Somatic Experiencing

With Somatic Experiencing, we nurture health by assisting an inherent physiological process, slowly building awareness in the felt sense of the body, thereby fostering resilience and a sense of well-being.

Our bodies have a naturally rhythmic arousal/completion cycle in response to the normal stresses and joys of everyday life. When we are able to ride those waves of excitement and relaxation without resistance, we maintain a sense of coherence and flow in our lives. This flow can be interrupted when sustained activation or overwhelming events or feelings fix us in an activated state on a physiological level. Somatically this can surface as chronic tension, deep inflexibility, a persistent knot, or a sense of unease, anxiety or depression.

Those fixations can be gently encouraged to move by attending to what is happening in the felt sense of the body and allowing physiological completion of the initiated stress response cycle, freeing us to be more energized and connected to the present moment. “Completion” may be allowing your body to direct resolution through imagination; it could be a little bit of movement, some trembling, or an emotional release, and is often a combination of a few things.

Because fixed sensations are often uncomfortable and sometimes challenging, it is important to work incrementally, in very manageable pieces, gradually building resilience and draining off charge until a sense of coherence is restored. In this process we give our unconscious mind a little time and attention to express what it has been trying to accomplish, which ultimately brings us some peace.

We have found it useful to weave Somatic Experiencing into regular massage and Structural Integration practices, though it can also be helpful to get off the table and use S.E. work to structure the session entirely as well. If you would like to work some Somatic Experiencing into your regular bodywork session, just ask when you arrive and we’ll point our intention towards deeper healing.

For a more technical explanation of S. E. theory, the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute has many good articles, and the Wikipedia entry is instructive.