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Somatic Mark Making
Expanding your inner vocabulary  & freedom while making art

What is this practice about?

Somatic creating is about noticing the ease and melting into clarity by thawing constricting inner patterns and replacing them with nourishing ones.

It is a practice of self experiencing with the welcomed side effect of self expression, sometimes. 

Why would I want to develop my somatic vocabulary?

To feel more at home in myself, more able to be present with what life brings instead of what I think it ought to be like.  To experience less chronic pain, coming from continuous tension. To transform my habits of contraction into habits of expansion, not trying to transcend my humanness but master it instead.

How much would I need to invest for this to make sense?

This method isn't about some grand commitment, it is a practice, so regardless of the state, 5 minutes is doable, 1 minute is doable, 10 seconds is doable. Even just one sigh, yawn, one deep breath is a success - it isn't about time spent or number of pieces painted. Its simple -

did I try? Did I pause for a moment?

 

Can I feel a point of tension and relax into, or find a place of ease and relax into it? 

You don't need to scroll down for more, that's already it really, but there are some funny ideas below if you like.

The Foundation

01.

Building Felt Safety

In order to release past hurt and fears and  live lighter, I need to know, am I safe?

 

To begin, I find ways to identify if I am physically safe in this moment. I look around, listen to the birds, seems life is happening and I are here breathing.

 

Despite the actual safety I sense an urgency or threat still active in my being, as if something needs to be solved, or something is wrong.

 

Upon some closer look I notice that I also feel afraid of my next threat response, a fear of my own physiological and psychological reaction to things.

 

To re-educate my being's alarm system I need daily practice that allows me to retreat from the weather, the shaking, the noise of the world to have a space where I know I am actually safe. Then I can begin to look at the perceived threats with greater curiosity, empathy and patience.

02.

Befriending Perceived Threats

When I am able to identify that I am physically safe while in the midst of feeling threatened, stressed or uneasy, a kind of dual awareness begins. By knowing that I am actually safe, I can relax my body ever so slightly and remind myself that the stress is a form of self protection, deserving of a great big THANK YOU for keeping me safe at a time when I didn't have other means. Every self critical and outwardly judgmental thought is a warrior, working hard to keep me in line with what is perceived as necessary to make it in this harsh world. 

When I tune in with such radical self empathy, I begin to learn to read between the lines of my perception of myself and the world. 

03.

Welcoming the Felt Sense

Reading between the lines of my perceived threats is a form of active listening, I need enough stillness to hear the quiet cores of my fears, and to identify what wants to be held safely, looked at or experienced in this moment.

 

To do this I need to relax into the discomfort of experiencing the responses I have to the threats. I need to remind myself that I am safe to feel. That I can only transform that which I know. So if I no longer want to be at the mercy of my fear, it is fear I need to know by heart, like a dear friend.

By showing up and checking in, my being is grateful, there's not much more I need to do actually, just say hi inwardly sometimes.

04.

The Sleeping Baby

A thought experiment: How would I approach situations if I had a sleeping baby in my arms at all times? What would be important what would lose its power? What if I assume that a part of my nervous system is always a little baby that wants to feel safe and rest. What if calming the sleeping baby could be done with soft belly breaths?

05.

Regaining Power

With the practice of differentiating between perceived and actual threats becoming a part of my daily life, I now wish to find where my power prevails. Where am I not a victim of the circumstances, of my past? 

 

Regaining power and control of my life is essential in healing and building new patterns, but the control needs to be directed at the one thing that no one can take away from me, my own inner response to life, here and now. Power and control that is based on external conditions will always be shaky and thereby unsafe.

 

Perceive threat -->  know safety --> choose response freely --> stand in power --> perceive less threat

06.

Holding Multiplicity

Feeling free to choose my own responses means that I can hold a lot of complex and even contradictory emotions, thoughts and sensations without them having to lead to anything in particular. It also allows me to welcome home many aspects of parts that have been sent into exile early on in life, and also through hard experiences in later years.

I wish to be present in those in inbetween states, feeling both this and that, thinking this and that, sensing this and that, as so much of life actually happens there, and I have been missing much of it. The somatic process is about softly becoming comfortable being there in the unknown undefined and still living, manifesting and becoming. Wandering around the paradoxes of being human, heart open and mind by my side.

Exercise (there isn't much more to it, its that simple)

Prepare

Set Intention

Imagination or creation

Active Listening

Rewrite to Thrive

Place a pen/pencil or brush with a paper in front of you. Notice your breath and inform your being that it is safe here now.

I am going to draw now on this paper.

Imagine reaching out, picking up the pen and placing it on the paper to draw. Practice dual awareness by also paying attention to how your being responds to this imagination. Do certain thoughts come, are there emotions that arise, do you feel any particular sensations in your body?  Begin making marks on the paper. Notice what comes.

Welcome the responses and instead of brushing them away, lean into them a bit, gently.

 

If it is a thought, ask - which part of me would think this? Can I offer this part anything?

If it is an emotion, ask - which part of me would feel this way? Can I allow this part to feel what it feels and relax my body a bit?

If it is a physical reaction or sensation - ask - how does it feel to allow and support such a response, to exaggerate it a bit before releasing? 

Ask yourself if you are safe in this moment, with the responses that came up, is there an emediate threat?

 

A very high chance is that you are actually safe right now - by noticing this, you are effectively rewriting your threat response system - your nervous system and building a larger range of safety and freedom. 

Do this in kind and tiny steps to build a robust friendship with the unconscious responses, open an active negotiation with them to find relaxation and grow self trust. 

This practice can be done with anything that allows you to withdraw from the shake of the world and at the same time elicits your threat response system in movement. With time, you can take it out for a field trip into the world too.
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