SOMATIC EXPERIENCING (SE) is a neurobiological approach to resolving trauma symptoms and relieve chronic stress. It is a talk and touch-based approach that aims at noticing and tracking sensations in the body and the rhythms of the nervous system activation. This modality of treatment was developed by Dr. Peter Levine a medical biophysics and Psy.D doctorate in psychology. SE has effectively supporting people experiencing symptoms of chronic stress and trauma for decades. I am an Somatic Experiencing Practioner (SEP) This is a beautiful bridging of my Social Work, Bodywork & movement background.
How does the Polyvagal theory relate to Somatic Experiencing?
While Dr Peter Levine was developed SE before the polyvagal theory was introduced in 1994, the polyvagal theory affirmed much of what was being experienced by SE providers and has become integrate in the work. According to Dr Stephen Borges, an expert in behavioral neuroscience, the autonomic nervous system is what drives much of our behavior, determines how we react to stressors, and dictates whether an experience is traumatic. The autonomic system(ANS), through the vagus nerve, determines (by sensing safety and threat) whether we can be connected to ourselves and/or others. This ability to connect also happens to be one of the primary ways human soothe themselves. This is the Ventral Vagal State where we feel safe and social engagement. Additionally, the polyvagal theory identified the physiological (body-based) responses to stressors and trauma that come from our ANS. Because SE helps us identify and track these sensations in the body, this can then help us understand what is happening in the nervous system. Through tracking and exploring safety with our provide, we can begin to settle and soothe the nervous system.
Trauma and stress that are stored in the body cannot be resolved with thought focused interventions alone. This is because trauma and our reactions to triggers are not in the thinking and speaking brain. They are deeper down in the survival part of our brain that necessarily faster than we can think. The amygdala/lizard “survival” brain. This is why you may intellectually know something to be safe ( like bungee jumping), and yet it can feel so threatening. The body and the brain function at different operating speeds. Luckily, SE was created to engage with the fast acting vagus nerve and helps us activate the part of it that lets us feel safe and experience resilience.
Why does my body not know that the trauma is over when my brain does? Trauma that goes unresolved becomes imprinted in our bodies. We get stuck in autonomic activity that initially helped us survive. Our brain may know that the trauma is over, but the body still lives as if the threat is still very real and present. This can help explain why you might feel on edge, or startled when you hear a certain sound or smell a certain smell. The pent up energy in the body might make you feel vigilant like a soldier on the battlefield. As a result, your body may respond as if the traumatic experience and toxic stress is still happening. Fortunately, SE can support you and help your body realize the trauma is over. When the body returns to safety, the body and mind can once again function supporting each other in the dance of life calmer and with peace.
Is movement that is performed consciously with the intention focusing on internal experience of the movement rather than external appearance or result of the movement. Yoga, qigong and other movement form has a somatic piece.
I teach a Movement Meditation on Mondays 7:15 am pacific time. You can find this at Yogajaima.com. Please join me your body will love it! I weave Yoga, Qigong and Buddhist movement into the session.
This is a practice that uses conscious connected breathing, music and guidance to connect you with your body, mind, heart and soul. Benefits: reduced stress and anxiety, increased energy, clarity, joy, feelings of openness, love, peace, gratitude, clarity, communication, connection and creativity and clearing suppressed emotions and feeling. It helps to release trauma or mental, physical, and emotional blocks as well as anxiety, depression fear, grief and anger. I am a Certified Practitioner of Breathwork.
HEART CENTERED HEALING
Love the greatest power of the universe. Love is what we crave the most. Life can create armor around the heart. This is where we hold painful emotions: sadness, loneliness, grief, anger and emptiness. The emotional heart is the driver of feelings of compassion, joy, peace, contentment, harmony and forgiveness for ourselves and others. The emotional heart affects the physical heart. The physical heart is the most powerful organ in the body. The heart sets up the rhythm for the rest of the body. Healing the bridge between the mind and the heart intertwining the heart, soul and the spirit is what is used in this work with Devine Love and Light from our Higher Source. The highest energy. The knowledge of the heart is very different from the knowledge of the mind. What would my journey here be like if I walked with my heart forward instead of my mind? The power of love takes us beyond our mortal self and reminds us who we really are, magnificent spiritual beings. When we move into the power of love we move into the power of miracles. We see differently, hear differently and show up differently. When the heart is open, we feel a sense of flow; we feel valued, uplifted and nurtured in the deepest sense. The love starts first for our Self and then can explode into the world without diminishing our energy. If we do not learn self love it can drain us of energy because we are always giving and not learning to balance our energy with refueling with self love and boundaries to do this dance in life. I have had the privilege to work with my dear friend “Sher” Sharon Wesch who has written The Radiant Heart, Radiant Babies and Connected For All Time book One and Two. Sher’s introduction to her work has allowed me to weave Somatic Experiencing with Sher’s work to create Heart Centered Healing.