Be Who You Really Are
By Jennifer Troyan
This month we have a modality to introduce (or something to add to your personal tool kit). Are you familiar with Somatic Body-Oriented Coaching?
Somatic comes from the Greek word, soma “body” or somatikos “bodily.” It is different than traditional therapies or coaching in that it is not about your mind and what you are thinking, or how you use logic, or thoughts to know how you are feeling. It pertains to your physical body.
There is an excellent book we recommend if you want to explore this topic in more detail titled, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
Dr. Maria recommended the book to me. I learned so much from itin addition to what she helped me discover. Side note: You can get trained by her to learn this or to do some sessions and experience it for yourself.
I thought it might be good to share my first-hand experience as one who has been doing Somatic Coaching with her for a while now. You can do one session or many.It is a great way to self-regulate, be independent and responsible for yourself. The fact is most people have experienced trauma of some sort along the path of life. It is pretty much inevitable and can be very minimal all the way to very difficult and sensitive.
Here’s what I didn’t know - that your body holds trauma, and it comes out in subtle or stark ways. As someone who “has done the work” and continues to do so, I can say this concept was difficult for me to grasp at first because I thought I was in tune with my heart, body, and soul. I soon realized there was a whole world I had closed myself off to.
Somatic Coaching helps you connect with your natural neuroplasticity. Positive Psychology defines it as the ability of the brain to form new connections and pathways and change how its circuits are wired. I don’t know about you, but I found this fascinating.
I want to share some of my story with the intention that it is helpful and to give you my real-life example of how Somatic Coaching (SC) is helping me. We are all works in progress and my journey continues, so this is my account of what has transpired thus far.
At first, I was really struggling with SC because I am a logical thinker, trying to justify things in my mind and it was hard because I felt like I was so in tune with myself,yet I came to find that when it comes to my body I am not. SC helped me become aware of this and I am learning how to talk to and experience my body in a new way. Until recently, I hadn’t thought to include my body in the process of healing past traumas. As with other forms of coaching or therapy, there are many ways to help someone, and this is one of them.
In SC, you ask your body questions and the focus shifts from using logic to finding out where things are landing in your body. For instance, I feel like I can easily tap into my emotions, but I hadn’t considered that my body is feeling something too. I equated understanding my emotions with understanding my body; they are separate.
I thought I had awareness of my body. For example, if I’m craving a steak, I’ll eat that, so I know what my body wants/needs and I’m connected to it. Yes, it’s a part of it but not, “Where do you feel this in your body? What are your sensations?Where does this land in your body?”A foreign concept to me.
While you are going through SC, you might see a shape or a color or feel a pang somewhere and I always dismissed it. I did not know my body was talking to me. I was so in my head that I could not even comprehend very basic questions (which is OKAY!). Dr. Maria tried different things with me until we found a good path or starting point. I love that she is so patient, gentle, and kind through this process. She did not give up on me. One day she did a body scan meditation with me. That was the key to unlocking this process for me. I am a meditator so that helped me to let go of my logic and drop in to what she was helping me sort out. There was an immediate shift. I had my first “aha” moment. My point is, she met me where I was at.
Maria asked me, “So now you are open to exploring those metaphors, how is it different for you now?”
I had to think about that for a few seconds and said, “I feel more at ease. It has helped me accept myself and things more.”
She went on to ask, “What is ‘it’ your accepting?”
I replied (after searching my mind for how to explain this to her), “Just being ok seeing what my body has to say rather than trying to figure out what it means. Just listening to my body, being ok with what I am sensing rather than just walking away and disregarding what my body is trying to tell me.”
I am learning to be open to the process and let it take me down another path. Not being afraid of it or blocking it out saying that feelings in my body are not related. It has nothing to do with what I thought versus logically going into the emotion and being the emotion - not knowing what my anger was about. I just hadn’t considered the connection or that they related to each other. It’s helping me get to the root of things so I can acknowledge it and move past it. Accept it and work on how to move forward.
In the first few sessions, I could not even understand basic things she was asking me, and I was getting so frustrated (I did have enough sense to know that I needed to pay attention to what was coming up). I would say, I don’t understand what that means (when she’d ask me ANYTHING). It was like I was completely blocked off from any questions she’d ask me about where or how I felt something in my body.
Dr. Maria shared, “People who are disconnected from their body don’t know how to navigate those questions.” I would be so upset with myself, why can’t I get this?? I am an intelligent woman; I have practiced many modalities and I “should” be able to breeze through this! What the heck??!!??
She was giving me a guided pathway to look inward, step out of my conceptual meaning and drop into my body. It’s frustrating when you have not known that all your life. Why didn’t I know that? I should’ve have known! Dr. Maria gave me the example of it being like learning to ride a bicycle all over again - a different bicycle you never had before. A different way of expressing.
This conversation made me think of something I heard in an interview with Author and co-founder of Omega Institute, Elizabeth Lesser talking about her book Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow and she talked about the concept of being broken open - a new awareness or awakening arising from something difficult or traumatic; reframing heartbreak to heart-opening.
There is so much more I can share about this and maybe we will address this topic in future blogs. I think I shared enough to give you a view into the process. It is remarkable and if you are interested in learning more about this, get a coach to guide you. I highly recommend Dr. Maria Chah. I offered to share some of my story in the hopes that it helps you in some kind of way. You deserve the best of life and even if you have experienced tough times, you will get through it. Take it from me, YOUR BODY IS WORTH EXPLORING.
Main image courtesy of rawpixel
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