How to practice Somatic Movement

Following a discussion about principles and some philosophy of Somatic Movement with a client this morning, here are some thoughts about how to use Somatic Movement for real change. Thomas Hanna was a true pioneer in his way of connecting the dots and I’m grateful to learn slowly to ‘see how he sees’ by exploring, studying and discussing with clients, colleagues and of course my teachers.
The following points are by no means a complete list. They are what we came up with this morning in our conversation.

Apart from the obvious requirements like floor space, silence (no distractions like phone, TV, kids running around) and comfortable clothes, there are some other things you might want to pay attention to.

  • How do you feel right now? Are you stressed out, in a rush? Do you have a to do list to get through? Are you tired? Nervous? Joyful? All that influences your practice. I usually tell my clients to practice daily (of course) – but if it only adds to your daily stress and it’s something you just quickly squeeze in, you won’t get much out of it. How can you make time for 10 minutes? Are you alert in the morning, during the day or in the evening to get on the floor and fully concentrate on sensation?
  • Don’t make it a choreography. If you start practicing Somatic Movement like any other exercise routine, it doesn’t work. You want to change your Nervous System output, so what you do needs to be done with your highest level of concentration, every detail of the movement as well as your emotional sensations want to be taken into consideration. The shift from ‘how does it look like’ to ‘how does it feel within me’ is probably the hardest in our rather looks-oriented way of living.
    Our aim is to move and know how and why. This doesn’t happen by ‘getting really good’ at remembering the movement sequence. It happens when you start to get good at keeping the awareness of what you do alive.
  • Slow down. Speed up. Play with tempo while you move – how does it feel, at which stage are you faster than you can consciously follow up? A good aim is slowing it down until you feel confident that at the tempo of a yawn, you have full control and awareness of the movement.
  • it’s not just correcting movement.
    When you tighten your stomach, what memories does it give you? Do those memories drag you down a rabbit hole (are you a person who tries to tidy up boxes of stored away stuff only to sit there reading everything and indulging in the memories of days gone by – no matter if this serves you right now or not)? Does it serve you right now to go with the memories or can you let them go. We know how movement, smell etc is connected to memory and of course we don’t want to suddenly remember any traumatic incidents of the past (and as a result become fearful of moving and ‘lock down’ the possibility of integrating and moving forward).
    If you feel something causes you to get fearful, back off. Concentrate on the physical sensation. ‘I am contracting my upper tummy, I feel my arms pulling down, I feel my neck getting tight’ and slowly release that muscle contraction. Letting go of the emotional component of a contraction takes some time but know that it’s possible. Know that release of a long held locking down can make you feel emotional, confused, dizzy. If you feel overwhelmed, a good suggestion might be to contact a Somatic Experiencing or Trauma therapist for support. EMDR is one of the very successful forms of therapy. It’s there when you need it and when you’re ready. Using different approaches help you to understand what is going on, so you can put yourself back together and move on. (this was getting heavy, so take a good breath, do a seated arch and flatten and finally…)
  • enjoy making choices! Be inquisitive! Play! It’s not about becoming ‘infantile’ and a navel gazing narcissist only concerned with yourself, it’s about knowing and understanding whats there and be ready for change. Know that change can be rapid but doesn’t happen in one practice. Be persistent in curiosity – Know thyself all of a sudden doesn’t sound that unattainable when you get going.
  • Somatics works, if you do it. Just knowing about it doesn’t change a thing. Being somatic is acknowledging past lived experience, being fully present right now, make choices and being less fearful of what might happen. Isn’t that what we would wish for everyone? Oh and you fix your achy back and tired shoulders on the way.

If you want to learn the basics that give you a road map for your journey, head over to my schedule – a course and several short workshops are on the horizon! Clinical sessions allow for more focused work, so if you are afraid of exploring within a group setting, contact me to arrange a one to one introduction at SOMAdublin.

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