East Bay Massage: Somatic Awareness and Massage

In our high speed culture, it’s not hard to fall out of connection with the internal experience of our bodies. The “soma” is the body as it is experienced from the inside. Even emotions have an important component  of physical sensation– we see this revealed in the language we use to describe feelings. “My heart was singing,” “My blood was boiling,” “He gets under my skin,” “I had a lump in my throat,” and even “It scared the shit out of me” all reveal the physical side of emotions.

Between work, commuting, child care, Facebooking, and any one of the many tasks possible on our smart phones, we are increasingly engaged with things that may pull us away from connection to self. When we are out of connection to self, we may begin to take the view that our bodies are “things” more than our “selves.” We may increasingly find fault with our bodies, feel frustrated in its limitations, or even come into an adversarial stance to our own bodies. Or, we may simply fall out of communication with our bodies– why do we raise up our shoulders to our earlobes? Why do we tense up our neck muscles? Why do we clench our muscles chronically? If we’ve fallen out of contact with our selves, we might a) not even notice when we do these things and b) feel confused as to why we do once we have made that giant leap of noticing in the first place.

Awareness of the soma is something that can be tamped down, sometimes out of necessity. On some level, our bodies and minds may, by way of a coping mechanism, reduce somatic awareness if the sensations inside are unpleasant because of trauma. Yet tapping in to the experience we have on the inside can be profoundly healing if we are supported in safety. A somatic psychotherapist is the best support for this process, as long-silent emotions coupled with a new level of somatic sensation may take us into uncharted territory. A professional trained in how to help others integrate somatic experiences with appropriate interventions will help create an environment that is supportive and safe.

Where can massage fit into the process? Connection with another can help us direct our attention inward if the touch is therapeutic in orientation. When you book your next massage, try making a special note of what sensations or emotions arise in your body as you are touched. You may be surprised to find times when tears seem to float to the surface. You may experience a deep sense of stillness and calm like the deepest waters of the ocean. You might feel jittery and agitated. All of this is helpful information that takes you into a deeper connection to self. Try not to judge your sensations or emotions, but if you do, just notice that. Bringing our awareness to our somatic experience is a practice much like meditation– it may take time. You may find that dropping in to your felt sensations during massage is a gentle invitation to the body to arrive fully in the present moment.

Remember that somatically oriented psychotherapists are trained in helping you to integrate your new found awareness, and that the right massage therapist can support your journey into increased somatic awareness through the application of therapeutic touch.

Thank you for visiting East Bay Massage!



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