Neuroscience, psychology and more disciplines have realized – and now provide science evidence for – ways that your body, your mind, your emotions are connected and influence one another. Many cultures, throughout time, throughout the world, have understood these interconnections.
Some practices, like sitting meditation, yoga or kung fu have a general name, with a variety of specific styles (such as Vipassana meditation, Iyengar yoga, or Shaolin Wushu kung fu). Some practices are trademarked (such as Rolfing). Some practices never even needed a special name – people just do them.
“Somatics” is an umbrella term, created by westerners. It is used to describe practices which foster integration of mental-emotional life with one’s physical self.
One can do this style of work in a variety of ways: in solo, in one-on-one settings, or in groups. Often this style of learning is practiced through some version of still meditation, mindful movement, or bodywork. In many mindful-somatic learning environments, learning and restoration work is centered in “elastic terrain” – characterized by mental-emotional-physical stretching, encouraging, allowing – without forcing.
Whichever words YOU chose to use, this work is about learning to feel Body-Mind connections – within yourself, and feeling the connections between yourself and the rest of Nature.
A somatic exercise – often referred to as embodiement or conscious practice – is any activity with a primary goal of helping you feel what is going on as your body moves/exists/lives through an experience. Practice heightens interoceptive and proprioceptive capacity.
By exercising our SENSING capacity, through practice we facilitate our bodies’ ability to heal/regulate. Plasticity does not just occur the brain – our entire body tissue has incredible capacity for plasticity (aka change-healing-learning).
MORE FROM OTHER SOMATIC PRACTITIONERS…
“Somatic approaches emphasize sensory awareness (paying attention to sensing)…in somatics, kinesthetic awareness functions largely as a potent agent of change – a powerful means of altering habit…sensations to a large degree organize the mind. They do not simply give the mind material to organize; they are themselves a major organizing principle.” – Glenna Batson
“In other words, we bring to our journey a directed mind, and our practice, whether meditation, body work, yoga, tai ch’i, breathing, music dance or whatever, is to direct it to a place where no direction is needed any more. To some extent this happens naturally, by itself. Because even in a most controlled step by step teaching, our experience will certainly be mixed. We may be in the midst of hard work getting somewhere, such as trying to concentrate on the breath, when suddenly the breath itself just invites us in to explore the territory hidden there. We get up from a very achievement-oriented striving exercise, and just feel the sense of being alive, the sense of the morning, the mood of lightness, the moments of not caring where exactly we are. As we practice, we become more and more friendly with the wild and wonderful surprises of the present moment. The landscape tends to take us over. As we progress, our consciousness and heart themselves learn to love the freedom of the open road, of going no-where. From that place the milestones on the road are just another interesting pile of stones.” – Stephen Fulder
“A somatic approach to education integrates, as an existential whole, the experiential history of individuals with their current experience. It implies an education that trusts individuals to learn from their ability to attend and to listen to the information they are receiving from the interaction of self with the environment” – Barbara Sellers-Young.
“Somatics… understand human beings as integrated mind/body/spirit, or a psycho-biology. The understanding is that people are not mind over matter (‘If I think differently I will be different’), nor matter over mind or spirit (‘a change in chemistry or medication will wholly change my experience’), rather we are all of these things combined… Somatics approaches people as this integrated whole, working with all of these aspects of who we are… Somatics looks at the body as a place of evolutionary intelligence and learning… the mind and body are never really separate (a mind cannot live without a body and visa versa).” – Staci Haines