Make no mistake: somatic work is not easy. With mindful awareness of our body, we can find ease. We can regulate and resource ourselves with more and more ease. But it is not easy. Especially at first.
You have to remember that the preservation of society as we know it relies on some level of disembodiment.
When I say embodiment I mean our capacity to be present within our bodies and relationships; to notice what we are thinking, feeling, sensing, or desiring while it's happening, without becoming overwhelmed or losing ourSelves completely within the experience. The less embodied we are, the more connected we are with our emotions and needs, the less likely we might be to comply with norms and expectations imposed from the outside. Especially from people and systems who we view, or are viewed by, as "different."
Our conditioning around the importance of intellect, productivity, and merit makes it inherently difficult to slow down and be with. If we are focused forward, there might always be a part of us that has difficulty sitting still, and even being open to alternative perspectives and ways of being.
So when we are invited to go within, either by ourselves, our loved ones, our therapists, or other supports, it is only ordinary to wonder, "but...how?"
I can promise you, anyone with an embodiment practice has been here at some point (maybe even many times over!). When I was in training to learn a somatic trauma psychotherapy modality, the presenters shared a YouTube video about riding a "backwards bycle" with the intention of emphasizing two points:
1) Learning new things is REALLY fucking hard! As we master new skills our brains essentially learn to run said new skills in the background so that we can focus on other things. This is called procedural learning.
Think of when you were a wee one learning to tie their shoes. Way back when, you had to learn that whole rhyme about the bunny ears so that you could more easily recall what to do with the strings. These days, many of us can tie our shoes while talking on the phone and making a mental to-do list for the day.
2) Our brains are exceptionally talented at changing. This is called neuroplasticity. We take for granted the things we can do with ease because we often forget what it's like at the beginning.
Think about a skill you've developed within the last 10 years, maybe something you had to learn to do differently. Maybe it was learning how to drive a stick shift after only having a manual since you were 16. Perhaps you've become more familiar with how to certify your unemployment benefits after months of confusion and distress (those websites are confusing!). Maybe you even realized that old ways of behaving in conflict weren't actually serving you and have identified new strategies for keeping your cool. All of these examples have the potential of feeling impossible when we first begin. And all are possible with time and practice.
Learning and practicing new strategies can feel risky at first.
Change involves instability. It's risky business! Trying new things makes us more susceptible to mistakes, discomfort, and other consequences.
I think of it similar to strengthening any other part of our body: when we add more weight to the squat rack, walk further than we did last week, or add on that super hard physical therapy exercise it's only natural for our bodies to shake or feel downright exhausted.
From the bottom up, we can interpret our shaky, tired muscles as weakness, or we can recognize the sensations as an important part of growth.
And we can remember that we do not have to be alone in our growth process.
We can explore and utilize the resources that hold and motivate us: the people, practices, memories, pleasures, and tools that lovingly provide scaffolding until we feel more capable and confident in our abilities.
This is what I see as my role as a therapist, coach, and educator. My job is not to fix you or provide you with something that you will not be able to sustain on your own. My job is to provide you with the resources and support necessary for you to grow in your own capacity. I meet you where you are and help you see just how possible it is to feel better in your body, your relationships, and your life overall.
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