Many years ago I attended a workshop for an upcoming training in Somatic Experiencing. The trainer, Ariel Giaretto was asked a question about birth trauma and as part of her response she said: “Premies have one foot in this world and one foot still in the last.” She described my life in that one sentence – barely present though appearing to be here. And so I had to study with her, thus beginning my journey with Somatic Experiencing (SE).
Ariel's statement was so significant because I had no idea that birth trauma could eventually lead to chronic dissociation and freeze, and a constant underlying sense of threat. Described as “shy,” nobody realized that I was actually very anxious. The muscular gripping that accompanied that anxiety eventually turned into a chronic pelvic pain condition in my late 20s.
It wasn’t until I started the SE training that I realized how very dysregulated I was. I had learned to function “well” in a semi-present state, but it was limiting and exhausting! Thank goodness I had started doing yoga during my teens and 20s, finally culminating in a yoga teacher training. Yoga helped me begin to learn how to relax (without there being a beach involved) in deep and profound ways.
SE helped me to work with the birth trauma that was at the root of my dysregulation so I could fully land in this world. I learned to track my dissociation and control it. The work built resilience in my nervous system so I didn’t have to freeze and dissociate. Things, people and situations that used to make me check out are now fascinating and interesting. Instead of feeling like I’m a child in an adult’s body, I move through the world as an adult who is aware of my strengths and my vulnerabilities, and compassionate and curious about both (most of the time at least!). The best thing about all this is that I get to share it with the clients and yoga class participants who trust me to walk with them on their healing journey.
Incorporating Yoga and Somatic Experiencing on my own path, and watching as others heal through the sharing of this wisdom has inspired me to share these tools with other practitioners. Join me at Chicago BodyMind Wellness Studio (3525 W Peterson, Ste 605, Chicago IL 60659) for the Introduction to Body-Centered Psychotherapy 4-hr workshop on Friday, May 31 from 9am-1pm. 4 CEs available for Social Workers, Psychologists and Counselors.
This short workshop will be a brief introduction to some somatic approaches and the science behind how these approaches work. We will also experience some of the tools that I use on a regular basis.