MINDFULNESS-BASED SOMATIC THERAPY
In a culture that encourages us to live from our brains, the wisdom and pace of our animal bodies can get lost.
Together, we will dive below the mental chatter and free the stored constriction and wisdom of your physical being—what does your body remember? What is it trying to tell you?
If we can slow down and open to inner awareness, the body can be our greatest resource, friend, and teacher.
I am largely influenced by the work of Dr. Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing Trauma Therapy). Levine noticed that wild animals don't experience traumatic stress (only humans and domesticated animals do)! For example, if a rabbit is almost eaten in a field, it doesn't begin to avoid fields, self-isolate, develop tics, or become depressed.
So, what is it that rabbits do that we don't do? Well, they know how to follow and complete their nervous system cycles, while we humans have trained ourselves out of many natural responses, like shaking, fighting back, or running away. Think about it: if your body wants to run away from your threatening boss, your brain is most likely going to stop you, because there would be unwanted consequences of that action.
Animals never have to override their instincts. In one sense, this has lead to amazing developments in human culture; in another sense, it has left us with a slew of nervous system issues: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, addictions, chronic pain (fibromyalgia, migraines, etc.), digestive issues (IBS, SIBO), perhaps even diagnoses like bipolar, autism, and autoimmune disorders.
So what can we do? Do we have to go live in the woods? Fortunately, there are ways we can work with our nervous systems that are safe, contained, and allowing. We can invite the body to tell us its needs, desires, and unfinished business, and then we can finish it!
This is where mindfulness comes in—in order to allow the body to unwind, we need to practice being in the present moment and attending not just to thoughts and mental chatter, but also to sensations, images, emotions, and behaviors. Perhaps a better word for this would be bodyfulness or presence, aligning mind and body.
I also believe that we do not regulate alone—as mammals, we are built for co-regulation. This means we use our relationships, and the therapist-client relationship, to resource and strengthen nervous system range. (This is partially based on Stephen Porges's work with polyvagal theory and also on Diane Poole Heller's work with attachment styles / attachment adaptations.)
The body is intelligent, and I believe that anything we are experiencing inside or any action we take (no matter how painful or seemingly destructive) comes from a place of trying to regulate and keep ourselves safe. Sometimes we just need to bring all of ourselves up to date by working through old material, in order to uncover our innate goodness and wisdom underneath.
If you feel that you have too much fight-or-flight feelings (almost all of us do) or are shut down and unable to engage (or you vacillate between the two), it is likely that the nervous system has some incomplete loops, perhaps from many years ago. Now is the time to complete them. I believe that we need regulated nervous systems in this world now more than ever.
You can sign up for my email list below to get a small taste of what digesting a bit of fight response might feel like, or click the button below to schedule a free 20-minute consultation.