Somatic dance play, somatic movement?

Somatic dance play, somatic movement?

(with a little taster at the end)

What does somatic mean? In the Feldenkrais somatic movement education community, we are asking ourselves this question: Do people understand what we mean by this word?

Soma means the body as experienced from within. The felt sense of ourselves. So somatic refers to the study of experiencing ourselves from within the body. An embodied experience of ourselves. Somatic movement adds movement as a way to experience our body through sensations.

Just as the mind gives us a felt thought of ourselves and a visual image of our body, our body gives us a sense of ourselves through the way we move and hold ourselves together. Sensing brings our attention to the space that exists beyond words and feelings, to our sensations and emotions. Gene Gendlin, a somatic educator, has written beautifully eloquently about the body as our compass for thinking, feeling, and acting. I feel he describes soma, the felt sense of ourselves very poetic and magical through his words.

He writes -and I quote loosely- that our body is part of a huge system that is both here and in other places and embodies the now as well as other times. It is in constant curious interaction with its environment, the energy of others, the earth, the universe, our ancestors, past times, and other dimensions.

Energies flow in, out, and through, evoking emotions and sensations. We touch, see, smell, taste, and hear our environment every little fraction of time. Millions of cells sensate with now-information, emote with past experience, are moved by energy, and inform and co-create our brain’s magic network of connections and relationships.

Being consciously in connection with what is alive inside, feeling from the body, and being present in the body is feeling bodily alive in this vast universal system of relationships, interactions, and movement. Our conscious mind only can just comprehend a fraction of this. For me, somatics is about this conscious embodiment and self-awareness that connects us in a sensory way to that bigger meaning of life where words and mental constructions fall short.

Wikipedia shares another definition of somatic that brings in psychology as well:

…the study of the mind/body interface, the relationship between our physical matter and our energy, and the interaction of our body structures with our thoughts and actions.

It brings me to a statement Moshe Feldenkrais made that there is a unity of body and mind. One does not function without the other. They are an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think, a body without a brain could not function. So when we experience the body from within, we experience our mind from within as well.

Through aware movement, we experience our brain’s way of thinking and organizing from within. The way our self-image and movement develop through emotions, feelings, and thoughts.

What are the benefits of the somatic movement practices I share?

  • Experiencing ourselves from within makes us feel our depths, our wonders, and the magic of life. Well isn’t that a spark for our vitality?
  • Experiencing our body from within helps us understand our thoughts and feelings. It creates a co-creation between body and mind. It teaches us about the relationship dynamics that are all possible between our mind and body. What would it be like to tap into your full potential of strengths, gifts, and abilities?
  • Experiencing our body from within teaches us about the relationships between our muscles, organs, connective tissue, emotions, thoughts, and feelings. All motor movement starts here and can be improved by improving these relationships. What would you do if you would feel free and able in your daily life movements and actions? How would it change your life if you can consciously choose movement that feels free and pleasurable, that navigates you effortlessly through life’s challenges?
  • Experiencing the body from within teaches us about relationships. Our body guides us in getting to know our habits in relationship dynamics. Having this understanding helps us re-pattern habits that create struggles in relationships. How would be if you feel confident and open in relationships? How would it be if you could feel true, intimate, deep, and joyful in the relationships that are important to you?

In the somatic movement practices of Feldenkrais and dance movement creativity, I offer self-awareness and self-growth. Not because you have to be a better version of yourself but to guide you in getting to know, feel, and express more of yourself with joy, love, and innate playfulness. And experience relationships with more intimacy, ease, and being you

I call it somatic dance play and movement exploration. In playing we find all the tools to experience ourselves from a non-judgmental and curious place. Being playful brings us to a place where we can be open, exploring, and joyful. It is the most important state for organic, experiential learning.

My offer is an invitation to rediscover playful, spontaneous Being and consciously choose the path of pleasure and ease to navigate through life. I believe it all starts with coming home in our bodies and building a caring, joyful relationship with ourselves.

Are we loving enough to ourselves to receive our gifts ourselves first?

In this link, you’ll find a somatic dance play audio to start your own somatic journey. Dance through it with your eyes closed or open and have fun exploring relationships through your joints.

What moves you?

What moves you?

When it gets freezy underneath.

In 2021 I gave a presentation for the online Movement and Wellbeing Festival organised by Angela McMillan.

I gave a talk about ways to move “From freeze to flow” And as I was writing on my presentation, memories came to mind of childhood times when I struggled with fear, shame, and insecurity, unable to control my turbulent inner world that was constantly put on edge by being bullied and ridiculed. It resulted in a lot of uncomfortable physical sensations that I couldn’t control at the time. Eventually, I tried to get rid of them by dissociating myself from my body or somehow controlling it. Slowly, I slipped into a continuous, slumbering state of freezing. Not much later I developed an eating disorder, followed by other destructive numbing habits.

Freezing symptoms can linger just under the skin for long times keeping you from engaging in intimate connection with yourself and others. On the outside you may look like a happy puppy, people may praise you for being such a good listener, for being flexible, helpful or so loyal. But between the lines, suffering happens. It can manifest itself by withdrawing from situations and people, feeling very tired, lonely, and depressed, feeling chronically anxious in your skin, not knowing what you like, want, or don’t want, or what has meaning for you, having trouble concentrating and focusing, having trouble putting your money where your mouth is, or to get moving. Physically you can feel like you can’t hold yourself up, feeling tight, tense, and limp at the same time,  a lack of fluid movement and stability, or experiences of spatial unclarity, bumping into things, tripping, and hurting yourself.

Actually, we all experience freezy states on a daily basis.
Now more than ever! Many of us are living more in the head than in the body. Our smartphones keep us attached to the screen even when biking or crossing a road. Mental information forms the biggest part of our nowadays intake of information about our environment.

We live in an expectation- and performance-oriented society in which there is little room for spontaneity, authentic self-expression, or listening to the heart and senses. Many of our physical activities are about looking good rather than feeling good. Feeling present and alive in the body is not so obvious anymore. The pandemic certainly contributed to this disembodied life.

magic happens when you choose to follow flow

For a long time, I tried to work with the turbulent emotions themselves. It was yo-yo-ing between feeling okay and feeling down again. It took a toll on my health and made me feel less and less secure with myself. It was exhausting falling and crawling back up again and again.

Then by chance, I discovered the somatic movement approach of the Feldenkrais method. During the first session, I felt calm instead of cathartic. Just feeling good without having to go back into that dark hole first. Wow! As I continued to deepen my understanding of the Feldenkrais Method and other somatic-, and systems-oriented movement and dance approaches, I gained three very important insights:

  1. Where attention goes, energy flows
  2. Each of us is a living system, a complex fabric, of biology, energy, consciousness, and soul which are interrelated, interconnected, and interdependent.
  3. All living systems have an innate capacity for self-healing, thus so do we, if only we follow our system’s way of ‘thinking in relationships, integration, and interconnectedness’ instead of being a hierarchy divided into a mind, a body with parts, a soul and spirit.

I discovered how I had gotten stuck in a one-sided negative attention spiral of What’s Wrong. And I learned that thinking and emotions are only two channels of a huger somatic constellation through which we know ourselves, and by which a living system informs itself of inner and outer relationships. Most importantly I learned how to help my system prime for healing, nurturing all somatic information channels with the input of “What is. Through Perception, reconnecting with my senses, and learning systemically from the inside out through movement, and now-attention.

In many forms of therapy and coaching, the focus is on the somatic channels of emotion and thought only. The attention is on What is wrong; the former experiences, the trauma… Reliving the triggering emotions, and analyzing them. And I experienced that this starting point keeps reinforcing the pattern of suffering instead of helping our system to self-regulate and heal.

Leaving the old experiences and analyses alone for a while and spending time with my senses in the now, renewed my ability to feel pleasurable, comfortable, and easy sensations in my body. Sensations that invited me to stay in my body, feel safer in my body, gain trust in my being able to surf the emotional waves, and slowly create a greater capacity to deal with all of life, including former traumatic experiences.

It certainly didn’t happen overnight, no quick fix here. And that is exactly why the healing happened! Instead of forcing my system to suddenly change, I danced with the system through awareness, movement, stillness, and time, crafting my attention to what felt good. Gently offering options to my system, in addition to the one my system was used to. I learned to trust my system that it would choose what felt best to thrive in life in its own natural time and wisdom.

You can find my talk below:

In the Movement and Wellbeing Festival 2021 of Online Movement Academy, I shared a Feldenkrais somatic movement experience that has helped me and my clients to follow and flow with our systems and move from freeze to flow. You can listen and move with it below.

Better your foundation for more ease and support

by Pingel Braat

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NecbplsqrwCUdYHeQ0X6q3zWegW64_I-/view?usp=drive_link
Meeting your inner family

Meeting your inner family

Today was the last day of the last retreat of 2023 at Jardin de Luz.
I am grateful for the beautiful, courageous journeys I was invited to guide this year.

One of our participant’s favorite practices is the inner child cards that we create from working somatically, energetically, and creatively with parts of ourselves.

Our younger parts often bring up the most painful and sometimes happiest stories from the past that demand our attention. Sometimes because we can’t let go of them. And more often we become aware of how we have rejected some young parts of ourselves out of fear of losing the love of those around us. Those parts keep demanding our attention, challenging us, until we make space for them, really listen to them, and give them a place in our hearts again. Their behavior often created counterparts who act as safety officers. They manage our beliefs and keep our free, uninhibited, playful inner child firmly in line. Some call them their inner critics. (Above one of my inner child cards).

For this practice, we listen deeply to the somatic messengers that inform us from the inside out, from our cells, bones, muscles, connective tissues, and our subconscious realm so to speak. They are what I call the somatic communication SISTEM:

Senses

Images

Sensations

Thoughts

Emotions

Movement

and next to that, we use lots of old magazines, scissors, and glue to play with what our inner children have to say.

Does working with dance, movement, and creativity as a way to heal and grow internally speak to you? And are you interested in a retreat with me? Feel free to contact me for a exploratory chat.

You are enough

You are enough

I am preparing for the solo retreat that will start in less than a week.

In many of the past retreats, women told me about their struggle with ‘Not being good enough’. One of the tools in my magic healing box is the Systemic Dance Constellation Ritual. It was born out of my own intuitive way of systemic constellation and the training in systemic work I received in training as a somatic energetic therapist

I love to constellate the theme of ‘not being good enough’ by playing with our Self-wise energy personalities. Our Self Wise is the part in us that often got wronged or ridiculed in our childhood.

I know from experience that it can leave big scars and feelings of being disempowered, not equipped with the right survival tool, of not feeling of any worth. It has a huge influence on our life decisions, how we dream and desire for ourselves, our relationships, and how we dare to stand up for ourselves.
It is important to heal that part! To change your belief settings and self-image. And there is a very powerful way to invite our mind to stop her chatter: Movement and Play!
I believe that moving is the medicine, and to play is to heal. Through movement, we can gently sense our way in, with our body as the foundation.
After one of the Systemic Dance Constellation Rituals, I gifted myself, I wrote myself this little empowering poem:

“Not good enough” There she is again. Her venom paralyzes me to my core and grabs me by the throat. She drags me into her raging stream full of self-condemnation and comparisons to others. I go head over heels for her vicious words. She pulls me into her dark deep waters. Slowly I feel myself drowning in the fear of not being able to survive with who I am. Is it possible to believe in something else?

For a moment, “not being good enough” gets its way. Then strong hands pull me up, a soft voice whispers ‘It is not true’. It is another part of me. I break free from this devastating stream of thought. I feel the power of “not good enough” weakening. Her poison will miss its effect this time. She will have no more power over me..”

Re-membering yourself home in your body

Re-membering yourself home in your body

“Our bodies know they belong; it is our minds that make our lives so homeless.” John O’Donohue

I love this quote and I believe there is so much truth in it! 

Our stories start in the body with the way our autonomous nervous system ‘feels’ the world from moment to moment. It is called ‘neuroception’; a term originating from Stephen Porges’s Polyvagal theory. We only have little awareness of these subtle shifts in our states and the influence that they have on how we feel, perceive our environment, and behave from moment to moment. These wordless neuroceptive messages are somatic signals, like a gut feeling, sensations of temperature change, sensations from our organs, muscles or our heart intuition … The autonomic nervous system sends these neuroceptive signals to the brain.

 Our mind then starts to give meaning to this somatic story that our body tells by creating the beliefs that guide our daily life. A story is being born.

Since this process usually takes place in the unconscious background of our daily lives, ‘our moment-to-moment being’, such a story has a chance to take deep root. It is often the seed from which unconscious habits in perception, behavior, movement, and attitude grow. And these habits influence our decision-making, self-image, reactions, and how we see the world and give meaning to what we perceive, and ultimately how we relate to others and our environment.

Awareness is the key to our unconscious stories

We can become aware of this unconscious flow of information by pausing, listening in our body, and attending to our body sensations before we interpret them with our mind. Much like being a witness

 When we can observe from the curious, playful “infant mind space” rather than our more judgmental “ego mind space,” we create a new space for trying out options in response, behavior, and perception. An option to enact a new story by using the ability of our nervous system and body to adapt, change and grow.

Unlock your capacity for self-healing

We meet ourselves through our infant mind space when we attend to conscious movement, expressive dance, and arts. When we invite ourselves to reconnect with our bodies, to play, explore and discover the wisdom that our body holds for us. I believe this unlocks our capacity for self-healing

It’s how I healed myself many years ago when I realized that I had lost my zest and sparkle and felt alienated from myself. I made the choice to change how I listened to and looked at myself, to re-story, to meet myself again in movement, in the moment, to re-member myself home in my body.

Are you curious how you can feel more whole and connected to your body?

Maybe a dance movement creativity retreat at Jardin de Luz is something for you.  Feel welcome to contact me for A free orienting conversation