Monday, March 24, 2008

The Somatic-Emotional State of Grief


affecting or characteristic of the body as opposed to the mind or spirit

I've written before about why grief hurts, and specifically on why we feel such intense pain when our spouse dies. As I understand things, pain is a powerful way for our body to communicate with us. Of course, in the middle of bereavement, we just want the pain to stop! So we start looking for Grief Recovery Tools to find out how to stop the pain. My theory is that we feel pain until such time as we change all the habits related to our past life as a married person. Easier said than done...

I recently stumbled upon the following article which does a great job of explaining the mind-body connection to our habits, and it also gives some good advice on how to change those habits and our posture so that we can change the habitual patterns of our mind, and therefore reduce our pain:

Your somatic-emotional state at any given time is made up to a large extent, of a specific habitual recipe of biochemical and neuromuscular activities that you tend to perform without conscious awareness. Bringing awareness to and regaining a natural relaxed control over the activity of your entire system affords you the ability to positively affect your emotions, and your overall health and sense of well being - your somatic-emotional state. Your psychological state on the other hand is usually deemed to be mainly dependent on what takes place inside your head.

Many of us, over the course of time, lose the ability to fully communicate with our body, and we lose the ability to be fully aware of the communication of the body. It is the communication patterns of the body that lead to our emotional state, and our verbal communication patterns. When you limit your ability to communicate somatically and be aware of your somatic conversation, you also limit your ability to feel your emotions, communicate verbally, and be aware of your verbal conversation. Of course your overall state of health and well-being will be affected as well.

The greater your ability to be aware of and embody a full potential range of somatic communication, the greater your ability to communicate verbally and "understand" what you are feeling.

One of many possible ways to think about how we experience life is the following:

Body + Language = Emotional Experience

What we mean here is: The overall condition, usage, and awareness of one's body, plus the way in which one uses language to describe one's experience, go together to make up one's CURRENT emotional experience of self, another person, and or an event.

1. Change the condition, usage, and awareness of your body and you will change the way in which you use language to describe what has or is transpiring, which in turn will change your overall emotional experience of the issue being considered. The six somatic "avenues" that we find most accessible in changing the condition, use, and awareness of the body are,

  1. Posture,

  2. Balance and carriage of the neck and head,

  3. Movement and Flexibility. (This includes muscular holding patterns and micro-muscular rocking movements),

  4. Breath,

  5. Facial Expressions,

  6. Eye movements that occur when thinking about what you want to say, and what you feel.

These variables will be of primary importance in determining

  1. One's emotional experience.

  2. The language used to explain one's experience, and

  3. One's ability to be solution oriented.

Each person systematically and habitually, orchestrates these variables depending on how they perceive the events and relationships they are dealing with. Making the "correct" changes to these variables will alter the way one perceives what is taking place, and the changes or solutions one believes they are capable of making.

2. Change the way in which you describe your experience, and you will affect and change the condition of your body, which in turn will change your overall emotional experience. We can describe events differently simply by changing the speed, rhythm, tone, volume, and pauses used in our description.

3. Changing one's emotional experience, will affect and change the condition of one's body, which in turn will affect and change the language one uses to describe one's experience. Emotion consists of language AND body - a system that is coherent at a deeper level. When the emotional state changes there is a concurrent change in the body, and in the use of language (including one's thought processes). If the way we use our body changes and there is no shift in our language usage/thinking, then the bodily changes we experience have not reached our emotions. In such cases long term change is unlikely. If our language usage/thinking changes and there is no matching bodily shift, then our new "ideas" are not having an emotional impact on us. Once again, in such an instance long term change is unlikely. When the emotions truly change, you will notice a change in the body AND in language.

I'd be interested to hear your comments.

No comments: