Clinical Somatic Education
Clinical Somatic Education is a one-to-one, hands on, learning experience. You explore the same movements as in the Movement Classes but with hands on feedback. This helps you feel more precisely which muscles to contract and slowly release, a technique we call pandiculation. You are looking to discover your own ingrained patterns of unconscious tension, which we call sensory motor amnesia. By concentrating on contracting into a resistance (my hand) and slowly feeling the muscles as they release, you are intentionally resetting your nervous system. You are regaining control over your muscles, so they can move more smoothly, to a greater range and can relax and return to their full resting length. This brings enormous relief.
In Clinical Somatics you are on a journey to discover the layers of unconsciously held tension that are causing distortion or discomfort in your body. It is a gradual process but, as Thomas Hanna said "somas exist in time". Tension follows specific pathways or patterns that connect through the centre of the body. These patterns we call the stress reflexes, identified by Thomas Hanna as the red, green and trauma reflexes. A central principle of Somatics is that the body is a system, a self-regulating, self-healing, unified organism, that co-ordinates in time through the centre of the body. We focus particularly on the space between your ribcage and your pelvis which we call your somatic centre. As your internal intelligence improves you discover how your hands and feet are connected through your centre, how your head and neck are connected to your pelvis through your spine, how one shoulder is connected to the opposite hip. It is this connectivity and this understanding of your body as a system that makes your movement more efficient. This is how you become a more fully functioning soma.
What to expect from a clinical session.
You need about five clinical sessions to cover the material, but you can have as many sessions as you like! Each session lasts about an hour to an hour and a half. The sessions are fully clothed and are done lying on a low wide somatics table.
Each session usually begins lying on your back with a movement called pulsing, which is a kind of pumping from the foot to see how much movement flows through your body. At the end of the session we pulse again to notice any differences. Throughout the session you are sensing and noticing changes. It's a learning process and you get better at it as you go along. The sessions broadly follow one of the three main protocols devised by Thomas Hanna for each of the stress reflexes, (protocol One is for the green light reflex, protocol two is for the trauma reflex and protocol three is for the red light reflex). But other sequences and pandiculations for specific areas of the body can be added to the mix. Each session is tailored to suit you and you are an active participant in the process.
The first session is an introduction to the basic somatic principles and movements with a focus on breathing and letting go of the back and front of the body. Over the next three sessions we explore the three protocols devised by Thomas Hanna. We are looking for how the stress reflexes manifest in your own movement patterns. Your homecare between sessions is to practise the movements you have learned during the session. In this way you gradually increase you repertoire of somatic movement. This practice is essential if you want to make lasting changes. Setting down the new habit of daily somatics practice can be one of the most challenging aspect of sensory motor amnesia to overcome!
Once your body is familiar with this new. more efficient way of moving you should find that you need only to remind your muscles how to release every now and again. It's still advisable to practise daily (or the old issues will return) but not for so long. It's not like an exercise routine - it's more a way of incorporating new ways of moving into your daily life.
Expect to gradually improve over time. As your body softens, you become more connected to your centre and your body softens some more. You move more like an animal. Thomas Hanna used to say "It's what the cat does".