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"If you can feel it and sense it, you can change it".
Somatics is neuro-muscular movement re-education - sensory motor training that works at the level of the brain and nervous system to relieve unconscious, habitual tension and offer a break in the feedback loop for maladaptive movement patterns. In pandiculation muscles regain a comfortable resting length and the brain is reminded it has a variety of movement options. Body maps, also known as corticol maps, in the brain are updated and new patterns and ranges of movement become available.
Stress and trauma can take their toll on the body. Through somatic practice an individual becomes aware of unconscious tension and how to release it for him/herself, and is encouraged to explore movement and improve motor control. The qualities of attention, awareness and concentration are cultivated in this practice of mindfulness in movement. The individual experiences him/herself in a parasympathetic state. Being able to consciously restore balance in the nervous system offers the individual a capacity for self-efficacy, self-regulation and agency in his/her life.
The exercises are simple and enjoyable to do. The effect is like giving yourself a massage, and the movements taught involve the whole body, not just isolated parts.
Watch the video of my teacher, Martha Peterson, explaining Thomas Hanna's framework of stress patterns on the body.
Try the washrag and arch and flatten exercises for yourself! Take your time, do them slooooowly, with awareness and keep it smooth. Feel the changes.
Clinical Somatic Education is a hands on procedure. We are very clear in calling it education - where the client learns to become self-efficient; as opposed to therapy - where the client must return to the therapist for relief.
Thomas Hanna taught students of Somatics to view clients not a bodies, but rather 'somas'. A soma is the body viewed as a living process. Each 'soma' is an individual, with his/her own patterns of holding, tension, and movement habits, as well as life experiences, fears, beliefs, expectations and emotional responses. As Somatic Educators, our work with each 'soma' is unique to that person.
"The procedure of somatic education is to make conscious that which was previously an unconscious and pernicious habit. Once they have this sensory awareness-which is proprioceptive awareness-they then have the necessary motor control."
"The basic somatic task during our lifetime is to gain greater and greater control over ourselves, learning to flow with the stress and trauma of life, like a cork floating on top of the waves."