What follows is some guidance on "Somatic Resourcing": finding resilience in the face of stress and overwhelm.
In my own life, Somatic Resourcing is a constant companion that comes to my aid in times of need. It's a rescue remedy within my own soma (body-mind) that has often meant the difference between suffering and wellbeing.
I am hugely grateful to one of my teachers, Joan Davis, in having taught me this life skill.
So in sharing this with you, I truly hope that you'll also find something to support you in times of need.
This blog is divided into two parts. The first is if you're short on time, and gives a brief introduction to Somatic Resourcing and a practice meditation. The second part gives more detail in case you'd like to know more.
Please feel welcome to comment or share.
Somatic Resourcing: A Brief Intro
Somatics is the art and practice of wholeness. We learn to embrace our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations- the whole person- so that we can develop self-care as well as discover more about who we are in this world. Within life's journeys, we may be faced with challenges- in our work, our relationships, our physical or psychological health- that may cause us distress. Unattended to, this can wreck havoc with our health and our relationships as we become locked in responses that perhaps don't serve us.
Somatic Resourcing teaches us that there is a different way. It is a first step in caring for ourselves in these moments. It gives us the tools to be able to "Self- sense, self-soothe, and self- regulate" ( Dr Risa Kaparo) so that instead of being tossed around in life's storms, we can find our inner navigation system to help re-direct us to calmer seas. Somatic Resourcing is that inner guidance.
Somatic Resourcing: A 5 step guided practice.
- Start by closing your eyes, and take a few breaths to help you to settle.
- Ask yourself, how am I now? Invite a compassionate curiosity, as if you are asking a really good friend.
- See if you can find one thing in your body that feels good to you (the breath can be a good place to start, or hands making contact on your body)
- Let yourself deepen into that for a few moment- become curious ( noticing volume, texture, temperature, quality of touch).
- Then, ask yourself, how do you feel now? Has anything changed?
( Note- if you find it hard to connect with something within your body, you could imagine a person, place or thing that usually helps to soothe you)
Somatic Resourcing can transform your state from distress to ease, even within seconds. This can protect your health from the effects of stress, help your relationships in that it enables you to calm down before speaking, and allows you to be in a creative rather than in a reactive mode. Somatic Resourcing teaches us how to skill fully navigate ourselves in the world. I fully believe that we do not have to suffer the effects of stress; there is a different way, that can be caring, compassionate, and deeply empowering.
In more detail
"Resourcing" is a foundational practice in Somatic therapy. It is something that helps you to feel calmed and supported in times of need- an anchor in the storms. It teaches us how to become empowered in these moments, so that instead of feeling tossed about in stormy seas, at risk of capsizing, we can find an inner guidance to see us through.
As an embodied mindfulness practice, Somatic Resourcing helps us to connect to our present moment experience, and the supports that are available to us.By paying close attention to where you are in the moment, and how you are responding, you can more clearly chart what waters you are in ( what's the situation), sense the "weather" ( your feelings), and learn how to navigate safely and skilfully to calmer seas ( from stress and reactivity, to calm and empowered).
There have been many times in my life where Somatic Resourcing has come to my rescue. Even recently, life brought me the perfect opportunity to remember. Whilst writing this blog, I accidentally deleted 6 hours of work in a second. Yes, I definitely felt frustrated! But I also practiced my Somatic Resourcing- how am I now, what's my reaction? Bringing in the resource of my breath, and gradually finding calm and letting go of frustration. I went from frustration to self-soothing, to a relaxed state once again. Somatic Resourcing transformed my state within a few short seconds.
There was also a time when I did not know this was possible. I did not always have this skill and instead I felt raw, vulnerable and totally powerless in the face of strong experiences. It felt like something that just happened, and I had no control over it. Having practiced this art for many years now, it's become second nature, like riding a bike. I truly believe now that we do not need to be a victim to stress and distress, that we can consciously work with ourselves to transform.
You may already have an experience of resourcing in your life; a person, place or things that helps you to feel well, and calm. It can be the company of a loved one, or a walk by the beach that soothes your senses and reconnects you to the beauty of the natural world. It could be a piece of music that speaks to your soul, or a treasured pet that you can be playful with. There are many examples of resourcing that we naturally have in our lives; the friends and allies along life's highways and byways.
What is different about Somatic Resourcing is that it is body-based- it draws on what you can feel, touch, and sense in the present moment. The reason why this is important is that stress activates the primal, lower centres of our brain ( especially the amygdala and hippocampus). Stress induces ancient survival responses of fight/ flight/ freeze, and the way to work with these responses are on the same primal level- through movement, touch and our sensory selves. It's as if the animal part of ourselves gets woken up and disturbed, and so we must work to calm ourselves just as you would a distressed animal.
A Somatic Resource is something of this visceral, sensual, embodied world. It could be the rhythm of your breath, or the contact of your bones on the surface beneath you. It could be the touch of your hands on your heart, or a movement that feels good and soothing to you. Basically it is something in your body and of your senses, that you develop a trusting relationship with by practicing, so that it eventually it becomes like a reflex, an automatic rescue response in times of need. We learn how to presence- deepen into present moment awareness, pause- creating a gap between the outer situation and our response ( stress etc...), pacify- calm and soothe ourselves, and propell ourselves along a different trajectory- away from stress, and towards well-being.
In Somatics, we learn how our body can be our best ally. It holds the keys to both awareness of how you are in the moment, and how to re-direct away from stressful states to your chosen feeling destination. Life can then become an act of creation rather than reaction. It was life changing for me to learn that I could transform my state, I did not need to sink and suffer. I truly wish, that if you also have struggled with distress and overwhelm, you can also discover that you have these allies to support you in times of need