The same energies that mend a broken bone also heal a broken heart.” Brian Siddhartha Ingle has been on a self-healing journey for most of his life and gathered a plethora of holistic tools that he uses to create a space for the self-healing of others. All healing is truly self-healing. There are no healers only those that facilitate an environment for healing to take place.
And it is through cultivating “Self Energy" and connecting with our health and vitality that we can begin to awaken more and more of our true nature. Brian shares from his wealth of knowledge and experience as an Osteopath, Naturopath, Feldenkrais, Hanna Somatics and Yoga Teacher. We explore the bliss of felt sensory experience, being contained and connected, ideas for therapists on how to facilitate the best experience for others and the idea of “protecting” against others energies.
Brian shares his personal story of how and why he stepped into the world of healing and where it’s taken him.
Discover his workshops and offerings at www.livingsomatics.com or
connect with him on Instagram's @i_contain_multitude_s
Read Along as You Listen
A: Every day there is a forgetting and every moment there is the possibility of remembering. Remembering who you truly are, awakening to your body, to the inner world and experience of being alive. Here is where you find the beauty, the joy. Here is where you free your Soma.
Hello and welcome to Free Your Soma podcast, stories of somatic awakening and how to live from the inside out. I'm Amy Tecaya and today I have a very learned and fascinating guest with me, Brian Siddhartha Engel. He's an osteopath, a naturopath, a Feldenkrais practitioner as well as a Hannah Somatic educator who's been a yoga teacher for a long time and he studied somatic internal family systems as well as I'm sure we could go on with many, many other things that you have gathered over your lifetime to incorporate in helping people to reconnect with themselves and heal. So welcome Brian.
B: Thank you for having me.
A: Yeah, and you know this is quite the list and we were talking before we started recording and there's more that you have gathered like I said and all of this kind of you know when someone is so advanced in all these different realms and been doing this work for a long time I have to think that there's something you know in them that is looking to heal not only themselves but help heal other people in the world like as someone who's been doing this a long time can you tell us a little bit about where this all began for you, where in your life and your soma did this kind of desire to make these huge shifts in consciousness and in your physiology. Where did that start?
B: Well, I'm Irish by birth, born into a big family. I've got eight brothers and sisters and while I was quite young my father was diagnosed with schizophrenia and he was under a lot of medication, electric shock therapy. They sort of locked him up in a mental health asylum. I remember visiting him on my confirmation that's a Catholic thing you do and on my confirmation day and he said let me out of here they're all mad in here. So I saw the deterioration of my father and their approach to him meaning you've got these symptoms that we don't like, you're a threat to yourself in society and we're just going to numb you out and electrocute you and finally he committed suicide when I was like 13 or something like that and the whole thing was so traumatic for me and I questioned why couldn't they help him and what did they do and I asked that question for a long, long time and then when I was 18 after finishing school all my brothers and sisters were going for advanced degrees in science and engineering and applied maths and actuary and all this stuff and I just didn't feel drawn in that direction even though my education in high school was physics, applied maths, maths because that's what everybody chemistry, biology, that's what everybody did.
And I sat down at my mother's kitchen table and I said so what is it that you want to do, Brian? And out of nowhere came this thing was like you should heal people with your hands. I was like what? So listening to that deep inner wisdom and to be honest with you, ever since that day, all I've done is listen to that deep inner wisdom. Not only with the big things but with the small things, I've got a great relationship with that inner knowing of what's right to do moment, moment, day by day and the big decisions in life and I've cultivated that and I've listened to that my entire life and that has been my guide. So from that moment on at 18 years later, 58 next month, I have been either studying or working in the field of how do we create health or how do we get in touch with the health and how does the self healing process happen in authentic way? So that's my story of how I came into it.
A: Wow, that is amazing. You know, that speaks to me personally. My grandmother also was treated for schizophrenia and had electroshock therapy in the 1950s and 60s and that affected my mother, that affected me down the line like all of these things reverberate generation after generation. So wow, thank you for sharing that. That's quite like that's quite the event to experience your parent, you know, this person who you're looking up to, who's, you know, your guidance, your protector and to see them breaking down in that way and then notice that the people in his world were not really able to help him.
And so much of what you have learned now could have probably helped him. Do you ever kind of like think about that? Does that sort of like, do you feel that like that there are things now that people are able to do that people know about that they didn't know about back then that would have maybe made a difference?
B: I feel there are things, but I'm not so sure how much they've been integrated at all into the allopathic health system, the conventional health system. The viewpoint, I think is largely the same in terms of how they go about maybe they're not using electric shock therapy, they're using those hardcore drugs and suppressing symptoms and not still looking holistically. So it's still and especially in the field of mental health, it's it's a lot of advancement, but it hasn't really rippled through in terms of, you know, medical practitioners getting into that knowledge and using it in an effective way to just not trained unless they go out of the way to be trained in that way, which often they don't.
A: Yeah, that that's actually really true. I think that these systems that you are versed in and, you know, a couple of them, I'm also versed in there are still fringe, they're still alternative. They're not the mainstream. And, you know, a lot of people, if they don't have access to that kind of alternative information, like all they're going to get is just whatever happens at the ER, what happens at the hospital, right? And that may not always be like you said, addressing the underlying issue. Wow. So thank you, Brian. That's incredible, incredible personal story. And I can really feel how that is, you know, that inner knowing that you connected with as a young man, like how that's still very much like, I guess, moving your life, driving your life of how does how do I listen to moments a moment? What's what's happening in our environment? And then breaking that down to it's not just our environment, like outside our bodies. We have an environment inside our bodies. That's also giving us information. Our peripheral nervous system isn't just sensing the sights and sounds externally. It's also sensing the biochemistry that's going on internally. Would you say a little bit about that, like that internal experience? And sometimes it's like, how do we differentiate? How do we know if this is my perceptual experience that I'm experiencing internally, or if it's something in my environment?
B: Well, you're talking about extraception and interception, and we can throw in their proprioception as well. And this is things that very, very much interest me because that's what makes us human. Our senses, how we take things from the outside, how we use our body in relation to the outside, and how we deeply feel what's happening inside. And the more we can refine these sensory abilities and find joy and pleasure in these sensory abilities, the more whole and human would become. And there's no end to that, how you can improve these sensory abilities, especially the one, the two that's not, that seems to get lost a little bit as we age proprioception and interception. And interception isn't even something that's so much touched on, where you can really listen deeply and travel inside and feel your different organs and your different anatomical parts and getting feedback from that.
And then also in the internal family systems to listen to all those other parts. We'll have trauma or have a story, whatever it is, and to just take the time and deeply listen and feel what's going on within. But to do all that, one must, I must, you must, we almost cultivate this self energy, this S capital self energy. And I'm in India right now, and I'm in a place called Tiruvanamalai, Arunachala. And this is the capital, in my opinion, of self energy. It's the equivalent of Mount Shasta, but Mount Shasta is the theoretical. Arunachala is fire, fire. So, but the whole thing about Arunachala is self, this big S capital self energy, which is this awareness. And often we lead from our smaller self and we identify with that as who we are.
But if we really spend time to unblend from these smaller parts and rest in our S capital self, this spacious, curious one, where in fact, healing takes place. If we can actually find that in whatever way we do find that. And the best way to do that is somatically. For instance, at the end of a somatic lesson or a hanismatic lesson, you might find that you're in this deep place of rest and safety and awareness and this tingling happening all over your body. This is what self energy is, somatic self energy is. And then if you can take that self energy and reference yourself there as the nore seer of everything else and have that awareness and bring the light of that self energy to all those parts, then healing will take place. So in osteopathic medicine, we have something called, they call it cranial osteopathy, but it's not really cranial osteopathy.
It's working with the health and the system. Andrew Taylor still said that any physician can find disease. The purpose of a physician is to find the health. And in the so-called health service today, they're not dealing with health. They don't really know what health is. They're dealing with symptoms and they're dealing with disease. The osteopath's prerogative is to find the health in their patient. And I'm very interested from a somatic point of view, OK, if we can find it in our patient, then why can't we find it in ourselves by this interceptive unblending, moving it to this somatic self energy and feeling the movement of health coming from the stillness of the midline and moving laterally and forward and back to include the bioelectric field and then receding back to the midline. And when we can get in touch with that, we can bring the light of our self energy, the light of the movement of health, because this is actually formula for self-healing or formula for healing, which is actually self healing, because the only authentic healing is self healing.
Nobody heals anybody. I learned that pretty quickly when I started studying osteopathy. We're just creating conditions for the health to show itself. So what is the health when the health moves towards disease? Healing takes place. And here's the thing from our point of view. The more embodied you are, the more you can sort of come into this place of safety and deep rest and relaxation and shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic nervous system, because all development growth can only happen. And spiritual growth for that matter can only happen if we're in this place of deep rest and safety and we've regulated our nervous system. If we want to change things in our musculoskeletal system, in the somatic nervous system, we have to balance the autonomic nervous system. So that's really, really key. So finding, coming into that place of deep rest, cultivating this self energy, working with the health within ourselves and allowing that to meet the places where there is dis-ease and allowing healing to take place. This is what I do with myself on a daily basis.
This is what I teach others how to do, whether it be through my hands, whereas the communication between my hands and my students, I don't call them patients anymore, because what's happening is that I am creating conditions for them to learn something about themselves. So there's a conversation happening between my hands and their nervous systems, communication happening there. So it can be done that way. It can be done. And I work a lot online right now. And I've managed to take Hannah's clinical lessons and made it into clinical lessons online, which is very, very effective. So, yeah, that's sort of how I do it and what I work with.
A: That's amazing. I love there's so much that I could respond to in what you said, you know, talking about that intraception. I recently had an experience of that where I was in, it was actually in a fever state. And I don't know what in the fever state, my body was, you know, very tight and tense. I had aching muscles all over responding to the virus or the illness that I was experiencing. And I started doing just some tapping. I just started tapping my chest, kind of opposite hand on opposite chest and just very gently tapping and rocking my body.
This is just what I felt like I needed in that moment to calm myself because I could feel how, you know, stressed my system was getting, my mind was racing. And I went into like this fever state and during that fever state, I ended up becoming so serenely calm. And I got really specific information from my kidneys. And I mean, talk to me about this like 10 or 15 years ago, I would have thought it sounded like wild and kind of crazy to be like communicating with my kidneys in this way. But I really understand what you mean by that development of our internal perception or intraception of our bodies where that's actually possible. I had that experience of getting information that there was a trauma to my kidneys at one point that had not been fully healed, that I had not fully addressed. Specifically, I had sepsis in 2006, 2016.
And when I look back on that experience, like I didn't really fully take the time to let my body rest and recover. I kind of, as soon as the antibiotics started working, I was like back on my go, go, go, like keep moving and just do, do, do. Right. And so it was very fascinating to have that experience come back to me during this fever state, because that's what I experienced during sepsis was a fever, right. And that was part of that that sparked this memory. But now, you know, after so many years of practicing somatic movement, I had more awareness during the fever to actually sense in to where there was some that needed to be healed, that needed to be addressed. And this was really amazing. It happened just like two months ago, like right after, you know, in the United States Thanksgiving or right before Thanksgiving, right around that time that I had this experience.
So, you know, as you're talking, it's like I can have this living example that I went through. And maybe some of our listeners have had experiences like that where they feel like they're getting really clear information from like one of their organs or from some part of their body. And like, if they don't know that this is a thing, they could think like, I'm just weird. I'm just crazy. I, you know, how am I talking to like my liver? How am I talking to my womb, right? But it's totally possible because we have all these neural connections. Everything is connected within our bodies. And if we can bring that, like you described this capital S self into our internal awareness. And I mean, my personal belief is that it's always there. It's just about how much we're using it, like how much we're using those pathways, right?
B: Well, also it's like, can we actually shift our reference point to that place of awareness? And that's our identity rather than, you know, the other parts. So this is I am awareness. I am, you know, just being this, bring that awareness, that being this and the qualities of that, which is health and compassion and curiosity. As that is a reference point to look at the other parts, whether it be emotional parts or physical parts or organs or whatever it is, disease process and then just let it meet. And with the light of that awareness, maybe a conversation will happen. And that's very possible. And it happens, that's what our internal family systems is about, that conversation happens with the parts inside.
And then we can unburden from these beliefs that we have that perhaps aren't so healthy and integrate back into the system and more wholeness and the life changes because we've addressed something so fundamental and we've done it through an authentic way of self healing rather than somebody fixing us or a therapist fixing us or just talking about stuff. No, it's a self led therapy. In the same way that, you know, any authentic healing system is creating conditions for the student to heal themselves. Even it's not implicit, it's explicit, but that's really what's going on all the time. And it's such a joy to refine these senses and the pleasure of being able to move in the way that we do with such awareness and the joy that can bring into just to know that I'm alive right now and I'm breathing and I'm sensing.
We constantly seem to look for pleasure, pleasure, pleasure, which is the natural thing of a Soma, but to do it, if we can just do it with what we've got rather than trying to add more and more in the way that we may, you know, just watch TV a lot or drink a lot of alcohol and so forth like that. There's so much pleasure to be gotten with what we've got of just that deep appreciation that we are alive and our senses are functioning and if you can refine those senses and that internal awareness, then we just sort of become happy out, as they say in Ireland, we become more happy in our world and within ourselves, within our skin.
And we don't need so much external stimuli because we just have so much pleasure from just finding our way to our own nervous system and their own sensory capacities and capabilities.
A: Yeah, you know, I often describe it for my clients as you're gonna increase your capacity for joy, to feel joy in your body without needing anything else from anybody or something external, right? And when you think about like, you know, capacity, it's like how much can you hold? Well, then it's also if you could imagine like, you know, there are nervous system reaching out into all these different areas of our body and you know, say we're contracted, we're tight, we're not in our body, we're stuck in our emotions, we're stuck in our head, we're not actually, we don't have that much space internally.
Every, all of the energy is just kind of bundled up into one area and what you're speaking to is about being able to start moving that energy out from the midline, you know, in energetically moving it through our bodies to connect to the larger framework that exists inside of us. And that is literally increasing a capacity to feel, to feel what's going on internally, but also to sense, you know, the air against your skin, the colors around you, your environment too, and be able to take in that sensory information. And again, like going back to this idea that you mentioned before about feeling kind of safe within ourselves, feeling confident within ourselves, and that that happens when we are self-sustaining, right?
That when we are self-regulated, if you, you know, if someone is missing something, they think they're missing something and they think it's out there, right? And it's something really important to their wellbeing. Like that's not gonna make them feel very safe, they feel without, right? And so they're gonna go searching, they're gonna go looking outside themselves for that thing that they're missing, right? That vital thing that's gonna keep them alive, that's gonna, you know, give them that feedback that they exist maybe, right? But when we start to work with realizing that it's actually inside of us, this self-healing path that you're speaking of, where we're not like expecting someone else to fix us, but coming to the realization that there are conditions that you're describing need to be created, and then that process is actually natural to our bodies, is natural to our human, humaneness, right?
B: Yes, so all self-healing is happening all the time, the same forces that are at work that bends a broken bone, bends a broken heart. The question is, what are those forces? Where are those forces? How can we access them? And how can we enhance that in a very gentle forgiving way? And how can we just shift, as I keep saying, our identity to that as a reference point of who we are? And when you start hanging out in that place and making a habit of coming back to, oh, wait a second, this spacious loving awareness, that is actually who I am. Let's just sit in that as shifting my identity to that for a moment.
And within that, there's no greater joy than the experience of that. And no matter what's going on, as long as we're in this place of safety and security and otherwise it can happen, we can't make that shift. But we're in that place of safety and security. We've made that shift to deep rest. And we've shifted our identity then to, I am the one who's aware. That place is deeply joyful. And to do it in an embodied way, rather than a way which often people do here, is that what I speak of just now is very conceptual. It's not embodied. And then that leads to big, big problems. It's a huge spiritual bypass. So how do you find this self energy? How do you embody this self energy, this joy, this deep knowing that I am alive and all is well and in that place of safety, rather than just as a belief or a concept? Because I've seen people here, they've just taken the idea, actually the whole thing is here, I'm not the body, I am pure consciousness. They run that for a while.
And I've seen them literally go crazy and kill themselves, literally. That's, it's a very, very dangerous path. It's an incomplete teaching because we're not looking at the whole picture here, which is this relative world and this human body in relation to this relative world. And that's what's beautiful about semantics. It goes spirit, mind, body, environment. How does it all work together? And where am I in all of this? And how does healing take place? And when you start taking that holistic, truly holistic viewpoint, we are made of spirit, this energy, this self-energy. The body is alive because of the spirit and within the body, all that anatomical growth stuff, there's also emotions going on. And let's have a look at that with that same self-energy. So I shifted from this concept very quickly, that I'm pure consciousness and the world is just an illusion because it just wasn't working.
And I just seen so many people just messing up their lives. I thought, wait a second. And back in 2000, I got hold of Hannah's book here, actually, in Turavanamalai. And I just took it out. I got the first lesson and he said, okay, you got to do this really slowly. You got to be really aware. Excuse me.
A: Oh, I laughed because I love how he's talking about this. It's great. Yeah.
B: So I lay down, not far from here, about five kilometers. This is like 20 to 23 years ago. And I started like, and I had this, I was a very sort of go-go green light guy all throughout my whatever, for the longest time, probably still down. So I had this sort of lordosis in my back. An osteopathic school, they're like, oh, you've got a hyperlumbar lordosis. And what are we going to do about that? And I'm like, nothing worked because they weren't addressing the nervous system.
So anyway, I wasn't thinking about curing or fixing anything. I was just thinking like, what is this guy saying? I'm just going to do it. So I started rolling my pelvis to this gentle arch and flatten really slowly, noticing how I was doing it, how it rippled up through the whole of my body into my head. It's like curious about it, not trying to achieve anything. I thought, oh, that was interesting. Got up on my motorbike and my posture completely changed. And my back came to this neutral position. I was like, wait a minute, what the fuck happened there? So I swear to God, I said, right, I don't know who this guy is, but I'm going off to the States. I'm going to study this stuff. And I got there a year later from India.
I actually, I went back to Ireland and I, you know, living in India, you weren't making a lot of money back in those days. And my sister's a journalist for the Irish Times. And I said, listen, can you do me a favor? So she wrote this article about Hanismatics. And I teach because I started teaching the whole myth of aging workshops in Buddhist monasteries in India and all over the shop. So I really got it down, getting great results. So my sister, I said, look, can you get me a newspaper article? So she had this, her, the science editor interview me. I filled up three workshops, got all my fees for the Hanismatic training and for my flights, arrived over in the States, got there and I met this lady who was in the time they were teaching in the Nevada days in and I said, who are you? And she said, I'm Eleanor Chris Wilhanna.
And she said, who are you? I said, I'm Brian Siddharth Engel. And I said, Eleanor, I think I've got a destiny with this work. And she said, I think you're right. And she was right. And so was I. And I became her somatic knight. And I ended up teaching and setting up my own institute. And I've worked for 10 years in Russia and Ukraine and Belarus and India and Northern Europe and teaching and spreading this work and developing it and integrating it and bringing my own osteopathic insights and so forth. So without that arch and flattened business that I did 22 years ago, seven kilometers of the road here and the effect that had to me, my life would have been completely different. And the thing is when you start getting into this work and all I find this with all my students, they come and go, oh, you might be coming here because you want to feel better and you want to help people. But your thinking process is going to change. And your decision process is going to change.
And your life path is going to change because you're working with something that's so fundamental to you and to all of us, which is movement. A lot of what we do even is all around movement. So if we're getting to the very core of that with such delicate movement, with such awareness, it's going to change everything. It's going to change your thinking, your decision-making process, who we are, identity, getting to the sense of, wow, well, where is the life force? And who is that me? And maybe I'm not this and OK, let's the whole the thinking shifts. Everything changes. That's what happened to me. And that's what happens to all my many, many students.
A: Yeah, I can attest to that. I had a fellow that I worked with him twice a week for five weeks. It was a kind of a fairly intense and he was having a lot of anxiety. And at the end of like that five weeks, he was like, hey, you know, I'm not going to be able to continue to work with you because I've quit my job and I'm moving my whole family to like a different city. Because he realized during that process of getting more in touch with his body and more in touch with himself, how much he didn't like his job and he didn't want to be doing what he was doing and he wanted to be doing something else and that he needed to prioritize his health and well-being.
And that was not even like something that he came into the somatic work thinking about at all, but that's what arose for him. And I was I was like, yeah, that makes sense to me. You got in touch with what's really true inside your body and you felt into what you really need and there's no turning back. Like once you know, you have to you. There's no ignoring that information, right? I love that story about the arch and flattening because it is really powerful. My mother, she doesn't do a lot of somatics, but she does that one every day because she says, I notice when I don't do it, you know, and it can really fundamentally shift things. So yeah, amazing story. I love Eleanor. I was trained at the Nevada Institute, too. So it's really sweet. I, you know, the days in someone came from England, actually, and was talking about arriving there for the first time.
And they're like, so I arrived here at this days in and it's an incredibly magical thing taking place. This like really like life changing, totally transformational stuff at this like days in that was built in like the 80s or something with like funky carpet, you know, and there's people there just just completely transforming their bodies and consciousness, you know, from these tiny little movements that seem like almost nothing. If you know, you're used to exercise, right? So.
B: Yeah, you know what? I was so impressed with that whole process in Eleanor. I saw you, I said, Eleanor, I'm going to just follow you around for a year. And I'm going to go to Sonoma State University and enroll all the classes that you're doing. And I'm going to go teach with you the psychology yoga and she spent. OK. So I just followed around for a year in her PhD program, Sonoma State, by feedback, psychology department. I was just her like this shadow for a year. And I still communicate with her regularly and share what's going on in my life and professional development, and she just tweaks a little bit, you know, my thinking and then I just go off on this thing that I'm doing. So she's been a great mentor and it's been a beautiful connection throughout the last 20, 20 years or longer. Yeah.
A: Oh, you know, and I took her somatic yoga training and that was really transformational for me because my background was in yoga and I was specifically into hot bickering yoga. That was the yoga idea. discovered was my doorway into shifting my consciousness. And that's very, very forceful, very mind over matter. That's kind of aligned with what you were saying earlier about, I am not my body, I can just make my body do things. I am this consciousness that is so much more powerful over my body. And that is a, that is like a legitimate philosophy that you just spoke to that exists in India exists within the framework of some yoga practices.
And it is about denying our bodies and controlling them versus being fully inhabited and and easing sensitively into them. Right. And so I came from that background too of just like make myself do things and that there was pride in that that that proved that I had power because look, I could make myself do this thing that I didn't want to, right, that I could force myself into this shape, you know, that, and I could endure this, this pain and this suffering, right. But I look back on all of that now as as my consciousness has shifted through, you know, these little micro movements, this tender work of somatic movement, right. And I think like, wow, how will I kind of SNM was that kind of forcing myself and trying to find, you know, pleasure only in my own suffering, you know, because I didn't actually know how to come out of it.
So I had to find some kind of pleasure in it. Which is like this, you know, kind of twisted thing, it's sort of, it's, it's not really congruent. It's like you're in this struggle with yourself. When you're having to go to that job, or do that thing or be in that relationship that doesn't actually feel true and resonant to you that you're inner knowing is like fighting you as you are physically, mentally, forcing yourself, right. And that's just so the opposite of what we do in somatics that I think a lot of people, if they're still stuck in kind of that framework of like, I got to make myself do this, it kind of it'll still work, but it doesn't really like get into you the same way as when you surrender that sense of needing to control, right.
B: You know, when I, when I left Ireland, before I started osteopathy, I joined this meditation community. And it really was authentic yoga. We were practicing four hours a day, but there was only 10 minutes, 20 minutes out of those four hours that was physical asna, we got into asana, then pranayama, then meditation, then we worked with Patanjali sutras internally. And then we listened to the samaveda, the chanting of the samaveda, and then we read the Rig Veda. And we did this twice a day, and it's still going on. And the purpose of the work was to bring coherence to world consciousness, that if there was a small group of people dedicated to finding this self within themselves to this deep yogic practice, where the in the West.
So when I started out, I was in my early 20s, spent four years in this community really diving in. But it wasn't enough for me because the embodiment thing wasn't there. And then the osteopathy thing, it was a very structural approach. And the functional approach wasn't really taught so well, and certainly not again, the embodied approach. And when I got to Nevada, and I opened up Tom Hanne's book, then I really started getting a sense of how the self healing mechanism takes place through working functionally and improving self use and improving the function of the nervous system, which changed the structure, because structure and function are very much interrelated. And often body workers work, try to change things on the outside structurally to affect function. But if we improve function and be clear, function is self use, and the function of the nervous system, if we improve the function of the nervous system, if we improve how we use ourselves, the structure changes. And that's what happened to me with that arch and flatten movement.
I was improving how I move my spine in the way that I did, I was sensing it, I was improving the function of my nervous system. And lo and behold, the structure changed. The low back just went a little bit more flat and the whole posture changed. So I really got that teaching that structure and function are intimately related, and how to improve function all on your own. That was a huge aha for me. And I've just followed that thread up until today. And it's been an incredible journey, I got to say.
A: Yeah. So you were mentioning before we started how you've been integrating this work in the water, right, like the hands on well, actually, you know what I want to speak to is the thing you said earlier right in the beginning about this message that you got about healing people with your hands, and how maybe at that time when you were 18, that seemed kind of, you know, bizarre. But then now it like makes total sense that that was the path in life and that there there are these ways, right, to actually create the environment for change.
And, you know, what I've noticed is that when I'm being skillfully handled, you know, we use this other word manipulate that has like a negative connotation, but really it's skillfully handled by a practitioner who's really listening in the way that as Hannah Sematic educators were really trained to listen to the other person's body. There's a shift in my nervous system because I'm feeling not only the nervous system of the practitioner and the level of calm that they have created in their body, but I'm also feeling like fully heard, like on a very intimate level, right, that as someone is moving my leg, and they're not just moving it to try to fix it or, you know, change it, but they're moving it just to feel it, they're moving it just to listen.
This is so therapeutic. This is that kind of space and environment that you were speaking of that healing takes place when I'm being like listened to and heard by the practitioner on that level. And so when I'm thinking about what you're saying about healing people with your hands, it's not this like lane of hands thing that people imagine it where like there's some magical, you know, blue light that comes out of your hands and like changes people, right? But it's actually a communication. It's a conversation between your nervous system, your awareness, and the other persons. And this on its own is deeply therapeutic because it reminds their nervous system of what's possible. It's like a remembering rather than like a transmission.
Does that make sense? Like it's not like you're telling their body, oh, this is how it is. It's like their body's remembering that co regulation that perhaps the last time they fully experienced it might have been in the womb, right, or as a small child of that relationship between a deep listening that's going on on a on a energetic and also biochemical level, which you say a little something about that kind of listening and then what Yes.
B: Well, there's many different levels of that. There's a listening. And then there's a deeper thing that can happen where there's a conversation happening coming out of that listening. And in that conversation, there is a learning process taking place. Now, you talked, you mentioned that I taken my work into the water. I'm love the water. I'm a surfer guy. I was born in the island of Ireland. I'm all the time hunting for good waves. And I if I'm not in the sea, then I must have a hot bath and then a cold bath. I'm all about the water. So to bring the work into the water is very natural to me. So I trained in all these other aqua body styles. But it for me, it was still just sort of moving people around and the listening element wasn't there.
So when I'd finished all my trainings, then I had finally got a pool to work with and practice because often get these warm pools are hard to come across. I start to develop my skill and my art. And I actually called it soma aqua. And what I do what is a deep the word you're looking for, I think, or the word that I want to use here is resonance. When you when the person in your arms in the water, first of all, the water such an incredible medium, I mean, 80% of us are water, we were in the womb, we were surrounded by water, maybe if we think of evolutionary, we came out of the sea and so forth. So if the person is in the water, and they're being handled in a way where they feel safe, you know, 90% of the work is done already. So then if you can continue that work in that war warm water, foot floats on and they're just resting back. And you start the conversation with your hands.
And it's as you're right, it's not a heating that was an idea I had when I was when I was younger, but I realized what I really was going to do was use my hands to help as to help others heal themselves. And the way I use my hands is to have a conversation with them and their nervous system. And is a teaching sort of thing. But what sort of happened with the water work is that we started going to a much deeper level of this listening and this resonance, where I would take someone in my arms, I would start the whole process. And I could feel these images would come to me and some story would come to me and I realized, Oh, I'm a conjugate here for this thing in their lives. And I would take on this role and they would lean into that. And the session would be about that thing where they had that missing piece in some way in terms of relationship, it could be a father thing, it could be a lover thing, it could be something else. And I come in with this strong presence and this deep listening where they feel totally seen and heard. And they go on this journey, which is not just movement.
And it's very it's all movement where I'm moving them and they're not moving. So it's always sensory input. And they're being held by the water. They're being held by my hands. And they're so safe. And they're going to this deep, deep relaxation into this deep parasympathetic rest and trust and safety and polyvagal myelinated vagus nerve, etc, etc. And with that, there's a whole process takes place. It happens not only on a physical level, but on an imagery level. And they go through it and I am with them. And I'm feeling what they're feeling. I'm working with that and we're communicating in this way with no words through my hands, and with this deep place of trust and safety. And that was like, wow, and every single person that I've worked with, without fail, when I take them out of my arms, I place their back against the pool.
They're like, they open their eyes and they go, What the fuck was that? Or something? You know, like every time it's extraordinary. So it's a big passion of mine to work in the water and to bring the somatic deep listening into the water and to have that conversation in the way that I've just described.
A: That's so inspiring to me. I love it. I feel like what you're describing, I feel like I've just touched kind of the edges of that kind of communication. And to be totally honest, like the first times that I experienced, you know, it's interesting because people are more aware of this term, you know, projection where someone is like, you know, projecting some image that they have in their mind or some memory or some persona onto like someone else. And we generally regard this, I would say, like, as not a good thing, it's bad. But what you just described is actually very intimate and beautiful, where you allow that projection to actually take place, you go with it instead of against it, but you do it in this artful way, where it's actually therapeutic, and you're not, you know, simply like receptacle to be like projected upon, but you're actually engaged with it in a beautiful way.
Yeah. And that's that's really mind blowing for me, because when I was younger, and I was doing body work with people, I would pick up on stories, I would feel that, you know, sometimes from the person it might be like a sexual energy of somewhere, some kind of wounding in them that existed and some, you know, something they were projecting onto me as being, you know, like this person they were going to fall in love with or going to be intimate with. And it would scare me, I would not know how to handle that energy when it would come. And I would feel this sense of needing to like light some sage and protect myself and all these things. Or, you know, I had this really crazy experience when I was working with, and this is before I officially started becoming a somatic educator, but I was already kind of doing it because I was practicing it, right?
And I was working with this guy who was just so tense. And everybody around him was like, he needs some work like help him. And so I ended up doing some work with his neck. And I got right to the base of his skull. And it was like my eyes were open, but I had this very strong image right in front of my face of like a screaming woman. And it was this very intense energy. And I had no idea what it was. Part of me was like, is that like a ghost? Was that a banshee? Was that a past life experience of his? Like my mind was trying to make sense of what it was. And I just very calmly like said, you know, in my mind's eye to this, you know, the sage, I was like, I see you. And I don't need to communicate with you. And then she vanished.
But when you're talking about this way of being able to be fully present to those energies as they come and not be, you know, on guard or afraid, but work with them, that's very inspiring to me. Because that's maybe the place I'm headed in my practice of being able to transmute and work with those energies instead of feel like I need to, you know, put up some kind of energetic barrier. Would you say anything about that?
B: It's an interesting one. Because some of my students ask me, so how do you protect yourself from people's energy? And, you know, what I've been thinking recently is, well, how do you protect your student from your energy? It's a fair question. So the answer is, how do you how do let's ask the second question first, how does the student or the client get protected from your energy? Is that you're in this neutral place, you're settled, you're calm, you're present, you're not trying to achieve anything, you're not goal oriented, you're just present to the process.
And they get this thing of co regulation, they can feel that. So the more self embodied self energy that you have going on. The more sure you are in yourself and who you are and what you're about and holding that space of gentle compassion, openness, then you're not going to take it on and they won't take any savant from you because you're not, you've got no agenda and you've got, it's just spacious openness, kindness, heartfelt fields. So if you want to be a good therapist or somatic educator, you have to develop that, loads of that.
And to develop loads of that, I feel has to be done through embodied movement or through some embodied meditation and not just some idea. Now some of us are more naturally inclined to that holding that space, you know, or some people resonate with more with other people just quite naturally, you know, you sit beside somebody like, oh, I like this energy, I like this space, there's something calming about it. So if you can regulate, self-regulate your own system and be in that space and somebody comes into your arms in water and you're holding them and they lean into that, it's incredible what can take place in the way that we were just talking about right now.
So that's in my opinion, how you deal with that one. But it's not an easy thing to do for some of us because they haven't developed enough of that somatic self-energy, if you get my drift.
A: Yeah, no, and flipping it like that is really potent because in a lot of cases, you know, I'd say 99.9%, if you're the practitioner, you are actually leading and your energy is sort of, in a way, it's potentially kind of dominant in the space because the other person is on the receiving end of your handling or your method or your energy. So that's actually extremely important to notice, like, how is my energy going to affect that? Thinking about it the other way around.
Exactly. That's the question. I'd go as far as to say thinking about the other way around of like, I need to protect myself is really just a sign that you're not regulated fully within yourself, that you're not actually maintaining that and developing that calm.
B: So I work online, I teach and I work in the water, but when I work here, actually in this room, which I'll be doing tomorrow, I've come here to see a whole lot of clients, and especially with this mountain at my back called Arunachala, which is just radiating this self-energy that's coming from the outside in and the inside out, there's no escaping it. You're in the flow state here. If you're anyway sensitive, you just feel like you're in deep something or other all day long, 24 hours a day. So I'm resting in that space of this mountain.
I know it sounds crazy, but hey, it's a bit like Close Encounters. Have you seen that movie? I swear to God, it's like that. We're all like, where's the mountain? Build a mountain? It's just like that. Everybody's crazy about the mountain here. It's like a science fiction movie. Cracking myself up. Anyway, you get it. I've got my Felding Christ tape here. I put it out to we plant combs. And generally how I start is like, how are you doing? Like, what's going on? There's crazy stories you hear people in India and what's going on in their life and why they're here and who the guru is and where they're at. So I built up this rapport.
I'm really honestly, I'm really interested and it's a really important part of the session for me. So we built up this trust, this rapport, this honesty, God curiosity, where it's almost like we become friends by the end of the hour or an hour and a half, whatever it is. So then I get them on the table and we start this process. And for me, as a practitioner, it is like just resting in meditation as I quietly move around the table. And I quietly place my hands and listen to their system and see what their system is saying. And a plan starts to emerge. And we start going through something to make changes. And the two of us are in this dance of this mountain at my back, which is the orchestra of self energy. And I come out of it. It's like, wow.
For me, as an educator, it just feels too good. It feels like a deep, meaningful meditation with another person where you're connected and they seem seen and heard in such a gentle way. And I feel privileged that they've actually come to my door and asked for help in the way that I can help them in this way that I'm describing. So it's phenomenal to have a profession which involves that, which I've just spoken about.
A: Yeah. And the way that you described earlier of cultivating that joy that is self-created and being able to feel that, I guess, the satisfaction of truly helping someone on a deep level like that. I mean, that's what has shifted me into doing this work full time and not as a side gig or something that, you know, it is a yoga teacher where it's like, no, this is really what I want to spend my time doing is this kind of intimate work. And speaking with you today is so inspiring because you've been doing this quite a bit longer than I have. And you've been developing this sense of calm in your nervous system. I mean, maybe our listeners can even feel it when they're listening to the sound of your voice and the way that you're speaking.
I know that I can feel the shift in my consciousness talking to you because, again, it's that communication of what you are holding and this self-capital S that you have cultivated is radiating from you. And that's so wonderful. It's so beautiful. We want to create more humans in the world that are radiating that kind of presence. You know, and I think that when people get a taste of it, that's what they want to that's how they want to live. That's what they want to be is they want to be embodied when they get a taste for it. It's like, oh, that's what I've been looking for this whole time. That's what I've been missing in my life is this deep internal peace. You know, I had a client just the other day and we've only done like two sessions, but she can feel this huge shifting going on, you know, in the place that it's showing up for her is her womb.
And I think that that's a really fascinating, powerful place for that to be showing up in this woman because that's this space of creation. It's like, so I hear that from her and I'm excited. I'm really excited for her of what's going to come of doing more of this work. It's like, what is she going to create? How is she going to radiate her true nature, her true power out into like the rest of the world? So thank you for sharing about your process. That's incredible. Like I'm like, wow, how do I get to India and do a session with you?
B: Well, honestly, the stuff I'm doing online is very, very effective too, because self energy is not limited to just where you are. If you're in connection with another person, I have very profound effects working with people online too. So yeah, you could try me out that way and but yeah, come you've been to India. I know you haven't been to Tiruvannamalai though. This is the real deal spiritual spot. You know, and a lot of them are just sort of like Hollywood spiritual spots, but this is the real deal. Some very, very beautiful people here hanging out with open hearts and yeah, it's a nice place.
A: Yeah, I really wanted to go to Pondicherry. It was on my to-do list, but I went there at the time of a hurricane. There was a big hurricane, so I wasn't able to go because I was there at that time.
B: But just to be clear, I'm in Tiruvannamalai right now, which is two hours inland, this holy mountain Arunachala. I've just arrived here from Pondicherry. Gold spiritual spots, but this is the Shiva energy right here. Sweet.
A: Yeah, I'd really love to come back to India and spend some time there as, you know, I'm not in the seeking part of my journey as much anymore. It's more just like letting life discover me.
B: Absolutely. Absolutely. That's the way forward for sure.
A: Beautiful. Maybe you can close with just telling us a little bit about how you see this work, like on a larger scale, like if you kind of macro out into what you see in the last 20-some years, you know, more awareness, more people becoming aware of semantics, whether it's anti-sematics or some other kind of somatic work. What do you kind of envision that this is doing for humanity?
B: You know, I think that this work has always been around, whether it's been like shamans working at the edge of the forest and so forth and all the traditional cultures in the world. It's just, it's become a little bit more, there's a lot more science behind it now, which is making it more believable to the mainstream and accessible because it's becoming very popular. I mean, you know, it wasn't a thing at all when I started. Just people didn't know anything about what that was and how it worked. And it's just expanded extraordinary.
I mean, I was, I've been hosting the Sematic Movement Summit for the last three years with the Schiff network, and we were getting like 50,000, 60,000 people signing up to watch that summit. You know, it's phenomenal and the online work has really helped it move forward because it's incredibly effective to teach this online much more so than any other movement therapy, including yoga because it's, they don't even feel like they're online because you're just directing them through experience and it's more like them listening rather than watching. So it's highly effective. It's spreading and it's, it works and people are coming home to themselves. It's not a crazy thing. It's just coming back to how we were when we were babies and just young children and how we played and moved and used our bodies a way to learn.
And it's just that we've been educated out of that bodily experience into our cerebral thinking mind. And like as Tom Hanna says, how do we pay our mortgage and our bills? And it's become that and the joy of living and being human and listening to our bodies and playing. It's all taken a backseat and people are just, you know, there's a lot of problems out there. There's a lot of problems in terms of so many people in pain and discomfort. And this is the generation that you're in. There's so much anxiety and weird body image stuff and it's gone crazy. There's so much suffering. The first word of the Buddha, Dukasamsara, it's just everywhere. Life is inherently uncomfortable. But the antidote to that is really coming back to our nature, which is just sensing, feeling, honing down our senses that makes us human and resting in that as a place of joy and then co-regulating and just sharing that sense of peace and joy with others.
And I promise you, if you want to get on a spiritual path, if you want to know the reason why you're here, it's from a spiritual point of view or from a human point of view, is to help other people. That is the key to all of it. And if you find a system that really helps other people, and this work really does because it's helping them to help themselves, then you'll find joy in yourself. So it's happening, it's working, it's expanding, we're all on the same boat and we'll, yeah, it's good.
A: Yes, and that's service. That is something that I will notice every time that I do somatic work with people. And like you said, it's so effective online. In fact, I think the Hannah Somatic Educator Training is now purely online. They're not doing in-person work anymore for COVID reasons, that's what I've heard at least. But it's so effective online because you're actually having the person on the other side of the screen make the changes and that you are facilitating the method by which they will make these changes, but that they're actually doing the work.
And that's really wonderful. I actually love that element because it makes it really clear, because sometimes I'll do a session with someone and even though I explain to them that your body's making the changes because I'm touching them and because I'm there holding this space, they think it's me, right? And when we're over a screen and they're 253,000 miles away from me, it's very clear to them that like they did it, that they actually created these changes. And yeah, that bigger picture of fulfillment through service and having something that actually does make the changes that people are seeking, that people are wanting in their being.
That speaks to me a lot too because it's what I'm missing when I'm self-involved, when I'm stuck in my own thoughts and how do I pay the mortgage, that's what's missing is that feeling of fulfillment of like, oh, the bigger picture here is how do I help other people? How do I help my child? How do I connect with my husband and hear about whatever's going on with him? Like even in those little micro ways, and then the bigger picture of like how am I making a difference in the world? So thank you for reflecting all of that. I have very much enjoyed this conversation with you today. I would love to have you back on the show. Any closing words you want to tell our audience where they could find more of your work and connect with you? Sure.
B: You can go to my website which is called livingsomatic.com and you can just sort of shoot a mail there. My email address is livingsomatic.com. If you just want to reach out to me personally and work with me in whatever capacity whether that be with somatic internally family systems or the somatic embodied work movement sort of stuff online. I do professional trainings also online too and look at my website. Yeah, pleasure to be of service. Wonderful.
A: Well, thank you so much and thanks for again taking this call. It's like what time was it in India right now?
B: Like 11 o'clock at night.
A: Thank you so much. It's 9 30 am here so I'm going to go start my day just as you're closing yours down. Okay. Again, it was just absolutely amazing to speak with you. My pleasure. Thank you so much.
You've been listening to the free your soma podcast to find out more information about today's guest. Check the show notes and to find out more information about me, Amy Takaya and the radiance program visit www.freeyoursoma.com