Somatic movement

In the somatic view, movement awareness provides the link between our body and mind. Breath can be our playground to enter into this way of being. Awareness of our breath’s movement opens us into somatic experience of body and mind. From this doorway we can moved into somatic explorations of movement and mindfulness in any system and tissue within us. Movement awareness such as yoga and qi gong provide other direct experiences of somatic movement.

Movement & the emerging mind

Developmental movement activates essential connection for babies and young children as their bodies and minds are being formed. Every aspect of the child’s physical integrity, emotional balance and attentional networks are shaped through developmental movement.

Movement and mindfulness are lifelong. Development is lifelong. Our movement awareness practice of our own direct experience waken us to life in the present moment and to the vibrant truth of our own aliveness.

Somatic Systems of the Body-Mind

Each system and tissue has its own quality of physical form, movement and mind state.

For example, the familiar skeletal tissue is the hardest tissue in the body. It provides clarity, structure and mobility through space. The mind state of the skeletal system is reflects these qualities – clarity, structure and directionality and movement in the mind. Only because we experience directionality in movement are we able to construct the concept of time, with future stretching out in front of us and the past behind us. As we all do, children first learn the concept of time through movement.

Each tissue and system has its own unique contribution to our movement qualities and to our mind states, enabling the great human range of response and creative initiative. This somatic perspective of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen provides comprehensive and highly specific insights into the body-mind field of awareness when explored through embodied touch and movement.

In somatic movement facilitation I find touch resonant with each system, accesses its unique tissue quality, movement quality and mind state while holding the overarching frame of developmental movement and its affects on body and mind.

Craniosacral system: is the home that supports and nourishes the nervous system and brain. The craniosacral system is made up of bones, fascia (dura) and cerebral-spinal fluid. The mind of the craniosacral system is spaciousness  and grounding support, especially for the nervous system.

Myofascial system: Muscles move our body. Fascia suspension system and move our body. The mind of the muscles is action. The mind of the fascia is dynamic tension with definition – fulfilled activity within our limits.

Senses and perceptions: Each of the senses brings the beautiful experience of being in a body to life, taking in our experiences of both our outer world and inner world. We can bring awareness to our most familiar senses of vision, audition, touch, smell, taste, and touch in a multitude of receptors. These senses of the external world are complemented by our experience of our inner worlds through kinesthetic senses of our vestibular and proprioceptive systems. These internal senses inform us about movement, balance, heartbeat, our feeling of weight and bonding with the earth.

Fluids: Includes blood, lymph, cellular, interstitial and cerebral-spinal fluids. Each fluid has a specific rhythm and tonal range. The blood rhythm is pulses with warm, dynamic energy for continuous strong flow – like the energizer bunny going, going, going. The blood rhythm underlies much of our popular music. We can dance for hours, surfing on this dynamic rhythm. In contrast, the cerebrospinal fluid is light and spacious, creating a mind state of floating suspension which cools and calms the nervous system. Mind of the fluids is flow, rhythm and ease in the ever-changing conditions of our lives.

Muscles: Move our body. Mind of the muscles is action and doing.

Organs: Includes heart, lungs, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, brain and digestive organs. Through the organs we process our experiences. Each organ has a specific rhythm that provides its movement quality and mind state. The heart provides a dense, rich steady beat connecting us to  exuberant rhythms of nature. Lungs’ light, spongy infusion with air give us the direct experience of resting in the breath without a thought, and of directing our awareness and intention to shape our presence. The digestive tract, a long tube of erratic, wormlike rhythm that breaks down what we take in, and selects what to keep and what to let go of.

Cellular breathing: Every tissue in the body is made of cells, the essential unit of life. The mind of the cell is being and generously containing life. The permeable membrane of the cell allows continuous flow of fluids, information, experience, nourishment and release. Although cells specialize in function, fundamentally we are each a grand colony of cells, like a coral reef, of shared flow and communications.

Nervous system: The highly specialized organs of the brain, spinal cord and nerves provide our complex organism with the capacity to be aware of our experience of processing and communication.

Endocrine systems: Hormones, their source glands and receptors. Mind of the endocrine system is full range of energetic and emotional states.

Reproductive system: This system is quite familiar in its how it functions both as a physical anatomical system, and how deeply it affects our mind state for procreation and sexuality. We can add birth and breastfeeding as fundamentally sexual activities.

Continuity of self and universe

In yoga and qi gong, we can experience the continuity of our individual beings with all that surrounds us. We can feel the movement of energy through us. Just as with breath, we can take in and use the energy of heaven and earth, of the trees and water, as resources for our small selves. We become part of something larger than us. We are part of the infinite, mysterious great spaciousness.