By Jon Keyes
See part 1 here
For example, a sense of tightness, dullness and emptiness near our chest may translate into an emotion of grief and sadness. Investigated further, this may have to do with a long history of not receiving enough love in our relationships. Perhaps there was a dynamic of having a mother who was too busy, or aloof to give enough attention to her children. That history continued in relationships with women who were distant, or cool, somehow detached. The discomfort in the body is a way of sending a message about this complex dynamic that has stayed stuck in the chest area of the body.
In this second part of using the Somatic Wisdom Technique, I’ll ask you to return to that place of discomfort to find out how to transform that area of distress. Start with picking an area of the body that you found to be the most “charged” or in need of greater attention and care. Then begin by sitting comfortable in an upright posture. For some that may mean sitting in a meditative posture
with legs crossed. For others that may mean simply sitting in a comfortable chair. It is important that the upper body and chest stay upright so that the breath can travel freely. Allow both feet to touch the ground without crossing your legs.
At this point begin the process of deep breathing. It is helpful if you can begin to inhale from 6-8 seconds and exhale from 8-12 seconds. As you settle in, allow yourself about ten full breaths to help ground and settle your mind. If you begin to have thoughts about the day or more disturbing thoughts, allow them to pass. Simply notice and observe without judgement.
Once you have settled in completely, begin by returning your awareness to the area of discomfort. You may notice the familiar feeling of distress coupled with pain, tension, tightness, excessive fulllness or emptiness. Allow any thoughts and images to come up in connection with this area. At this point you may begin to feel emotions connected to this area…frustration, sadness, grief, anger, hatred. Allow your examination to go ever inward, listening to the messages as they come to you. You may have insight into some of the deeper reasons for this distress; old family patterns, destructive grooves and habits you have allowed to persist, old belief systems, etc.
In this state, simple notice these insights and this deeper level of awareness. Simply having a deeply felt insight like this can be tremendously healing as it allows you to integrate the true meaning of your distress at a core level. It allows you to be fully aware and present to your whole being. Allow yourself to simply sit in this dynamic without trying to change or make it different. The act of observing and sitting with this distress is a process of integration. Instead of trying to run from this discomfort, or ignore it, fight it or feel frightened by it, you have taken the courageous step of sitting with it, being present to the message it sends.
In this part of the process, it is now time to do the process of moving the energy, or shifting it towards completion. At this point it has become stuck and needs your help to move it towards flowing again. Start with simply asking this area of the body how you can transform this distress for better health and well being. “How can I transform this distress for better health and well being?”
Then allow yourself to sit and listen. Again, messages will likely come to you in the form of images, thoughts, emotions, actions and even body movements. The thoughts may feel cryptic and hard to understand such as “Stop watching the clock”, or may ring clear as a bell such as “Devote yourself to daily meditative practice” or “Send a letter too your Mom telling her how you feel.” The process of release and transformation may not be a quick one. It may require regularly checking in with the discomfort and acting on multiple messages over a period of time. Through the practice of the Somatic Wisdom Technique, you will begin to be able to release some of the stored and stuck suffering that has become “embodied”.
Finally, as you finish integrating the messages from the stuck and distressed part of your body, it is now time to finish the process by slowly returning your attention to your breath. Again, deeply inhale and exhale for about ten breaths as you begin to open your eyes and return to an alert state of mind. As a side note, it is often helpful to write down these insights in a journal or to discuss them with a good therapist who can help you stay clear and focused on your journey to greater health and well being.
See part 1 here
Jon Keyes is a licensed professional counselor working in private practice at Hearthside Healing in Portland Oregon. Jon also has worked part-time in an inpatient psychiatric setting. Jon is interested in exploring alternative and holistic ways of helping people in emotional distress and crisis.
More by Jon Keyes on Beyond Meds here
Other body oriented methods of meditation or therapeutic technique discussed on Beyond Meds:
- Body-Centered Inquiry
- Inhabiting our bodies in meditation
- “I wrote a new story for my nervous system” — neurosculpting, neuroplasticity
- Restoring the Body: Yoga, EMDR, and Treating Trauma
- Yoga for trauma: reclaiming your body
- The body keeps score — scroll down for many posts on this important book
- Healing somatic meditation