A somatic viewpoint is essentially becoming aware of the inner body. A central practice in somatic work is often directed by the cue check-in, drop in, or turn the gaze inward. These directions are intended to guide the practitioner to develop sensory awareness of how the body’s processes feel from inside the body landscape. The ability to feel sensation and perceive experience from the inner body is the perspective of the soma. When we experience the body from the inside out, we develop an intimacy to how we are in the moment. Our state of being, or being-ness is identified.
Connecting to our being state– that of sensation, emotion, charge, tension, energy flow- from a witnessing, or observer point of view, rather than from an absolute point of view, allows us to begin a process of disentanglement. There is a cultural default of getting of getting caught up in the drama of life. Also known as the Monkey Mind, the drama is comprised of thought forms that include the ceaseless task list of to-do’s, the onslaught of critical judgements and false beliefs, and our habitual cravings and desires. In essence, being everywhere else, anywhere else, rather than now.
The aforementioned state of being is stress provoking madness, to say the least. We all know this madness, we relate to it, and we may even believe that we are the insanity itself! However, at the essential level, we are not the stress and the overwhelm. Instead, these experiences are more like weather patterns: they come and they go. What remains constant through every storm and through every clearing is our essential being. The somatic viewpoint connects us to our baseline, that of open presence and awareness. From this perspective, inside looking out, we orient toward a mode of curiosity and discovery. We uncover the present moment.
Getting caught up occurs when the present moment is overridden by doing to the extent that awareness of the inner life disappears completely. Literally, the presence of being is tangled up in the obsessive states of doing this and doing that while unconsciously checking out of the body entirely. The overactive doing mode overemphasizes the mental attitudes of productivity, assimilation, evaluation, assessment, judgement, computation, and . . . on and on it goes with the mind. The tangles become knots, they become so tightly woven and contained, that even the mind forgets its essential partner for longevity: presence. After all, presence of mind is the quality of peace.
A somatic approach restores balance to the knowing centers of the body. Both psychological and physiological dimensions have equal importance to personal wellness and vitality for each individual. Thomas Hanna, credited for coining the term somatic, says,
the somatic viewpoint encompasses how we individually view ourselves from the inside looking out and how, from that viewpoint, the distinction of the mind and the body disappear. From inside ourselves, we are not aware of the body itself, but rather of the feelings and active processes of that body.
Through witnessing the soma, disentanglement is possible. By directing attention to the felt-sense of the body, inner space is expanded and the incessant thought streams that constantly loop and repeat can be gently unraveled. Stay with the practice, and a sweet stillness will replace the chaotic voices. Successful disentanglement is fertile soil for the development of presence and connecting to your essential self. Embodied in the moment of now, the somatic viewpoint brings with it the benefit of relaxation and receptivity, peace and well-being.
A somatic practice is an intentional study of turning inward to sense the state of the inner life, the private and personal sensory garden of wonder and intuitive wealth. What questions do you have about somatic practice? Do you have a somatic approach in your life? Please share– comment below!