Somatics is an innately improvisational, playful inquiry into the body and its inner and outer relationships. It is a practice of tracking signals and sensations, becoming aware of how my perceptions are tuned with the environment - and how I process and respond to these suggestions.
My task as a somatic educator is to ignite curiosity in my students about those relationships, to initiate a process of investigation into the nature of ones' body and to empower students to find their own truths. As somatic practitioners we learn to facilitate choices and nurture transformations in groups and in individuals. We recognize that as we move deeper into the experience of the body, it will affect how we relate to ourselves, with eachother and with the world around us.
The somatic approaches
I begun my somatic journey in the early 1990's and have since trained and become certified in three somatic methods; the Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis, Body-Mind Centering® and Dynamic Embodiment - Somatic Movement Therapy Training, which brings together LMA, BMC and somatic psychotherapy. In my teaching these methods weave and communicate, shedding light to different aspects of embodiment. The work takes place through anatomical and kinesiological study, using movement, touch, voice and mind.
Laban movement analysis
The Laban/Bartenieff work provides an encompassing matrix and a multidisciplinary approach through which we can observe, describe, interpret and experience movement. Originating from the visionary work of Rudolf Laban in the 1910-1950's, the LMA/BF work is an alive field, which continues to be developed and expanded to this day.
For a simple introduction of the work, Laban Movement Analysis is divided into categories of Body, Effort, Shape and Space (BESS). Each of these categories is a doorway into movement, and we may find an initial perceptual affinity with one of them. Through studying LMA we familiarize ourselves with each category, noting how embodying them expands our experience of movement and provides us with more choices.
The category of Body includes Bartenieff Fundamentals, Patterns of Total Body Connectivity and describes the physical and structural characteristics of any movement event. Through this category we become aware of the ways we use our physical structure, how our body parts are connected and how we learn to move more efficiently. The Bartenieff Fundamentals idea of kinetic chains corresponds with the recent findings of myofascial meridians in the body, and greatly assists sensing the body as a moving whole, rather than as separate anatomical parts. Through the Body we can also learn to sense the support of our Core space, and allow a luscious internal connection from feet to head.
The category of Effort describes the dynamic factors coloring our movement. We learn how the Effort elements of Flow, Weight, Time and Space combine in our movement and affect the mood of our expression. Through expressing our individuality, we all have habitual ways in each of the category. The Effort category corresponds with our behavioral choices, comfort zones of delivery, echoing areas of emotional maturity and chosen ways of exerting or recuperating in our daily lives. Being able to clearly articulate one's Effort choices and combinations, is a necessary art for a performer, or anybody who wishes to enrich and clarify their communication skills.
The category of Shape concerns shifts in the physical form and the process of Shaping. An important qualifier in expression, this is where most of our nonverbal communication stems from. With an intimate connection with our Breath, Shape carries our expression forth. Becoming more aware of the choices in this category, Shape assist us in finding coherence in our relations. In Shape I also teach the myofascial bodywork, and how fascia shapes the container for our perceptual habits, inner moods and stories. Something we are equally capable of enforcing or changing. The Shape category is the silent partner in movement and communication, but one with a lot of voice when we begin to pay attention to it. It is the bridge from Body to Space, an important element in clearing or obscuring our messages.
The category of Space is, in my opinion, Laban's most important contribution to the field of movement studies. No other system has articulated the use of space in such a cohesive manner, providing vital components for movement observation and facilitation. The Space category articulates spatial pathways, patterns and lines of tension and involves connections with our environment. The practice of Space Harmony explores movement pathways within crystalline forms of Platonic Solids through "scales", not unlike musical scales. These scales are the culmination of the LMA work. Through them we study how all categories - Body, Effort, Shape, Space (BESS) - integrate with eachother, supporting rich expression. Through the embodiment of Space we access the voluminous nature of our physical structures, finding tensile support for our movement.
Developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, and further expanded by the international cohort of teachers and practitioners, this remarkable and instinctively creative approach to body, movement and consciousness is an experiental study in anatomical, physiological and developmental principles. Through the use of visualization, touch, sound and movement we bring awareness and aliveness to different body systems (such as skeletal, muscular, ligamentous, organ, fluid, nervous and endocrine system or embryology) and become more present and available in ourselves and in our lives and relationships. The fundamental work of developmental repatterning and movement re-education can resolve traumas and held patterns within our structures, opening further possibilities in our perceptions and expression. Body-Mind Centering® is not a set technique but an intent, an awareness and an ongoing exploration in the shifting territory of body-mind. It is a deep embodiment training, as we learn to touch and move from different cells and tissues in our body, expanding our capacity to feel and act.
The Body Systems:
Skeletal system is our basic supporting structure. It provides foundation for clarity, effortlessness and form.
Organ system provides us with our sense of self, full-bodiedness and organic authenticity.
Fluids underlie presence and transformation, setting the ground for basic communication.
Nervous system records our experiences and organizes them into patterns.
Muscular system establishes a tensile 3-dimensional grid for the balanced support and movement of the skeleton.
Ligamentous & Fascial systems coordinate and guide muscular responses by directing a path of movement, providing specificity, clarity and efficiency.
Endocrine glands are the major governing system of the body and closely aligned with the nervous system.
Immune system is an innately intelligent system of discernment of what is harmful or harmless for the continuity of the cellular self. It develops in communication with non-self, allowing for both fast decisions and mistakes, while trusting that balance can be refound.
Other aspects to embody:
Senses begin as a potential and develop in response to stimulation and experience. Perception is the process of interpreting information based on our past experience, present circumstances and future expectations.
Developmental Movement Patterns are building blocks of our activities, establishing a base for our perceptual relationships.
Reflexes, Righting Reactions & Equilibrium Responses (RRR) are the alphabet of our movement. Underneath all succesfull, effortless movement are integrated RRR's.
Subcellular embodiment and awareness is a state in which all cells have equal opportunity for expression and receptivity.
Embryological & Ontogenetic Development is a journey to the origins of our beginning. It provides us the knowing of ourselves as a process.