Mindfulness and Somatic Experiencing

For most of us peace and happiness seem to be dependent on certain circumstances. It takes a lot of effort trying to change and manipulate situations and people around us. I would even say that most of us are busy all day doing just that, and when things don’t turn out the way we want them to we feel upset and disempowered.

However, there are ways in which we can experience some peace within ourselves despite what happens around us. Our bodies and nervous systems do respond pretty immediately to the thoughts and images we hold in our minds.

Sometimes we seem to get stuck in negative thought patterns and we can’t see the choices open to us. We do have a choice in moments of self-reflection and mindfulness practices. The choice to go either with thoughts and images which give us peace, or go with thoughts that keep us imprisoned, is ours in each moment, if we cultivate awareness of those choices.

I know from my own experience that this simple fact seems at times out of one’s reach, especially in the rushed times we live in. So yes it does take practice but the good thing is that these moments of peace can be felt immediately to some degree and have an cumulative effect on our brain patterns (as did the negative ones). Since the old habits have been there for a while they have a gravitational pull, so it is about introducing new more desirable habits, which we can experience directly.

Our body is a fine instrument with which we can feel, sense and therefore monitor what we hold in our minds and observe how that affects our state of well-being. As we become more aware of this fact we tend to follow what feels good more often quite naturally.

You can test this immediately for yourself, right now, because I am sure that you are tired of more theories and promises of becoming happier further down the track.

Take a minute and think and imagine something that really nurtures you- a place or a person, which makes you feel good. Or perhaps it is something you do or are good at. Try out a few things and give your body time to absorb the thoughts and images, or smells and sensations, which come with this experience. (The body needs time to respond). Let it really sink in and notice the response, the sensations and little shifts in your body. You may feel the effects only in a small area so really let it permeate spread to other areas of the body and let yourself enjoy it. It is important to work with tangible things and really feel and sense the effect in one’s body. The more you do it the more you will feel calm and relaxed, enjoying who you are. I have found that as little as 10 minutes in the morning can have a big positive impact on my day.

Therapist and writer, Peter Levine calls this kind of process ‘resourcing’ and he explains that it is a way we can support our nervous system to naturally deeply relax (down regulate the nervous system). Peter Levine specializes in Trauma Resolution and explains that from this resourced place can we cope better with any life challenges and can actually slowly discharge and complete frozen trauma patterns and integrate new experiences. (for more details refer to his book “Waking the Tiger”.)

I believe that this kind of body-centered approach (often called a somatic approach) is absolutely vital in our journey to integrate body and mind.

I am grateful for all teachings that have influenced my work and my own inner journey, which include various ways of self reflection; mindfulness, somatic approaches, creative imagination and the creative arts.

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