Primary Satisfaction

A note from Carl:

I just finished re-listening to our most recent Embodiment Matters Podcast conversation with Francis Weller. Just like when we were having the conversation live, I pretty much had goosebumps (truthbumps) and tears the entire time. We covered such fertile terrain about what it means to be an embodied human being, living a soulful life in our times.

You can listen to the episode here.

As our podcast is new, if you are drawn, we sincerely ask for your help in getting the word out. As I was listening this morning, I thought of so many people in my life: “I hope that she gets to listen to this…I bet he would love this conversation...”

Sharing on Facebook and Instagram is wonderful, or sending it to a friend who might enjoy. Also writing a review or rating it on iTunes is also super-helpful. Thank you.

One of the topics that came up in our conversation, that has been alive for me ever since, is a distinction that Francis makes between primary satisfactions and secondary satisfactions. He describes primary satisfactions as the ways humans have been nourished over the last 50,000 years on the planet. Things like sitting by a fire, eating meals together, making music or art, collecting food, dancing together, rituals, rites of passage, gazing at a starry sky, grieving together…

Many of these primary satisfactions are no longer so present in the day-to-day life of modern humans, so we turn to secondary satisfactions.  These secondary satisfactions can include a whole range of our distractions and addictions, whether to food, or news, or Facebook, or alcohol, or busyness, or various other substances. He also includes on the list of secondary satisfactions: status, wealth, power, influence, and so on. How ever much we get, they tend to leave us unsatisfied, and rarely with a felt sense of “enough.” I know well the feeling of stepping away from the computer like I’ve just eaten a whole bag of delicious (yet not so satisfying) potato chips.

For me, this distinction is helpful as I have found myself adjusting my inner- compass more in the direction of those primary satisfactions, and letting myself really take in the nourishment they offer. Underlining and appreciating things like a solitary walk in the canyon, having a meal with my family, making incense offerings on the porch, taking in a good poem, sitting with Erin on our front bench with a coffee as the sun rises and we receive the conversations of birdsongs, wrestling with Mesa, listening well to a friend who is in pain, doing tai chi in the park, sitting in a circle of men…

Yet leaning just a bit in the direction of those primary satisfactions and taking in the nourishment they provide, has been a gift. 


“Crossing Some Ocean In Myself” 

-Mark Nepo

Half a century, and finally,

what I feel is what I say

and what I say is what I mean.

What I mean is that others,

so used to my gargantuan efforts to be good,

don’t understand my efforts to be real.

They find me coming up short.

I’m simply burning old masks.

And the next step takes me–

I don’t know where–

as it should be–

I don’t know

just that I love who I love.

I listen with my heart.

I struggle with the reflexes of my mind.

I mean, the pains of life are sharper now

but disappear more clearly the way

knives are swallowed by the sea.

And the subtleties of being come on

like waves that cleanse but which,

when dry, cannot be seen.

So much like a gentle animal now,

unsure what I was fighting for,

except to breathe and sing, except

to call out the human names of God

that others have uttered when

thoroughly stripped of their plans.

So much like a love animal now

until the end of any day’s work

is the soft moment

when loving and being loved

are the same.

All year round,

the birds and trees instruct,

make visible the wind

the way reaching without shame

makes visible the love.

May you experience deep, primary satisfactions in your day today.


We'd love it if you'd consider sharing with your networks.
Share on Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Email this to someone
Don't miss a single post. Sign up here to get them delivered straight to your inbox.
Posted in


By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.