Feeling and thinking with the body

“Somatic awareness” means “body awareness”, but not at all in the sense of being aware of your looks, or even your fitness, and other external markers.

It is awareness of how your body feels in the moment – felt from the inside out, through proprioception and interoception – and the value and many uses of that information.

If we use this toolbox, we will work on integrating somatic awareness into your daily life as a monitoring tool that is always available and extremely versatile.

The first and basic somatic tool that I will probably insist on teaching you (unless there are counter-indications, or you already have it down) is sensing your body’s “yes” and “no” responses. This will also be one of our basic safety precautions. It seems banal and you might not have an issue with it, but many sensitive people and especially those on the spectrum seem to be so disconnected from our bodily feelings that we literally can’t feel anymore whether we like and want something, on a bodily level, or not – we often automatically replace this basic sensation with thoughts of what we “should want” or even guesses of what we “probably want” and what we “think we like” (I literally did that for most of my life; guess what the result was?).

This can be part of what’s referred to as “alexithymia” – it’s often presented like some hard-wired inability to know or state your feelings (bodily and emotional, which is linked), but in my experience it’s often a result of life history and can be shifted. If you do not have a good connection to a bodily sense of what you want, I would suggest starting with that and making this alone the focus of a series of sessions, because it is key and shifting it will reverberate into many, many other aspects of your life.

Another issue especially in people with a difficult past can be that any attempt to feel what is going on in the moment at a bodily level fails, because it is just too painful or overwhelming. This is something that may require good somatic trauma therapy, and I will recommend extreme caution if this is your situation. I was in that situation myself and found gentle ways to resolve it that I can offer if it seems safe, because again, moving past this can be extremely helpful. But it might also only be possible after establishing safety and comfort in other aspects of life.

If you already have good access to your somatic awareness, I will suggest ways to use it to solve problems related to diet and sleep patterns, meltdown prevention, burnout recovery (for me it was the single most useful tool), interpersonal boundaries, and also working with emotions.

Published by Supertramp

Genderqueer neuro-philosopher turned multicultural nomad then inner-space traveler. Blogs about neuro & gender diversity, complex trauma recovery, and other existential themes of the human condition.

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