New Book

I have published a new book about somafera. One thing I have noticed over the years I have been involved in the somafera community is that a lot of people do not process information well in the rather academic way I went about it in the previous book. Instead, they tend to understand things better when presented with examples. So I wrote a memoir, a narrative of my own story as a somaferan. I included, in brief, the stories of several others. It’s a short booklet, a little more than eighty pages, but I believe I included the important things. I go over what childhood can be like for a berserker, and how to gain control. I discuss the unique problems of a somaferan nature, and show some ways they can be dealt with. It can be purchased here.

(The title comes from something they always used to write on my report cards when I was a kid.)

dnpwwofrontcover

Advertisements

Tendons, ligaments, and the gangr.

Recently I received the following question in the comments section, and thought it deserved wider attention:

“when someone enters the gangr and try to lift a very heavy weight that would normaly is to much for his tendons en joints to handle, will the enforced healing capability fix this problem? I mean when his tendons begin to slowly rip apart will this be healed so that he still can lift the weight?”

The answer is, unfortunately, no. Berserkers heal fast, but not that fast. One of the hard upper limits on enhanced strength is the tendons and ligaments. A berserker enhances his or her strength in a few ways. The primary source of it is adrenaline, combined with burning whatever fuel reserves the body is holding by for an emergency. Lowering the activity in the antagonist muscles is another, permitting more of the body’s inherent strength to be exercised. A reduction of the brain’s natural inhibitions, a lack of ability to feel fear, and an insensitivity to pain can also allow you to exert more of your strength than you normally would, because you aren’t thinking about the consequences. Finally, one of the odder effects of the berserker unitary state is the ability to very rapidly un-knot cramped muscles, which also ups the amount of strength you can effectively use by a bit.

None of that has any effect on the tendons. Let me relate an amusing story that should serve you all as a cautionary tale. I am a big man. 6’2”, large frame, decently muscled. Most fights I have been in, both in and out of the ring, have been against fighters who were, at most, as large as me, and often smaller. Several years ago, I was in my amped-up training phase to prepare for that year’s Shieldbiter’s Cup berserker tournament when I learned about another amateur MMA tournament in my area, not specifically a berserker thing. So I thought I would enter it as a warmup.

It was a decent warmup. I went through my first few bouts undefeated. Then I was confronted by an opponent who was significantly bigger than me, and who had far superior training in classic martial arts to me. This pushed me to my limits when fighting him. I was deeply berserk. In that state, well, you revert to instinctive behavior, not a lot of human level thinking going on. One of my fight-ending techniques, that had often served me well, was to bull-rush my opponent, drop low, and use my berserker strength to lift him over my head and throw him. I did that with this guy, though he was over 300 pounds. My wolfish self assessed that I had the strength, when berserk, to do it. I did, in fact, manage to lift him completely overhead.

Then my MCL tore. That’s one of the tendons in the knee. My muscle output was amplified. Tendon strength was the same as ever. I fell. My larger opponent fell on top of me, of course. I spent a year on crutches and walking with a cane. I am only recently getting something like my old shape back.

Somafera, Religion, and Spirituality

It has recently been pointed out to me that I need to address the issue of somafera, religion, and spirituality again. I have done so before, on multiple occasions, but apparently I have written enough on the topic of somafera that it is not always easy for everybody to find everything.

First of all, let me make one thing clear: somafera practice is not a religion, and it is not a form of spirituality. At its most basic, the various somafera practices are forms of applied physiological science. They alter the way the body and mind function in order to make them work better, for short periods of time. Practically speaking, the matter is more complicated than that.
Entering a somaferan state involves transcendental emotions. For the vast majority of people, that is going to involve some kind of spiritual or religious experience. On the one hand, this is the only way most people can ever experience such powerful emotions, outside of life or death experiences. On the other hand, the experience of feeling transcendental emotions will be experienced as a spiritual or religious experience for the great majority of people. It is simply human nature that this is so.
The thing is, it is not this way for everyone. There are also atheist somaferans. Not many, but I have known a few. They do not use spiritual or religious experiences to achieve transcendental emotions. When they experience such emotions, the do not perceive them as having either a religious or as spiritual component (and no, “religious” and “spiritual” are not synonyms).
One thing that spiritual somaferans and atheist somaferans have in common, though, is the need for meditation. You see, overload alone is not enough. The overload has to happen in a state of meditative calm. This is because adrenaline alone is a really bad thing, when taken to excess. High levels of adrenaline cause the shakes, poor coordination, and bad judgment. Meditation calms the mind, and the rest of the nervous system, allowing the body to experience the benefits of adrenaline without any of the drawbacks. Additionally, meditation allows the deep subconscious to be more easily accessed, and this is a prerequisite of the gangr. elevating requires the whole mind to act in unison, and this cannot happen without tapping into the deep subconscious.
(Side note here: reflexive gangrs that occur in response to life or death crises do not technically require meditation at all. However, this is only because the sheer shock and surprise wipes away everything that was in the conscious awareness, and dumps the mind into an instantaneous, deep, default meditative state.)
Spiritual somaferans see meditation as a method of getting in contact with spiritual powers. Atheist somaferans see meditation as a form of hypnosis, entraining the mind into the right channels.
There is something of a debate in the modern world between the religious/spiritual perspective on the one hand, and the atheist perspective on the other. I do not take either position, myself. I am a monistic idealist, philosophically speaking. The only reason that we know that everything in the observable world is made of physical particles is because we have the mental experience of observing them. There is no experiment on the observable world that has ever been conducted or ever will be conducted that does not end with “…and I know this because I saw/heard/touched/smelled/tasted it.” In other words, the primary layer of reality as we experience it is mental, not physical. Physical objects, the entire outside world, is at its very foundation a special type of mental experience. Please note that this is not because experiments are badly designed. No experiment, no matter how cleverly set up, can ever change this. Reality is primarily mental.
Because I do not know enough to say that one of these views is true and the others are false, I do not claim that any religious belief is false. As a consequence of this, I accept all religious beliefs as provisionally true, at least until I get any better evidence one way or another. Therefore, I believe in Odin and the gods of Valhalla. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I believe that there is one god, and Mohammed is his prophet. I believe that Buddha was enlightened and that Lao Tzu achieved great comprehension of the Tao. I believe in the lwa, and the orisha. I believe in the flying spaghetti monster. I even believe the atheists are correct. We all have a small part of the truth. Nothing more. To claim greater knowledge than this is hubris, the act of an egotistical fool.

Pavel Tsatsouline

Today, I wish to take a moment to offer you all some good advice: if you are into physical fitness, and especially if you are a martial artist, you need to check out the works of Pavel Tsatsouline. The Evil Russian, as he is known, is hands down the most knowledgeable and effective trainer for fighting fitness and general fitness I have ever run across. As a former fitness trainer for the Spetsnaz, he should be! Following his advice, I went from being a guy who had serious back and neck problems and got winded after a minute of intense activity to being a guy who is the winner of numerous amateur mixed martial arts tournaments and has defeated SEALs and marines in them as often as they have defeated me. Everything the Evil Russian has ever written is well worth buying.

And just in case Mr. Tsatsouline ever chances to read this: thank you, Comrade!

Zero-Wod Elevation

Although I try to provide plenty of information here for pups and those outside this practice, this is also a place for the discussion of more advanced somaferan topics, and that is what I have to discuss today.

As some who were part of the Pack before it disbanded are aware, my primary research goal for the past several years has been to develop a zero-wod elevation technique. As those who have used somafera techniques to actually do things with are aware, it burns a LOT of energy. Quickly. Just going berserk can take the bulk of your reserves, leaving you little to actually accomplish your goals. So it makes sense to try to reduce the amount of wod that is needed to go berserk, or enter any other kind of somafera state.

Many years ago, some of the older members of the Pack noticed that besides the basic overload technique, elevation could be accomplished by practicing entering the state over and over again, and learning it to the level at which it become instinctual. The more instinctual and habitual it is, the easier it is to enter a somafera state. In other words, there seemed to be two paths to elevation. The easiest was overwhelming emotion. The other one was precision of thought.

So we hypothesized that there should be a way to elevate without using any wod at all. A way of thinking that could lead the mind into the desired state without effort. So I made it my goal to find such a thing, if it exists.

I have not yet succeeded. But I have learned a couple of important things. The first is that elevation can be accomplished via storytelling. Picking the right story and telling it, whether to yourself or another, can guide your mind along the right paths and lead you to elevation with a lot less wod than would normally be required.

The second thing is much more useful. I suspect that the key to zero wod elevation lies in being different selves simultaneously. Us somaferans are multiples of some sort naturally. Shamanic practitioners can become many different selves as well, through shamanic technique. When you can become multiple selves at once, without straining to maintain the state, the interactions between them seem to lead to gangr flashes that require no effort or setup at all.

Some of you know one of the techniques for entering the gangr reliably: learning to hit a dagaz moment, and stringing them together until they merge into a gangr. I think the key to true zero wod elevation lies in this being multiple selves and stringing these gangr flashes together until they merge.

To my old brothers and sisters from the Pack: I hope your studies and practices are going well too.

More Meditation Advice

I have given meditation instructions for beginners elsewhere on this blog, as well as instructions for people with ADHD to use to meditate. It has been brought to my attention, though, that there are other questions that people new to meditation need answered, such as how often to do it, and how long to do it for.

Pushing yourself to the point where you are just going through the motions is bad. It is better to stop before this. Not doing enough is also bad. If you have little experience with meditation, try five minutes meditating, then ten minutes off, then five minutes meditating, then ten minutes off, then another five minutes. During the time off, listen to music and relax. Over time, shrink the rest periods until you can do fifteen minutes straight. Eventually, you want to be able to do a solid half hour. You need that much ability and focus before you can really learn to berserk deliberately.
Again, pushing too hard is bad, though.
There is also the matter of silence. Silence is best for many people. It is not good for all people. Experiment, and see what works for you best. Don’t be afraid to change it up, and try different things. It is all part of the process.

Berserker Music

One of the old members of the forum just got back in contact with me, to catch up. She gave me a link to the music she’s been making since the forum ended. It’s here:

Now, I was born in the seventies, and grew up during the eighties. I grew up with old school metal like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Megadeth and so forth, so when I say that I like metal, I mean that I like old school metal.

Her stuff is awesome! Genuine hardcore, old school metal! Not about the berserkergang, but the kind of music that does many berserkers good to listen to, an expression of her own somaferan nature. Check it out. I particularly liked Through With Humanity.