The Somatic methodology as I practice offers fundamental, sustainable change. To produce this, individuals and organizations must attend to what is currently practiced and how these practices are aligned to their expressed values. Sometimes individuals and organizations can be so inside themselves that it becomes difficult to see what is actually going on and the dynamics behind it. Patterns, habits, and practices can be so automatic as to be invisible. The first step is understanding and exposing current situations that produce limitations and examining what are behind them. This inquiry offers the first possibility of a break from current patterns and practices that produce limitations, and open the door to begin to instill patterns and practices that produce opportunities and possibilities.
As a self or as an organization, Somatics is all encompassing. We are talking body here, our physical body as a self, and an organizational body as an organization. Each has a set of experiences that have produced the current iteration, each has a predominate mood, and a specific way automatic reactiveness lives. Each has an energetic orientation that has been learned and embodied, and each has a particular relationship with the natural world.
What is the Ecology of an individual or organization? This is revealed by looking at the relationship individuals and organizations have with the natural world. There is a revolution happening! More and more people and organizations are realizing the necessity of living this kind of connection. From the words of Bill Devall and George Sessions, Deep Ecology pioneers, this is about developing an “ecological conscience.” One definition of the planet part of triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) is “the use of sustainable environmental practices and the reduction of environmental impact.” Yes, and - I want to suggest taking this further into a conversation of living this connection so that organizational practices will produce sustainable environmental practices and the reduction of negative environmental impact. With the appropriate orientation this can become “producing sustainable environmental practices that result in a positive environmental impact.” The question to be answered to live this orientation is: “What are we practicing as individuals and organizations to live an ecological conscience?”
As individuals, we will find ourselves more or less coupled with the natural world. Humans have a long history of separating from this relationship, especially as modern westerners. And it is known that a “natural” connection to the natural world is in and available to all of us.
The Blend of Somatics and Ecology – Ecosomatics – results in individuals, couples, and organizations embodying a lived alignment to an ecological conscience as part of ongoing self – development, and organizational refinement and transformation.
The Ecosomatic Approach
An Ecosomatic approach to transformation brings the energetic and spiritual connection that we all are to the forefront of self-development and transformation. This doesn’t necessarily equate to “spiritual coaching.” It is a reminder of the nature of our humanness and speaks to the personal and social consequences of the lack of the unification of the self. Personal development and transformation has many differing definitions and philosophies. One way to define development and transformation is: Personal transformation is the process of understanding who we are and how we became who we are, and the process of fundamentally changing into the our essential self, living and expressing both privately and publicly the gift we are in the world.
“The Self is indistinguishable from the body” – Richard Strozzi-Heckler.
This is a basic premise of the somatic element of Ecosomatics. Shift the body and you shift the self.
“Armoring is the condition that results when energy is bound by muscular contraction and does not flow through the body” – Wilhelm Reich:1936
An Ecosomatic approach takes into account our historical shaping that defines our personality, behaviors, habits, likes and dislikes, and examines our history and how it has shaped our current self. As part of that inquiry, one’s connection to the natural world, both historical and current, is also taken into account as a part of the whole. All of this is related to the concerns being dealt with in the coaching relationship. Once that history and how it is currently being lived is revealed, the next step is a much closer and deeper review of how that history is being lived. The basic template of self is revealed by internal stories and narratives, the relationship to our emotions, a “felt sense" of things, and the relationship we have to our energetic self. Also revealed are things like our relationship to choice, trust, safety, trauma, nature, and how we view the world at large. This is a process of making the implicit explicit. We are like fish swimming in the ocean and not able see the ocean we swim in. What makes us tick, what unconsiously drives us?
Once uncovered, the question is posed of how we act out our stories and embodied orientations. This is where it gets pragmatic. What are we doing, how do we do it, and how is all this aligned or not toward the future we are? This is a conversation of practice. The word practice is mostly used to describe an activity related to increased performance as in sports, music, dance, martial arts, and professions. Here, organizing to practices is about any recurrent thought, emotion, or activity we do as a person. As humans we practice our stories, playing them recurrently in our heads, and the more we practice them, the more "true" they become. Practiced enough, they become our reality, and we begin to practice our stories as soon as we develop language influenced by people, environment, and how we internally make sense of the world around us. Our stories generate our actions and practices. We all have stories that open possibilities and assist in creating our power (effectiveness) in the world. We all also have stories that limit our power and possibilities. Making our implicit stories and related practices explicit opens the possibility for choice.
Have you ever wondered why humans have difficulty or find it impossible to change ourselves with just well placed intention? It is the dilemma of the failure of most New Year’s resolutions. Anything we practice enough becomes embodied. This includes behaviors and actions we don’t want to be doing. Think about it like this, “I do this thing, I know I do it, I don’t want to do it, and I keep doing it anyway!” This is the felt experience of embodiment. On the positive side, “I do this thing, I do it well, and I don’t even have to think about it.” Driving a car relects this. Think about when you first started practicing driving, and think about how you drive now. We just pop into our car and start driving, not thinking about how we have to coordinate what we see with how we operate 2-3 different pedels, steering wheel and gear shift. We embody the skill of driving. When applying this process to personal transformation, it becomes a learning or re-learning process applied to stories, behaviors, and actions.
Somatics as used in Ecosomatic transformation uses this process of embodiment to facilitate sustainable change. If, through practice, we have developed and become our basic self, it is through the process of practice that allows change. Finding, in the body, where our limiting experiences are held and disorganizing them gives space for a new organization of self.
Our relationship to Nature is a bodily phenomena. It is my experience and the experience of many people that Nature, wilderness, has an influence upon us. After being in the wilderness for 2-3 days we change. Our senses enliven and we relax. My belief is that we kindle and awaken a state humans lived in for literally hundreds of thousands of years and is built into our DNA at a very fundamental level. In the last 25 years there has been an exploration of just this idea, called Biophilia. The term originated from Erich Fromm “to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital.” It has been popularized by E. O. Wilson in his book Biophlia and is defined as “an innate tendency to focus on life and life-like processes.”
Evolutionary psychology supports this and “holds that although human beings today inhabit a thoroughly modern world of space exploration and virtual realities, they do so with the ingrained mentality of Stone Age hunter-gatherers.” - Harvard business review, How Hardwired Is Human Behavior? -Nigel Nicholson
“Because the living environment is what really sustains us.” – E. O. Wilson
Awakening and living this innate emotional connection in all of us all is the eco part of Ecosomatics. Not cultivating ourselves fully has a cost, individually, socially, and globally. Through Ecosomatics we are revealed, become choiceful and aware, and make changes using the same process as described above. Joining these processes of somatic personal transformation and deepening our innate connection to the natural world is the thrust towards becoming fully human, fully expressive, and fully alive.