What Does Somatic Mean, Anyway?
Updated: Aug 15, 2020
“Somatic” comes from the Greek word soma, which means living body. So when we look at anxiety through the somatic lens, we are seeking to understand it with a focus on the body and the intricate neurobiological systems that regulate the continuous stream of internal and external stimuli that inform our present-moment experience. Though a somatic lens focuses on the body, it does not do so to the exclusion of the mind. Rather, it sees the mind as it lives and finds expression in the body. In this way, the somatic lens is holistic and expands the scope of attention and understanding to the whole individual, including both the body and the mind, seeing them as a vastly interconnected, dynamically co-arising unit. It emphasizes the unceasing interplay between physical sensation, cognitive processes, and emotional responses to experiences that give birth to a felt sense of self in the present moment: Your felt sense of self is a felt awareness of your experience of yourself, others, and situations; it is the embodiment of an intuitive knowing that emerges from physical sensations and emotional responses. In addition to fresh new incoming data from present moment experience, the neurobiological processes that come together to produce your felt sense are simultaneously being informed by past experiences that are stored in the neural pathways threaded throughout your body. These past experiences are alive in the here and now, actively shaping your thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and behaviors as they emerge with each unfolding moment. In this way, to understand your felt sense of self in the present moment is to also understand your felt sense of self in historical moments."