Somatic intelligence refers to our degree of awareness and ability to interpret and respond to the sensations of the body (De Silva, 2017). When the spirit and body are securely attached, we Somatic intelligence refers to our degree of awareness and ability to interpret and respond to the sensations of the body (De Silva, 2017). There are over 100 different bodily sensations, which are categorized as emotions, cognitive processes, or somatic and homeostatic states (Nummenmaa, Hari, Hietanen, & Glerean, 2018). A core factor that differentiates humans from animals is an expanded consciousness, providing an awareness of the body, separate from the spirit that inhabits it.
When the spirit and body are securely attached, we become inherently conscious and motivated to listen and tend to the desires and concerns of the body. This secure attachment between the body and the spirit is imperative to navigate the stress response. If we are not securely attached, and our ability to be aware of or respond to the body is hampered, we will continue to experience stress until we tend to the bodily concern.
To manage stress and the ripple effects it has on the body, we must first attain a degree of non-attachment. Non-attachment happens when we step back from the uncomfortable and often threatening sensations of the body, dis-identifying with them, so we can tend to them from a more objective and compassionate place. To do this, it is immensely helpful to develop the habit of talking to the body with unconditional positive regard, much like we would a dear friend.
For the body to securely attach to the spirit it must believe it is unconditionally positively regarded. The ONLY way to come to believe it is regarded in this way is to test the relational container by being honest, showing up and speaking up authentically. When we do this with others and people respond by treating us as though we are inherently worthy, even if they do not agree with the opinions and behaviours that emerge on the surface, we gain trust and security in the relationship.
Much like testing the containers of our relationships with others is essential to believing we are unconditionally positively regarded by them, when emotional messengers present, the body is testing the relational container of the spirit. If we avoid, ignore, and will them to go away or BE something different, we continue to erode trust between the spirit and body and the messages persist, resulting in chronic anxiety, depression, and all sorts of unwanted behavioural projections. The most unfortunate consequence of ignoring these felt senses is that we continue to promote a fracture between the body and spirit. Conversely, when we respond with unconditional positive regard, receiving the emotional message like we would a welcome guest, the sensations don’t feel personal or threatening. Rather, it’s like sitting across the table with a dear friend, making space for them to share what’s on their heart, and providing the compassionate space for them to BE, FEEL, and soothe whatever arises in that moment.
When talking to a dear friend, we are clearly separate from them, they are an ‘other,’ which enables us to step back (non-attach). From this orientation, we don’t over identify with them, which prevents their experience from feeling threatening to us. Now, imagine your body and felt senses within are this dear friend. While they are welcome guests, they are ‘others,’ not essential to the spirit of who you are. As allies, they bring important information, feeling into and reporting on the subtle energies, premonitions, and incongruences that swirl within and around us.
Each time we listen to the body, tending to the sensations and emotions that cue us, we promote secure attachment between the spirit and the body, healing the fracture that lies beneath our suffering. When you stop, notice, lean in and tend to your sensations and feelings you are expanding your awareness and practicing self-compassion, building trust with the body. In time and with practice, the body comes to believe it is unconditionally positively regarded by the spirit. When the body deeply believes it, secure attachment happens. When securely attached, the body and spirit reach homeostasis, awakening us to a new way of BEing, providing the equanimity and resulting peace that enable us to thrive.
Pause to Practice: Talking to your Body
When the body sends you a message, experienced as sensations and emotions, stop. Take a moment to notice what is happening, just notice. Lean in to really get a sense of it. You might even ask your body what it needs and wants or what it is afraid of. Name what you are feeling. How would you describe it?
Notice how it feels when you put a name to what you are feeling. Is it a good fit? Does it need some adjustments? Getting curious like this helps you step back (non-attach), keeping you from over identifying with the feeling. From this more objective orientation, you can hold space for the feeling, just like you would hold space for a friend who is sharing something important with you.
Remember, for us to sustain any new beneficial practice, the felt reward must overshadow the felt effort (at least in general). How might you incorporate this new orientation in your day to day life?
This same orientation can help when conflict with others is activating the stress response. If we can’t step back, we are likely to react with a harmful projection (directed inwardly or outwardly). Next time you are in conflict and are feeling lost inside the stress response, how might you discuss the needs and wants of your body (and associated emotions, sensations) in a way that promotes non-attachment and self-compassion?
Interested in learning more and investing in your ability to securely attach? We partnered with Ladysmith Family and Friends to provide (FREE) virtual circles that promote unconditional positive regard and resiliency. Register by emailing Kate at: LaFFkateW@shaw.ca