Life is very much a present-moment affair. Mind-body alignment occurs on a moment-to-moment basis. The vast majority of us do not live moment-to-moment, that is, in the present, however; we live in our thoughts, in our past, or in our imagined future.
Processing our experience of so-called reality can leave us stuck in the mind, if you will, which manifests in our (physical) body. We may, for example, find it difficult to sustain fluidity of movement as we negotiate the demands of daily life. The range can be from freeze to not being able to function fully through the day.
The importance of understanding the mind cannot be underestimated. Here, one is referring both to the individual mind as well as the collective mind as the two are woven together. Increasingly, mind-body science underscores the way in which many ancient peoples understood the mind. From their perspective, the mind not only precedes matter but becomes, organizes, and reorganizes it. Mind, then, is very much bound up with physiology. We free ourselves from the individual mind to harness the well-being in the body as well as to tap the collective well-being, if we are not stuck. It is therefore that freedom from trauma is necessary for our wellbeing and integration.
The brain — though it has the capacity — has not evolved to the point where it can effortlessly multitask to meet the challenges of everyday life. Far too often, the result is a host of psychological symptoms, such as depression and stress, and an inability to fully function, to fully experience, for example, the joy of a healthy intimate relationship with oneself and others. The mind falls asleep and the body is hurting, and conscious choices become limited. We are not awake due to the traumas in our bodies.
Through Somatic Experiencing and Integral Somatic Psychotherapy, I can help you to liberate your mind-body from behavioral and psychological patterns in the body, which no longer serve you. The work allows for a more conscious or awake flow in life while clearing and healing the body of its blockages.
What is Somatic Experiencing?
Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a naturalistic approach to the resolution and healing of trauma. Dr. Peter Levine drew up his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices and medical biophysics to come up with this new discipline of SE. This work helps release traumatic shock resulting in a freeze or dysregulation and supports the body’s natural ability to regulate itself, which is key to transforming difficulties such as PTSD, chronic stress and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.
Dr. Peter Levine discovered that animals, unlike humans, have the resiliency to bounce back after experiencing repeated trauma, but humans seem to lack this same resiliency or ability. What, then, causes us to get stuck in this trauma vortex? And what can be done to enable the mind-body to become freer?
How does Trauma Healing work?
Trauma response is a specific defensive bodily reaction that people initially mobilize in order to protect themselves against feeling the totality of their and helplessness. One response to all life situations keeps them frozen in the long term and stuck in the past, and unable to fully be in the here and now. Fixed in the defensive trauma response that can range anywhere on the helplessness to defeat scale, is associated with the original event(s) and replays itself over and over again in the body, detached from history, but experienced in the present as if alive today.
There are many different types of trauma but the one commonality that they share is that they are all located in various parts of the body and not just the mind. Traditionally, therapies have attempted to change perceptions through logic, reason, insight, behavior modification, drugs, and medications. This does not alter the cellular memory that remains fundamentally in the experience of the body. SE and ISP assist in healing and teaching in accepting the past and in forging a new and healthier relationship to the present and live more fully and consciously.
Trauma happens due to a variety of reasons: prenatal, brain injury, emotional discord, loss and grief, surgeries, accidents, falls, war, displacement to name a few. What is in common in all trauma situations? At a inimum, there is some amount of nervous system dysregulation which interferes in our ability to live fully and even function on a day- to -day basis with some regularity. Increasingly, through the work by Dr.Peter Levine and Bessel Van der Kolk, the field of trauma is gaining recognition and being integrated as a viable treatment modality in more natural ways that may or may not require supplemental help from drugs or other treatment modalities.
Somatic Experiencing assists in regulating the Autonomic Nervous System and sometimes even expunging the system of what resides in the body. More importantly, it gives an underlying stability and resiliency to ride the waves with greater ease when old patterns do emerge.
How? I tend to use a multi-modality approach in this process as I am trained in more than one area.
We all have one nervous system and irrespective of what trauma we undergo, it addresses that same nervous system.
The desire to truly feel better and want to be free of this suffering is essential for working together. We have to acknowledge that we have something that causes us suffering before we can do something about it. Right? Client participation is key to healing.
There are three aspects to regulation and healing: physiology, energy and the mind. Movement and awareness are also introduced as needed. My goal is to gradually educate you so that you can help yourself. This means that whereas difficulty in life is inevitable, suffering is optional: we simply learn to face it in a titrated manner and find strength surely but slowly through this by making our living container bigger. Therapy is the gradual abatement of symptoms, increased capacity to tolerate and experience aliveness. This means holding experience, steering life with more skills, differentiating experience, and having choices in life. The flow in living that comes from this is what I term awake abiding.
SE and ISP are can be used together and are stand alone therapies and do not have to be combined with insight meditation.
What is Insight Meditation / Vipassana?
Any forms of psychotherapy is concerned with the contents of the mind which are products of attachment patterns, developmental concerns, and conditioning. The aim is to heal and to grow but always within the self paradigm. The larger unity of life is not in itself a goal in psychology nor is how the mind processes the content.
Insight Meditation is an ancient therapeutic system which not heals and regulates as do SE and ISP but goes much farther. It leads to an understanding of how the mind actually processes this information and learns to see the nature of the mind. It is through this seeing and processing, that suffering abates, wisdom, self love, and compassion for all beings grow. Insight involves learning in order to see clearly . The causes of suffering can actually be erased when we see our true mind and true nature. This seeing is known as radical insight and learning to see is a process. Happiness, then, depends on training our mind, not on manipulating the external world. The interrelationship of life is seen as the practice matures. This is not a cognitive learning but taps the essential knowing in us. And as such, Insight Meditation is therefore, also a spiritual practice. It is again a state of awake abiding in which the self is seen and known in the unity of consciousness.