Monday, December 26, 2016

Somatic Elicitation

Peter Levine developed a method called Somatic Experiencing.  Basically, it involves focused attention to the body, to its sensations, to feelings.  Dan Siegel describes something he calls SIFT, which is paying attention to Sensations, Images, Feelings, and Thoughts.

In both cases, the intent is to reconnect victims of trauma to their bodies, within which is a lost sense of self and agency.

Kum Nye contains this, but goes further.  You do movements of various sorts,  THEN do somatic experiencing.  I propose this be called Somatic Elicitation, specifically what I call Mild Somatic Elicitation.

I developed last week a method I would call Strong Somatic Elicitation.  I do 2 three minute rounds of fairly strong stretch, then 3 minutes of sitting and feeling, for about an hour, then sit ten minutes, feeling.

My first round consisted in 3 minute side bends on each side, then 3 minutes each side rolling my hip flexors, then 3 minutes each side Couch Stretch, then hamstring work, then rolling my chest and doing a backbend, then Pidgeon pose three minutes each side, squatting three minutes, then finishing with a pose where I put a yoga block under my mid back and stretch the back of my neck and upper back.  It was very relaxing.

And I would distinguish relaxing through Savasana from the intent of Kum Nye, which does also have relaxation as its aim.  Seemingly, the underlying belief in yoga is that if you can wring the tension from your muscles, and then relax them fully, that you become relaxed.  Unquestionably, this is somewhat true. It is a salubrious practice for nearly everyone.

But I read people sometimes find themselves crying doing yoga, or feeling strong feelings come up.  That is a result, but not the intent.  With Kum Nye that IS the intent.  The goal is to learn to feel more consciously, to learn to process and claim your inner world, and in so doing, to let go of all the anxieties and griefs and horrors that existed in your past.  They survive in the dark, but if you go into the dark and shine a light, they want to come out and be free.  No part of us wants to carry trauma.  It just has no choice.  Until it is seen and owned, loved and cherished and released, it enacts the same drama day after day after day, all our lives.

On a related but tangential note, it occurred to me that the reason trauma victims have troubles with self regulation is that delaying gratification implies an empathetic relation between the present self and a future self.  I read recently where some experiments seemed to confirm this hypothesis.

The trouble is, trauma victims really don't have a present self, and thus cannot easily imagine a future self.  Everything is eternally present, or perhaps more accurately, locked in the past, as the world changes around them.  You cannot be kind to someone who does not and never will exist.  You cannot grow, when you cannot first exist.

Every day something new is revealed to me, some small piece of the puzzle ceases hiding and surrenders for my inspection.  It is a very, very long process, dealing with Developmental Trauma, but as long as forward motion is maintained--and it will be--long term success is inevitable.

I will add too that the more I ponder these things, the more I think substantially all psychological dysfunctions revolve around trauma.  Because some traumas happen in the preverbal, prememory stage of life, they cannot readily be diagnosed, and by the time the person is three or so, it appears as what is assumed to be a birth defect, or something random and incomprehensible.  But I think all the Personality Disorders, and even most psychoses relate to trauma.  It may be that brain markers appear which seem to cause them, but I think the brain changes to adapt to the psychosis, not the other way around, at least most of the time.  I am no expert in the field, but I will note that most experts, for most of the 20th century, more or less completely ignored trauma as a factor in mental health.  So Judith Hermann argued, and it made perfect sense to me.

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