THE SELF-SENSORY SYSTEM & SOMATIC EXPERIENCING
It's been scientifically proven that prolonged, chronic stress and trauma affect the pre frontal cortex in the brain which can become shut off as a means of self preservation. This area, the limbic system of the brain, is responsible for registering and interpreting all of our base emotions and sensations, namely, who we are. The result is that through experiences of trauma, we can lose our inner sense of reality, direction or purpose making it almost impossible to make decisions, plans, to define what it is that we need or more importantly, who we are because we can't FEEL where or who we are. Every aspect of our lives can become affected.
This is where "symptoms" come into play- symptoms are subliminal messages of need your body is trying to communicate to you, but we shut them down and fear them as signs of illness or disease, perhaps because we’re in such a state of confusion anyway, we just keep going. This makes the symptoms increase in intensity in a bid to demand your attention, as in the case of anxiety and panic attacks for instance. Anger, frustration as just a few other examples I believe come from a lack of understanding, trust or connectedness with our internal environment and simultaneously our external experience, so we try to protect ourselves.
THIS IS WHERE SOMATIC EXPERIENCING WORKS TO HELP US BREAK DOWN THE BARRIERS OF SURVIVAL MODE
When we’re fighting off invisible enemies, it leaves no space for nurture, care or love for ourselves or others. I’ve come to understand dizziness, which I experience regularly, as a way my body communicates to me that it’s feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable about where it is and the subsequent disassociation is my body’s natural response at creating a bubble or a wall around me to almost cocoon me in safety.
The normal advice is to take a pill to ease these symptoms, which only increases separation and as most of us already know deep down, doesn’t treat the source or the root of the problem.
Darwin observed how animals communicate their emotions through body and facial expressions, and that emotions initiate movement. My own designed Self-Sensory System and incorporation of Somatic Experiencing in my classes is about going behind the screen, de-mystifying the self and getting back to the origins of the organism, your body. To not avoid or fend off, but FEEL emotions, not talk about them, but FEEL sensation, FEEL movement, FEEL breath in your body and work to understand the ins and outs, the internal environment of our bodies and minds. Becoming sensitised to how and what we feel, how our bodies and emotions interact with the external world is how we started understanding the world, ours and others reactions, and essentially ourselves as children and as people. It is the starting point to understanding why we feel the way we feel. Only then can we begin to mobilise and learn to manage our experience going forward.
Through this Self-Sensory System we aim to establish a friendship and trust with our organism and the world around us. In this way we slowly stop feeling the need to defend ourselves because we feel safe, leaving more room for nurturing, imagination, exploration, joys and playfulness in our lives.
We start to feel more in tune with our body, our feelings, our sensations, and can then feel more in tune with our life once again.