For me, Somatics is about being awake and fully alive!
How much of our existence are we caught up in the past or the future, our worries, or our projections? The word itself derives from the ancient Greek soma, once used to describe the whole person. The concept of “embodiment” is key to Somatics and Body Centered Psychotherapy. It is the full acknowledgment that there is no separation between our “selves”/our “psyche” and our bodies; the link is impossible to sever even as we distract and avoid. When we fully realize “how” we live, then we gain access to the inner workings of our deeper selves. This is where true autonomy begins. Not through cognitive over-riding, but through participation and interaction so we can experience lasting change.
As a bodyworker and yoga instructor, I came to realize that something important happens when people tune into their physical sensations. I have witnessed people experience elation and joy, cry repressed tears, and recall memories decades old. Somatics invites in the inherent structures and shapes of the body and works with them along side more cognitive aspects such as deeply held beliefs and frames of reference. Body Psychotherapy draws on the work of generations of Psychologists, Bodyworkers, Dance Therapists, Phenomenologists, and Neuroscientists; it is the collaboration of fields and the integration of creative and scientific minds.
The body says what the words cannot.
– Martha Graham
A wide variety of techniques are used within Somatics, including those involving touch, movement and breathing. There is, therefore, a link with some body oriented therapies, somatic practices, and complementary medical disciplines, but although these may also involve touch and movement, they are very distinct from Body Psychotherapy. Body Psychotherapy recognizes the continuity and the deep connections that all psycho-corporal processes contribute, in equal fashion, to the organization of the whole person. There is no hierarchical relationship between mind and body, between psyche and soma. They are both functioning and interactive aspects of the whole.
In the words of Stanley Keleman, creator of Formative Psychology:
“The body is a living, creative process. It is not merely an object of consciousness, nor is it the material side of spirit. It is not a lump of flesh we carry around or something from which we must try to escape. In the most basic sense we are our bodies, and more, that our bodies are an expression in microcosm of the creative organizing principle of the universe. Our life is continually forming and reforming, and from birth to death the shapes of our fate present themselves to be lived. The appearance of each new shape is another incarnation.”