I want to talk about a technique I use sometimes with clients that I refer to as “Somatic Wellness”. This is one of my favourite things.
Somatic therapy was used by psychologist Wilhelm Reich (1897-197) who laid the foundations of what he called “body psychotherapy”. He found in his clinical work as an analyst working with psychologist Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1936) that attitudes were embodied and revealed themselves in posture, subtle movements, muscle tone and breathing patterns. He came to see that conflicts and stress both past and present become encoded in the structure of the body in the form of muscle tensions, restricted breathing patterns and habitual thinking processes and that discussing problems with a regular therapist was not always the way to resolve them.
The way someone communicates with language and in posture is an indication of unconscious processes. A body/mind massage therapist encourages a gentle curiosity to the “how” of communications in addition to heeding the content. By slowly guiding awareness to direct experience of oneself and especially to bodily communication, or simply by bringing awareness to tensions and holding patterns without forcing something to happen or change, there will be a release of restrictions.
This release gives a sense of more space inside the body, and within daily life there will be more choice and flexibility. Sometimes the release of tensions or letting the breath move into restricted areas of the body will be accompanied by memories, images or emotions connected with past events. There may be sadness, anger, shame, humiliation or a long forgotten joyful moment.
Often in finding these emotions there is a relief and sense of coming home or back into balance. The presence of a massage therapist who understands the body/mind connection and shares the experience of the client’s past and present suffering is in itself healing.
It is my belief that the body moves naturally towards healing and self-regulation, and that my job is to foster conditions of safety, acceptance and kindness towards my clients in order for healing to occur. As the body and its energy moves more freely, the possibility for deeper journeying arises.
Somatic Wellness is something that has evolved in my clinical practice over many years of observation, and intuitive listening. The body is a phenomenal creation to me, and as such each client is viewed with a sense of awe and wonder as they enter my clinic space. Be assured that the practice of Somatic Wellness is not experienced with all clients at all times. It is definitely not something that is forced, but happens more organically. I often refer to it as Emotional Release.