Somatics is a burgeoning field of study and practice, which focuses attention on subjective bodily experience, placed in contrast to the ‘objective’ body as seen outside of individual experience. A somatic approach to teaching and learning requires that we allow material to be learned from the ‘inside’, bringing attention to how movement is experienced within by the mover, rather than addressing external ideals as end goals or what movement ‘looks like’ from an outside view. Somatics is accessed through a 1st-person-based approach, which develops a more immediate awareness of the interweaving of one’s physical, emotional, and mental life, in the context of learning about ourselves and others.
“Somatics asks you to arrive with where you are in that moment. Not where you were yesterday, or where you would like to be… and by showing up in that moment, and then carrying on with somatic awareness moment by moment, you are able to come into better alignment with how the organic world operates, making life easier and more flowing as a day by day experience.”
– Janet Kaylo
For our purposes in LSSI, Somatic work takes place in a field of possibility and responsibility, which occurs as a ‘radical act’ of gradually deconstructing ways in which we are culturally shaped and formed through movement, in our engagement with the world. As a practice, it is designed to ‘deliver us back to ourselves’. In this process, we discover more about our patterns of movement, become less habituated and more conscious of the choices available in our quality of being and relating.
Our somatic work focusses on the body as perceived in moment-to-moment, mind-body processing that is in a constant interchange with one’s environment. We accomplish this by emphasizing kinesthetic perception through proprioception and ‘listening’ to how we ‘situate’ ourselves in the world through our bodily ways of being. Thus, the body is granted agency as a mind-body unity – alone and in relationship with others. By deepening sensation and conscious choice in movement, engagement, and ongoing responsiveness, we enhance the same bodily self-awareness that is implicitly embedded in our perception and our action.
All somatic work brings attention to the use of kinetic energy through conscious movement processes, which offers access to a greater sense of ‘wholeness’, as well as movement efficiency, fluidity, and movement longevity. In relationship, a somatic perspective includes awareness of the psycho-physical, subjective presence of others – each able to influence and to be influenced by the other, forming an inter-subjective site of perceiving and meaning-making. To relate to another as a subject not unlike ourselves, rather than as an object for us to assess or exploit through distancing, requires allowing time for the ‘other’ to come into view more fully, making space for subjective processing in the between-ness of our encounter. As such, a somatically-informed exchange offers an embodied field of empathy, implicitly inclusive of the desire for greater understanding.