My Journey of Becoming A Somatically-Integrative Practitioner

May 7, 2024

While teaching with my Embodied Recovery co-founder Rachel Lewis, I came to understand myself through a lens that she developed for somatic providers. It was simple. A provider is either somatically-aware, somatically-oriented, or somatically-integrative. Each one of these perspectives includes becoming more conscious in and from the body. For me, the process of becoming somatically-integrative has been one of uncovering and discovering hidden aspects of myself that have been dormant for some time.

I am and have always been an empath like many therapists that I know. The gift of the empath involves an ability to feel the emotions of others from a deep place of knowing. For those of us trained in Somatic Experiencing®, tracking sensations and emotions is not only a bodily knowing inside, it is also something we feel somatically through emotions or physiological shifts as they show up in our own bodies through sensations, state shifts, or temperature changes.

Later, as a provider trained in using intentional touch for early attachment wounds, I learned how to “read” the flow of energy in the body and listen with my hands for places of incongruence, contraction, or places where the physiology held dissociation. I even learned how to sense into a person’s attachment style through how the body spoke to me and to communicate with the preverbal parts that were needing to be seen, heard, and met.

And finally, as a Biofield Tuning student, I learned that emotions can be heard through the sound of the tuning fork that I am holding or that emotions can be experienced in my own body through certain physical qualifiers. For example, anxiety or fear tends to make a high pitch sound with my fork and feel very buzzy in the body. While depression is heard as a low tone in the fork and can feel very dense in the body. Similarly, pockets of dissociation feel like barren and open space when I put the tuning fork in the area around the body. While emotions that are unprocessed feel like they are stacked on top of one another like a brick wall.

In this way, I have learned how to gather information through multiple sources and interact with my client on many different levels at the same time during a session. I may interact on a cognitive level by talking and asking the client to bring their awareness to the body or to a particular aspect of themselves that is experiencing a memory. I may also at the same time engage somatically, influencing the areas of dissonance in the body with my own coherent presence and embodiment. I may also receive information through what I see or feel occurring around the client such as an interaction with an ancestral pattern. All of these ways of knowing and working, fall under what we referred to in Embodied Recovery as being somatically-integrative.

To put it simply, the provider who is somatically-integrative can see, feel, hear, and engage with the layers of the human experience in multiple ways and at multiple times. It is a skill set that is not easily learned and takes a lot of time and effort to master. Mostly, the skill is learned through your own attunement to your own body and your commitment to clearing away the noise that gets in the way of you obtaining information from multiple sources.

As humans, we are multidimensional creatures. We have the 5 senses to guide us and we have additional senses that support us in our deeper ways of knowing that are beyond the 5 senses. Many of us who are sensitive have shut down these extra sensory skills in order to fit into society. To do this, we had to deny and disengage from the body and its’ messages.

You may have noticed that over the past 4 years sensitive providers are being invited into our deeper ways of knowing again. For myself, my opening into this occurred right before COVID. I was grieving the loss of a dear person and in that grief my heart expanded. It was in that expansion that I began again to come into more awareness of my heightened skill set in tracking information beyond the 5 senses.

With no idea where to turn, I investigated the trends of psychedelics and decided to not engage with these trainings. Instead, I decided to explore the indigenous practices of Shamanism or Eastern practices like Reiki. I received training from seasoned trauma therapists who were writing books about the need for us to shift our paradigm to include indigenous knowledge and energy work in our current trauma healing because they said our tool set was - "too small”.

The current tool set that the trauma provider has is simply not big enough for the complexity of what is occurring in this moment in history as we grapple to support the individual, ancestral, and collective trauma that is asking to be healed at this time.

Being a spiritual adventurer, it was easy for me to engage in my own personal growth through these practices.

Through these personal and spiritual explorations, I decided that my own journey was through the path of sound. I have always had an affiliation with sound and music. Rhythms speak to me. Sound is a language of my soul. I often hear messages through songs. They are a universal language like poetry and art.

Like somatic-based therapy or energy healing, sound works as a resource for the body. Sound for healing can influence the parasympathetic system (rest and digest) inviting the body into relaxation. Through a process of what we call, entrainment, we can be invited out of states of stuckness or disorganization into states of flow and coherence.

Today, I am watching a trend as helpers, healers, and providers around me are becoming more and more somatically-integrative. Why so? Because, thanks to pioneers like Bruce Perry, Peter Levine, Pat Ogden, Bessel Van Der Kolk, and more, we are coming to understand the importance of the body as a holder of our truth.

We are developing new paradigms so we can engage with the individual, ancestral, and collective wounding that is being asked to be healed at this time. But we can’t do it with the old cognitive models. We need to listen and learn from the indigenous traditions and their use of the body as a mechanism of healing.

Are you a provider who is ready to take another step in your own journey to become a more somatically-integrative provider?

Here are a few tips:

Engage in your own somatic work. You are the medicine for your clients. The more embodied you are, the stronger your presence is, and the more powerful your somatic resonance is – this will help your clients move towards coherence.

Have a daily practice that is dedicated to your own embodiment. That can be breath work, yoga, walking, gardening, or sitting mindfully. Find practices that take you into the body throughout your day.

Find little ways to regulate your nervous system throughout the day. I had a sensory disk or tennis ball under my feet most days to open the fascia and help bring awareness to my feet throughout the day. I used warm rice packs on my kidneys for weeks to support regulation and train the body to come out of fight or flight.

Explore the use of sound for regulation and embodiment. A few of the tools I have used along the way are singing bowls, technology programs like the Safe and Sound Protocol, and tuning forks. I also took up the didgeridoo at the start of COVID as a way to explore sound and the body.

Would you like to have your own experience of using sound to become more embodied?

Check out my groups, programs, and consultation services for providers. I offer a range of services for providers who are looking for the next step in their professional and personal journey towards embodiment.

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