Somatic Experiencing works with the dialogue between mind and body to help healthy patterns reassert themselves. Often, due to stress, trauma, or other factors, our nervous system gets stuck in patterns that don't lend themselves to long-term health. SE seeks to work to help us address these patterns, and unwind them.
Somatic Experiencing relies on mindfulness, to help rewire the nervous system. In and of itself, mindfulness helps the nervous system relearn to make accurate perceptions of its environment. This moves us from fighting past threats, that might no longer be present, into a place where we can experience more accurate threat perception. As perceptions change, nervous system regulation and defense responses change as well, bringing us to a place of more embodied safety. Bringing attention to thoughts, images, sensations in the body, and impulses all facilitate this new dialogue between mind, body, and emotions.
Often within psychotherapy, we get caught it what is called the meaning channel. We seek to make interpretations around sensations, experiences or other observations we are noticing. Somatic Experiencing seeks first to slow us down, to move beyond the quick language of the meaning channel, into more embodiment and resourcing. As we become more resourced this ability allows us to the ability to perceive the internal and external environment, and helps retrain the nervous system to oscillate and cycle with patterns that promote rest, creativity, growth, and learning.
“Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the event itself. They arise when the activation, mobilized to meet an extreme or life threatening event, is not fully discharged and integrated. This energy remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and our minds.”
-Peter A. Levine