Speaking the somatic language of the body
The somatic language is the language of your body – dive into your intuition and unlock your powers to soothe, calm and heal
From the moment we’re born, we instinctively seek ways to soothe and nourish our human condition. Being rocked and shushed as a newborn in our mothers’ arms. Being held by a loved one when our tears fall. Feeling unbridled joy as our bodies learn to dance. These natural movements, sounds and sensations are among the greatest tools we possess, bringing us into a state of calm. This is speaking the somatic language of the body.
Our inherent responses to these practices are no accident. They trigger our bodies to move out of the ‘fight or flight’ stress response and into a place of regulation and peace – our parasympathetic nervous system. It’s in the somatic anctuary of ourselves and others that we feel clear, calm and able to meet our needs. That we can speak the somatic language of the body.
‘Our bodies are constantly steering us towards metabolising old stuff, to clear it out so we can find deeper states of regulation,’ writes Kate Northrup, speaker and author of /Do Less/. ‘When we do, more joy, reactivity, bliss and abundance become possible.’
Leaning into intuitive joys helps us discover the nourishment in our every day. ‘Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves,’ wrote poet Mary Oliver. We feel free when we sing along loudly to a favourite song, dance with abandon at a party, practise yoga, cook a delicious meal, or sketch.
Our connection to inherent joys goes back to childhood. We found comfort in a favourite toy, snuggled into our caregivers’ arms, or fell asleep to a favourite lullaby. Trips into nature would inspire awe and wonder. Filling our pockets with pine cones, feathers, smooth stones and shells, burying our toes in sand or mud, feeling the warmth of the sun on our faces, we would while away hours as we followed our curiosities and explored the outside.
That instinctive connection to the natural world carries on long into adulthood. Many of us feel a pull to the sea, or wish for a walk in the forest when we need headspace. ‘Nature is inherently regulating for our nervous systems because we /are/ nature,’ Northrup writes. ‘When we’re in communion with the earth, we remember who we are.’
When we choose to trust our bodies’ inclination to get outdoors, move, laugh, breathe, hug and sing, we open up a place of freedom, authenticity and, crucially, safety. This is truly speaking the somatic language of the body.
This fosters greater resilience in our bodies and lowers our stress response to life’s ups and downs. In turn it activates our vagus: the long nerve that connects our brain stem to our body and increases parasympathetic nervous system activity.
Over our evolution, we have developed ways to tune into the inner wisdom of our bodies. For centuries, yoga, ecstatic dance, singing and meditating have deepened our connection to our true selves. Over time, other methods have emerged, such as EFT tapping, laughter therapy and even cuddle therapy, helping to soothe and heal our human experience.
Whichever practice calls our unique soul, there is a common denominator: our need to continually realign ourselves with our truth. So here’s how to spark our intuition and regulate our nervous system naturally:
Moving our body rhythmically, in a repeated pattern, is a great way to get out of a stress response and into a place of balanced calm
Our vagus nerve is connected to our vocal chords. Humming and singing stimulate and create vibration in our vocal chords, which in turn activates the vagus. This helps strengthen vagal tone and helps us move into a parasympathetic state
We have a natural inclination to rock when we need to soothe and comfort. Many of us intuitively feel reassured by this action if we were rocked as infants. The movement stimulates our body’s relaxation system and sends signals of safety and calm
Gentle, reassuring pressure enables the body to move into a parasympathetic state. It also helps regulate cortisol and oxytocin, which boosts our immune system. We might also try gently squeezing, stroking and shaking
Taking off our shoes and connecting with the Earth is a natural, instant way to regulate our nervous system. Grounding has been shown to lower cortisol levels and blood pressure.
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