In 2013 I began training as a somatic experiencing (SE) practitioner with Steve Hoskinson, in a small town in Ireland close to the fishing village where I spent my childhood.
I did not know much about the training but quickly understood that a new chapter of learning, growth and healing was opening.
There were many aspects to the learning.
For the first time in many years I had the opportunity to travel to my homeland on a regular basis. An important concept in SE is pendulation, a slow returning back and forth to reclaim lost territories. This happens on many levels, from rediscovering ease in a part of the body that is affected by trauma. For me it was a literal journey of returning home.
Then, there is the SE therapy, of which every student must undertake throughout the training. After years of yoga and meditation, one thing that I was aware of, was that there was much to heal. From the very beginning I was surprised at the effectiveness of the therapy.
Almost all of my previous work had been done alone, on a yoga mat or a meditation cushion. I did not appreciate the affect of being ‘held’ by another.
Yet immediately my experience of the SE method, or more specifically Steve Hoskoinson’s Organic Intelligence approach to SE, was profound. For three years in my own sessions I experienced everything from the pleasure of tracking deep visceral sensations to intense uncontrollable shaking, in my head, neck, arms, legs and psoas, to a rebirth experience, one of the most profound of my adult life.
It was a revelation to live these moments, and to be honest I was surprised how much yoga and meditation had left unaffected. Yoga and meditation are wonderful practices, but too often they support the aspects of ourselves we want to remain in the shadows.
It is easy for me to sit for hours on a meditation cushion, watching my breath. There is much healing gained through such practices, but at a certain point, one is only sitting still, yet life is not lived in such stillness.
My experience of stillness on the meditation cushion mirrored the frozen state of my nervous system. Likewise, how many people pushing through intense yoga practices are simply feeding that aspect of themselves that cannot be still? In yoga today there is much emphasis on light, bliss, opening; one has to recognise that much remains lurking in the shadows.
For me, I was deeply affected from the guidance of another tracking the visceral experience of my body. Within sessions the shepherded cycles of tracking nervous system activation and discharge, where my awareness would disappear into the nothingness of parasympathetic immobility only to resurface into the intensity of sympathetic arousal; through these shepherded cycles stress locked in my Autonomic Nervous System could be released.
To what end you might ask? I see many of the benefits of this work in my day to day life, both at home and in my vocation.
In Stephen Porges Polyvagal theory he describes how a nervous system experiencing stress will move from pro-social to anti-social being states. If our nervous system is constantly dysregulated as a result of trauma, our default visceral experience will be of fear, anxiety, confusion, distraction, anger, rage, stress, depression. Aside from physical issues such as ulcers, pssorrias, IBS, digestive disorders; our behaviour will also adjust in such a way that it communicates to others that we are a threat. We feel withdrawn, and people will withdraw from us. Much of this subconscious.
I will continue to take personal SE sessions because I can see how the discharge of stress from my body has improved my marriage, my relationship with my children and my work life. I am less angry, less reactive. I have found it easier to discuss feelings and emotions. In my work I have found that I am now more engaged. Lack of engagement was definitely a fair criticism many of my colleagues and people who worked with me at Cihangir Yoga could rightly level at me. Over the years there was a growing sense of trepidation and fear that surrounded the many people and tasks I had to deal with every day. Eventually it ended in collapse. But I am very happy to feel a resurgent energy of engagement, from working as a therapist, writing blogs, and new projects that are on the horizon.
In my work I am committed to running a ‘Robin Hood’ practice, where the ones who have, can support the ones who don’t. Please feel free to contact me if you want sessions but you cannot afford the full payment. Click here to book a session. All new clients should first book a free 30 minute orientation.
To learn more or to book sessions with David click here.