What is Somatics?
Part Six: The Clinical Somatic Education learning process
Please note: You may enjoy reading the updated, expanded version of this post: Unlocking Your Body: Your Personal Process of Releasing Tension and Pain.
A series of Clinical Somatic Education (CSE) lessons or classes is a learning process, and that process is different for every person. Some people experience significant changes in their pain or functioning very quickly, while for others it takes a longer period of time. It is important to focus on the learning process rather than on the end goal.
It is also important to remember that while you may experience positive results quickly, CSE is not a quick fix. Since it is a learning process, you need to commit to a very regular practice of the exercises in order to achieve lasting results.
The purpose of the educational process is not only to help you regain muscular control and sensory-motor awareness, but also to teach you how to guide yourself through the educational process without an educator. The ultimate goal of a series of lessons or classes is that you will gain the knowledge and understanding necessary to proceed on your own.
If you are engaging in other types of treatment or therapy while going through a series of CSE lessons or classes, you may not experience optimal results. Some types of bodywork may actually make your muscles tighter, and some may be confusing to your nervous system while you are attempting to make changes in learned patterns. It is generally best if you go through the CSE learning process without interference from passive, manipulative techniques, as well as techniques that involve intense stretching or strengthening. This holds true both during your series of lessons or classes and afterward, when you are continuing your learning by doing the self-care exercises at home.
Continuing the Learning Process
By the end of a series of lessons or classes, many people have experienced significant reduction in their pain and improvement in their functioning. However, this does not mean that their learning process is over.
We spend our entire lives developing habitual muscular patterns, and for a long time they do not cause us pain. Finally one day, we begin to feel pain or experience damage to the actual structure of our body. The habits that are causing this pain or damage have been present for many years. While it may take a relatively short time to get out of pain, the habits are still present, and it can take years to fully unlearn these damaging patterns.
While some people keep up with their Somatic exercises just enough to keep themselves out of pain, others go further with the process and continue doing the exercises for the rest of their lives. A regular Somatics practice is extremely enjoyable and rewarding. It is a process of continually discovering new sensations and new abilities in your body, and becoming aware of how wonderful your body is supposed to feel.
Regular practice of Somatic exercises is necessary not only to change deeply learned patterns, but also to release the habitual tension we build up each day. In this sense, practicing the exercises daily is much like brushing our teeth. Life keeps happening, and we keep learning new muscular tasks and encountering potentially stressful situations. Just as our teeth get dirty every day, our nervous system is constantly learning new muscular patterns and strengthening existing ones.
To practice Somatic exercises on a regular basis with the intention of taking control of one’s health requires a shift in thinking for many people. We’ve been trained to let the experts tell us how to eat, drink, exercise and medicate, and assuming the responsibility of taking care of oneself can be daunting.
Regaining full voluntary muscular control and developing awareness of our internal sensations is critical to our health because it allows us to assess and correct ourselves more quickly and effectively than if we were to wait for symptoms to appear. The human nervous system is a highly complex, extremely powerful tool, and learning how to harness its potential gives us enormous capacity to prevent pain and injury and improve the quality of our lives.
Check out the other five posts in this series:
Part One: What is Clinical Somatic Education?
Part Two: How Clinical Somatic Education was developed
Part Three: How is Clinical Somatic Education different from other methods?
Part Four: Is Clinical Somatic Education right for me?
Part Five: What to expect in Clinical Somatic Education lessons and classes
The Pain Relief Secret: How to Retrain Your Nervous System, Heal Your Body, and Overcome Chronic Pain by Sarah Warren, CSE
Somatics: Reawakening the Mind’s Control of Movement, Flexibility and Health by Thomas Hanna