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A Manual for Being Human: An Epic Journey to Your Expanded Self

“Each of us has an everyday self that we assume our self to be. But what if there is more to us than meets the eye? What if there is an expanded version of our self that includes not only the habitual patterns, the lost parts, and the innate organization but also a connection to the grand, scintillating space of the universe and the possibilities it offers us?”  (from the book)

Humanual is a unique and comprehensive approach to self-knowledge and self-improvement, offering a clear, concise, and rather simple set of explanations and exercises to facilitate understanding and unity of body, mind, and spirit. This includes a kind of uprightness that invites ease of movement and freedom from habit. Of course, the book also addresses how and why most people interfere with this ease and freedom. Humanual aims to provide insight and access to the expanded Self on a daily basis.

Understanding the cohesion and synchronization that connect the body, mind, and spirit can lead to an expanded version of oneself. Humanual offers specific guidance about how the musculoskeletal, nervous, and respiratory systems function. The book clearly outlines our evolutionary development of physicality and movement patterns, going on to explain personal adaptive patterns and character traits. The nervous system and effects of trauma are discussed in detail, as are natural human responses to danger as well as social connection. An extensive chapter on how the body is designed to function reveals many commonly accepted “myths” to be inaccurate. Exercises for a healthy, well-functioning body and meditations for a mind at ease are presented in a simple, easy-to-follow format.

Humanual not only illustrates ideal function of the human body, it gives concrete instruction on how to facilitate a change in habitual responses, helping the reader (or one’s clients) break the binding patterns that repeat physical, mental, and emotional responses based on past experience. Humanual is both instructional and inspirational—it is useful in daily life for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of how the body, mind, and spirit are unified to work together. Anyone can use the exercises in this book for personal exploration and growth.

“The expanded Self” is described as both our greatest potential and our birthright. As the term implies, we need not be limited in our vision, actions, dreams, and spirit when our body’s design and the mind’s reach offer us myriad ways to be an active and significant part of the world we see, experience, and create.

Given that this is a manual for being human, the intended audience is a broad “everyone.” The book provides a simple approach and easy-to-follow exercises for the person who is just beginning to explore any or all aspects of health and well-being. It also gives technical explanations for a deeper understanding that would be valuable for those well versed in self-improvement techniques. The material would be useful to therapists as a resource for helping clients prevent or gain ease from discomfort. The book’s strong point is its combination of ideas and synergistic encouragement to reach for improved function and feeling. There are many books on exercise, breathing, trauma, or meditation. But there are no books that I know of on the market that combine cutting-edge research in neuroscience such as the Polyvagal Theory with basic body design/function and mindfulness meditations. The uniqueness of Humanual is its explanation and demonstration of the connectedness or unity of both the body and the knowledge and techniques for mastering its potential. Humanual makes clear that the mind affects the body, affects the spirit, affects the emotions, self, and universe. This leads to all aspects of an expanded Self. Many authors refer to “the body” in various helpful ways. But no one has set out to explain for the average person the actual design of function, nor the design of activity in movement. This information is crucial to our well-being and needs to be taught widely and more comprehensively. I believe Humanual can fill this gap.

Betsy Polatin, MFA, SEP, an internationally recognized breathing/movement specialist, and best-selling author has been teaching for forty-five years. Her unique and intuitive perspectives are greatly influenced by the study of movement, breath, and trauma, as well as the teachings of Spiritual and Meditation Masters. She speaks at conferences around the world. As a well-known educator, she has had numerous articles published in the Huffington Post and is the author of The Actor’s Secret.


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