Author: Mattie Miller
Somatic Therapy or body-centered therapy is a process that recognizes the intimate relationship between the human body and the psychological well-being of a person.
2020: The year we are being made acutely aware of how the inequity and violence descended from colonialism has managed to work its way on and through us. Deeply embedded in our culture, deeply embedded in our day to day-- it becomes the way we move in our bodies. We leave the house to walk down the street and may not even notice the slight inward curl of our shoulders bracing themselves to protect our fragile but resilient hearts from the next aggression that awaits. Your breath shortens as fingers scroll through image after image of state reinforced violence.
“Somatic therapy in revolutionary times is about resistance but also deep rest.”
Somatic therapy in revolutionary times is about resistance but also deep rest. Our bodies are asking us to fully heed and embrace the calls for radical change. And as that familiar fluttering in the stomach nauseousness whispers for us to purge the European stories, ideas, cultures and traditions that keep us living in miserable binaries, we need our bodies to be both the voice of change and the vessel to alchemize it.
The plants are here to help, the spirits are here to help. The answers are as deep as our marrow which is the sinuet to the ancestors who resisted.
Somatic practice is not linear
It is an emanation of decolonization which stands as an invitation to embrace new definitions. What’s possible in our own psyche, our environment, our society? This loaded moment is asking us to breathe, slow down, tune in and break long ingrained habits built with thick walls to help us survive. Our bodies are the canvass of restored imagination and harmonizing.
The practices shared ask you to be vulnerable, quiet and receptive. To treat every small uttering and sensation as gently and sweetly as you would a small newborn babe. There’s no need to rush to feel happy or calm-- be with what arises and see it as the foundation for establishing a new intimacy with all sensational guides and the pathway towards new possibility. Set aside some time (5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc.) and cleanse the space.
Start where you are. Do what you can. Use what you have.
Somatic tools for inviting Earth energy: \As you engage in these practices think of your roots, your foundation and the many places and people you’ve called home. Give gratitude. Use these practices when uncertainty is present, anxiety is too huge or anger can’t stay contained but isn’t safe to let out.
Rub your feet and rotate your joints
Stomp your feet on the ground to transmit anger or excess excitement or energy
Lie down on your back and tilt your pelvis forward and back
Lie dow on your belly and do some deep sighing
Somatic tools for inviting Water energy: As you engage in these practices allow all emotions to flow. Say to yourself “May all emotions be welcome, May all emotions be seen and honored.” Give space, get quiet, breathe. Use these practices when sadness is bubbling below the surface and grief is longing to have room to breathe.
Set a timer, close your eyes and move your body as if you were the waves of the ocean. What type of ocean are you? Play with sounds, height, and sensation by letting your hands wash over your skin.
As you enter a new space, allow your eyes to scan and slowly move your head and neck.
Use your hands to embrace yourself in a compassionate way-- gently embrace your own face as a loved on would do, caress your arms and legs with a gentle squeeze
Introduce sound and let out long sighs, groans and any other noises that want to come up. Do this as your hands rest on your body and as you practice giving yourself a space of non judgement.
Somatic tools for inviting fire energy: Hot, quick, fast, fierce. Use these practices when you’re ready to fight, act and move anger or passion.
Inhale and bring your arms above your head, Inhale again and bring your arms to the side in a T shape and inhale a little bit more, bringing your arms above your head. As you exhale, let your torso and arms drop towards your thighs. This three part breath gets things moving.
Shake, shake, shake. Invite any kind of wiggling or vigorous shaking. Twerk wit it. Get it out.
Gently drum on your body or practice alternating hands and patting gently but firmly down your right and left arms, and down the front and backsides of your legs and torso.
Somatic tools for inviting air energy: This is our creativity, our intuition and our heart. It is the space for reviving purpose and invite clarity. Allow this space to connect you to the collective vision.
Listen to Marconi Union while letting your hand guide a pen across the pages in your sketchbook. Let free form shapes and squiggles come out without forethought.
Place one hand on your forehead and one hand on the crown of your head, close your eyes and breathe
Sit in a ball with your arms around your knees. Keeping your feet and bottom grounded, gently rock forward and back, side to side letting your head and neck soften and move freely (careful if you have a pre-existing neck injury!) or sit in a rocking chair and let yourself rock forward and back.