In a sense, the body is the unconscious. Mindfulness-based therapy includes a body-oriented, somatic approach because the body is always in the present moment, and contains both stored, painful emotions from the past and untapped resources of aliveness and pleasure. By somatic therapy, I do not mean yoga or other movement practices will be part of therapy. I am referring to a more nuanced attention to the fact of being embodied. Learning to tolerate unpleasant sensations while processing difficult feelings is a simple, powerful, and direct way to allow the therapeutic process to unfold. This approach avoids keeping therapy only a mental exercise – which would yield little personal transformation – by grounding experiences in your body.
My experience with this started at Naropa while studying and practicing Buddhism with Reggie Ray, learning the Focusing technique of Eugene Gendlin, and continues today with my work in the diamond approach. Somatic-oriented therapy shows you how our bodies hold our stored emotions from throughout our lives in habitual postures, restrictions, patterns of tension, and other more subtle ways. With psychotherapy that includes this vast non-verbal realm, you can discover how the body can provide understanding and release of stored emotions that have you reacting to your life rather than skillfully responding to it.
___________________________________________________________________________Jacob Art, MFT
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