Somatic work is intentionally slow and gentle. The nervous system does not respond well to overwhelm. In the words of some of my wonderful teachers from The Focalizing Institute, ‘The slow way is the fast way’.
Practically speaking this means that when working with the nervous system and in turning towards difficult emotions and experiences, it is important to identify and sink into your resources first. Resource is support. It can be identifying what feels good, even when experiencing pain or turbulent emotions. If good is a bit of a stretch, it is finding things that feel ok.
Resources can be felt sensations in your body. Perhaps feeling the warmth of your hands, the texture of your clothes, how the chair holds your weight or how your body sinks into the bed.
It may be bringing to mind a favourite person, animal, memory or object that feels safe, peaceful, light, happy or joyful to you.
Some people find it helpful to use archetypes or spiritual resources.
Everyone is different. If you are exploring resourcing, I invite you to get creative. Try not to overthink it or analyse it too much. See what comes up when you start. You may notice that you have preferences towards either visuals or felt sensations. This is all great information in helping you find what works for you.
When you connect with a resource, try to pay attention to your bodily response. Do you notice any changes in your state? For example, does any part of your body soften or expand? Does anywhere feel heavy or light as you take time to be with your resource? What else?
If a word comes up (for example, calm or content) can you get interested in what it is in your bodily experience that tells you that you are experiencing this feeling? It may be a sense of warmth in your tummy, a smile, a feeling of sinking down or an unclenching. These are just examples, everyone is different. Get curious about what happens for you, without making any of your experience wrong.
You may find it helpful to note down your resources, so that you have a memory aid. This can be particularly helpful for utilising resource when you are in a stress response (our physiology often jumps to habit here – so you may find yourself pushing, collapsing or overthinking as a default rather than resourcing)
If you give this a go, create 3 columns on a piece of paper. Note down the resource in column 1, the sensations you notice this brings up in your body in column 2 and the state or feelings this helps illicit in column 3.
|What this brings
|Picturing my favourite sunset
|– Expansion in the chest
– Sinking down feeling
– Big breath out
– Feel part of something bigger than just me.
|Cuddling with a pet
|– Slower breath
– Warmth in my belly
– Unclenching of my jaw
– Pleasant touch; soft fur against smooth hands.
– Feeling loved
The examples given above are very much examples and not prescriptive. Your resources and the sensations and state they bring are completely personal to you.
Resourcing can also feel challenging at times. There is nothing wrong with you if you find it difficult or impossible to do this by yourself. Having a compassionate and experienced guide to support you in this process is very much a resource itself.
If you would like some support in learning how to tend to your nervous system, metabolise stored stress or trauma and make changes to patterns and lifestyle choices that are contributing to pain, burnout, fatigue, or associated symptoms, do get in touch for a free, no pressure call to see if working together is the right fit.