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EP50 - Science, Somatics and the Future of Mind-Body Research with Dr. Gabriel Posner





The burgeoning field of Somatics offers a rich and beautiful array of modalities and experiences that give insight into issues such as: pain, memories, trauma, joy, and our human consciousness.


Gabriel Posner has been dedicated to the field of somatics since his mid-twenties, when he discovered Hanna Somatics and experienced profound relief from his chronic pain and health challenges.


He recently completed one of the few published scientific studies on Hanna Somatic Education and it is his mission to see many more studies be conducted in order to build awareness about this little-known, but life-changing modality.


In this insightful episode, we discuss:


-His personal journey out of confusion and pain his path to healing

-The scientific model that was used in his study

-The Numerous Benefits of Somatic Education and Building Neural Connections

-Building a New Relationship to Our Body Sensations

-Qualitative VS Quantitative Evidence and Measuring Experience

-Movement as Medicine and Particularly Motor-Sensory Re-Education


and so much more!


Gabriel Posner is the current president of the Association for Hanna Somatic Education (AHSE) as well as the Director of Research.


He operates a private practice in Denver, Colorado, and trains practitioners and movement teachers with Essential Somatics. Gabriel has published articles for Somatics: Magazine-Journal of the Bodily Arts and Sciences.


He has also presented at Movementis: Movement and Cognition conference and numerous Annual Conventions for the AHSE.



Tik Tok: Soma_to_soma


and visit www.Essentialsomatics.com for info about training.



LISTEN WHILE READING!


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.


A: Hello and welcome to Free Your Soma, Stories of Somatic Awakening, and How to Live from the Inside Out. Today I have Gabriel Posner, who is a Hannah Somatic educator. He is a registered somatic movement therapist through Ismetta. He is also the president and director of research for the Association of Hannah Somatic Education. He has a doctorate in mind-binding medicine.


Today we will talk not only about his personal journey and discovery of somatics and specifically Hannah Somatics, but also the incredible research he has been able to be involved in over the last few years, which is pretty groundbreaking considering that, one, this method is not widely known, and two, there is very little research that is out there that demonstrates what this method can do. So I am very excited to chat with you today to share your story and share what you have been up to with people.

G: Yeah, great. I am very excited to be here with you and to talk with you.


A: Absolutely, yes. So tell everybody a little bit about yourself, where you are coming from and how did you start in this specific field of interest?


G: Yeah, so I live in Denver and I have a prior practice here in Denver and practice primarily Hannah Somatic Education and work primarily with chronic musculoskeletal issues, lingering trauma, lingering injuries. So that is a lot of what I do, but I also have been branching out and have been doing training.


So I have been working with Martha Peterson in Essentials Somatics, training a new batch, new crops of Somatic educators to be both Somatic movement teachers to do group classes, as well as training clinical practitioners. I love working with students, I love working with practitioners and training them and sharing what I know at that level. And then I went back to school, I was teaching at a massage school for a while, and I decided to go back to school because I wanted to get more involved in research because as you say, there isn't much there.


So I wanted to help to create that baseline ground-level research for the work that we're doing. So I went back to school and I got my doctorate in mind-body medicine and was able to do my dissertation specifically on Hannah Somatic Education, documenting what we do, how we do it, does it looks like what Hannah talked about back in the 1990s. So I really enjoyed that process and have since picked up a contract with the Association for Hannah Somatic Education to develop more research projects so we can figure out more of what we're doing and really just expedite that process that's already started.


A: Yes, because that will mean quite a bit for Hannah Somatic educators and also for exposure for people to start knowing about this way of moving, to know about this modality, and also for potentially over time for Hannah Somatic educators to be recognized by insurance companies, to be recognized by the general public as a legitimate form of therapy that can really, really help people. Because I mean, both you and I know this can really, really help people, but most of the time when I tell people I'm a Hannah Somatic educator, it doesn't really mean anything to them. It's not like being a yoga teacher, a massage therapist, or something. Yeah.


G: And it's one thing to say, this really works. Talk to that person over there. They'll tell you it really works. And that can be really useful for a lot of people, but other people, they really want to see the data. And as you said, insurance companies really, really, really want to see the data. So I think this is a really important thing for us to be doing. And I think it would help us as Somatic educators to document what we're doing and also to learn, are we doing exactly what we think we're doing? Or is it better?


Is it worse? Like what numbers do we get when we look at? Larger populations of people doing Somatic work. When we look at it objectively, you know, it does it line up with our perception of the results we're having with our clients or not? And therefore that will help us, I think, make it even more effective and even more, even better, do better what we're doing. So I like to think that we haven't solidified exactly what this work is, but there's still a lot of room for growth and development and figuring out how to make it more effective, more efficient.


A: Yes, that's a wonderful point. I think that it's still in some ways, even when I'm practicing this method myself or when I'm working with certain clients, there's this element of mystery because it's working or working with someone's nervous system and everybody's nervous system is so individual and how they respond to things.


While in some ways with Hannah Somatics, you know, we're following a very kind of specific formula in a way of like how to go about this. But at the same time, the individual variation of what this person is requiring and how I'm going to show up and meet that, all of that like is kind of an instinctive moment-to-moment collaboration, right?


G: It's so exciting, right? Improvisation. That was one of the things that came across loud and clear when I was doing my dissertation because I documented, I observed basically four different practitioners who were trained at four different periods of time, working with a client for three sessions and I interviewed the clients, I interviewed the educator practitioner and talked a lot about improvisation, that idea that, yes, you show up with this toolbox, this set of principles and these clinical protocols that Thomas Hannah and the then the session just evolves because you're working with an actual person, an actual soma in that moment.


And from week to week, they're different and throughout the session, things will evolve that will lead you down a different path than maybe what you were expecting to do when they came in. Yes.


A: Okay. So I would love to get deeper into this because I have some specific questions about the way this research kind of panned out, but let's back up just a little bit and I would love to hear first, how did you get into Hannah's somatics? What's kind of your origin story around this work? Sure.


G: Yeah. I was very fortunate to find this work, I would say because I was in a really rough spot in my early twenties. I was finishing up training and massage therapy and really couldn't do more than like four or five sessions a week without feeling like completely broken or, to put it differently, I was feeling completely broken and was maxing out at doing like four or five sessions a week and I was really struggling to figure out like how I was going to continue this career that I was really excited about, struggling how to unwind and resolve the issues that are manifesting, primarily manifesting like physically, I was having a lot of like muscle spasms, but then other sorts of symptoms of chronic stress.


I was having digestive issues. I had asthma, a lot of things that I had that had just become the water I swam in. I didn't really realize were issues until they were resolved until I realized that, oh, this is how a normal digestive system could function. This is how I could feel to run a mile on a track once I was breathing nicely. So fortunately, the husband of an ascetician, I worked with at the spa where I started my practice. She connected me with him and he connected me with the somatic book.


He was going through the training at the Novato Institute and I read the book. I did the movements in the back and I started to feel better. It was feeling somewhat miraculous. And then I continued to do it and then I went to the training at Novato to learn how to use it, and how to work with people using the techniques. So I feel so lucky that I was able to find that. I was 24 feeling like a lot of seven-year-olds feel.


A: Yeah, wow. I had a similar experience in being in my 20s and I was a yoga teacher and I was very enthusiastic about it. I was super passionate about yoga and yet at the same time I was in chronic pain and I had all kinds of physical issues going on that I couldn't seem to get my yoga practice to change for me. Right.


And what you're saying is so true when you have this. Yeah, I think you described it as like what you were swimming in when this is like kind of your reality. You're not aware of how much it's impacting you or that there is even an alternative way of experiencing your body until things start to like shift a little bit, until you experience, you know, your lower back releasing and lengthening. You go, oh, wow, it doesn't actually have to be tight and cramping all the time.


This is an alternative. And then you start to realize that about maybe other areas of your life. It sounds like this nervous system shift for you was pretty profound in terms of what it was able to allow your body to do to regulate in other ways as well.


G: I mean, completely. I don't know what I would be doing right now if I hadn't been turned on to somatics, you know, as in especially coming out of massage therapy school, while I was learning Eastern and Western modalities, I was learning about Swedish deep tissue, myofascial. I was learning the system of muscles and how to work with muscles to relax them. And I was not able to relax my own muscles, which was a very bizarre thing. So then I was getting into like trying my own hand at some Chinese sports medicine with cupping and even bleeding and cupping and stuff and finding some positive results, but nothing really was sticking. Trying yoga, I think your history is in big room.


Sorry. So I did some actually really enjoyed big room a lot because it didn't require to do a lot of like unweighted work with my arms and my hands and arms were such a mess. So I really enjoyed big room, but it also like didn't provide me the lasting relief that somatics finally provided for me. And of course, you're looking at other people and they're like, I feel so amazing. I'm offering massage to people and giving massage like, wow, I feel so much relief. I feel amazing. I'm like, great.


Sounds great. Haven't found that for myself, but I'm glad it's working for you. Or at least it's working for you at the level of tension that you have right now. And that's been an interesting thing for me too, to like, you know, continue to offer massage and then start to offer somatic work. And for a lot of people, a massage is plenty of relief for what they need. And here I was in my twenties feeling like again, like I was in my seventies and needing a lot more relief than I was able to get from the acupressure, acupuncture, chiropractic work, massages. I was doing trades of all kinds of people and just wasn't pushing back the tide of tension enough.


And also, you know, what we were saying about the anxiety and stuff that I was just sort of swimming in, right? Because I remember I had really terrible digestive issues all through my teenage years too. I think mostly from when my father passed when I was 10, he died when I was 10. And a lot of stress, a lot of trauma from that. And it wasn't fully processed because you're 10 years old and how do you process that kind of event in your life? And I remember at some point going to the doctors and figure out how to address my digestive issues and they prescribed me anti-anxiety medication.


A: And I was like, I don't get it. I don't have anxiety. Why would anti-anxiety medications help with my digestion?


G: Just did not click at all. And they certainly didn't connect the dots for me. And then in my twenties, I read Robert Sapolsky's book, Wise Evers Don't Get Olsers, which is a fantastic book for really anybody who's interested in how stress affects us at all levels of our being. And he very clearly like points out the connection between stress, anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome or whatever it is they're calling it these days. And so putting all those pieces together and starting to work at unwinding my somatic center, work at moving my diaphragm, using breath to massage my digestive organs, but also just like get myself out of what no doubt was a chronic state of sympathetic rousal.


I was in a chronic state of alert anxiety and being able to break that pattern and come to a more calm restorative resting state through somatic practices and breathing and meditation. The digestive issues just sort of worked themselves out. And the breathing issues too. I at some point was given an inhaler because I went to emergency room actually like two in the morning, could not get to sleep, was really struggling with wheezing and discovered I had asthma in my early twenties.


And the inhaler worked great. But then I learned that I could unwind my own intercostal, my own rib muscles. I could relax my own, what do they call it, the VOI, whatever, the little like cells in the lungs that absorb and transfer oxygen. And when you do that, all of a sudden it's like your breath just becomes so free. And then you realize how constricted it was in relation to how incredible it feels afterwards.


A: Yes, absolutely. That's something I've had some pretty profound experiences with myself in terms of breathing. Because as a yogi, you know, I had all these different breathing techniques that I would do. But the truth was that many of them were rather forceful compared to what we do in somatic education, which it's very non invasive, I guess you could say.


And some other practices, while they can produce results, are a bit more invasive. And that may suit a certain person's nervous system configuration. But for me, who was very much like you in a heightened state of arousal, you know, that term that you use is perfect. It's like kind of this clinical way of saying, you know, I was like, living up here, you know, in terms of how much I was carrying in my day to day experience in my body, right? For me, anything that was more than arousal didn't seem to help, it actually would kind of impede the progress that my body needed.


Right. And so for me, it was a revelation to find like, easy, comfortable deep breathing that didn't feel like I was trying to force air into my body, right, in this aggressive way, but that it just flowed in and opened up and that my body was able to hold right the oxygen in this graceful way, rather than like a stressful kind of way.


G: Yeah, it's such a radically different way of looking at these things. So much of the way we approach our health is about like, trying to force it to do something different than what it is currently doing.


And to take this somatic approach, which my perspective is about how do you find the space within this system where things can work just fine? As you do that resistance level that like super hyper tense resistance level, just start to like disappear and it's gone. It's just good. And literally, I've had many times where my ribs have started to tighten up again, and I'll lie down and I'll do a specific protocol to unwind and voila, there it is again, there's that spaciousness again.


And I hadn't noticed again that things were starting to like creep back up, that level of tension was starting to creep back up, because it still will, you know, life still goes on, things happen. And the tension will creep back, which is why I'm still practicing this work, you know, I resolved my own muscle spasms, tension, digestive stuff pretty effectively in my 20s, and I continue to resolve it and ship away out in a workout and come back to it and slip away and then say, okay, there it is again. All right, all right, get back to the practice.


A: Well, and because it's not meant to be like, oh, learn this and you'll never have any aches or pains ever again, learn this and like your body will just stay in this state of being at rest from this point forward. It's not that at all, it's actually about being able to find our way out of whatever we get ourselves into physically, you know, whether body is like mountain climb or what you want to do with your body is lift heavy weights, or maybe you just want to have seven children or something wild, you know, like whatever it is that's going to cause an increase of stress.


And sometimes we don't choose that stuff at all, happens to us. But do we have a way out? Do we have like a literal thing we can do to bring ourselves back into balance and release those stress patterns so they're not clenching us and imprisoning us?


G: Exactly, right? Can we be more prepared for the things that we're not expecting to happen? And also, can we take on more challenges, we climb that amount, or whatever that goal is? And I certainly have found that now. I don't, you know, there was a time I remember vividly, for example, thinking about applying for a job at an eco-resort in Mexico, that was like going to be two hours away from an airport or a city where you were going to be just self-reliant on the team you were with and working with the guests that came in.


And I remember being so stressed about the concept of not having an acupuncturist nearby, or another massage therapist that I could rely on, or a doctor, whatever it was, and just feeling so no confidence in my own ability to manage my own life, my own body.


And I don't think about those things anymore. I feel fortunate that I don't require any regular medications. And I really don't require anybody else to keep myself healthy and active.

And I've got three kids and very busy social life. And it's a lot to do in Colorado. There's a lot to do physically with your body in Colorado, with these mountains that are so close by and so amazing. So I feel fortunate that I've been able to, you know, continue snowboarding and skiing and mountain biking and tennis, all these things I love to do that I was sort of starting to just reduce, reduce, reduce, reduce, reduce.


A: Well, that's really inspirational because I think that most people expect that it's going to go the other way. And I think for most people it does that, you know, if you already started having chronic tension in your 20s by your 30s and 40s, like you're not snowboarding anymore because, you know, it's gonna, you're gonna have a slipped disc in your spine or something, right? Or maybe you're just very aware that, like, you know, you're out of shape or too tight or whatever it is, your knees are bad. There's all these different things that show up when we are unconsciously accumulating these muscular contractions and we don't realize it.


You know, so it's actually just super inspirational. What you've just said is that now, you know, years later, from that point, you are much more active and adventurous than you were, you know, what was it like 10 years ago or something like that, right?


G: Yeah, 20, 20 years ago at this point. 20 years ago, yeah.


A: Yeah, this is a really exciting, really hopeful thing to hear. I think for many people to hear that is wonderful because it means that the trajectory that they might be on right now, if somebody out there's listening and they're experiencing tension or gastrointestinal issues or they know that their nervous system is, you know, really on edge most of the time, they can hear that there truly is a way to come out of that and return to the things that you love in life. Yeah, there's so much.


G: I mean, I think like the surface-level thing that we address as henosomatic educators is chronic muscular pain. But there's so much dysfunction that falls into this category of stress, stress-related. And Sapolsky's book is incredible, just like laying out chapter by chapter, how chronic stress affects us and how it leads to or can contribute to heart disease, to respiratory disease, digestive issues, all sorts of things that you can go and get a specific diagnosis for and get a specific treatment for or pharmaceutical treatment or other kinds of treatment. But they boil down to stress and dysregulation.


And when you simply focus on, not so simply, but when you focus on regulating and connecting and counterbalancing that stress, all these things can sort of just start to fade to the background. And then the other available methods can be so much more effective to resolve the remainder of it.


A: Yes, I'm totally with you on that. I think like, and this is actually going to lead into a question about some of the research, but, you know, when we, for example, have a brand new client or someone comes into this work and they've never released their muscles somatically before, right?


They have never experienced their muscles actually getting longer internally. And the relief that that provides, right? I kind of imagine it almost as like, their whole muscular system is kind of like clenching and bearing down on their skeletal structure. It's usually pulling on, you know, attachments to joints and ligaments, you know, maybe there are nerves that are being pressed on, which is where a lot of this pain is coming from that they're experiencing, right?


In their neck or their back, right? And there's this pressure that they're living under and they do a session. And in a single session of either movement or hands-on, there's this like breaking of the ice.

There's like this unlocking, you know, and each person is different. And like what I like to tell people is like, your nervous system is going to be guiding us here in releasing just as much as your body's ready to right now, right? So we're not going to try to make, you know, the things that you're experiencing that are tight might not all release in one session, because your body might not be really ready to release all of that, but it will release some of it. And you'll probably get some immediate relief from this, right?


And then A, if they progress, if they continue to practice movements, if they continue to receive the hands-on work or work with a handosomatic educator, it's like their body just keeps opening and opening layer by layer until they're having a completely different experience of what it means to be in their body, right?

And they're going, I have pain in my shoulder, I don't even remember, right? So I guess this leads into a little bit of my question with the research is like, you said you worked with people, and followed them for three sessions, right? And these were people who had never experienced before. This would fall under the category of that person who's living under that muscular pressure that I described, right? Correct, yeah.


Yeah. And so I'm so curious, you know, three sessions is enough to see a change. It's enough to see a shift, but like I prefer personally to work with people usually for more than that. But what kind of changes did you see and how much did it vary in the specific individuals in three sessions?


G: Well, I chose three sessions because Thomas in his book and in his talks regularly says that three sessions can sometimes be enough. So I want to see what could be accomplished in three sessions. I wasn't measuring efficacy, right? So I wasn't taking any baseline readings of how much tension somebody was experiencing, how much pain they were experiencing. I was simply observing what occurred during the sessions and then interviewing people and talking about their experiences, both the practitioner and the client.


But I will say I could see that things were occurring because they're talking about things that are occurring and whether or not they know that these are somatic changes, the resulting from the work they're doing seemed pretty obvious to me that they were related to the work that was occurring. You know, one of the participants, she was in her late 20s and she had dislocated her kneecap multiple times over the past couple of years prior.


And a lot of her experience of the benefits was around feeling more centered, more less anxious, just feeling calmer in the moment, less worried about what she was doing. She was in the process of switching careers and sort of going into self-employment. So I think she was feeling a lot of nervousness or worry or financial strain around that. And just after the session, she was like, whatever, I'm worried, it just doesn't... I still can think about these things.


They're still in my mind, but they don't have that same heaviness of anxiety that they had. So I love that she went right to the sort of non-physical effects that this work can have. But wouldn't you know, between the second and third session, she went and did a kickboxing class? So I have to imagine her knee was feeling significantly better that she felt confident enough to go kickboxing. And something you said really like turned a light on in my head because so often when people start feeling better, they completely forget what was ever bothering them.

I think this is a wonderful thing about being human that our memory for negative things that happen to us or for pain is very short once that is gone. And I have plenty of clients, I'm sure you have too, that they'll come in for one thing. They'll come in originally with complaining about a shoulder issue.


And you'll work with them, you'll do certain things, and they'll come back the next week and they'll say, I don't think this is working, nothing's going on. Honestly, my back is just in so much pain. I'm like, okay, we can talk about your back. But what about your shoulder that you were talking about last week?


I'm like, oh, the shoulder's fine, but my back. So there is certainly this thing of, it's a little bit like whack-a-mole. I think of a more like a circus tent with like a thousand different ropes, all pulling it tight and pulling it secure, you know, and maintaining the level of tension required to maintain its structural integrity, right?


When we all stand up, there's a certain amount of tension that every muscle in our body knows to do to maintain that posture, to maintain you in your upright posture, upright position. And as you start unwinding, you're right. It's not a global release. Things are wind at different rates. And so it can be a little bit like you're relieving tension on like five or six of those ropes. And all of a sudden, the stress of maintaining that uprightness gets shifted and spread out amongst the remaining ones.


And then there can be too much stress now in some places, not enough in other places. So there's certainly a process to unwinding somatically and matching the speed that you do it with the individual person and what they can handle and what they're ready for is a fine art. And also you reconnect, which we call sensory motor amnesia, but you reconnect with what they weren't feeling, what they didn't know was tight.


Because as things that were in the forefront of their awareness start to back off and no longer are concerning, now they can start to perceive the other things that were there underneath that often where they're proceeding, the what brought them into the office. Someone who has a knee or ankle injury on one side may resolve it enough to keep going. But then five or 10 years down the road, something else will pop up. And it's not that they have a new injury, it's that they now they have a new pattern that's relating to their old injury that never fully resolved. And so there can be this process I'm sure you've experienced sort of like reversing their timeline.


And I often say to them, when was the last time you felt that? You know, Clenum working with right now, she came in with pretty severe pelvic inner thigh hip stuff lower back, it was very vague and spread out in the areas of intensity. And then they started to shrink and shift. And now about a year later, she's backed down to just one little area. And I asked her recently, because this was an area that she never talked about originally, I'm like, when did you ever experience this before? And she was all I remember 10 years ago, I had a pain just like this.


So it's very likely that we have now gotten her back about 10 years of time in a year of work together. Right now, she's able to address that original thing, which who knows if that's the actual original thing, or if there's something underneath that that she'll get to, and that she will then work through as well. So it's been a beautiful process where there has been with many of the clients to see them retrace their timeline and also to see them just as they do that, become so much more active and so much more interested and open and curious about what they can do with their bodies with their lives, especially people that I work with that are, let's say newly retired, or approaching retirement, and are dealing with that potential concern of retirement being in pain, and the rest of their life being in pain, and how scary that must be. And then to have them get that sense of doesn't have to be that way, that maybe they can regain a certain amount or a huge amount of mobility and comfort in their later years.


G: Yeah, I know that your question, but yeah, no, it's all it's really wonderful.


A: And I very much relate to what you're describing. You know, I guide now this six month program where I'm taking people through this unraveling process, you know, and there it's a self practice. So they're doing the movements on their own, and I'm teaching them classes over zoom, and they go through this unraveling basically what you're describing where they are, they're experiencing all these shifts and changes in their body.


You know, but it's like kind of this almost a nonlinear thing sometimes, because it's like they'll start with something that they know what this is from, this is from when I did this, you know, this is from a car accident, or this is from when I was weightlifting, right. And then that thing will resolve, and then there will be something else underneath of it that now they're working through. And then and that will resolve and we kind of like you said go through these layers, right, where it does feel I think you said this before like whackable, like it's kind of jumping around. But the general trend of all of this is that things are quieting.


Things are loosening things are decreasing in their intensity. And what's also happening is that they're not feeling so alarmist about their own discomfort anymore, triggering for them to experience a little pain or discomfort in their body, because they know they can do something about it, they know that, Oh, well, I'm going to have a somatic session on Saturday with the group and I can ask how to specifically address this then, you know, and then they have something they can do on their own, maybe even while they're laying in bed, that they can use to address that discomfort.


So there's this general kind of chilling out, like they're not as upset by the unpleasant stuff that's going on, kind of like your client that you just mentioned to said, I can still think about these things that were stressing me out, but I don't have that same charge around them. Or this was someone who was in the study, right? I don't have that same charge. I'm not feeling so overwhelmed and reactive to these thoughts or feelings or circumstances as I was before.


G: Yeah, it's such a beautiful process. And I'll connect this to another one of the participants because I remember that was your original question. What did I notice and people going through the study? There was another one and she was an actress and a massage therapist and a yoga instructor. So someone who relies on her body for her financial well-being and was in a ton of pain at this very stubborn, back thing, hip thing going on. She even gave it a name. I can't remember what the name was that she gave it, but she'd labeled this thing as if it was like a prized possession of hers, right? Her self-image was so wrapped around this thing.


It was so frustrating for her. And as they started to work together, it looked to me like there was changes happening. The intensity level at the start of the session to the end appeared to be reduced based on the conversation she was having with her practitioner. But then you could see that like something, a new feeling would come up. And I think that this occurs a lot, especially with people in chronic or acute or like flare-ups, you know, chronic that goes into acute flare-ups.

And then back to just chronic. It's like when a new feeling pops up immediately, it's like pocketed with the other feelings that are bad, right? Oh, this is not good. This is pain.

This is going to set me back. And that can be such a challenging thing to move past, understandably, right? If someone's in pain, pain is very demotivating.

You want to do less, you want to experience it less. And so that you can get into this cycle of tension, creating pain, creating more tension, more pain, and all these worries of, is it structural? Is it a disc issue? Is it a nerve issue?


Wanting to have some clear pathology connected to it. And one of my tasks as I see it is to help people discern with more, more clarity, but also like have just a broader range of vocabulary to talk about what they're feeling. So I talk a lot with my clients around if what they're feeling is nerve-related or is muscular related. What would it feel like if it's, you know, a tear, inflammation, so that they become more expert in what they're actually feeling.


And often that leads to them feeling much more comfortable with what they're feeling. Well, so yeah, it's people I've been working with for a while, they'll, you know, see them for a few months and they'll come back and they're like, yeah, my shoulder's doing something. I don't know if it's pain, but it's like, it's bothering me, it's keeping me awake. I'd like it not to be feeling it. And we'll work together and I'll remind them of things I've told them before or teach them something new.


But to have that switch from the alarm bells going off, every time there's a new sensation, and to have so a little bit of distance and be able to like kind of step back and really clarify what it is that they're feeling. And I think even like just, I think about it like that closet that we all have all the stuff that we know we want to deal with it at some point, but we really don't want to deal with it or even open it to look at it. Pain is often like that. I think the intensity of emotions are often like that too, where people get stuck in chronic states of depression or whatever it is that these chronic states like we disconnect from them because we have to keep living. We don't think we have time to process them. So they just kind of get pushed aside.


And to be able to sit with somebody and give them that space to reflect on like, okay, you're experiencing something intense. Is it sharp? Is it warm? Is it like, what is it?

How big is it? And as they begin to more clearly feel it, a wonderful thing happens. It shifts. It changes. As they put their attention into it, attention is an act. It's an act of change.


And as they put their attention to whatever it is, they're offering it a chance to change. And sometimes that's all I do, but people with certain things just be with them. Maybe I'll put a hand or something to draw their awareness to it. And I'll just say, I'm not going to do anything. I just want you to just, if it's comfortable, sense what's going on there and talk to me about what's going on there and stay with that. And things will often change very quickly.


A: Yeah, I love that. And the piece about attention being an act, it's an action that we're taking. I thought immediately of this idea of like, you say you're sitting in a forest, you know, and generally peripherally, you are aware that you are surrounded by trees. And maybe you can be walking through the entire forest and just being aware that there are trees, but they're just kind of this blur of trees in general.


But when we turn and we look at a specific tree, then suddenly there's the opportunity for the tree to truly appear in front of us. What kind of tree it is, maybe how old it appears to be, what kind of habitat or animals might be living in the tree, the way that the tree is, yes, still it's not walking around, but there are subtle movements even in the tree, the way that the wind is moving the leaves, you know, or the needles of the tree and the just subtle way that there's this gradual, like it's not perceptible to us on like a visual level. But, you know, if you're a tree person, like me, you can almost sense like this slow growth, this slow metabolic, almost process of like a living thing that's there, you know, and all of this is not visible when it's just a blur of general trees around me.


But when we have these like, you know, like you said, these painful experiences that, you know, have emotions tied to them, or these areas in our body that hurt, and I know this was true for me, any sensation, you know, in like the left side of my body was just immediately labeled like annoying and making me angry. It was not being inspected, you know, and when I first started working with my dad on this, he would ask me these really open-ended questions, you know, how does your leg feel, you know, and I had no answer in the beginning, and I'll let my clients know, like, if they don't have an answer when we first start this process, that's totally okay.


That's totally legit. You may just be like, it feels like a leg or it hurts, and that's all you know what to say. But kind of like looking at the tree in the forest, things will begin to emerge and shift and evolve. And there's a certain level of deepening of your own self-knowledge and sophistication that you get to experience in your body, like in this real-time way. That's just super exciting. It's exciting for me as a practitioner. It's also exciting for my clients. And I just really appreciated the way that you described that that tension is an action, you know, absolutely.


G: Wonderful. Yeah, I love that tree analogy, right? And what does it require to go from, they're just trees to that's a maple tree or whatever it is, it requires you one to slow down, which is why what we do, we do slowly. You can't be attentive to something if you're going 60 miles an hour, you just can't. There's just not enough time to bring that attention in. And that's how you get stuck in these situations. And that's where moving slowly gives them that opportunity. If you're moving slowly, you can notice if and when something becomes painful, and you can stop before it becomes like really painful.


So it's at a speed that you can actually be with what's occurring and not brace around it, not resist it. And if you know somebody's going to like try to stretch your limb or, you know, been so many massage sessions where someone just dug in, you're really trying to win that muscle. And it just doesn't work. You know, especially if you're like really wound up in tension, it doesn't work. Because you're going to be there, energy with more resistance from yourself, more protection, more holding. So yeah, it has to be slow. And then you have to be curious too.


Right. So I think if I can encourage my clients to be curious, and not just say, I can't feel it, I don't want to feel it, it hurts, it's bad, but get them to a place where they're curious about themselves and not judgmental of themselves. And that's another way that change happens fast. And I'll say for myself, the postnatal meditation really helped me to connect with that aspect of the work that we do.


I think that the seated the postnatal meditation is sort of a flip side of the active movement work that we do, because turns out when you're sitting perfectly still, everything's still moving. There's still so much to attend to you. And just as I do with my clients, when you sit and attend, things bubble up to the surface. And if you don't judge them, and if you don't try to resist them or shake them away, then they too can start to change.


A: Oh, yeah. I got to say, the last time I did, because I've done two of the postnatal meditation and the last time I did one was in like 2012, while I was still struggling with chronic pain. So I can't imagine how much better and wonderful and peaceful and enjoyable. And I'm sure there'd still be some jagged edges I'd run into inside myself if I did a 10-day. But I'm assuming that post-semantics in my body, it would be a much different experience than kind of the agony that I felt in that seated position when I was having so much hip and lower back pain. What was it like? I mean, have you done it before you did semantics, or is it a practice you came into after semantics?


G: I've been doing semantics for myself about five or six years, the point that I did have a postnat 10 day. So I definitely feel like I had an easier time of it. One, I was able to quickly connect the postnat method to sensory-motor feedback loops.

It just makes sense to me, based on my understanding of neurophysiology, even though the training, they're not talking about neurophysiology, but that's the reference point that I was coming from.


And I was able to, therefore, I think probably get to that level of bliss a lot more quickly. And I certainly noticed a lot of chairs becoming emptier around me as the week goes on. So I do feel fortunate that I had chipped away at a certain level of tension already. And then I was able to access just deeper and deeper levels of rest and restoration and unwinding.


And who knows what's under that? And that's I think the lifelong process of that, even though I would say I'm very functional right now. Is there a hyper functionality that's attainable?


Is there super functionality that's attainable? Because we don't know, and maybe this brings us back to the talk about research, because our idea of aging is based on non somatic practices, right? The trajectory that people age is based on the science that we have. So how do people age when they've been like myself doing this for 20 years, 30 years, 40 years? I certainly know that our the trainers of the Nevada Institute have been training for at least 30 years. And I don't think they were super young when they started. And they're still doing it.


They're still active in there, they recover from injuries incredibly. So I'm really excited about the process of aging with people who are doing somatic practices, people that do them, that start them later years, start them in the middle of their life, start them early on and just be able to track and see what are the real potentials of human aging, I guess I could say to put it simply.

A: Do you use somatics with your kids? Like they have a little egg, I do it with my son also, he'll ask for it now. If his leg is hurting, say, mama, I need some somatics. And, you know, it's from jumping on the bed too much or whatever it is he's doing. And he gets a little like muscle ache and he'll come to me and ask for that.


G: Yeah, I see with my nine-year-old, because he's a very athletic kid. He's very fast. And I can see he's already tight. He's already wound up. And the other day he was doing something he was like just trying to like wrench his leg into the desired position. I don't know where he's even learning these things, but this, you know, the ideas of how you address your physical body have already started to permeate into his worldview. And I looked at what he was doing and I was like, okay, I see what you're going for there.


Let's see how we could turn that into a somatic movement.

And very quickly, he was able to gain more range of motion by not pulling on himself and trying to force his leg to go somewhere he didn't want to go. So I really enjoy being able to share this with them, doing that, the cat stretch with them, but also like working in that kind of setting with them.


A: Yeah, that's awesome. I love that. That's, you know, it's a good point that you bring up like so much of our Conditioning that we experience about our bodies is cultural and it doesn't just come from like our family culture It can come from just the broader culture in general of whatever, you know You might be taught in sports education and things like this like I know that I had a very distinct memory of being maybe like four years old.


And I was in a gymnastics class and we were doing I don't know like the little butterfly pose where your feet are together and you're moving your legs up and down and the Instructor said okay the first kid who can get their legs flat to the floor. We're all going out for ice cream and I remember all of us just pushing our legs Legs open onto the floor so that we can get ice cream and I remember doing that because it hurt I was actually experiencing discomfort and pain in like my little inner thighs. At that point, you know for whatever reason that my body was having that reaction, you know I mean some memory that I would never even thought of it except that going through this somatic work and Working with the muscles of my inner thighs that memory came up I remembered this little moment when I was like four and I first experienced, you know A really strong stretch reflex in my inner thighs.

G: Yeah And that idea of that judgment There's an inherent judgment in there of like your knees aren't touching the way they should You know similar to when you do that. I don't know if you did this in school, but we do like to sit and reach Like the president's challenge of him. They called it and all the kids that could like reach their hands past their toes. That was not me I could not reach my hand anywhere near my toes Probably partly because I played saxophones from the early years and very tight neck.


And now I know that it wasn't a genetic thing those kids were able to do that I wasn't able to do that is that I had too much tension in my my spine or in my hips or in my neck wherever it was. That was limiting my ability to extend my arms so It'd be great to get this work and I know something that Thomas santa talked about some of our other colleagues are Working on but get this work into into school as early as possible so that this knowledge is Fundamental it doesn't have to be discovered later on in years Yes, absolutely.


A: I think that would really really shift things in terms of the amount of You know tension and pain because I mean people are experiencing a lot of tension and pain now in even their teen years in their 20s I think some of it's being blamed on smartphones or the way that everybody has tech neck from being on computers and I'm sure that you know.


G: Yeah, I saw I remember a couple of years ago saying There's one of those many headlines attacking the millennials But it was comparing the ability to limbo of people in the 80s 20-year-olds in the 80s to 20-year-olds in the arts and apparently millennials can limbo as well so yes, we are culturally or Societally reading our physical abilities I think a problem all the things you're saying the smartphone that I read and also like we just we don't ask much of ourselves anymore We don't have jobs that we have for fewer and fewer of us. I should say have jobs that actually require us having physical bodies So yeah to choose to keep ourselves healthy and active and working choose to keep our physical selves working.

A: I think about that sometimes when I see like a bunch of the workout stuff and like the gym culture and like People lifting these heavy things to have like these bulky muscles like don't get me wrong if that's your thing like awesome more power to you That's wonderful. But part of me kind of thinks it's a little funny because it used to be that you had that kind of body and you did that kind of stuff. Because you were a manual laborer and you were like slugging concrete around. You know or building the pyramids and it meant you were like Lower, you know, a socio-economic class or maybe even like a slave or something.


You know what I mean like depending on how they're back in human history you go. But then now there's plenty of people who are you know well off maybe in higher socio-economic classes who go to a specific place to do this basically manual labor stuff? Just so their bodies can feel and look a certain way and part of me just thinks it's kind of funny. Part of me just kind of is like I guess you could go to this special place and lift a bunch of weights. Or you could go into the backyard and lift hay bales for an hour into a truck You know what I mean?


G: Except that you live in a city and you work on your computer and there's literally nothing in your life that requires physical effort Yeah, so I mean those are the people that are still choosing physical effort Yes, and Bravo to them is my opinion. Because I think we will discover more and more, you know, there's so much in interest and concern about the mental health crisis. But how much of our mental health is connected to the use or disuse of our physical body.


You know, what is the experience of somebody? Let's say somebody who was genetically evolved to be a successful whatever lumberjack house builder and now their workforce does not need that of them anymore, right? Their genetics their cells at all the cells of their body their endocrine system everything their brain is designed to do a certain type of task really well that is no longer asked of them.


So I imagine that's at least something to do with all the anxiety and depression and just general unwed. That we're so disconnected from what we're biologically designed to do and that Some people are going out to pay people to force them to do things that they used to get paid to do for example, you know, like you say all the cross fit and everything Like yeah, yeah used to be your job and now you're paying somebody to tell you to do five sets of it.

A: Well, and I think you know back to what you said about kind of having this, you know generational like Very specific kind of skill in your body that is no longer required like and this could extend to all different areas. Probably but like this could also be a reason that people struggle with this sense of purpose. You know because they're disconnected from a sense of purpose within their own bodies because what they're here to do inside their bodies They have been disconnected from and that's another piece that came in for me very strongly and for many of my clients Is you connect more semantically you connect with what you feel like you really want to spend your time doing?


G: Yeah, nice, how did that come through for you?


A: Well, I think I had ideas about what my Life was about and a lot of it was actually around just managing my own frustration my own pain my own discomfort so a lot of the activities and things that I was drawn to were about making myself feel better. Kind of for lack of both, you know a more complex way of saying that it was just that's what has centered around and then when I sort of Resolved that issue of feeling better, you know.


Once I was like actually not living in chronic pain anymore all these different things that had been something I wanted to spend my time doing when I was in that framework of existence were no longer as interesting to me and suddenly other things were interesting to me that felt more true to who I really am and weren't just some negotiation with my suffering. Ah, nice.


G: Yeah, and maybe those interests were just you following your way to get to this next level of Interest, right? Right.


A: Yeah. Yeah, and it's you know, it extends to even just why this podcast exists I was never like a podcast person like my husband listens to podcasts I don't really listen to many podcasts but now I have a podcast because I love having conversations and I love having conversations with interesting people and this is a perfect way to share an interesting conversation With people about a subject matter that I think is really important, you know. But I probably would have been too busy doing other stuff You know practicing yoga like six days a week doing 90-day challenges to try to fix my body or whatever.


You know, I was on about in my 20s to even think about doing something like this It wasn't even in my framework to put myself out there like this It would have been kind of scary and it would have been maybe what in that category of like oh a little too much too much responsibility too much pressure, you know, and while I'm still not feeling good in my body I need to focus on things that are gonna make me feel good not things that are gonna challenge me and make me feel Maybe a little more insecure or something, right?


G: Yeah, and it's also an issue of capacity too, right that you have more capacity for other things than What was in the forefront of your awareness and requiring all your attention for so long.

A: Yes, that's the perfect word for it. My capacity has definitely increased and you know That's to the benefit of my small child That's to the benefit of my own life and the lives of people that I get to share this method with now I

is that I have an increased capacity to give, you know, yeah, and it's great So going back to the research bit going back to talking about the way that you are Going to be creating More models of research about Hannah's semantics. What are some of the other models for research that you're interested in in terms of semantics like what kind of studies would you like to see happen?


G: I mean I would like to see all studies happen all the studies I think that this is such an interesting field. I think it's a powerful field. So, you know in terms of Where my interests are there and navigating and exploring all aspects of it when you look at how does Take for example, how do you get something in the New York Times?


I feel like that's the conversation I have with colleagues a lot Like wouldn't it be great at the New York Times we're talking about Hannah's semantics and The reality is that in order for a major publication like that to want to write an article about Hannah's semantics They're gonna need to see a lot of research into it Not just a few studies or probably enough studies that Someone's able to do a meta-analysis or what they call like there's an Organization called the Cochrane review where they look at dozens of studies and they compare them to each other and they come up with sort of a collective statement around like based on all of these studies with their failures with their what they're doing.


Well, we can say with this amount of confidence that Hannah's magic education is good for back pain and that's a lot of work to get to that so that will require a lot of Studies using similar metrics. Looking at people's experience of pain or maybe looking at tension levels or perhaps using biometric instruments where we're connecting people to the cost surface Electromyography where you can literally measure the electrical output of their muscles to just see how much tension is in their body. Or is it in parts of themselves?


We could look at brain imagery as well. So there are different Biofeedback tools that could be useful for getting that like really quantitative data There's also The data that people can share with us where they're just telling us how they feel and how they change And if we can collect enough of that then we can say with confidence again like these are the kind of experience that people can predict to have when they go through a series of sessions with Anasomatics One of the things I think is really nice about this work is that when Thomas Hannah taught it he taught it in protocols He taught specific patterns of how we do this work in certain orders and even though there is certainly variation, because we're working with individuals.


We're not doing the exact same thing to each person but and I certainly saw this in the study I did even though the four practitioners were doing Individual sessions I could see that they were using protocols and I could see which protocols they were using.


And maybe they changed the order a little bit or maybe they emphasized certain parts more than the other. But it was very clear that they were replicating the exactly what Thomas Hannah described back in 1990 and these are people again that were trained in the late 90s the early 2000s the early teens and then the last one was trained about three years ago so to see that consistency across people trained at very different times if I'm in the same program. And also see the way that that connects back to exactly what Thomas Hannah described I think is a real benefit or a real Something really exciting about this work that gives it more strength for doing clinical quantitative studies.

A: Right because you have that consistency you have a At least some level of the consistency of the strategy of the approach that the practitioners are taking and then I go back to that idea that you said of collecting Information statements from people what people are saying they're experiencing It would be something along the lines of maybe gathering like a survey of like maybe a hundred people or something who have gone through. This same little Regiment of Hannah somatic education right like we've kept that part consistent You know that they're working with a practitioner for you know three sessions.


Let's just take that model and then each of them give you this report of like what they experience And then you go through that and you start to look for trends We look for trends in what they say about their experience whether that's a reduction in Mental mental or emotional stress whether they notice that they're just they're always less triggered by my family this Christmas. You know or something like that could be some of trends that we might see right?

G: and that's what you call the qualitative data and The school I went to Saber University is really focused on that kind of research qualitative research particularly for like integrative and complementary health practices like Hannah Somatics. You can't really do this work in a lab Right you're working with living organisms in real-life environments and so in some ways, the qualitative content more accurately conveys what's going on where they talk about it and you can look at wow like 20 out of a hundred people all talked about embodiment or they all talked about agency and these are things that are coming up.


And you look at the data that we have collected so far and you can then start to talk about Trends in people's responses and trends in their experiences and that is more and more being recognized as a valid and an important way to document these kinds of practices if You're just giving somebody a pill you can control every single thing about that intervention and You can with more clarity and with more reliability predict that.


Or say that what happened to them is probably result of that medication. Because we're working with humans and like in this very fluid environment It's helpful to have that kind of qualitative data to flush out more what's going on because the numbers themselves while important aren't going to tell you everything So we have done two studies on Online courses offered through the shift network you familiar with the shift network. They do a lot of Alternative and complementary kind of medical and health practices is Alexander teachers. There's Medical intuitives.


There's yoga. There's all sorts of things to do and they're doing great work spreading Sematic work broadly And so I worked with two practitioners that were offering Clinical somatic education courses through the shift network and we did send out surveys to all the people registered And a certain number agreed to participate and we sent them a survey every single week and we said, how are you feeling physically mentally?


Emotionally cognitively overall We asked them what they were experiencing before they started the series of classes And then we just gave them space to just share like anything else they wanted to share with us about their experience in the courses so We were able to collect data from about 40 people in the first course and then about 20 people in the second course and one of the things I'm working on right now is sorting through that and statistically analyzing some of the data and then qualitatively analyzing the other data to develop those trends to go alongside With the quantitative trends.

A: Awesome, that's super super awesome I didn't know that was a piece that was also going on as well And I think that just them like you said the more that we can collect this over time and have a lot of it. Then we'll be able to say more specific things about what it is that we're doing what it is that this practice is really offering people Because it's gonna be a little bit different. Obviously from person to person, I was thinking back on what you said about you know.


The numbers of like the muscle tension and that we could like measure it in that way and see the muscle tension literally decreasing You know or the output to the muscle decreasing after you know a pendiculation or after a session, right? That individual human who is the body in that session whose muscular effort is decreasing Could have their own experience of it that wouldn't necessarily align perfectly with The data, do you know what I'm saying like what someone experiences individually can be very different than just what the data suggests They're experiencing you know, especially like Good, I was gonna say I work with clients who have a lack of Intra-oception like they can't sense it to and so I can literally see that their bulgy You know upper trapezius is now lengthened out and their shoulders a lot lower than the other one But they don't experience any change in their body.


G: Yeah And that's a fascinating thing to document Right and that's not even something that you could measure you can measure whether you know somebody's ability to perceive There are scales of interoception that could be used And also because these are somatic practices that we're interested in We're not just talking about their physical changes So it will be great to have data showing the physical change occurring or physiological change occurring But then to have them talk about like I don't know like their mental processes are more clear Their thoughts are less scattered They're calmer.


They're more centered. They get angry less like who knows You know, we have a sense of some of the things that we'll probably document But we don't really know because we haven't asked those questions yet And so we need to figure out like what is the depth and the breadth of what we're doing and Also, then we can start to Tinker with a little bit like these clinical protocols that Thomas Hannah created Maybe there's a better order to do them in You know, I think about big room right big room has a certain number of movements Do you have any idea if those are done in the optimal way or those are just done because that's how they've always been done.


A: I mean Probably the second one although at the crim teacher will tell you that they're being done in the perfect order and they have You know, we get the explanations But I think that what you're pointing to is like Well, at least what my feedback on that would be that there may be like a general optimal way to approach something but it's going to vary greatly. Her the individual that you're interacting with and so like for example If you're starting to work with someone and you go for the green light protocol because it's lesson one or something like that Right, but they are presenting in a very very red light way for where it's almost difficult for them to even you know Lie on their side or their stomach and there's only one position that this person is really comfortable in You know, I'm gonna start with them in that position.


I'm not gonna try to fit them into my Impression of how this should be done. I'm gonna just start addressing what's in front of me and for me a lot of my practice is really focused on What my client is experiencing and how can I work with them to get them? Like the most relief that they can experience internally, you know And I know that there are different models or different ways to go about with Hanna somatics, but this to me is more than function It's how do they feel, you know, and how do they feel after this?


Pendiculation and what's showing up when we work with this area of their body. Oh, it's starting to feel overwhelming or aggravating We're just gonna move over here and do something more indirect, you know, that's that's my personal approach with it Is like how can I provide a sense of comfort? How can I someone be soothed by this experience?


G: So yeah, especially if you want them to come back And that's sort of certainly my perspective as well and then I've also talked to colleagues that will say well lesson one is lesson one because In the Western world We have all habituated the land how reflex because of this go go go go go go Focus of industrialization They're regardless of what somebody comes in with they likely have a You know habituated land out we've response, which is what we would say the lesson one addresses. So he'll do lesson one with people and he'll make sure they're comfortable enough. But he'll do lesson one sort of regardless of what they're coming in with.


And I can't tell him that he's doing it wrong because I don't know I know me and he knows what works for him and wouldn't it be great to do some side-by-side comparison and like really put this work through the Magnifying glass and determine like ah He's right actually if we can get their neck comfortable enough to lie face down then working lesson one Seems to be the right way to do it for 95% of the people that come in let's say we'll discover the opposite of that that Really, we need to just address like the primary thing that they're Presenting with and then get to the secondary and then get to the tertiary thing and sometimes it's not a green light response But sometimes it's red light or trauma or whatever it is.

A: Right, and then my other question kind of there's two here How much does bedside manner play into it? How much does the way that you're interacting with the person as a practitioner have an effect on their results or their experience?

Right and what they're saying they're you know getting from it, you know Someone has an extremely pleasant Bedside manner versus is a little more, you know curt or not as cozy perhaps Like how does that affect people like how does that change the way the work is experienced? I would be curious about that.

G: Oh, yeah, there's been plenty of studies on that and turns out has a huge effect Yes, and especially the kind of work we're doing there's that you could call it a placebo kind of effect but the ability for people to. And it's placebo at all because it's about trust right we're building a relationship with them and our ability to take them through an experience is contingent on them trusting us enough to go through that experience to let themselves be affected because ultimately.


That's what we're doing. We are trying to transfer knowledge from our Soma into another Soma and we do that through touch and communication But they have to be open to that communication. They have to be receptive to that touch Otherwise, it's just not going to work So absolutely a sense that that will have a huge impact on the success or not.


A: Yeah, I mean it's nervous system to nervous system. So also the Ability of the practitioners practitioners not just you know their knowledge base in my view with somatics. But how much they've actually released in their own body as well is a big during it You know and I've kind of gone full steam with this in the last 18 months And I've built a very strong in-person and online clientele, but I wasn't really ready for this like three years ago when I first graduated. You know at the Nevato Institute I wasn't because I still was in the throes of my own development of my daily practice.


You know, thankfully my dad's a somatic educator I had lots of really incredible mentoring and if I really like look back on like when I first started doing somatic movements It was probably like back in like 2013 you know 2012 2013 that I started doing these movements maybe even 2011 I can't but like their seeds were planted and the I was primed this whole way along.


But I had to go through what I had to go through in my own personal internal somatic experience and my resistance to it because I wanted yoga to be the thing my resistance to my dad being my mentor you know my resistance to slowing down and You know what ended up happening as I finally developed a daily practice in which I was Releasing the stress in my own body was I again created that capacity to actually work with other people and Be able to transmit that level of calm that they really needed You know that I really needed to have to be able to be there for them, you know Yeah, and it shifted everything it just made it so that it's possible for me to do that So, you know, that's what I will tell people sometimes if you go to a training and you get the papers that say you know this thing.


But how do you know it? Do you know it through your own? Practice of it and how deeply do you know that practice in your own body?

You know because we can get papers and we can follow through on assignments You know and we can get good grades, but how well have we internalized this knowledge?


G: That's always the question I have spot on yes, and I'm finding that you know work with Martha training a central somatic movement teachers That has to occur, you know, I'm thinking I've got a student of mine right now actually and she came from a Pilates background Sure, she's an excellent Pilates teacher. She wanted to learn somatic movement.


So she came to the training and I think If you just look at it on the surface, it can be hard to see what's different about Hanna somatics versus some yoga practices versus Pilates versus PT. They're like, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah I get what's happening here. I know what you're doing. I can do that But she wasn't really getting it and she was struggling because everybody around her is talking about all these Incredible changes that are current. She's like, yeah, I just don't get that.


I don't get it. I think I'm missing something. And honestly, she didn't get it until she went on a long trek and at the end of the first day of the trek she was in physical disarray, I guess you could say and So she You know to her credit diligence students. She's like, okay, I'm gonna do the somatic movements that I've been learning And she did that and she was able to do the next two days of the trek And she had to kind of break herself a little bit to sense how this work can put her back together In a way that the other practices she learned couldn't Right.


And so I think that's gonna be a challenge Especially as this work does become more known and more people are interested in it because they'll be coming from a place Or maybe they don't personally need it I think it's personally needing it and I imagine for you to like you're able to get it a lot quicker because you sense how it affects you differently than other practices and Works works for me. I worked for you works for a lot of people If you don't need it when you're coming into it or at least you don't think you need it Then are you gonna be able to really understand it and really convey it? In an authentic way to the people you're working with So I imagine that will be a challenge again as more people become interested in learning this practice I'm gonna be like just go go break yourself a little bit or You know because you it isn't book knowledge. That's important. It is an experience That has to be felt and before it can be conveyed to somebody else.

A: Yeah, and that became very real for me in the last couple of years and you know what I also Recognized is that you know given that I was doing these movements since possibly 2011 I'm thinking my dad first shared them with me because he started the training in 2008 And I went to my Bikram yoga training in 2011. But I actually remember him showing me a hamstring release. Because he told me everybody's gonna overstretch their hamstrings and so you should show them all this hamstring release.


To keep it them from being so incredibly uncomfortable. So I think I was actually doing some of the movements even when I was at my big room training But it was something I thought I didn't need I didn't think I needed this thing This was just this weird thing my dad was up to you know That was slow and like boring and sweaty hot yoga was where it was at, you know, so I Dismissed it but what I realize now and I tell this to my clients.


Especially those of them that struggle to maintain a daily practice, you know who kind of come in and out of it Or have these long spells where they step away from the practice and then come back I let them know like that's okay like this is a like an accumulation of Somatic knowledge within your own body over time and you don't have to get it all right away. And I didn't have to get it all right away Slowly over time my nervous system developed these tools and when I finally, you know, baby Let's say, you know more than a decade later committed to a daily practice.


It's not like my brain had forgotten any of what came before I was totally primed for it And it just like things really shifted really fast Once I was able to commit and that leads me actually to my next question for you Which is the study that you did with the three sessions Were the clients doing movements on their own in between those sessions was that part of the study or were they just receiving sessions?


G: They were taught things to do on their own. I don't think they did a whole lot on their own though And that can be a challenge, you know getting people to not just Come in and try to work out but then to embrace this as a practice That's certainly a challenge. So no in the study. I think there was one person that Did do some of the movements pretty regularly and the others like maybe once or twice But I was curious about that and I will say at the end of three sessions, it wasn't clear to me that anybody was Like at the point where they're like, great, got this.

Don't need you anymore. I'm going to take this on my own and run with it And perhaps that's because they were given the sessions free of charge And so there wasn't that like financial incentive to figure it out how to do this on their own Or that's just the nature of how long it takes to really develop your own practice and something like this Or an alternate theory and this is like where my researcher cap is on was like I could tell you 20 million reasons why something happened, you know. And then trying to stay open to all the possibilities of What I witnessed, you know, it also could be that they got enough benefit from each session that it carried them through To the following session that they didn't feel like they needed to lie down and do the work on their own so that could also be the case.


And certainly with my clients after a couple sessions, I'm like pushing them like you sure you don't want to wait next week for your next one you know, because I really want them to As quickly as possible sense their ability to do this on their own and sense like kind of take the training wheels off a little bit And and help them learn that they don't ultimately This is really bad for business, but they don't help talk to really need me.

A: Being it may not really be bad business It just means that you're going to get new clients more often than you work with the same people, you know Like in a way like that's what I if I truly help somebody come out of pain And they have this skill in their body of being able to release their own muscular stress intention They're going to tell people about it. They're going to tell their friends They're going to want their husband to come in and see me, you know what I mean?


They're going to want this for other people. And so that's my whole model now I stopped doing just like for the most part. I stopped doing one-off sessions Or even packages of sessions that don't include mentoring around practice building So what I'll tell people now is like, oh, yeah, like I'll do a demo demo session with you Or I'll do a first time session 90 minutes with you But if you want to really address the pain that you're experiencing in your body It's going to be a minimum of eight sessions over the course of eight to ten weeks And there's going to be a video assignment each week.


That I'm going to give you to do that is going to continue the work that we do together And I put this together because that's honestly what I needed I needed accountability. I needed regular practice with how much pain that I was in You know and for the people that aren't having like so much pain This is great because they come out of it really fast and they start feeling super amazing You know even after like four or five sessions, you know, we still got three more to go So now we can fine-tune we can get into Functional movement patterns and walking and exciting stuff like that But more so for the people who are like chronically in pain This seems to be a really effective model of getting them out of it to have them practice on their own.

G: That is a huge part of what we do and I think they maybe we should talk about setting up a research study on the program that you have because it sounds like you've got a program that Might be easily documented But you know one of the things that Thomas.


Wrote he wrote this article and he called it the different levels of somatic education or what do you do after the miracle? right and and what he was getting at is that What we do with our clients on the table Is just the first stage Right, that's the miracle and it can certainly feel miraculous. And I've witnessed many miraculous things occurring things that you just don't see you don't hear about happening in other fields But how do you then Make that stick how do you then get the person to the next level where not only are they changing when they're lying down?


Out of gravity, but they're able to then Maintain those changes and shift what Thomas called essentially their self-image of who they are so that they integrate that into how they stand into how they walk and are improving Between the sessions not just maintaining but improving between the sessions and then improving and continuing on afterward.


So there are multiple levels of the work. I did find that there's Perhaps too much emphasis on what's happening on the table and maybe not enough emphasis on What to do afterward to maintain that work because there's really important things that have to occur afterwards for someone to internalize it to recognize that there's change To recognize that that change is not a fluke, but it's something that it has legitimately shifted within them I've heard you talk about this in some of the other episodes to learn who they are With those shifts that have occurred because they are no longer that person that they were and that can be a scary but ultimately is a hugely freeing thing.


That you're not stuck being the person that you are the person in chronic pain The person with an injury the person with scoliosis the person with trauma Whatever it is with digestive issues with you know All sorts of these really scary pathologies that we walk around like name tags on our chest That was part of you and is still part of you, but it doesn't define you And you can continue to evolve throughout the course of your life And so that's also our job to help them see that and that's an important and challenging part of our job.

A: Yeah, it's so beautiful and you know rewarding when you see that happening in someone because you know for me, I recognize it because it's what I've gone through too. You know so we can see this transformation because like we've lived it ourselves We've gone from like you said being this person who felt like. And again back to that idea of like your muscular system just pressing in on you just this limiting.


You know clenching tightness that most of us are experiencing from maybe even the time that we're children. Onward that there's just this growing pressure that we're living under and it shows that this physical pain or mental and emotional challenges, you know, or a lack of purpose or a lack of spiritual connection, right and to unwind and release ourselves from that then like you said it's like we're meeting a whole new person.


And we don't maybe there's a little bit of disorientation in that process because you're like well I don't exactly know who I am yet now because I was this way And now I'm much different and so I get to discover. You know who I'm going to be when I'm not constantly contending with this pressure inside of.


G: It's really there's a lot of weight on that for myself, right because you have a whole life that is constructed around supporting or Helping you in your experience in the world in your life. And maybe you don't need all of that or maybe Some of that is enabling or some of that is actually a crutch that's keeping you from growing and evolving and you know talk about being children.


Some of it isn't even yours to begin with some of it was your parents or your grandparents' stuff that now. You have the task of processing if you take it, you know, or you pass it on to your own kids Right there's a lot more we're becoming aware of how trauma, in particular, is passed down intergenerationally. And I think that's such a cool thing to understand because that means that at any generation we can stop that transmission We can heal the wounds of our ancestors and we can Free our lineage to become something different.


A: Yes, and if we do this on a neuromuscular level it's Quite profound because it just shifts the aliveness that one experiences in this life You know, even if you're carrying all that weight and all that, you know genetic programming or even just postural programming if I watched my dad stand like this every day or This is what my family did at dinner. We all hunched forward and ate our food You know looking down at our plates or whatever it was that your body You know fit into that mold you're changing the whole story on a neuromuscular level when you start a somatic practice like this. Because now your body's actually free of that Specific kind of programming.


So I think that there's so many ways that we can address these issues And there's like kind of you would know more than me maybe with being part of is meta, but there's so many like Angles that you can come about this in when it comes to somatics but I think that this neuromuscular piece of actually Retraining the motor cortex to hold the musculature differently Right and to connect with it in this way that initiates release Like this is an incredible missing piece in terms of actually moving forward Right and ending, you know continuing to end that feedback loop that we get caught in.

G: It's a fast way in because when you're dealing with the motor cortex the sensory and motor cortices It's not just the motor, right, but it's a sensory component as well You're dealing with consciousness. You're dealing with the part of the brain That has voluntary control over what the rest of us do and so it can have immediate effects It is in my opinion the fastest way in the fastest way to create change sometimes Faster than the person's able to process or even be ready for But yes, I do think that that that however you get into. The however you affect a soma that person you are affecting them at all levels, right?


We have that basis basic understanding So whether it's through expressive dance whether it's through emoting whether it's through Body-oriented talk therapy You are going to be affecting them at all levels of their being But the portion that is voluntary is the sensory-motor cortices and so if we can directly affect them then That is That is the immediate key to create change.

A: Yes, that's a very I love the specificity and like Clear way that you put that and it's interesting to me because before I started Panestimatic education, you know as a yoga teacher I had a yoga teacher's anatomy, but I didn't understand the brain and I remember actually asking elinor this At some point during my training because I was listening to this talk by this physiologist who was talking about.


I don't know something to do with yoga and the muscles and I just I asked her I'm like Why is it that he doesn't know what you guys are teaching me about the brain? And she said well because he's a physiologist not a neurologist And I was like well, but isn't our brain He isn't a part of our physiology and she said yes, but he was not trained in that because he's a physiologist not a neurologist And so he doesn't know about the brain and how it works specifically.

G: Yeah, I mean I went through massage training I taught in massage school We learn a lot about muscles in massage school And this is the thing that really trips me on actually I've started creating. I'm working with massage therapists more recently and I'm doing workshops teaching massage therapists how to apply somatic techniques because we all learn all massage therapists learn and in fact all doctors all physiologists learn that your skeletal muscle is a voluntary muscle.


So why is it then that you have to go to a massage therapist to relax your muscle? Why would you go to a doctor and they give you a muscle relaxer to relax a voluntary skeletal muscle? It's so like obvious that it's almost we're blind to it like the we don't even ask the question but like that is a very simple definition of what a skeletal muscle is.


And until you start thinking about the voluntary motor cortex, you're not going to be directly changing what a muscle is doing. You can be influencing it and maybe what you're doing can feed into the voluntary motor cortex But you're sort of just like pressing on and waiting for the person to Relax their muscle Because the person has to do it Yeah, I can relax somebody else's muscle.


I cannot change their fascia But I can help them relax their own muscle or their own fascia. And once you realize that that change has to occur within that person Then is you're going to be using a lot of extra effort than you need to And once you help them learn to connect with that voluntary that conscious alert learning part of themselves change happens very quickly and happens at all levels So I'm very excited about that aspect of two of what I'm working on right now to bring The vast knowledge that we have in western medicine in physiology and neurology And put in this like this missing piece.


It's like right there They just have to like turn on the switch to see how it all connects through The fact that we are not bodies, but somas we are alive sentient people capable of awareness and voluntary control over what is occurring to us And once we put all those pieces together, I think that We should be able to see enormous and rapid evolution of our understanding of health care And our understanding of aging and healing and all of these things We've barely scratched the surface. I believe of our potential for healing and growth and aging And that's so I'm very excited.


A: This has been such a very valuable exciting I hope like prophetical conversation You know, I hope this is like a podcast that we can look back on and like five or ten years ago Hey, we saw that coming right that's happening now.


We're in it, you know And I'm super excited to hear, you know as you move along with more research projects And I'm happy to talk to you about you know, possibly using some of the work that I'm doing with the online program that I teach Um, you know, my clients have always been very excited to share Their experiences for the most part. That's the norm as people just they want to shout it from the rooftops You know when they feel so uplifted in their experience when they feel free of that bondage that they were living in So, yeah, thank you so much for coming on to talk with us today and share this really exciting knowledge that you have been humiliating Yeah, thanks.

G: I really enjoyed talking with you. Thanks for inviting me and I agree. I do look forward to Looking back in five or ten years and seeing how much progress you made It's already happening, right? So How fast how far we'll go? We're only knowing the future Thank you.


A: So if any of our listeners, you know had questions for you or wanted to know more about your practice and in Colorado where could they contact you? Where could they reach out to you?


G: Sure, my website my business is called Elevated Somatics. E le V a t e d somatics s o m a t i c s dot com And that's probably the best way I do virtual sessions as well. I do in-person sessions I do group classes and then I do training with essential somatics Which is Martha Peterson's company.


So if anybody's interested in becoming a clinical practitioner The Vato Institute is where I did my training But I'm moving out to Colorado living close to Martha. I've connected with her and she's got some great It's not hannah somatics. Technically she calls a clinical somatic education But I don't perceive much of a difference in what I'm doing with her versus what I learned. It's great work So I welcome them to check out her programs and maybe I'll see them in one of those trainings Yes, wonderful.


A: Thank you so much and we'll definitely check in with you Maybe down the line and have you back on the show to talk about more exciting things that are burgeoning And yeah, have a really wonderful day. Thank you so much again for being on the show.


A: Thank you. 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 Aimee Takaya and the radiance program visit www.freeyoursoma .com

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