When the proverbial hits the fan with high velocity stress, where do you turn for wise direction? While processing a problem with your support team is an excellent coping strategy, have you discovered that intelligent guidance is also available from a wise source within? If you have tuned into your body when facing a problem, then you may have been inspired and directed by the veracity of somatic experience, part of the soul wisdom of your authentic Self.
A colleague of mine calls our sensate experiences “the feelings of the feelings.” Mindfulness of somatic sensations, and the thoughts and emotions that go with them can help you make effective decisions, improve your physical health and increase your coping resilience. Somatic awareness can promote access to cognitive information, inspire intuitive insights, guide effective action and make you more aware of your essential Self. Although you may not always know immediately what your physiology is telling you, becoming familiar with the body’s metaphoric way of communicating can lead to wisdom.
Understanding the wisdom available in your bodily sensations and the way physiological experiences go hand-in-soul with thoughts and emotions continually makes me more aware of what is going on with me. As a single mother there were times when fear was so intense I felt like throwing up. Although I might actually have had the flu, was I also being alerted that some letting go was needed on a mental or emotional level?
Years ago I was introduced to the work of Father Angelo Rizzo, a Catholic priest whose beliefs about healing seemed somatically and emotionally savvy to me. Fr. Rizzo explained that sometimes the body develops a symptom that is a physical metaphor indicating that healing is needed on another level. This mind-body concept, accepted for ages in other cultures, was becoming “new” in Western culture as “new age” thinking was expanding our understanding of health and healing.
In the sacred space of my therapy office, I am privileged to witness the way this mind/body/soul connection can promote wellness. Recently, a woman who works with disturbed children came into her therapy session struggling with a difficult decision. Although Clio had done inspired work with a certain young client, she knew it was clinically time to terminate. Clio wanted to stay and do more, and also knew she must leave. She was anguishing emotionally, and was suffering from indigestion. Cognitively understanding her ambivalence provided information for Clio, but not relief. What we did to resolve Clio’s dilemma demonstrated what can happen when we enter the state of stillness that Timothy Kingsbury, D.O., of Kittery, Maine refers to as “smoothness,” a state similar to the stillness that exists in the eye of a hurricane while chaos swirls outside. Within smoothness healing can occur.
To help Clio find the eye of her personal storm, we agreed to use trance. During induction I suggested that at some point Clio would be made aware of resolution.
I invited Clio to locate the place in her body that held her struggle. In response Clio put a hand on her stomach. With invitation for the other hand to find a different feeling, Clio placed a hand on her throat.
Guided to stay with her experience until something shifted, Clio spent a few quiet moments, after which she reported a lessening of anxiety attendant to her struggle. Clio described the way in which she was experiencing a feeling of stillness. She was aware of comfort in her belly, and told me that the word “No” was in her throat. Giving overt expression to “NO,” allowed Clio to know that she could say “no” to her case, while also accepting that she would miss her young client. Clio understood her truth. She had done the best she could, and her best was good enough.
Now, to experience the wisdom of your body, you can try this exercise. Settle quietly into a comfortable place just right for you. As you become aware of tension in your body, just notice it. You might s intuitively know what the tension is revealing, or you might understand it later. Then, taking a couple gentle breaths, focus more deeply inside, finding a place in your body where there is a more comfortable, a smoother, less stressed feeling. Notice when or how you might feel a state of smoothness, of stillness, and notice where these sensations lead you. If you wish, pose a question regarding something you would like to understand or resolve. Notice what you are thinking, feeling, sensing. Your thoughts and emotions, and the somatic sensations might tell you the truth immediately or may be understood later.
As you practice allowing somatic experience to guide you, you can become fascinated at how gently and easily it can be a natural source of soul wisdom when you need a little help from a friend.