Introduction to Somatic Awareness and Embodied Inquiry
Sundays: 11 am – 1 pm
Small Group, Drop-in, $10/session
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street, San Francisco CA 94103
Sponsored by Golden Gate Integral Couseling Center
Have you ever admitted to yourself or to loved ones, “I really want to change … but I don’t know how!”? If so, this is the workshop to learn how — not from outside but from within.
We will learn to:
• Sense into the felt sense of our body — naturally and easily
• Access our somatic whole-body intelligence
• Develop laser-sharp concentration and core presence
• Turn into and abide in the moment-to-moment bodily sensations when difficult emotions arise — such emotions as sadness, anxiety, depression, loneliness, anger, shame, self-hatred
• Notice unconscious thoughts, sensations, emotions, memories, self-images, core beliefs, and defense patterns
As we deepen our practice, we will increasingly experience qualities that are intrinsic to our somatic being:
• Groundedness, Centeredness, Strength
• Calmness, Clarity, Discernment
• Openness, flexibility, Curiosity, Expansiveness
• Connectedness and Genuine Caring for ourself and others
• Realness, Honesty, Authenticity
• Ease, Vulnerability, Softness and Genuine Joy
• “I feel happy without any particular reason!”, “My existence is … effortless!”
Somatic exercises and embodied relational inquiry derived from:
• Tibetan Inner Yoga, Chi Gong, Yoga Nidra, Dzogchen
• Feldenkrais, Rosen Method, Authentic Movement, Contact Improv, Embodied Voice
• Diamond Approach, Focusing, Hakomi Method, Internal Family Systems, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
Workshop is led by Nobumori Yagi, Ph.D., MFT trainee at GGICC. He has been experientially integrating various modalities of somatic and transpersonal psychology (see above), with emphasis on object relations and attachment theories, neurophysiology and trauma. He has a Ph.D. in theoretical economics from UC Berkeley.
Please email nobi@SomaticAwareness.org if you plan to attend.
Introduction to Somatic Awareness and Embodied Inquiry
The word, soma, is sometimes used interchangeably with body, but they are vastly different. Soma refers to our lived, phenomenological experience of being in the body moment-by-moment.
Somatic awareness — the awareness that arises from this lived experience of being in the body moment-by-moment — includes our ordinary, conceptual awareness, but it’s larger than that. Somatic awareness is sometimes referred to as extra-ordinary awareness or consciousness. By using the term, somatic awareness, I want to emphasize the point that extraordinary awareness or consciousness is attained largely, if not only, by somatically grounding ourselves.
Main purpose and core idea
The main purpose of this worksop is three fold: 1) to develop our somatic awareness by learning to fully inhabit our body, 2) based on this enhanced somatic awareness, to inquire into our unconscious thoughts, sensations, emotions, memories, self-images, and core beliefs, and how our personality structure is built and maintained, and 3) to learn to access, and shift into who we truly are, the essential self — the sense of self that is free from our unconscious core sense of deficiency.
The core idea behind this work is that all our psychological problems are ultimately the manifestation of the disconnect from our essence. By reconnecting to our essence, we not only are able to effectively heal our psychological problems but, more importantly, all those qualities that are intrinsic to our essence become available to us: groundedness, strength, concentration, stillness, clarity, openness, discernment, creativity, and connectedness to ourselves and others. We have become disconnected from our essence because we have become disconnected from our body. Hence, we can reconnect to our essence by accessing our lived experience of the body.
Somatic awareness exercises
Somatic awareness exercises are derived from a wide range of Eastern and Western whole body awareness practices:Tibetan Inner Yoga, Chi Gong, Yoga Nidra, Dzogchen, Feldenkrais, Rosen Method, Authentic Movement, Contact Improv, Embodied Voice, and others.
What is unique about our work is that each exercise is done in extremely slow motion — 10 times slower than a typical Chi Gong movement. (Yes, that’s how slow the movements are.) The extremely slow movements give us enough time to observe how the rest of the body reacts to a movement in one part of the body. This is a good way to develop our capacity to sense our inner bodily experience. We also notice that sensations, emotions, thoughts, memories, beliefs and other mind-events, that are below the surface of our conscious mind, come into our awareness. Further more, we begin to notice the movement of subtle electricity-like energy throughout our body, as well as any tightness that constricts the flow of the energy. We have unconsciously built and accumulated these constrictions over many years to physically and psychologically defend ourselves.
After each exercise, we will spend 5 – 10 minutes in stillness to observe our inner somatic experience that arises from the exercise. This deepens our body-mind connection.
In order to fully benefit from these exercises, our mind needs to be able to concentrate. We use breath, posture and the whole body, in particular the belly center, to help our mind develop its capacity to concentrate.
We will practice a wide variety of conscious breathing techniques.
Taking a good posture — natural, balanced, grounded, conscious and ready to move — provides a necessary basis for strong somatic awareness.
The slow movements themselves provide an effective ground to practice moment-by-moment concentration.
Many of us have been meditating for some time. However, if we don’t ground ourselves fully in our body, mediation can become a conceptual endeavor. This can create more problems, making meditation a chore. In this workshop, we will practice a variety of mediations that are fully grounded in our bodily experience.
Embodied inquiry exercises
Inquiring into our personality structure
Our ordinary sense of self was developed relationally. We continue to reinforce it in everyday relational interactions. In this workshop, we will create a safe environment in which we can try out various experiments to investigate and to explore how our personality structure is organized.
We will pair up with each other, and do exercises that are designed to deepen our awareness. The exercises are derived from various somatic, transpersonal and neurophysiology-informed psychotherapies, such as Diamond Approach, Hakomi Method, Focusing, Internal Family Systems, and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.
Exploring our essential nature
The ultimate goal of this workshop is to help us connect to our essential nature.
As we de-construct our personality structure, and as we become familiar with the actual experience of being in our essential state, we will feel more alive, joyful, creative and real. This is how we would know whether we are indeed experiencing our essential state of consciousness. The proof is in our experience. And that is what we will cultivate in this workshop.
10:45-11:00: Registration at Room 311, 3rd floor, California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS)
11:00-11:10: Greeting and getting to know group members
11:10-11:20: Introduction to the session, objectives, and confidentiality
11:20-12:20: Experiencing somatic awareness
12:20-12:50: Embodied inquiry
12:50-1:00: Sharing, summary, and suggestions
*What to bring: Snacks and water. Yoga mat, large towel or blanket to lie down on the floor. The fee is $10 (cash only).
*What to wear: Wear lose clothes. You will be asked to take off your shoes during the session.
*ID is required at the front desk of the CIIS building
I look forward to seeing you. Please feel free to contact me at nobi@SomaticAwareness.org if you have any concern or question.
Thank you very much.