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How Somatics and Having a Personal Embodiment Practice Can Help You Build Community as a Mixed Person, Part Two

Welcome back to Part Two of How Somatics and Having a Personal Embodiment Practice can Help You Build Community as a Mixed Person.


Need to read Part One? Click here.


So first, let's define embodiment and somatics.


I personally define embodiment as what happens when we are able to witness our experience - physical, emotional, and even our spiritual experience - without judgment or urgency to change it. It’s a deep presence with ourselves and an ability to observe what's happening.


Somatic practices are body-based approaches to help us develop that capacity to tune inwards / turn inwards toward our experience with compassion and clarity. It's an investigative and nurturing approach to being in relationship with your body. Though we do develop the ability to change or shift our experience or emotions, it’s also about what is and moving forward accordingly.


Notice More


a person looking through binoculars

A foundational piece of somatic work is this concept of dual awareness. Dual awareness is the ability to notice your experience as it's happening. Dual awareness is naturally easier when you feel safe and well-resourced. It is harder when you feel urgency or pressure around your comfort or safety.


In a way, somatics is how we can practice embodiment so that it’s more easily accessible to us in those really high-stakes moments.


Somatic practices help us learn how to expand our awareness of our body and environment and notice more things. 


As humans, we're generally good at noticing our thoughts. We're even quite skilled at naming our emotions. But there are more layers to our present-moment experience that somatics helps us dig into. 


Five Senses


One is what we’re orienting to in our environment. Basically, what are our five senses noticing? Are we really attuned to a certain sound or certain taste, for instance?


When we're stressed, we really orient towards the things that are making us the most nervous. And so in somatics, we can practice having more open awareness of our experience. 


Impulses


Somatics also helps us notice what impulses are coming up in our body. Impulses might be physical or behavioral. They can be mobilizing responses that make you really want to do something, and they can also be immobilizing responses where you want to shut down. 


They can also be voluntary or involuntary. 


For example, think about opening your arms for a hug, that's a very voluntary impulse movement in the body. On the other hand,if you go to a haunted house (which I would never do) and someone jumps out at you, you're probably going to have an involuntary response of contracting or jumping back. Involuntary responses aren't always negative or scary experiences; this is just an example. 


All that to say, we can become aware of our what our impulses are, and in relationships and in building community that can look like: 

  • Do I feel like I have the capacity to rest relax here in this relationship? 

  • Do I feel like I always have to be pushing?

  • Am I always reaching or grasping for something?

  •  Do I want to turn towards people or away from them? What’s my appetite for connection? Am I open to connection or not, or does connection feel loaded or scary?


Body Sensations


Another thing that somatics and dual awareness helps us notice is our inner body sensations. This includes tightness, tingling, temperature, texture, weight, and more. 


These might be whole-body sensations or  they might be focused somewhere.


Feel Closer to Others


With more ability to notice, you will develop more ability to attune to yourself and others. 


Dan Siegel, who's an expert in the trauma field, says that “when we attune with others, we allow our own internal state to shift to come to resonate with the inner world of another. It's the sense of feeling felt that emerges in relationships, and close relationships.”


two people holding hands

When we are attuned to ourselves, we have a really a better sense of what am I feeling? What am I needing what's coming up for me now? Is this familiar or unfamiliar? And when we have the ability to attune to others, we have more clarity around what their needs are or how they're experiencing this moment. 


I work with couples and sometimes couples struggle with attunement. One partner might be upset and the other person is completely unaware. Of course, it's our responsibility and relationships to express what our feelings and needs and our boundaries, but we all also e want to feel like someone is really aware of what's happening on the inside for us. We want to feel understood, or "got.


Suss Out Danger More Clearly


Another way that somatics and embodiment can help you as you're building community deepening relationships is that it'll help you read others in situations more clearly. 


This is simular to attunement, but different. To be more specific, somatics will help you suss out whether you feel safe or not, whether this is a person you want to get close to, whether you are triggered or noticing a red flag


This is called neuroception. Neuroception is how our body autonomically (automatically) processes stimuli from our environment or in our body, and decides whether it's safe or dangerous and how we should respond. It’s an unconscious, autonomic (automatic) bodily process. 


It therefore influences whether we are open to connection or whether we need to protect ourselves in some way. 


When we live with trauma, sometimes our neuroception can be really sensitive. This is of course adaptive and generally wise of the body to be overly sensitized to signals of danger, so that it can help you better protect yourself. But in relationships it can be really hard because relationships can bring up a lot for us.


When we have trauma, we might be constantly wondering or worrying about what's going to happen next, or worrying about if we're going to be abandoned, or even feeling compelled to sort of like reject other people before they reject us. 


Somatics and having access to embodiment can help you see things a little more clearly.


Grieve


All of this also includes grief, of accepting what you live with and what you carry in your body around past traumas and past relational wounds, and learning how to like hold those tenderly.  You can learn to listen to the parts of you who are afraid of being hurt again and also open up your awareness so that you can see the positive things and possibilities for connection.


Find Your Roots


Grief, neuroception, and attunement are going to be a part of Find Your Roots, my group healing program that starts in April. 


As mixed people we have a lot of grief around relationships, both personally and on a more community collective level around belonging and the ways that we've experienced non belonging. Being able to grieve and being validated in your pain and grief is huge. As we go through the grieving process together, we will also be sharpening and fine-tuning your attunement and your neuroception so that you can embrace the world with open arms and of course discern when you need to put your armor on and cover yourself. 


Applications are open for Find Your Roots through April 8. 


If you want to get a little more information about it feel free to reach out to me AND know that on April 7 is the free Mindful Mixer where I'll actually be sharing some exercises and yoga practices from Find Your Roots focused on embodied dignity. 


The Mixer is from 12 to 1pm Eastern Time on Sunday April 7. If you like what you experience you can get your application in on April 8 for Find Your Roots.


Or if you’re ready to apply and save your seat (they are first-come, first-serve) you can do so right here.


 

Photos by Francis Seura, Tim Samuel


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