SOMATIC MOVEMENT PROJECT

Embodiment - Awareness - Empowerment

What is Somatic Movement Project?


We educate, study and celebrate movement and bodywork modalities that deepen awareness, provoke curiosity and promote presence of being. SMP strives to open dialogue, push boundaries and build community. It continually evolves from the belief that embodiment is a state of being that can liberate us from the self-limitations in movement, behavior, emotion and thought.

What is Somatic Movement?

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Intuitive, comfortable, easeful and joyous movement used as a tool to improve an intimate connection to ourselves – an awareness of our whole self connected to our individual parts, to space and gravity.

Somatic Movement is practiced with the intention of an internal experience rather than to the outer appearance. It is a mindfulness practice that uses the felt sense awareness to keep us connected to the present moment.

It is a container for improving our sensing, including interoception and proprioception as well as our empathic and intuitive senses.

 

Somatic Movement uses the body as a tool for fine tuning our awareness. We “learn to listen “ to what we sense and feel in ourselves physically: our breathing, our posture, our weight distribution or degree of ease or discomfort in our movements.  We then expand to listening to the quality of our thoughts, reactions and behavior. Awareness does not discriminate. We can learn to apply this awareness to all of life. We get better at listening to what the world around us is saying without our hearing being restricted by the sound of our conditioned or habitual thoughts and judgements.

 

What is the Feldenkrais Method? 

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The Feldenkrais Method(™)sensory-motor education system designed to promote bodily and mental well-being by using movement, sensation and processes of the nervous system to teach self-awareness and improve physical and mental functioning. Moshe Feldenkrais designed a collection of lessons – taught through words or touch – based on his lifetime of understanding of neuroplasticity, physics, sensory-motor connectivity and mindfulness.


Awareness Through Movement(™) lesson – is one of thousands of lessons that were created by Israeli scientist and Judo master Moshe Feldenkrais. Students are guided through a sequence of gentle movements, done slowly, with attention on the sensation in order to discover new possibilities for optimal functional. This results in improved flexibility, coordination and efficient movement, increased ease and range of motion, reduction in aches and pains, and an increased sense of self-awareness.  

 

What is Somatic Education?  

A field within bodywork and movement studies which emphasizes internal physical perception and experience.

 

What is Somatic Yoga? 

An awareness-based approach to yoga. Yoga asana is used to experience somatic movement.

Somatic Yoga begins with simple inquiry, clarifying where we are physically and mentally, sensing parts of our bodies and fluctuations in our breathing or thought patterns. The practice explores functional movement patterns and alternatives to habitual movements or holding patterns. The intention of the practice is to evoke a heightened sense of connectivity, sensitivity and awareness.   

 

How to do Somatic Movement 9 Steps

● 1) Be Curious

When we are  curious our minds are like that of a child – open and ready to learn. We can experience the childlike enthusiasm about seemingly simple things. When we are curious we are more apt to allow ourselves to imagine – our creativity can excavate our deeper potential.

Variation is food for the brain. When we are curious we are more likely to deviate from our habits and try new things. Our brain gets the information it needs to create new possibilities in thought, behavior and action.

● 2) Go Slowly

Time is an important tool for learning. We need time to clearly asses ourselves and understand not only what to move, but how to move.

Easy and efficient movement is found when we move away from strain, parasitic action or exertion. We need time to learn where we are holding unnecessarily and it is impossible to learn in a rush. Fast action at the beginning of learning creates strain and confusion and makes learning unpleasant.

Imagine you were sprinting down a street, all you could see would be what is immediately in front of you. Whereas, if you were taking a leisurely stroll you would be able to take in your surroundings, hear the sounds, smell the scents and see the colors and textures around you.

● 3) Embrace Subtlety

Intensity negates sensitivity. The objective of Somatic Movement is to refine our ability to listen for -then to – sensations, feelings and thoughts. If we listen to the loud banging of strong, powerful movements, we are unable to hear the whisper of subtle sensation.

If we were to carry a heavy box and a butterfly landed on it, we would be unaware of the butterfly. If we are holding a feather and a butterfly lands on it, it’s subtle presence could be  felt.

When you practice Somatic Movement, periodically do less than you can, make movements smaller, sometimes even stop completely and simply imagine the movement.

● 4) Enjoy Yourself

Pleasure relaxes our breathing and relaxed breathing is pleasurable! Pleasurable feeling is fertile soil for cultivating self-discovery.

● 5) Don’t Set Goals

When our movements become driven by achievement our ability to remain curious about learning and connected to easy, non-purposeful movement is disabled.                                         A striving mind is not a relaxed mind.

When we are focused on achieving something we often begin repeating the same actions with greater force.

● 6) Embrace Your Own Movement Style

Grace and fluidity will develop naturally as our nervous system improves how it organizes itself.

Focusing on the appearance of the movement will take us out of the actual experience

● 7) Be Easy

When we focus hard and singularly it can produce excessive effort and/or can impede easeful breathing and create tension.

Let attention be easeful, sweeping and light

If you are unable to detect any kind of change or improvement in a movement remember that the objective is first and foremost improving our awareness. Seeing that we cannot see is still seeing!

● 8) Pause

When we take small rests between movements or variations we give our mind a break.

For most people engaged in any kind of learning, if we attempt to consume too much information too quickly we get oversaturated and are unable to retain.

Savor the rare opportunity to do a movement and then be able to listen for its influence.           The pause is when our nervous system registers the changes and learning.

● 9) Make Friends With Your Monkey Mind

Practice being patient and kind with yourself (as you would a friend or a child) by observing the fluctuations of your mind.

Somatic Movement is an opportunity to LEARN HOW YOU LEARN.

Listen to when you get distracted, bored or check out. When do you get frustrated or agitated and when do you feel clear, comfortable and at ease?

Why Cultivate a Somatic Practice?

A somatic practice is a method of developing our awareness

Our felt-sense can be an anchor that tethers us to the present moment. To experience the present moment is to be aware.

Awareness illuminates possibilities.

“Without learning to know ourselves as intimately as we possibly can, we limit our choices. Life is not very sweet without freedom of choice.”

– Moshe Feldenkrais

Our culture, how and where we were raised, who our role-models were, the kind of education we received and our physical activities as well as our personal preferences, language, temperament and constitution all contribute to the mental and physical habits we develop as adults.           Some habits become rigid confines that limit the possibilities for how we do things, how we move, how we think and how we behave. If we are unaware we are also unadaptable in “this is me,” or “this is how it is.” We eradicate potential for new learning, expanding, positive change. When we are aware we can learn to see a more complete, healthier, conscious, present-moment, unlimited self-image.

Awareness gives us freedom of choice.

When we are aware of what we are doing we can choose to do what we want. As we develop our awareness and begin knowing our (present) selves, we begin to free ourselves of limitations determined by our previous self-image. Our work shifts from maintenance of what was to cultivation of what actually is.

Awareness fosters self-love

Becoming aware of ourselves in as intimate, venerable process. We can become aware by learning to listen first to physical sensation – breath and movement and then to the sensation of our emotions and reactions. As we recognize our sensations we can begin to trust ourselves. Self-trust is an integral part of self-love. As we cultivate self-love we are longer dependant on external forces (people or circumstances) to supply meaning, balance, contentedness or happiness in our lives.