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Being somatic is like learning a new language, one that has been with you your entire life. It’s a way of understanding the intricate signals your body constantly communicates. Imagine you’re in a foreign country, and you’re just starting to grasp the local dialect. Being somatic is similar; it’s the process of decoding your body’s unique language. Your body speaks to you through sensations, tensions, warmth, or even discomfort, and by becoming somatic, you start to grasp the meaning behind these signals.

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The basics of being somatic

In our fast-paced lives, we often find ourselves disconnected from our own bodies. The term somatic might sound complex, but in simple terms, it means rediscovering the wisdom that resides within us. Our body’s intelligence. Being somatic is about paying attention to the signals our body sends us, much like a friend trying to communicate with us. 

Think of being somatic as becoming more aware of your body’s sensations. It’s like tuning on a radio station – you’re just trying to find the right frequency. You start noticing how your body feels, whether it’s tension in your shoulders or a warm, relaxing sensation after a bath. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, constantly sending information to your brain about your environment. The average person has about 5 million sensory receptors in their skin.

Let’s explore further what it means to be somatic, why it’s important, and how it can improve our lives in straightforward, everyday language.

The emotional landscape

Stress can manifest physically through symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, and digestive issues, while laughter has been shown to reduce stress by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

Emotions in your body

Emotions aren’t confined to your mind; they have a tangible presence in your body. Think of your body as an emotional canvas where happiness, sadness, fear, and love paint strokes. When you feel joy, your chest might feel light, as if it’s floating on a cloud. Conversely, when you’re gripped by anxiety, your stomach might tighten, as if it’s sending a clear signal to your brain.

Stress and the somatic experience

Stress isn’t merely a mental phenomenon; it’s a full-body experience. Visualize your body as a finely tuned orchestra. When stress strikes, it’s like the orchestra suddenly playing off notes. Your muscles might tense, your heart rate could quicken, and you may even notice your palms getting sweaty. Being somatic means being attentive to this symphony of responses and realizing that stress isn’t solely a mental state but a physical one too. By understanding how stress affects your body, you can take steps to calm the orchestra and restore harmony.

Healing through somatics

Consider your body as a book, each part of it containing a chapter of your life story. Sometimes these chapters contain painful memories or traumas, much like dusty old books waiting to be opened. Being somatic involves acknowledging that these memories exist in your body and that they may impact your present experiences.

Here’s a few of the many common somatic therapies:

      • Somatic Experiencing (SE). Developed by Dr. Peter Levine, SE is designed to address and resolve the symptoms of trauma by helping individuals release pent-up tension and stress held in the body. It emphasizes the importance of gradually processing traumatic experiences through body awareness.
      • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. This therapy combines traditional talk therapy with somatic (body-oriented) techniques to address trauma and emotional issues. Practitioners work to help clients become aware of bodily sensations and learn how to regulate them in response to emotional challenges.
      • Hakomi Therapy. Hakomi is a mindfulness-based, body-centered approach that focuses on the present moment to uncover and understand unconscious patterns, beliefs, and memories. It uses gentle touch and other experiential techniques to access somatic experiences.
      • Bioenergetics. Developed by Alexander Lowen, bioenergetics explores the connection between the mind and body by analyzing physical postures and movements. It aims to release emotional and physical tension, promoting greater self-awareness and well-being.
      • Rolfing (Structural Integration). Rolfing is a form of bodywork that aims to align and balance the body’s structure through manipulation of the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds muscles and organs. It can help with issues related to posture, chronic pain, and movement patterns.
      • Feldenkrais Method. This method focuses on improving physical functioning and awareness by exploring movement patterns and posture. Through gentle movements and exercises, individuals can reduce pain, increase flexibility, and enhance overall physical functioning.

It is worth noting that the choice of somatic therapy often depends on the specific needs and preferences of the individual seeking treatment, and the techniques your somatic experiencing practitioner utilizes.

Mindfulness in somatic experiences

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a structured program that has been widely used to promote well-being. This form of mindfulness meditation has been linked to reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.

      • Mindfulness simplified. Mindfulness is often portrayed as a complex practice, but in reality, it’s as simple as gazing at a beautiful sunset and fully immersing yourself in that moment. It’s about being present, like a child engrossed in the wonder of a new toy. Being somatic through mindfulness means embracing this childlike wonder and applying it to your everyday life. It’s about letting go of distractions and savoring each moment.

Mindfulness and your body

Imagine your body as a wise friend who has been waiting for your attention. Mindfulness involves sitting down with this friend, engaging in a heartfelt conversation, and truly listening to what they have to say. It’s like having a heart-to-heart with someone you care deeply about, where you hang on to every word. By practicing mindfulness, you learn to be fully present with your body, cherishing each sensation, thought, and emotion that arises.

Movement and Expression

Being somatic is about enjoying the simple act of moving. It’s like dancing freely, not for an audience, but for the pure delight of feeling your body in motion. Movement isn’t limited to structured exercise; it includes stretching when you wake up or walking in the park. By embracing movement, you embrace a fundamental part of your somatic self.

Have you ever felt a weight lift off your shoulders after a good cry? Or experienced an exhilarating release of tension while laughing wholeheartedly? Movement can have a similar effect. When you engage in movements like dancing, jogging, or even shaking your body, you’re giving your emotions a healthy outlet, allowing them to flow.

      • Dance Movement Therapy. DMT uses dance and movement to promote self-expression and emotional healing. It allows individuals to explore their emotions, relationships, and personal narratives through physical movement.

Everyday somatic practices

Regular mindfulness practices can lead to changes in the brain associated with improved attention and emotional regulation. Practicing gratitude, a common somatic habit, has been linked to increased happiness and overall life satisfaction.

Incorporating somatic habits

Being somatic isn’t reserved for special occasions; it’s a practice that can be practiced daily. Imagine it as small acts of self-care, like watering a plant to help it thrive. These practices can include taking a few deep breaths when you feel stressed, pausing to notice how your body feels at various points during the day, or savoring each bite of a delicious meal. By incorporating these habits, you nurture a deeper connection with your somatic self.

These practices are building blocks, steadily constructing a bridge between you and your body. To truly embrace somatic living, these practices should become a regular part of your life, like daily rituals that enrich your well-being. Consistency is the key; it’s like tending to that garden and watching it flourish over time.

Personal growth

Self-awareness is a crucial component of emotional intelligence, which can lead to greater success in personal and professional life. People who practice self-reflection and self-awareness often report increased life satisfaction and better interpersonal relationships.

      • Being somatic is like peeling back the layers of an onion, revealing your true self at its core. As you become more attuned to your body’s wisdom, you discover a clearer sense of who you are. It’s like dusting off a mirror and seeing your authentic reflection, free from the distortions of external influences. This newfound self-awareness leads to better decision-making, reduced stress, and a deeper sense of well-being.
      • Your somatic journey isn’t a destination but a lifelong adventure. Each day offers fresh insights and opportunities for growth, like turning the pages of an endlessly fascinating book. As you continue this exploration, life becomes more vibrant, meaningful, and fulfilling. It’s an ongoing journey that invites you to embrace the fullness of your somatic experience.


In the simplest terms, being somatic is about reconnecting with the wisdom that lives. It’s like finding an old, trusted friend who has always been there, waiting for you to listen. By paying attention to your body’s signals, understanding their significance, and using this knowledge to navigate your life, you start on a path of healing and personal growth. It’s a journey that’s open to everyone, right now, without needing any special qualifications or expertise. So, why not begin your exploration of somatic experience today?

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