“Our bodies communicate to us clearly and specifically if we are willing to listen” – Shakti Gawain
What is Somatic Experiencing?
Somatic Experiencing founded by Dr. Peter Levine draws from multiple schools of thought highlighting body awareness and the physiology of stress and trauma. Dr. Levine was intrigued by the notion that animals in the wild do not exhibit signs of trauma even though they face life and death situations all the time. So he began wondering why do people seem to be stuck in trauma response or symptoms following all kinds of experiences.
Through examination and research Dr. Levine observed animals expelling excess traumatic energy (after escaping a predator for example) in order to return to normal functioning. These animals may shake and jump releasing the traumatic experience through the nervous system. Based on these observations Dr. Levine hypothesized since people do not expel traumatic energy in the same way, the energy ends up being stuck and unprocessed in the body.
Somatic Experiencing is a treatment which addresses this phenomenon by focusing on dropping down into the body and building awareness of physical sensations connected to psychological trauma. Somatic Experiencing is an avenue to create connection and enhance insight bridging the body and mind.
How does it help?
Somatic Experiencing allows the person to drop down into the physical experience of the emotion, symptom or problem. Where does it live in the body? If this sensation had a voice what is it saying? Allowing a narrative to flow from the body’s experience enhances the mind-body awareness of our feelings and traumas ultimately increasing our ability to integrate both our stories and self-understanding