It's no question that our minds hold memories, right? But what if I told you that our bodies and our cells, in fact, also hold memories and information?
What if that information could be used to help you step away from unwanted behavior patterns and help you step toward desired outcomes?
While in massage school, I was taught about cellular and somatic memory. Later working through my degree in Kinesiology, I learned about cellular memory in a more robust and physiological manner. Now as a coach (and a living, breathing person who's done a lot of internal work, herself!), I can confidently say that our bodies hold just as much memory as our minds. And it is vital to our well-being to spend some time with what our bodies have to say.
Through the many years of my practice, I have educated clients on their bodies as gateways to understanding their current situation. Whether it be pain, limited mobility, health concerns, sleep disturbances, digestive issues, relational agitation, or overall stress, our bodies are a treasure trove of information that can help us navigate the things that disrupt our peace and well-being.
Let's take a quick look at what somatic and embodiment mean:
Somatic: Originating from the Greek word "soma" which means "body", somatic coaching incorporates all that is related to, understood, and felt in the body. This includes our thinking, emotions + feelings, senses, how we relate, and actions + non-actions in any given situation.
Embodiment: "Embodiment" is mindfully responding, choosing, and engaging with life by partnering with the body's responses. Embodiment coaching helps people create conscious ways of making decisions, addressing difficulties, and building on core values by listening to the body. Bonus, it helps people regulate much more efficiently and effectively during times distress.
Coaching in this way enables people to embrace the present moment, and to set intentions + goals from this embodied space. Activating and fostering embodiment in daily life helps people know and grow their relationship to themselves and to the world around them.
Try the following quick exercises to experiment with somatic experience:
1) Hold your hand up like you have a spoon in front of you, or go grab one if you don't want to imagine it. Then, spit in the spoon (make the gesture if you don't have an tangible spoon). Look at the saliva for a few moments.
Now imagine putting the saliva back in your mouth.
What did you notice? Did your face scowl? Did you lean back, turn your head away, or pull your hand out? Did you say anything ("yuck" or "Hell no!" perhaps)? Did you get a feeling of coldness in your mouth even though you didn't actually put the spoon-spit back in your mouth?
2) Now round two. Imagine you are holding -- or go grab -- something you really enjoy tasting. Something that is hard to resist.
Don't eat/drink it. Hold it in front of you.
What did you notice? Did you lean towards the food/drink? Salivate? Did your eyes widen? Did your stomach growl? Did you smile a little? Did it bring on a memory? Did you smell or taste anything different after a while?
These are examples of somatic experiencing. Simply, your body responds to an array of things, including aversion and attachment or longing. Things you avoid and things you desire. These are cues, nuggets of information, that help you when you're trying to transition from one way of being to another. Embodiment in these scenarios with the spoon and tasty treat would be how you engage with and use the information that you receive from your body. What beliefs about that felt experienced were formed, what meaning was created from the aversion or longing, etc.
Somatic and Embodiment Coaching takes this understanding and provides a framework to help people of all walks of life find focus, organize their lived experiences in a way that is beneficial to their desired goals, and practice habit changes that are more centered to their most genuine, functional selves.
Coaching in this way allows you to take stock in what your body has experienced. After all, we are never without our body, so there is a lot of memory and info there. How you respond, make choices, or what you believe are all memories in your body. Somatic + Embodiment Coaching even allows you to build resiliency so you can function as your best advocate, even under pressure.
Believe it or not, your habits -- including the ones that support you and the ones you're trying to get rid of -- are mostly conditioned, often beginning in childhood. Embodiment coaching uses your body as another form of communication and understanding to which habits aid you, which ones ail you, and which steps are worth trying to move toward the transformation you'd like to see for your health and your life.
When you listen to your body, you are granting access to form honest trust in yourself by learning to safely challenge outdated belief systems, try on behaviors that can support your desired goal, orient yourself to what's important to you, and align your responses to those values.
To be embodied means to live fully; to listen to your whole, true self, and engage in the world in meaningful way.
I am a big believer that our bodies are our allies, even if they sometimes feel like a bully (ahem, cancer, autoimmune disease, chronic pain, etc). Our bodies deserve a seat at the table -- they have a lot of wisdom to share -- and it is in our best interest to hear what they desperately want us to know.
Curious about my coaching practice? Contact me for questions or sign up for a free Curiosity Consult.