What is somatic therapy and why does it matter to me?
Well, if you’ve been following the blog you’ll know we’ve been talking about integrative care over the last couple of weeks. You and I are more than just our physical bodies, we are also mind and spirit. When we talk about integrative care we are talking about caring for the whole person, not just a part.
Here at New Life Community, we talk about wholeness—a lot. I mean, that’s the promise of salvation, right? Jesus came to redeem and restore, which is what shalom is all about.
The truth of the matter is that we are complex beings. Human beings are body, mind, and spirit, and all three are interconnected in function and essence. In other words, we are integrated physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Do you remember the old children’s song that talks about how the ankle bone is connected to the leg bone? Yeah, well, the point is, everything is connected. That means there are significant internal effects each aspect of being has on the other parts.
Well, in terms of wholeness, it’s valuable to consider how we can pursue wellness by combining physical activities with mental exercises to help improve our state of mind. Let me illustrate.
Several years ago, I decided to run a 5K race, while my friend ran a half marathon. I’m no athlete and I make no excuse for my distaste for running. One particular afternoon as we were at the gym training, I was struggling. I was tired after working all afternoon and emotionally drained from a season of grief after my father passed away. There is no part of me interested in running on the treadmill at the best of times, and certainly not on this particular day.
As I stepped onto the treadmill I began to complain, seriously looking for an opportunity to bail the session as soon as I could. I mean, I showed up so that should count for something, right? My friend listened to me whine a bit and then casually said, “Well, you’re already here. Hang in there for the first mile and then evaluate how you feel.”
She was right. I was already there, so I pushed my attitude aside and eased into my mile. We got talking and before I knew it, the workout was done. I don’t remember exactly how far I got, but I know it was well past the 2-mile mark. And then she asked, “So how do you feel now?”
It was a stunning moment for me because I realized that both my mental and emotional status had shifted in a very positive way. I no longer felt tired or drained, but rather motivated and dare I say, happy. Conversation with a good friend while working through intervals of running and walking saved my day.
That experience has stuck with me all these years because of that direct correlation between physical activity and mental improvement. I’ve also noticed connections in a spiritual context, like how when I walk and pray it’s easier to stay focused than when I simply sit and pray.
This idea of integration of body, mind, and spirit, is very important in our pursuit of wholeness with Christ because it both acknowledges and incorporates the fullness of who we are as human beings. It may feel more convenient to compartmentalize the way we care for ourselves, but that may well be limiting.
When we take an integrative approach to wholeness what we’re doing is paying attention to how the body, mind, and spirit connect and affect as parts and the whole. In terms of spiritual formation, the idea of repetitive movement is encouraged in developing spiritual habits. I mentioned earlier how walking improves my focus and attention to God’s presence, but there are also powerful benefits to incorporating contemplative art and dance with prayer as well. I wouldn’t rule out the powerful effect of scrubbing the grout of your tile floor when you want to get close to God. It’s not so much the activity, but the repetitive movement that creates rhythm and purpose.
Somatic therapy looks to use the connection between mind and body for healing. I don’t know about you, but this sounds good. If physical exercise can have a positive effect on emotional well-being, and repetitive movement can help focus the mind and spirit, then using the connection between mind and body for healing has promise written all over it.
Join us today on The Pastor And The Counselor, as Pastor Ryan Brown, and counselors Jon Burchard and Tyler Schuhly talk about this important aspect of integrative care. In this episode, they outline what Somatic therapy is, the spiritual implications, and how In Him Christian Wellness is getting creative in how to implement this process in their approach to healing and wholeness.Podast
Written by Maureen Brown
Maureen Is our Worship and Communications Pastor. She has served New Life Community alongside Pastor Ryan for 19 years. She is passionate about Jesus and His Church, which is why she does what she does. Maureen has been leading worship, teaching, and mentoring her entire adult life. She graduated in 1996, from Emmanuel Bible College with a Bachelor of Religious Education in Professional Studies with a double minor in Christian Education and Music and then married Ryan—the love of her life. Maureen is a blogger so she brings a special set of gifts that are well used in the area of Communications here at NLC.