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Movement as Medicine: Exploring Somatic Methods To Heal Body, Mind & Spirit




We all need healing. And there is no one right way to do this. One approach that has gained increasing recognition and popularity is somatic healing, a time-tested and powerful practice which emphasizes the mind-body connection and the role of movement in promoting healing and self-awareness.


In this blog, we'll explore the principles of somatic healing, its benefits, and some examples of how the tools of movement can serve as medicine for the body and soul.




"I am learning this more and more. Each book I wrote, each piece of art I make, each dance I do.... move the body, put pen to paper. brush to canvas, crochet hook to wool...engage the bodymind and soul creatively, authentically, put the psyche in motion and the rest takes care of itself."

.

Lucy Pearce


Understanding Somatic Healing

Our emotions and experiences sit within the body Our bodies hold onto stress, and tension, which can manifest as physical discomfort or illness. Our patterns and beliefs register on a cellular level, and somatic practices help us heal at the foundation.


Regardless of who you are, what you do or what you have you'll encounter moments of low energy, feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, stagnation, imposter syndrome, or powerlessness.


We might be energetically blocked in certain areas of our spiritual body- our chakras and meridians. We may feel stuck, but we're not. We can MOVE.


By tuning into physical sensations and engaging in mindful movement practices, we can release stored emotions and cultivate a deeper sense of self-awareness and well-being.


Through somatic healing, individuals can become their own empathetic witnesses, allowing for the gentle unraveling of tension, the restoration of balance and the cultivation of a sense of calm.



 "The body keeps the score, and it always wins. If you don't pay attention to what's going on in your body, it will let you know in the form of physical symptoms or emotional distress."

Bessel van der Kolk


Benefits of Somatic Healing

The gentle flowing movement of a regular somatic practice can reap amazing benefits for one's physical , mental and emotional health.


MIND

  • develops a greater awareness of their physical selves, fostering a deeper connection between mind and body, thoughts and emotions, leading to greater self-understanding and self-compassion

  • encourages mental clarity

  • creates new neuropathways for confidence and



BODY

  • promotes relaxation

  • helps release tension and stress held in the body

  • helps improve posture, flexibility, circulation and mobility,

  • reduces the risk of illness or injury,

  • alleviates chronic pain

  • enhancing overall physical health

  • stimulating the body's natural healing mechanisms

  • improves cardiovascular health by lowering or increasing heart rate


SPIRIT

  • promotes inner peace

  • supports in the processing and releasing of trapped emotions

  • increases emotional resilience and well-being.

  • balances the masculine/feminine energy,

  • balances the hemispheres of the brain

  • grounds us into our truth and authenticity


Movement is especially important for neurodivergent individuals with ADHD or anxiety. We can't meditate, rationalize or think our way out of a problem or worry. We must literally MOVE it out.


"I have found that moving the body and releasing emotional holdings is what brought me into a more naturally meditative and connected state. Not sitting on the cushion, passive like a sloth. The patriarchal spiritualists have been telling us that 'meditation' and 'contemplation' and 'witnessing’ are THE path to calm mind for centuries, and many of them are still unwell in their personal lives. Nothing changed. They dance in the witness- essentially a mind function- and addict to meditative practice, like a drug. And the moment they have to really deal with the world, their unresolved material re-emerges, always present. If you have to participate in a practice hours every day to calm yourself, that suggests that something is not working.


We are built for presence, so long as we activate our natural abilities to clear and re-open. And that's often a body alive path. It's been my experience that the monkey mind is transformed within the heart itself- not from within the mind. And that the heart is cleared through somatic activation and energized release. A great many people are walking around feeling 'inadequate' and 'unenlightened' because they don't like to meditate. Let that go. Meditation is a tool, but it is not the only path home. There are trillions of ways to touch the moment."

Jeff Brown




Examples of Somatic Healing Practices

When we think about movement, or exercise - we typically picture a gym, throwing a bunch of weights around, getting really sweaty, and pushing ourselves to uncomfortable places. The majority of us see exercise as some sort of punishment. Something we shame ourselves into "having to do."


The reality is that movement comes in so many different forms. There are literally infinite ways for you to move! And they're almost ALL good for you. There are movements that...


  • regulate the nervous system

  • release trauma

  • express emotion.

  • empower and motivate us

  • bring us closer to ourselves, and build a deeper more trusting relationship with our bodies.


Which type of movement is right for you?



Yoga

The ancient practice of Yoga combines breathwork, meditation, and physical postures to cultivate inner peace and balance


  • Sun Salutation Flow

  • Asanas and Poses to activate each Chakra

    • Root: grounding Mountain Pose, Sufi Ground, Bridge, Chair, Warrior

    • Sacral: hip-opening Bound Angle Pose, Butterfly Wings, Triangle, Goddess

    • Solar Plexus: core-strengthening Boat Pose, Spine Rotations/Twists, Circling the torso with arms up, Crescent, Plank, Bow Pose, Downward Dog

    • Heart: heart-opening Camel Pose, Upright Cat-Cow, Camel,

    • Throat: communication/expression opening Fish Pose, Neck Rolls, Cat Cow, Plow Pose, Shoulderstand

    • Third Eye: resting Child's Pose, Gyan Mudra Meditation, Downward Dog,

    • Crown: inversion Headstand or Legs Up, Lotus Pose, Tree Pose, Standing Backbend



"Don't practice yoga to get better at yoga. Practice yoga to get better at life."

Ecstatic Dance

Dance therapy utilizes movement and expression as a means of self-exploration and healing. By moving intuitively, freely and authentically, individuals can tap into their emotions, access states of flow and ecstasy, and connect with themselves and others on a deep, soulful level.


Ecstatic dance is a somatic healing practice that combines free-form movement, music, and self-expression to facilitate emotional release, catharsis, and connection with the body and spirit. Unlike traditional dance forms, ecstatic dance emphasizes spontaneity, authenticity, and non-judgmental movement, allowing individuals to express themselves freely without the constraints of choreography or technique. Participants are encouraged to follow the rhythm of the music and allow their bodies to respond organically to the present moment.


"Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself."

Moshe Feldenkrais


Meditative Martial Arts

Qi Gong and Tai Chi are effective somatic healing practices because they combine gentle movements, controlled breathing, and mindfulness to promote the flow of qi (life energy) throughout the body. By practicing mediitative martial arts individuals can cultivate a sense of balance, harmony, and inner peace


Bouncing, Swinging or Rebounding

Bouncing gently on a trampoline or the ground (while sitting or standing) is a rhymtic movement method to help relieve stiffness, improve mobility, ground and relax the body and drain the lymphatic system by stimulating circulation and flow.


You can bounce our heels together, or alternating (to simulate a running movement). You can also practice "ape hands", swinging your arms above your hands and down to your feet over and over.


Breathwork

Breathwork is a somatic practices that involve regulating and pacing the breath to promote relaxation and reduce stress.


  • 4 count breath

  • 8 count breath

  • Breath of Fire


Self-Massage

Self-massage is a somatic healing practice that involves applying gentle pressure and circular motions to parts of the body to boost circulation and release tension. These self-massage techniques can be easily incorporated into daily self-care routines and are effective for promoting overall well-being and relaxation.

  • Massaging the ears

  • Massaging the hands

  • Massaging the scalp



Lymphatic Tapping

Patting, or "knocking" your body briskly, including your neck, arms, core and legs to release trapped lymph flud and improve circulation.


"The body is the gateway to healing. Through somatic awareness and mindful movement practices, we can release tension, restore balance, and reconnect with our innate vitality."

Stanley Keleman




Your Movement Practice

We know we should move our bodies regularly and frequently, but in our busy lives, this is so much easier said than done. Enter the concept. of the "exercise snack" or "movement snack" - short, frequent bouts of physical activity throughout the day, often lasting just a few minutes,


These are beneficial because they help break up prolonged periods of sedentary behavior, helping to boost energy, improve mood, enhance focus, and contribute to overall physical fitness without requiring a significant time commitment or energy investment.


CONSISTENCY and SUSTAINABLITY is the key to developing a successful movement habit to stick to longterm, It's about finding the right time, and the unique types of movement that you find most easy and enjoyable. By making small adjustments and prioritizing movement, you can seamlessly integrate physical activity into your day.

  • Schedule short, frequent breaks (5 minutes every hours) for movement. Examples: Stretching, Walking, Squats, Plank, Pushups, Burpees, Kettle Swings, Jumping Jacks.

  • Utilize standing or treadmill desks to stay active while working.

  • Incorporate movement into your daily tasks, such as doing squats while brushing your teeth or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

  • Set reminders on your phone or computer to prompt you to move.


 

Overwhelmed?

Depressed?

Stressed?

Stagnant?

Agitated?

Anxious?

Angry?


Then Move Your Body: the simple solution to it all.


Wrapping It Up


Remember when we feel stuck it usually means we're on the edge of a MASSIVE LEAP!


Somatic healing offers a holistic approach to healing and self-discovery, emphasizing the importance of movement as medicine for the body and soul. Through mindful movement practices, individuals can release tension, promote relaxation, and cultivate a deeper connection between mind and body.


So, let us embrace the healing power of movement and embark on a journey of self-discovery and transformation. YOU are your own healer. Everything you need is already inside you.


Daily movement should be a non-negotiable, but its also important to listen to your body and ebb and flow with its needs. Tune inward and ask 'Is today a day to push and grind, or to be gentle and soften?


I look forward to hearing what these practices can unlock for you.





 




Erin is a certified feng shui consultant, energy healer, wellness coach, and holistic growth strategist.


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