Somatic in September WEEK THREEHeidi Hadley
Welcome to week 3 of Somatic in September. I hope you have enjoyed the last two weeks with a somatic approach to your activities. Check out my video as I discuss the theme for week 3.
As we have noticed over the weeks, when we develop an awareness to our internal environment, we heighten our understanding of how we ‘tick.' Thus allowing us to enhance our health and wellbeing and learn what we can do to reduce recurring issues which are detrimental to our health.
Do you recall what we considered in week 1? I explained how important it is to care and nurture our soma. I also explained that our soma is a huge sensory organism which absorbs all emotions, trends, behaviours, actions, habits, cultures, belief systems and anything else we come into contact with which shapes who we are and what make us tick. We are all unique and so one soma will be very different to another soma. We all have a different story and catalogue of events that have happened to create the amazing individual we are today.
So when we heighten our awareness to what our internal environment is providing in the form of feedback in various ways, we can work effectively to improve our overall health and wellbeing.
When we become aware of how we are feeling, we can see how mindfulness can enhance and prolong periods of calmness and a state of balance within our soma. That is why blending the principles of week 1 with week 3 is so important. We start to create changes on a daily basis. Many clients ask me if a particular posture or certain styles of breathing are required. Every soma is different and the way one person practises their somatic breathing techniques will be different to someone else. However let us consider the following points to blend and enhance Somatic Mindfulness and Somatic breathing.
- Firstly you have to find a position comfortable for you.
- Secondly, many people live in a stress response most of the day and breathe very shallow and fast. Without complicating matters and adding to a person’s subconscious stress response, when we learn to breathe somatically, our central nervous system begins to dial down the stress response. Simply put, many people find it a challenge to breathe in and out deeply and often are unable to notice the silent pause at the end of their breath cycle. This is the natural breathing pattern created by your brain. When we learn to breathe naturally and in a relaxed manner, we dial down the stress response with these subtle techniques. We are creating positive steps towards a healthier internal environment.
- Thirdly, by allowing your senses to notice the aromas, listen to the sounds around you, sense the air against your face, feel the rhythm of your heart beat and breath rate plus other sensations, allows time for your mind to truly stop, stay quiet and appreciate this very moment. This moment is time is precious because we never get it back again. So allow yourself quiet time. Many clients find this so rewarding and feel it recharges them. It allows them to recalibrate as they continue to balance their busy work and home life activities. This time creates an opportunity for your central nervous system time to say “ahhh….and relax!” Taking time to stop and sense how our soma is actually faring throughout the day is so important. It is crucial for understanding at a deeper level what enhances or hinders our health and wellbeing. We allow Somatic Mindfulness to truly flourish when we stop and feel how good it is to allow our mind and body to rest. We can be very ‘cerebral’ and live in our head most of the day, not noticing the subtle signs from our body, telling us that our posture or lack of movement are creating musculoskeletal issues, digestive problems and breathing difficulties, just to name a few. So it is important to create time to stop, notice and recalibrate with the techniques highlighted with Total Somatics.
Working with your Amazing Central Nervous System.
Ever since I started my studies and passion in Neurophysiology over 20 years ago, it has been amazing to see how much neuroscience research has mushroomed with the advancement of technology. It is such an exciting area to be involved in and within a clinical setting, every client I see either in person, in class or online are unique. When we look at the neuroscience of somatic mindfulness however, the same brilliant results can be seen when people apply the techniques.
I am sure you would agree that when you are stressed, certain unpleasant sensations are felt. These are produced by stress hormones. However there are other hormones which create different responses to our mental and emotional state. These hormones are known as Neuropeptides. When we feel love, kindness, affection, compassion and emotional warmth, we produce a neuropeptide known as Oxytocin, sometimes nicknamed “the cuddle hormone.” However Oxytocin doesn’t just affect our brain, it affects our body because we have oxytocin receptors in many areas such as our arteries and heart. Some of the amazing responses created by this neuropeptide on our system is that our blood pressure lowers, a boost occurs in our immune system plus wound healing increases, gut health improves by aiding healthy digestive action and absorption.
So when we spend time in a setting which allows our nervous system to fully relax, creating feelings of contentment or pleasure, we can create healthy responses by working intelligently with the amazing actions of our central nervous system. As a result of this, it creates a flow on effect to other body systems and organs. At times, we may not be fortunate to sit in nature because we work in a high rise building in the city, however when we create time in our day to develop somatic mindfulness, healthy changes can occur. Neuroscience has shown that by closing our eyes, practising somatic breathing and visualising a setting which calms us internally, it will also produce oxytocin and create the same beneficial effects throughout our soma.
Check out this diagram which helps to understand how the balance can shift either way during stress.
In summary, for this week could you consider the following?
- Create moments in your day to centre and ground yourself. If you cannot move too far from your work environment, could you become creative? When you go to the bathroom, could you sit on the toilet for a few moments with your eyes closed and breathe deeply, allowing your central nervous system to slow down. To enhance this practise, visualise an image which creates a feeling of calm within you. Maybe it is a location? Maybe it is a person? Whatever works for you, use it. It will creates neuropeptides (healthy substances) which will flood your brain and body.
- Notice how you feel internally at different times. Notice how you feel when you are with family and friends. How do you feel when you sing, play an instrument, pursue an sporting activity, dance or paint? Do you feel uplifted and refreshed? Do you feel these events or activities provide a dose of enthusiasm, laughter, fun and excitement to your day or week? Could you cherish these feelings and create more opportunities, developing a healthier balance of work and play?
- When we feel centred, calm and refreshed, we have greater energy for ourselves and others. So don’t be too economical with your self care time. How often do you update the software on your technology? How often do you run virus checks? Would you put diesel in a petrol car? Would you try driving a long distance with a tank that is flashing ‘empty?” We can sometimes put greater emphasis on material possessions which can be replaced. Whereas we only get one mind and body in our life. To allow life to control us by neglecting our own health and wellbeing will create long term issues. Reassess your priorities in life.
As you begin to create opportunities this week with somatic mindfulness, notice that every time you develop a self care practice of stepping away from the hamster’s wheel of life, you begin to feel the benefits and realise that you can be effective and even more efficient without having to step back on to that wheel!
To learn in greater detail how to create lasting changes, check out The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program at www.TotalSomatics.com.
Enjoy the rest of your week.
Heidi Hadley xx