A somatic exercise – often referred to as Embodiement or Conscious practice – is any activity – practiced in solo, duo or groups, with a primary goal of helping you feel what is going on as your body moves through an experience – heightening your interoceptive and proprioceptive capacity. What are the sensations you notice as you read this, looking at your screen? The ability of the body to re-regulate itself is facilitated through noticing. A story of brain plasticity from Dr. Norman Doidge helps clarify how our emotions, thoughts and physicality are all connected. Plasticity is not just in the brain – our entire body tissue has incredible capacity for plasticity (aka change-healing-learning.) The sensory organs are in constant conversation with the brain in constant conversation with the nervous system in conversation with the…by exercising our SENSING capacity through practice, we increase the effectivity of this feedback loop.
I often work with people in their “elastic terrain”. You can get a sense of what this is by investigating the image above. (If you make this map fit your own life, what words are included/moved around? other versions of this map that i know of are: nicabm).
Wiki has a wonderful description of “somatics” as of oct 2018.
“Somatic approaches emphasize sensory awareness (paying attention to sensing)…in somatics, kinesthetic awareness functions largely as a potent agent of change – a powerful means of altering habit…sensations to a large degree organize the mind. They do not simply give the mind material to organize; they are themselves a major organizing principle.” – Glenna Batson
“A somatic approach to education integrates, as an existential whole, the experiential history of individuals with their current experience. It implies an education that trusts individuals to learn from their ability to attend and to listen to the information they are receiving from the interaction of self with the environment” – Barbara Sellers-Young.
Stephen Fulder – “In other words, we bring to our journey a directed mind, and our practice, whether meditation, body work, yoga, tai ch’i, breathing, music dance or whatever, is to direct it to a place where no direction is needed any more. To some extent this happens naturally, by itself. Because even in a most controlled step by step teaching, our experience will certainly be mixed. We may be in the midst of hard work getting somewhere, such as trying to concentrate on the breath, when suddenly the breath itself just invites us in to explore the territory hidden there. We get up from a very achievement-oriented striving exercise, and just feel the sense of being alive, the sense of the morning, the mood of lightness, the moments of not caring where exactly we are. As we practice, we become more and more friendly with the wild and wonderful surprises of the present moment. The landscape tends to take us over. As we progress, our consciousness and heart themselves learn to love the freedom of the open road, of going no-where. From that place the milestones on the road are just another interesting pile of stones.”
Staci Haines – “The word somatics…to understand human beings as integrated mind/body/spirit, or a psycho-biology. The understanding is that people are not mind over matter (‘If I think differently I will be different’), nor matter over mind or spirit (‘a change in chemistry or medication will wholly change my experience’), rather we are all of these things combined – we are thinking and conceptual, we are emotional, we are biological, and we are spiritual. Somatics approaches people as this integrated whole, working with all of these aspects of who we are…
Somatics looks at the body as a place of evolutionary intelligence and learning…the mind and body are never really separate (a mind cannot live without a body and visa versa)..When we reconnect the vast intelligence of the body with the mind and spirit, powerful things happen.”
Here is a brief history of european practitioners.