8 Ways Somatic Meditation Improves Your Life
Mindfulness is all the craze these days and its great that culture at large is beginning to embrace a contemplative practice that can be normalized and adopted by the masses. That being said, this blog post is for those interested to engage mindfulness from an expanded perspective. Somatic meditation is an invitation to use the totality of your bodily experience as your object of mindfulness.
By bringing awareness to your whole body and to the earth, tension in the body, the physical representation of the neurotic ego, is able to drain from your system. By releasing this long-held tension, you are able to experience an ease of being, less encumbered by all the stories and automatic ways your mind jumps to conclusions about reality based on limited information. With somatic meditation, we are learning to be in a way that honors the mind and allows us to experience life from within the body primarily. By doing so, we stop thinking about what our life could be, and start living in our life as it is.
This stripping down of any stories or embellishment in one sense, is a simplification. At the same time, this simplification enables a new vivid quality of experience to begin to emerge from the depths of our body. We suddenly realize that we have been walking around inside a treasure trove of experience within our body our whole life. Old stories, emotions, trauma, stuck energy, and a landscape of sensation is asking for an audience from your conscious mind. By opening to all that body has to share with you, your vitality, your creativity, and your joy, become so much more accessible. You will have an opportunity to try somatic meditation soon and for now, lets look at 8 specific ways that somatic meditation improves your life.
Feel free to read the benefits that your body is most drawn to first.
Expands Your Intensity Threshold
This might be the #1 human capacity somatic meditation cultivates, that alleviates our suffering the most. Pain, emotional or physical, is at its core, sensation. Suffering therefore, is the overwhelm from the pain input that leads to a negative thought stream about what is happening. This negative thought stream then leads to the person contracting around their pain (sensation), which causes suffering. By learning to rest within the body for whatever wants to arise, from physical pain to painful emotional memories to a rush of energy through the body, etc., we begin to expand our comfort zone and our intensity threshold. Over time with practice, we are able to remain somewhat calm during very intense internal and external experiences. We learn to stop resisting life, which significantly decreases our suffering. We are also able to more fluidly surf the waves of the landscape of life that is inevitably impermanent.
Resets Your Nervous System and Enables Deep Rest
In our omnipresent tech world, we have forgotten what it means to truly rest. Most of us are inundated, literally 24-7, with radiation from Wi-Fi, cell towers, appliances, and other wireless devices. This background hum along with all the stress, fear, greed, and fatigue that is in the collective unconscious, we have a lot of intense energy to contend with. Then there are our own habits of not getting enough rest, not slowing down enough, engaging in recreation that ultimately drains rather than nourishes us, etc. By allowing the body and nervous system stillness, deep rest and spending time in a restful environment, we find a new set point of relaxation in our body. This allows us to actually get nourished, receiving the healing capacity of the body. It replenishes so we are able to engage our life responsibilities with greater skill, presence, and levity and get more rest out of the time that we sleep.
Makes You Less “Trigger-able” and More “Heal-able”
Ever noticed how when you are under-resourced such as not having enough sleep, being hungry, having a lot of “open loop” to-do items, having a low cash flow, etc., that it can lead to you being more easily emotionally reactive? Part of why people are easily triggered or defensive is because their physical and emotional defenses are very tight and on-guard. When you learn to drop your bodily tension through somatic meditation, the emotional tension dissipates and you become less “trigger-able.” What also happens is that you have more inner space to contain the emotional experiences that arise within you. Therefore, when you are more calm, you can receive inner reactions from a more serene, accepting, and trusting place. This re-orientation to your inner reactions creates a deeper sense of calm, clarity and confidence as well as leads to the healing of our emotional wounds.
Being the Body Takes So Much Less Work Than Being a Self
Part of what makes life so hard is that we are constantly trying to maintain the sense of self of who we think we need to be in order to be loved. Might want to read that again. As we deepen into a somatic meditation practice, it becomes clear that this whole self thing, you know the person that you are that has hopes, dreams, goals, stories, preferences, shame, wounds, secrets, needs, etc., is much more optional than we first thought. Meaning, we are only concerned what people think about us or place expectations on our self to the degree that we are attached to the thought that we need to be a certain way in order to good enough. This proving ourselves worthy is an adaptation around trauma, so it is essential we approach this process with care and respect. Somatic meditation invites us to drop our mental stories about who we are trying to live up to and asks us to live down into the somatic experience of who we are right now. When the attachment to our self begins to lessen, a huge amount of energy is re-allocated into the system to be used for presence, creativity, and living into our destiny, as well as allowing the space for the healing our system is asking for.
Creates a Safe Space for Trauma to Arise and be Healed.
We can consider “trauma” as any experience we went through in the past where our system was overwhelmed and unable to remain present to all that was happening. With this definition, “trauma” can simply be someone speaking too loud to you as a child that felt too intense or a time when you were bullied or felt humiliated in front of your peers. These moments and memories are stored in our body as tension and trapped energetic potential. The more we practice somatic meditation, the more safety we create within ourselves, which allows this stored trauma to come up to the surface and begin to unwind through energy moving, emotional release, memories arising, physical shaking, or other forms of trauma release. By resting in our bodies and not getting caught up in the story of what is happening, we can trust the way our body knows how to release trauma and simply be in the body and witness what is happening. Once we let go of trauma, we are able to reclaim and use our latent energetic potential that was previously trapped in protecting us against feeling the true impact of our direct experience.
Connects Us to Our Untraumatizable Nature
So many people are searching for wholeness or for healing of some kind. While we all have so much healing that we need to go through, there is also a part of us that has never been wounded and therefore never needs to heal. We could call this our basic goodness or our true nature. By dropping tension in the body and mind, through somatic meditation we are able to relax into a space of awareness behind our personality, our body, and our wounding/problems and reside as the timeless presence at the center of our being. This place becomes a refuge as we go through our healing, being always able to tap into the eternal well of Life and boundless Love. By somatically recognizing we are innately whole, we feel confident and trusting to allow the expressions of our relative “broken-ness” to emerge and heal naturally. When we truly realize we have no where to go, we can open to the messy, shameful, and “ugly” parts of ourselves and bring compassion to ourselves, which ultimately naturally leads to the healing we seek.
Supports Descent into Your Divine Humanity and Not transcending into Some “Higher” Divine Place / Heaven / Nirvana / Salvation / etc. that Doesn’t Exist
Another trap of the spiritual path is the carrot on a stick of a better life, “the” healing experience, the spiritual awakening that brings it all together, and of course the ultimate, complete enlightenment. By engaging in somatic meditation as a form of spiritual practice, the explicit focus is to be as present as we can to everything that is happening right now within the entire body. By remaining so somatically focused, we begin to discover the divinity within the flesh, emotions, and thoughts of our human life. The deeper we go into our practice, we begin to feel boundless and unlimited in our awareness and yet firmly rooted as a body and as a unique personality. By doing so, we no longer are seduced by spiritual promises and ideals of others and instead bow to the sacredness of each unfolding moment before us.
Reminds you that Each Moment is Informed by a Sacred Intelligence
When we remain in our heads, conceptualizing our life and what things happen to us, we relate to a world that does not exist. Our concepts create an abstract reality that is an embellishment upon our direct experience and in essence, is a fantasy world of our ego’s own making. If we focus only on the surface features of our life, we can interrupt that life is random, or life as cruel, or life as unjust, or any number of interpretative lenses people overlay onto reality. By remaining somatically focused through ongoing practice, we are able to feel the rightness of our life. The rightness of this moment and the rightness of all that has come before. This “rightness” doesn’t imply things were easy, elegant or painless. It simply implies that we eventually come to a recognition that there is a sacred intelligence that informs all of life and we learn to focus less about what we think about life and trust more what life is offering to us. Each moment of our life has been intelligently constructed and we are still learning to honor this perspective and see it unfolding through all that we experience.
If you have gotten this far in the post, I hope you have enjoyed what this blog has been pointing to in regards to the immense benefits of somatic meditation. However, reading about somatic meditation gets us only so far. It is through direct and ongoing practice that the true benefits are revealed. To practice somatic meditation first hand, please click below!
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Michael Brabant, Ph.D. has been trained in both academic and clinical settings as well as studied with shamans, mystics and intuitive healers. By synthesizing the most potent inner technologies and nuanced conceptual understanding related to true transformation, he offers a body of teaching and practice called Divine Humanity. This helps to build the energetic, relational and emotional infrastructure to live our lives from a place where we can recognize that every moment and everything contained within it, is infused with a trustable and sacred intelligence.