which is the experience of living moving slowness in the body. This discussion will include an attempt to define terms. It is not so easy to give words to embodied experience, but we need a starting point! At the same time, I must lay out the ground of perceiving such slowness by elaborating a set of principles I rediscover every time I am in practice with a client or even waiting in line in the grocery store. These principles are the groundwork for a personal discovery of the stages of perceiving PR as it unfolded in my own experience.
They culminate in an embodiment of transparency such that PR is free to move in the body and mind of the practitioner with minimal restriction.

Definition: Embody – a verb

1. To be an expression of or give a tangible or visible form to (an idea, quality, or feeling).

• “She embodies compassion and loving kindness.”

• Synonyms: personify, incorporate, give human form/shape to, realize, manifest, express, concretize, symbolize, represent, epitomize, stand for, encapsulate, typify, exemplify.

• “He embodies what everybody takes to be typical of the mindfulness meditation movement.”

• Provide (a spirit) with a physical form.

• “Nothing of the personality of the enlightened Heart as embodied in the Buddha will be lost.”

2. To include or contain (something) as a constituent part.

• “the changes . . . in attitude and intention as embodied in the perception of primary respiration”

• Synonyms: incorporate, include, contain, take in, consolidate, encompass, assimilate, integrate, concentrate.


The embodied perception of PR as I use the term is the felt sense of order and organization in the body. Order and organization are episodic on a daily and lifelong basis. It comes and goes, waxes and wanes like the moon and the ocean tide. We are linked to a much larger intelligence in the natural world that permeates our body and is our body. To become embodied is to experience the vascular pulsations and breath in their shifting locations internally and their unique everchanging rhythms. It is through the perception of PR that order and organization become embodied. Everyone has his or her own unique experience of the natural world inside and outside of the body. Like an embryo, we are constantly informing and outforming with a multitude of sense perceptions and trillions of metabolic processes occurring right now, mixing us together with the outside world. It is said in Buddhist Tantra: “as with out, so with in.” Every molecule must become still for transformation.


Embodiment implies wholeness wherein the parts are unrecognizable at any level. Wholeness is our aliveness. To embody wholeness is to have a felt sense of the . . .


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Michael J Shea PhD is the author of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, Volumes 1-5 and Myofascial Release Therapy. He teaches Shamatha meditation classes around the world. He was a founding board member of the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America (BCTA-NA). He lives in South Florida with his wife Cathy who claims to be a mermaid. He also grows the world’s best mangos and is known locally as the MangoBuddha. For more information on his various trainings visit his website: sheaheart.com