Reconnecting through Somatic Wisdom: An Introduction

Navigate the world of mind-body therapies and determine the best course of action for your health and well-being.

Regular exercise can improve your quality of life.
 Photo by Getty Images/shapecharge

The field of mind-body therapies is large and complex, filled with many wonderful and effective options for healing and personal growth. Since the early 1980s, various techniques and approaches have developed. The staggering array of options — yoga, tai chi, Rolfing, the Feldenkrais Method, etc. — may leave you overwhelmed when choosing the best path to healing. The goal of this feature, and its companion articles in the next several issues, is to introduce fundamental mind-body therapies, provide an overview of these modalities and their efficacy for various health conditions, and discuss how to make wise decisions when choosing a practitioner and rationing your health care budget.

Mary Ann Foster has been a massage therapist, educator, and writer in this field since 1981. She specializes in anatomically-based posture and movement efficiency lessons, using a synergy of somatic patterning and therapeutic kinesiology. In 2004, she self-published Somatic Patterning, which gathers various theories, concepts, and principles about practices that address human movement and the combined neurological, physiological, psychological, and emotional components that inform bodily patterning, awareness, and change. This is the first of multiple articles about the wisdom of the body. Throughout this series, we hope you discover a practice to help you feel healthy and whole. — Jean Denney

Over the years, I’ve worked with clients recovering from injuries or dealing with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Though these are both physical health issues, it takes a strong and focused inner connection with the body to heal these problems. Since the early 1980s, mind-body therapies have paved the way to help patients fully understand and overcome the roots of their physical obstacles.

Defining the Terms

“Somatic” has a biological definition, although it’s used here in a different context. The term “somatic” comes from the Greek root soma, which means “the living body in its wholeness.” Here, I use the terms “mind-body” and “somatics” interchangeably.

Somatics unifies the mind-body concept into a single word. The late philosopher and Feldenkrais teacher Thomas Hanna coined the term “somatics” in 1970 to describe an emerging field of mind-body therapies that employ directive touch and movement explorations as primary tools to improve posture and cultivate ease of movement. Hanna felt that most people have little body awareness and lack the ability to sense subtle movements within their bodies. He described this condition as “sensorimotor amnesia.” If left unattended, sensorimotor amnesia results in muscular imbalances, which become habituated responses that cause additional stress, pain, or injury. For most people, discomfort signals acute awareness, which then makes them pay attention to how their bodies are — or aren’t — moving.

6/16/2019 4:20:26 PM

Great article, would like to read more like this!

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Get the latest on Natural Health and Sustainable Living with Mother Earth News!

Mother Earth News

Your friends at Mother Earth Living are committed to natural health and sustainable living. Unfortunately, the financial impact of COVID-19 has challenged us to find a more economical way to achieve this mission. We welcome you to our sister publication Mother Earth News. What you sought in the pages of Mother Earth Living can be found in Mother Earth News. For over 50 years, “The Original Guide to Living Wisely” has focused on organic gardening, herbal medicine, real food recipes, and sustainability. We look forward to going on this new journey with you and providing solutions for better health and self-sufficiency.

The impact of this crisis has no doubt affected every aspect of our daily lives. We will strive to be a useful and inspiring resource during this critical time and for years to come.

Best wishes,
Your friends at Mother Earth Living and Mother Earth News

Save Money & a Few Trees!

By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Mother Earth News for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter