January 24, 2024
Sometimes it feels like you’re caught in a whirlwind of chaos. Your mind is a labyrinth of thoughts, and your emotions are swirling like a storm. It’s in these overwhelming moments that finding your ground feels necessary and vital.
Picture yourself gently closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and connecting to a sense of peace within. This process is an example of a somatic practice – which can be a way for healing to begin with your body’s help.
Somatic practices are deeply rooted in ancient wisdom. They offer a tangible path to tranquility and healing, especially in the aftermath of traumatic events. They’re not just exercises – they’re a journey towards inner stillness and strength.
As a spiritual counselor, my goal is to journey with you through the storm of chaos. And my goal is for somatic practices to become a guiding light on your journey. So, let’s start by exploring what a somatic practice is.
Somatic practices are techniques that help you strengthen the connections between your mind and body. They’re practices that teach you to listen to your body’s messages. By listening to these messages, you can strengthen your emotional and mental wellness.
The goal with somatic practices is to learn how to focus on and interpret the physical sensations your body is experiencing. Why? Because these external sensations mirror and reflect what’s happening in your inner world.
Many of us who use somatic practices and somatic therapy believe that our bodies hold memories, emotions, and wisdom. When we access what our bodies hold onto, it can lead to profound healing. This integration of the body and mind is a cornerstone in transforming how we experience and navigate our world.
It’s normal to be skeptical of somatic practices at first – especially if you’ve never tried using these techniques before. But don’t forget that your body is a wise guide. Listening to it can unlock doors to healing and fulfillment.
Studies have shown that somatic practices produce effective results like:
With somatic practices, you’ll develop a heightened awareness of bodily sensations. Over time, this will allow you to release pent-up emotions and tension. So the impact of these exercises is profound – offering a pathway to healing that is both accessible and transformative.
When it comes to trying somatic practices, there are many techniques that you can do yourself. I encourage you to try a few until you find a technique that you like.
Start by finding a safe and nurturing environment for yourself – whether it’s a specific chair in your house or simply sitting in your car in the parking garage. Then, breathe deeply. Imagine you’re inhaling peace and exhaling tension. Once you’re in a more relaxed mindset, gently guide your awareness to different parts of your body and notice any sensations or emotions that arise.
The goal is not to change what you find, but to acknowledge and accept your present state. Over time, this process will deepen the connection you have with yourself – and lead to healing and growth.
When it comes to somatic practices, there are many techniques you can use. The goal is simply to pay attention to your body’s sensations so you can understand what it’s trying to tell you.
With this in mind, I put together a list of 10 examples of somatic practices. These are the ones I recommend to my clients as a spiritual counselor – and the ones I think would help you the most on your healing journey.
This is the simplest technique you can try. The goal is to use deep, rhythmic breathing to regulate your nervous system. This somatic practice can dramatically reduce anxiety and improve mental clarity.² By focusing on your breath, you create a bridge between your mind and body – facilitating a state of calm and presence.
This somatic practice is one of my favorites – and it’s gotten me through some pretty tough times. Dynamic movements help release stored tension and can rejuvenate your spirit. Shaking is particularly effective in discharging stress and trauma from the body.³ While dancing fosters joy and freedom, allowing you to express your emotions nonverbally.
Another favorite of mine is to connect with nature. I recommend finding something hard and strong in nature (like a tree or rock) so you feel supported and anchored to the earth. This somatic practice helps establish a sense of stability and resilience – which is particularly beneficial during times of upheaval.⁴ It’s a reminder that you possess inherent strength and adaptability, just like nature.
This ancient somatic practice integrates body and mind through gentle poses and mindful breathing. Yoga has been shown to improve flexibility, reduce stress, and enhance mental focus.⁵ Each pose is an opportunity to explore the connection between your body’s physical sensations and your mind’s emotional states.
Tai Chi is a gentle martial art that focuses on slow, deliberate movements. The goal is to harmonize your body and soul. It can improve your balance, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being.¹ The goal is to create a meditative practice that promotes inner peace and mindfulness.
Another simple somatic practice is progressive muscle relaxation. This involves systematically tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body. This practice is effective in reducing physical tension and can also provide relief from anxiety and insomnia.⁵ It’s a simple yet powerful tool for achieving a state of deep relaxation.
If you’ve ever tried guided meditation, you’re probably familiar with this somatic practice. It involves using your imagination to visit calming, restorative places within your mind. This technique can reduce stress, alleviate pain, and enhance your capacity for self-reflection.⁴ It’s a journey that taps into the power of your mind to heal and soothe.
Use body scan meditation to focus methodically on each part of your body. As you move your focus from one part to another, acknowledge the sensations you’re feeling. This practice increases your bodily awareness and can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.¹ It’s a pathway to deeper self-understanding and compassion.
Gentle touch can release muscle tension and create a deeper connection with your body. This somatic practice not only alleviates physical discomfort but also nurtures self-love and care.² It’s a reminder that the healing power of touch can help you on your healing journey.
This technique is a bit indirect, but it’s still a great somatic practice to try. You can complement your physical practices with written reflection. By documenting your experiences and insights, you develop your emotional processing and self-awareness skills.³ It’s a powerful tool for monitoring your somatic experiences and observations.
Using somatic practices, you can find relief from physical and emotional distress – while also paving the way for profound personal growth. As you integrate these somatic practices into your life, you’ll experience a shift toward clarity, balance, and a renewed sense of purpose.
As a spiritual counselor, my goal is to help you on your journey of healing and self-discovery. I do this using somatic practices and techniques like:
My goal is to provide a compassionate, safe space for exploration and growth.
So, if you’re struggling with chaotic events in your life, I invite you to book a session with me. We can use somatic practices to discover what your body and mind are trying to tell you.