Somatic Exploration - A Resource in Stressful Times

By Anne Cousin

It is easy to get caught up in the details of our lives, even suffering and losing sleep when we perceive that we have no solution to the problems we face. We can too easily forget about joyfulness of living, that aliveness itself has an essentially joyful quality.

I often guide and advise clients into slowing down, deeply sensing and feeling into their body aliveness. This is a form of Somatic meditation. Somatic means that we relate to the body. There are many ways to do this, as each person has their own unique inner resources and intelligence.

For example, every pleasurable activity can be turned into a doorstep toward gratitude, by taking a moment to notice how it feels, acknowledging its ripples in ones sense of wellness, nourishment. As we experience this the body relaxes, the brain begins secreting new hormones of wellbeing, in a what we could call a virtuous cycle. We cultivate presence, mindfulness or body-fullness.

This simple practice to shift perspective, even 5 minutes a day as a start, has a profound effect on our brain chemistry and body. Our brain has a natural tendency to register and focus on potential threats. In a given moment, we experience feeling weak or being in fear or discomfort. Yet this is only one-side of the picture— we can expand our awareness to include other perceptions. There is always a possibility to shift perspective and to feel better.

Memory and Imagination as Nourishment

Whether we experience or imagine a particular situation, the physiology of the body is similarly affected. For example, the brain does not distinguish between a real or imagined threat. Nor does the brain distinguish between a real or imagined delight! As a child have you entered a fantasy as if you were really living it? Why not allow to bring into our heart, a pleasing memory, or even an imagined situation, and welcome the qualities that we long for? This too changes our physiology, for the better.

The Body is Like a River

By exploring our sensation and experience, we can reconnect to our aliveness and the intelligence within. We become aware of the way that experience is constantly unfolding and transforming. Although we sometimes believe our physical, mental, emotional state to be static, in fact it is always moving. Think of how many cells, neurons and connections there are in a human body— always in movement or change, never static. Just like the breath is always moving, that fluidity is part of our aliveness. You cannot stop this movement, because stopping it would be the end of life. Just try to hold your breath for too long!

With practice, inviting and observing these changes in the body-mind, one can really trust and tap into the fact that our physiology and biology are always on our side and designed to balance. Our own ability to witness our ever-changing experience is a powerful resource. It allows us to approach our experience with curiosity and even “befriend our pain”. The result is greater sense of safety, confidence and resilience.

Tapping Into The Aliveness Around Us

Noticing nature and aliveness around is a powerful ally to connect with our own vitality. Such a practice improves our relationship to ourselves, the environment and others. It fosters our ability to feel grateful, expanding the virtuous cycle of life.

In attuning to the beauty, adaptability, presence, and vitality of nature, we highlight those same qualities in ourselves. After all, we are also part of nature.

Developing a Somatic Exploration Practice

As a supplement to my guidance in sessions with clients, I’ve developed a “Somatic Exploration” meditation. Below is a link to a Somatic Exploration practice guided audio. Practicing will help you to naturally gently transmute stress (for instance when feeling butterflies) into eustress (a positive stress or impulse of aliveness). This will help you to embrace your lively innate potential and create a new experience for yourself.

Somatic Exploration is an invitation to use your creativity and inner resources to welcome all of yourself, bringing more wholeness, integrity, and resilience into your life.


Anne Cousin

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