We all want to live our most authentic lives. We all want to be as happy as possible. We all want to have solid tools for managing life’s inevitable stress. Somatic Self-Compassion™ training is birthed out of a series of understandings about the world we are living in today and addresses that understanding with proven methods for helping us live our most authentic, happy, emotionally well-equipped selves.
Why Somatic Self-Compassion™?
- We live in a society experiencing a pandemic of stress. The Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute reports that 70% of Americans have experienced something traumatic in our lives (meaning we had an experience where our emotional coping skills could not keep up with our reality) and up to 20% of us go on to develop some kind of post-traumatic stress problem that affects our ability to function (like PTSD) . Look around, dear ones – that means in a group of you and 6 of your friends, one of you probably has PTSD – and that’s serious.
- In order to heal stress we need to address ourselves at the level of body experience. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, author of the seminal book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, after the events of 9/11, introduced to the mainstream that talk therapy alone is not enough to address stress-related problems. He writes, “You can be fully in charge of your life only if you can acknowledge the reality of your body, in all its visceral dimensions.” We need to address the level of body experience as well as mental experience in order to heal.
- In order to stress-proof our system for the future, we need to stay in touch with our bodies. Research shows that we are more prone to stress when we are not aware of our bodies. Those of us with lower levels of emotional resiliency also have lower levels of body awareness (interoception). If we can’t obtain information about what’s not working for our body (in times of stress), we can’t then identify what would work for our body (what our body needs) and we are less able to adapt to difficult situations because we don’t have the information we need to act.
- Most of us need to re-learn how to get in touch with our body. The experience of Strozzi Institute instructors who teach the Embodied Leadership curriculum is that around 80% of people need to be reintroduced to their body as a source of information. One of our survival mechanisms, according to Dr van der Kolk, is to dissociate from our bodies as a way to manage stress. Given the many stressors we experience every day, many of us have forgotten how to tune in to our bodies (for good reason). We need to learn to safely re-acquaint ourselves with our body.
- We need to re-acquaint ourselves with our body safely. Many modalities of healing work have emerged historically to help us get back in touch with our body safely. The soft animal of our body needs to be treated with wisdom and compassion, especially when it is learning to recover from stress.
- Awareness of body experience is not enough; self-compassion is the missing piece. As Dr. Christopher Germer writes, “… just noticing what’s happening is often not enough. We need to embrace ourselves. While mindfulness tells us, “Hold your suffering in spacious awareness,” the wisdom of self-compassion says, “Be kind to yourself when you suffer.” Self-kindness opens a new path to healing. Warmth creates space. Mindfulness invites us to ask, “What am I experiencing right now?” Self-compassion invites us to ask, “What do I need right now?”
- Loving ourselves helps us set boundaries and offer ourselves permission to be healthy. In his book Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, Stephen Cope writes, “As we begin to re-experience a visceral reconnection with the needs of our bodies, there is a brand new capacity to warmly love the self. We experience a new quality of authenticity in our caring, which redirects our attention to our health, our diets, our energy, our time management.”
- Maintaining self-compassionate body practices moves us through the rest of our life with grace and courage. Maintenance is the key to a successful practice: Learning about our core values and continually reaffirming our soul’s purpose helps us to stick to a regimen of self-care because we see our practice in the context of our life goals. Ongoing community support and developing beautiful daily rituals for ourselves shepherd us through our lives with support and a sense of meaningful connection. Ongoing practice builds and maintains our emotional resilience muscle. One-by-one we change the cultural paradigm of stress, and as we do that we give others the permission to do the same! Stress is not a status symbol!
Principles of Somatic Self-Compassion™
In Somatic Self-Compassion™ we actively cultivate three resources* that make up an integrated approach to emotional resiliency training:
- connection: with our physical and emotional body, and with fellow travelers;
- awareness: bringing our awareness to our sensations, emotions and thoughts;
- affection: cultivating a kind attitude toward ourselves, our internal parts and others.
Somatic Self-Compassion™ teaches us that our body is simultaneously:
- the source of information about our emotions,
- the wise teacher we need to teach us how to respond to these emotions,
- the gatekeeper that allows us permission to tend to our body,
- the nurturing arms needed to soothe our distress, and
- the “soft animal”** that offers us exquisite pleasure, deep spiritual connection and a source of authentic joy.
Intention of the training
Somatic Self-Compassion™ is a body-focussed skills training program offered in a group setting designed to give you the knowledge and tools to listen to your body and respond with compassion. In this non-clinical program (ie this is not group therapy) you will learn how to:
- hear messages from your body you haven’t acknowledged, giving you new sources of information and wisdom,
- give yourself permission to have your feelings,
- clarify your life purpose,
- connect with a lineage of archetypes that brings meaning to your identity,
- set clear personal boundaries to protect yourself,
- create rituals of self-care to maintain your practice,
- tend to your internal parts so that you can meet your emotional needs directly (rather than projecting them onto others),
- bring kindness and understanding to your inner-critic so that they cease to disable you,
- forgive your body to unleash your creativity,
- demystify shame to reach your highest purpose,
- transmute anger into creative power and determination,
- connect and heal through shared group experiences,
- celebrate your senses!
Training is facilitated through:
- co-created circle-work,
- learning about theory, concepts and research,
- practices and exercises guiding you through your internal landscape with wisdom and compassion,
- guided group inquiry,
- opportunities for quiet centering and reflection,
- group-led processes of connection and safeness,
- movement practices,
- guided and self-led artistic expression,
Somatic Self-Compassion™ has its taproots in ancient and contemporary traditions and practices like:
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Steven C. Hayes)
- Body Image Movement (Taryn Brumfitt)
- brain science,
- Compassion-Focussed Therapy (Paul Gilbert),
- Dadirri practice (Deep Listening) in Australian indigenous cultures,
- Dancing Freedom (Samantha Sweetwater),
- Focusing (Eugene Gendlin),
- Internal Family Systems (Dick Schwartz),
- Intuitive Eating (Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch),
- mBraining (Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka)
- Mindful Self-Compassion (Kristin Neff and Chris Germer),
- Singing Over the Bones archetype and dream work (Clarissa Pinkola Estés),
- Radical Emergent Self-Wisdom,
- Sensory Modulation Program (Tina Champagne),
- Shame Resilience Theory (Brené Brown)
- Somatic Experiencing (Peter Levine),
- SoulCollage (Seena Frost),
- Strengths Perspective in Social Work Practice (Dennis Saleebey),
- Strozzi Institute’s Embodied Leadership theory, and
For more information, please contact email@example.com.
Please note this training is not group therapy, but does train in skills useful for tending to yourself and your stress on a day-to-day basis. If you have unresolved trauma, you need to be working with a therapist, teacher, healer or shaman who specializes in trauma recovery work. Please see the “Trauma Recovery” information on the right side of this page for resources to help you.
*based on Kristin Neff‘s 3 components of self-compassion model
**”…allow the soft animal of your body to love what it loves…” Mary Oliver