Develop Somatic Intelligence to Reconnect with Your Body and Unlock Your Potential
When I asked my friend how she was feeling, she replied, “Just fine!” Her words sounded so upbeat. But her body was saying something different. Dark, clouded eyes were downcast; mouth tense; shoulders rolled forward, almost as if they were curving over to protect her heart; hands clenching. Because of years of developing sensory acuity, I could tell she really thought everything was okay, but the dissonance with her body told another story.
As I gently inquired further, her story emerged. As she spoke, a softening of her body occurred. By the end of our lunch together, she exclaimed, “I feel so much better. I didn’t know that was bothering me so much!”
You can probably relate. Your body often knows things long before your mind catches up. It remembers today’s experiences AND all of your past experiences.
However, we’ve learned to doubt our body wisdom, to second guess ourselves, to ignore the messages that the body is sending. We spend so much time treating the body as a separate entity apart from thoughts and feelings that we create conflict and disharmony within ourselves.
For example, you want to lose weight, but your body won’t let you. You want to build your business or coaching practice, but you just can’t make yourself take the next step forward. It’s like a client once told me, “I know how to do it; I just don’t know how to do it!”
We fall into the trap of thinking that putting new information into our brains will automatically result in new action, but it doesn’t. This leaves the physical body out of the learning-transformation loop. Our physical body is still stuck with the implicit learning it’s taken from life experiences — the patterns, principles and rules that have worked in the past. These implicit memories may work well in getting you through day-to-day routines. But they can get in the way of achieving life-altering change.
We’re not taught to develop somatic intelligence — “somatic” comes from the ancient Greek art and science of living in the human body — viewing the body as the place where sensation, emotion, and cognitive interpretation meet and interact to form our in-the-moment experience of life.
Throughout your life, your body has learned a pattern for operating in the world. You adapt and adjust to fit in, to belong and to survive. Disconnect occurs early in life, when unresolved emotions are held by the body — often the back, neck, and stomach — as tightness or pain.
Your brain houses memories, as do the fascia, muscles and tissues of your body. For example, you don’t have to tell your hand how to hold a pen before you sign your name. It remembers.
At first, it may feel like the only way you can cope with discomfort or pain is to numb yourself and power through. On the other hand, when you develop somatic intelligence, you can mindfully choose to respond in a way that leaves you feeling whole and at peace, connecting your body sensations with your thoughts, your feelings. You can access a deeper understanding of self, and develop greater intuition, vitality, and personal power through a practice of mindfulness. I love how Jeanette LeBlanc poetically describes this…
“Be gentle. Pay attention. Offer purposeful healing. Seek Equilibrium. Unfreeze, slowly. Stretch yourself out into the world. Let your eyes calibrate to this new light and notice how it caresses the lines and curves and soft and hard of you. Allow your mouth to twist and stumble around new shapes. Be so very sensory.
From every angle. The way your bones feel. The way you orient to space and time. Invite your whole being into this new way of living, into the totality and wholeness of it. Let it be strange and uncomfortable and painful and stiff. Let it be magical and novel and unfamiliar and entirely wonderful.
Follow the whispers where they lead.”
To recap: there are two primary ways you experience your body: from the outside and the inside.
Observing from the outside is easy. It’s experiencing the functionality of your body. You watch, evaluate, and adjust yourself for maximum performance and, hopefully, minimal pain.
Experiencing from the inside makes you highly aware of the unconscious. This gives you with more options for moving, acting, thinking, feeling and living, thereby maximizing your full human potential.
To develop somatic intelligence means you’ll move your body from curiosity, pleasure, beauty and wonder. I experienced the power of movement when I learned The Feldenkrais Method®, which takes advantage of the brain’s capacity for neuroplasticity. As I became more skilled, my debilitating back pain vanished. I learned to move, not for how I appeared to others, but how I felt inside. This makes me think of a great quote by Drew Gerald:
“Inertness is the universal sign of death. Nothing can exist without movement.”
Are you ready to connect with your innermost self more fully? Perhaps you want to unlock your full potential as an athlete, business owner, leader, or member of your community? Please contact me and schedule a 30-minute complimentary consultation by phone or via Zoom so we can explore our partnership.