Somatic Experiencing Explained

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Photo courtesy of Morty Bachar,  Lakeside Pottery Studio

I just received a broken dish from one of my favorite artists – and it’s exactly what I wanted! 

There is a tradition in Japan called kintsugi, or mending with gold, in which artisans lovingly restore broken ceramics by joining the pieces back together with gold-infused lacquer. It is the ultimate design solution: taking a challenging moment and transforming it into the moment when the magic really began. The result is something even more beautiful than the original – imbued with a sense of history and value that comes with repairing something you love instead of throwing it away. 

According to Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” It’s a lovely reminder to honor the broken moments in your life. 

Kintsugi is the perfect way to visualize the work I do with people who have experienced trauma or toxic stress. I combine acupuncture with Somatic Experiencing, which is a system of neurobehavioral techniques that are designed to transform trauma and chronic stress into ongoing growth and freedom. The work restores resiliency to the nervous system so we can pick ourselves up and continue moving in the direction of our brightest aspirations. 

How resilient are you? If you’ve ever noticed that your anxiety and health problems seem to get worse with stress, or conversely, you seem to get sick whenever there’s a break in the action, that’s a sign that your unconscious mind is involved. It is a place of fragmentation – an opportunity to heal, as well as (an understandable!) temptation to stay small and inauthentic. 

SE is effective for a wide range of challenges, including:

  • recent traumatic events, like car accidents and other high-impact injuries
  • concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
  • time in combat
  • medical trauma
  • sexual trauma
  • physical assault and emotional abuse
  • animal attacks
  • social or intergenerational trauma, including poverty and feelings of otherness
  • childhood neglect and abuse, or other difficult childhood experiences 
  • feeling overwhelmed with current ongoing demands of life, work, and family
  • feeling too sensitive to internal or environmental stimuli
  • grief and loss in relationships 
  • grief and loss related to chronic pain and ongoing medical conditions
  • grief and loss related to health changes and aging 

All of these experiences, especially when combined or added to each other over time, can disrupt endocrine function, muscle tonicity, and multiple organ systems. 

Combined with Traditional Chinese Medicine, SE can help alleviate symptoms and restore health and vitality. People leave each session with renewed clarity and peace shining in their eyes. This is true beauty that everyone can see, and it’s Post Traumatic Growth at its best – transforming painful experiences into a life well-lived. 

Your life matters, and your decision to heal yourself matters. The cracks and pain you’ve experienced can become part of the authenticity and goodness you bring to the world. The world doesn’t need perfect people, but it desperately needs people who are genuine and clear about where they’ve been and where they’re going. 

The world needs people who are living into their fullness! This takes immense courage, and no one can do it alone. 

During a typical Somatic Experiencing and acupuncture session, we will explore some of the ways that you know what you know about yourself and the world. Instead of unconsciously continuing to create a reality you don’t want, your orientation will shift more toward what’s true and supportive for your wellbeing. 

We honor life’s transitions by becoming more conscious of our thoughts as they happen. Those thoughts, of course, become actions which become habits which become character. But you can’t think your way out of deeply imprinted patterns. We change thought processes from the bottom up, using information stored in the body. Better health and more ease in the world are the most common results. You become a more whole, embodied, resourced human being. 

This is deep, integral work, with roots in indigenous shamanic practices as much as the latest neurobiology and behavioral research. While there are many admirable approaches to trauma healing, Somatic Experiencing is among the most comprehensive systems. For some people and situations, it matters to work with someone who has significant training and certification. If this work interests you, be sure to keep listening to your inner voice – it will guide you to people who are best for you.

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