The Somatic Experience approach can help drive movement from the cycle of pain towards the cycle of healing. The developer of the approach, Dr. Peter Levin, based this method on a central concept in focusing: the ‘felt sense’, which is a meaningful body sensation.
Dr. Levin pays attention to the way in which animals come to release the charged energy that was created as a result of a threat. When in danger, they activate the survival instinct of freeze, fight or flight. When they recognize that the danger has passed, they take deep breaths, tremble, shake their bodies, wallow in the sand, and run around to cast the traumatic energy away from their bodies. The approach Levin developed enables releasing the energy of trauma that is stuck in the body and affects one’s day-to-day.
A traumatic event for people does not have to be dramatic and unusual. Routine events such as medical procedures and surgeries, falls, loss of loved ones, experiences related to childbirth and more, can all be traumatic. At the time of the threat our instinct stops and this leads to the freeze reaction, which leads to physical and mental symptoms that can burden us even in the day-to-day after the event is over. This is because the nervous system is still on alert and continues to release stress hormones. Fortunately, in 75 percent of cases people are able to release this energy. The release occurs naturally in the movement between the body’s cycles of trauma and healing.
The Somatic Experience approach allows us to proactively release the charged energy and create movement between these two circles, to release the stuck excess energy and complete the halted instincts. It enables the fight and the flight responses that were not activated during the threat, thus bringing the nervous system back into balance.