“The difference between the “natural” individuation process, which runs its course unconsciously, and the one that is consciously realized is tremendous. The encounter between conscious and unconscious has to ensure that the light that shines in the darkness, is not only comprehended by the darkness, but comprehends it.”C. W. Jung
Soma and the Ego
A person’s psychological history is alive and present in everything we do, and the way in which we do them, the way we use our body, the way we move our body, the location where we hold tension and how that tension is held, how we breathe, our posture and our physical body structure. It is essential we turn to the body for psychological information to better understand the motivations behind our physiological behavior.
The term ‘soma’ means ‘body’ in Latin. Soma mirrors our internal thoughts and feelings that are often determined by the external; events, conversations and circumstances. Often individuals live their lives from the neck up. In other words they live in their head. However, when we learn how to reconnect and align with our body (soma), often our perspective of the external shifts. We begin to align with our inner truth and purpose naturally. In doing so we slowly become unshackled from fear, anxiety and over reactive behavior.
Once body and mind are reunited begin communicating with each other again, external threats and concerns slowly begin to dissipate. Our attitude, perceptions and reactions express themselves in the way our body moves, holds, contracts, tenses, relaxes and expands. The body stores and memorizes every single external and internal moment of our life.
Soma creates innumerable neurobiological inner connections. How we relate to our self, our life, and the world in general is largely based on the degree of connection we have with soma. Our authentic truth is directly proportional to the neurobiological and neurophysiological inner connections we create. Our inner connections strive to support our best self?
Many of us live what I often refer to as, “the un-lived life”. If we are to be rigorously honest with our self; often we come to realize that we have no clue who we really are, what we really want out of life, or what our life purpose is? Without purpose in life it is difficult to find contentedness or true happiness. To find purpose or calling in life we need a roadmap to connect to our truth. Soma provides the roadmap to understanding of what we want out of life?
Whereas our ego-based mind is extraordinarily protective and highly proficient, in rationalizing, conceptualizing, defending, deflecting, bridging, refining, denying, and highly selective regarding what we are allowed to recall or retain. This is why it is often difficult to sort through our issues and challenges solely through traditional “talk therapy”.
Somatic Practice Intentions
A primary intention of somatic practices and body psychology are to help us reconnect with our body; the body we wear every day. Heightened bodily awareness is the key that allows us to access heightened bodily sensations, which is the foundation that grounds us in our authentic Self. Somatic practices help integrate the body and mind, which is the proverbial gateway for ANY and ALL real psychic transformation desired.
Somatic-based approaches open the door to re-connection with our inner intuition and the ‘wisdom of the body’. In this way we can actually access how and what we feel in the moment we are feeling it, versus going to the head for cognitive thoughts about what we are feeling and why. In this way we can better understand our true self, often hidden beneath our persona and mask, which we wear each and every day. Somatic practices help develop our intra-connectedness within our body. Grounding in our body reinforces our sense of connection with self, others and the world, thus our sense of feeling complete.
Our belief systems, emotions, reactions, perspective on life, physical sensations, and illnesses are all inter-connected. Somatic body psychology explores these inter-connections so we can make sense of them. Somatic practices impact our perceptions toward life, the way we think and act, and allows us to move through emotional, physical and relational challenges.
To overcome recurring behavioral patterns, old stories, limiting belief patterns, obstacles and challenges; awareness and mental insight are not enough. Awareness of an issue is just the first step. Purposeful action is required to resolve longstanding behavioral and cognitive issues. However, for most individual’s awareness is often where their inquiry stops. Hence adverse behavior and struggle persist. Our conscious (ego) mind rationalizes our behavior and then creates stories, lies to support our behaviors so we don’t feel the pain of the truth as acutely.
The ego-based conscious mind will rationalize, project, repress, even disassociate so we can continue to live our life just as we always have. The problem with living in a perpetual state of denial is that all those un-examined issues, or open wounds continue to fester in our unconscious psyche. Eventually, these unprocessed complexes (wounding or trauma) manifest into triggers that inflict internal pain and suffering. Inauthentic, fear-based, self-centered, aggressive and uncontrollable reactive behavior has a lasting adverse effect in all areas of our life; family, friends, relationships and in our careers.
What is worse is that our inner critic, the self defeating committee in our head, is freely allowed to run wild through negative, self-martyring self-talk, which is received and processed as truth. Stories are not based on present day truth, they are based on past life experiences, often from traumatic experiences, or associations from our childhood. Most emotional suffering originates from living in the past, or in the future, which we create in our head. Moreover, the pain and suffering they cause are completely unnecessary.
The one constant in life is change. Life changes moment-by-moment, as does our life experience. Logic dictates that if we explore and work through old stories and limiting belief patterns, we can then change them to support who we want to be. Issues that are not explored and resolved remain unresolved open wounds, that morph into triggers, effectively converting us into a puppet on a string.
How Somatic Practices Heal
Through somatic-based practices we can explore these old stories, process and re-frame them, so we can integrate complexes (wounds) and heal them. Emotional triggers are just unresolved open wounds from the past. We do not need to hold on to our suffering; carry our battle wounds with us from one experience to the next for the rest of our life. We can learn how to let go of that which no longer serves us. We can relearn how to learn from our experiences, move through them, let go of unwanted baggage, and live ‘the un-lived life’ fully, freely and happily.
Somatic therapists acutely observe connections and disconnections between thoughts, feelings, behavioral movements and patterns. Somatic therapists pay close attention to physical sensations and the images they bring forth, spontaneous impulses and patterns of relating. Somatic-based modalities provide space to become the living embodiment of who we know ourselves to be deep in our heart.
However, for this evolution to manifest body and mind need to reconnect and work together as one entity. There must be an integration of thoughts and emotions. The body reveals internal in-congruence, which then provides the opportunity to resolve longstanding adverse conditioned behavioral patterns, which can manifest into symptoms. The unification of body and mind provide an unparalleled sense of freedom that no amount of money can buy.