Somatic awareness is another way of saying ‘felt awareness’. It is something we each cultivate personally and it is not found outside of us. When we broaden our Somatic awareness, our inherent wisdom of our body, energy and even life force align or develop. We might find that as this happens we notice a natural lessening of stress and health issues in our lives.
In order to truly practice this personal relationship of felt awareness you need to suspend so much of what we have learned throughout our lives. Felt awareness is not the model we generally have been taught so we need to actively seek it out and shift what we have already learned.
So much of our learning has been through habituation often corresponding to implicit learning. This is learning that happens without conscious awareness of actually ‘learning’ it. Examples would be eating or walking where learning occurs through passive, incidental and automatic acquisition. No conscious effort to absorb the learning is required
These habits of ‘being’ and unconscious knowledge can play a significant role in our lack of awareness to our own thought processes and disconnect to our felt sense of personal awareness.
Also, we have been taught a perspective of compartmentalization when it comes to our bodies, emotions and spirit. Part of this is the perception of the body as an ‘object’. If we can begin to expand our awareness and see the interconnectivity of our physical functions (brain, organs, cells, foods) with our emotions, thoughts and beliefs then perhaps we can realize that our wellness is something we have great influence with.
“Subatomic particles, and all matter made therefrom, including our cells, tissues and bodies, are in fact patterns of activity rather than things.”
Our bodies and health are not static occurrences but ever changing and dynamic. The body, mind and emotions are living systems that are influenced and influencing always. When you can touch the edge of your own awareness you realize it is not a fixed boundary but a landscape to continually expand. As living systems our nature is to constantly adapt and renew, not to be rigid or closed. We are in a constant dance of renewal whether we notice it or not. Awareness can allow us to participate in this, at a core level, consciously.
Embodying awareness can unwind the way in which we have learned to be in relationship with our bodies and lives. In being aware and not being attached to our thought processes/perspective we can change our ‘reality’ by changing our experience.
So, how can we do this? How do we shift something that seems habitual or occurring without conscious effort?
How do we begin to have a ‘felt sense’ of our selves and move beyond the idea of static lines and more into the interconnectivity that brings us the equivalence of winning the lottery?
What things can we do to live a more vivastic, in-joyed and embodied life?
Is it possible that even small changes in how we perceive our selves and life can have powerful affects on how we live in our own bodies?
What if all of this is much simpler than we think?
If any of these questions have struck a chord in you or inspired your own personal inquiry, then lets try some things.
It will be a little different from person to person since each of us has our own degree of perfectly beautiful challenges to work with; especially it seems when it comes to looking within our own thoughts and feelings. Wherever you are, that is where you begin. There is no hierarchy to this or competition as far as who wins the ‘most self aware’ award. This is for you and it is you who will shape and direct what you discover. Take as much time as you need. And honestly, as you begin to explore it will become more and more ‘second nature’ and less effort /work is needed.
Here are some things to try as you move into your exploration.
~Find 5 minutes in your day, when you are not too tired, to bring your focus to your breath (it could be right now). Instead of the usual expand the belly style of ‘deep breathing’ I want you to simply follow the sensation of the breath beginning at the nostrils.
For now, lets just concentrate on the inhales and let the exhales happen on their own. I want you to follow your inhales and see if you can trace the path of the breath through your body. Notice where you lose track of it, what the sensation feels like and how it moves. If you seem to continuously lose it at the nostrils, that’s fine, just be with that moment at every inhale with the intention to follow it further. If you are able to go beyond the nostrils see if you can begin to direct the breath through your body to area like your hands or feet. See if you can get creative with directing the flow and even see if you can connect any colors to your breath. See what naturally arises in the imagination because I believe ‘imagination’ is linked to intuition and body wisdom. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Follow your impulse and curiosity and notice what you notice.
~ Find a place indoors or outdoors to take your shoes off and walk barefoot. Set a goal for 5 minutes and in a location where your feet feel ‘safe’ from anything unfriendly. Begin by bringing your eyes to a soft gaze on a ‘far off horizon’. (This essentially means not tilting any direction but head floating on top of your spine with ease, eyes looking forward.) Your gaze is not fixed on any one place and your peripheral vision is open. First, just stand and feel your feet on the ground. Notice contact with the surface below you, skin sensation, weight sensation, temperature and balance. Be present with noticing all that you can while simply standing and the exchange of you meeting the ground and the ground meeting you. Bring presence to your breath and sensations throughout your body and notice any thoughts and emotions too. Then consciously choose to take your first step and notice all that is involved in doing that. Shifting your weight, muscle engagement, balance and so much more before placing that foot in a new location. This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of what goes into our balance and walking but this is where we begin. See how many layers you can notice in this simple process that we often do without thinking. Notice how it can change your sense of self in space with gravity, your emotions as you slow down and your mind/thoughts as you move differently. You might be amazed by what you learn.
~ For this exercise find a room where you can stand with eyes closed and make full body movements/gestures safely. Set a goal (or timer) of 5 minutes and while keeping your eyes closed begin to move your body. See what impulses you can follow and let the movements be 3 dimensional and on all height levels. See where you can bend and fold, arc and curve or expand and contract. Play with direction, speed and repetition. (Your feet do not need to be glued to the ground but stay in a relative diameter that maintains your safety with eyes closed.) Allow yourself to move in different shapes and forms even if you might find it embarrassing if you felt others were watching. This exercise is great for strengthening your kinesthesia and proprioception; which is our bodies built in awareness of position and movement of body parts in relation to self and space. We rely so heavily on our sight and habits that we often disconnect from this potent ‘felt awareness’ that we already have built in. Let’s reconnect and let it teach us.
Each of these exercises asks you to do something out of the ordinary that helps to develop and rebuild our inner felt awareness or somatic knowledge. Each of these is quite simple and yet can have far reaching affects when practiced a few times a week or perhaps every day. There are no limits to what we can discover using these as springboards into our own awareness. This ability to cultivate and bridge the inner sensation/experience with the outer world mechanisms is important. Otherwise we end up having either/or and truly we want access to both.
Our life force and intelligence is like a seed; constantly moving towards the light. In this practice there is no forcing, we are allowing what is natural to arise, to move towards the light, to show us what life is potential.