“Embodiment,” “decolonizing the psyche,” and “decolonizing trauma work” are all inextricably interconnected with our relationship with the land. Furthermore, we are in continual relationship with the land, whether we know it or not, consciously, and the land is, in a sense, our extended nervous system. By “Land” we me all that there is on Earth: The soil, air, water, fire, ancestral connection, microbial organisms, mycelial networks, plants, animals, birds — all of our other-than-human kin.
Our bodies hold and process our feelings and emotions. Our “emotions” are, according to somatic psychotherapy, not thoughts in our head but rather experiences of sensations that arise in our bodies. In Polyvagal Theory, which our somatic practices are based upon, those sensations are known to be governed by the Autonomic Nervous System. In somatic psychotherapy, we learn to work with the body to increase resilience and regulation, decrease self-gaslighting and pathologizing of our emotions, tap into our internal wisdom and learn how to trust ourselves, and heal the mind/body split that's so prevalent in many cultures and societies.
The Unconscious Mind
Most of us are very familiar with our conscious minds. We recognize that we have thoughts, ideas, overt and operational memories, are able to plan and process information intentionally. Fewer of us, in this culture at this point in history, are aware that we also have an unconscious mind. That is, aspects of ourselves that are engaged in our lives but operating below the surface of awareness. Furthermore, there is a Collective and an Individual Unconscious, and much of the work we do is about coming into knowing and caring relationship with both of those. This happens through connecting with and listening to the land, the body, dreams, and work with symbol and ritual (both languages of the unconscious). As we grow this capacity, we also grow access to our own, internal wisdom. Connecting to our internal wisdom may be one of the most important aspects of psychotherapy and healing. It exists outside of external belief systems, and brings us freedom from depending on those belief systems or the opinions of others.
The Conscious Mind
We also work with the conscious mind -- i.e,. thoughts, observations, and sensory perceptions that we are aware we are having. We work toward decreasing "negative self-talk," finding rest from self-criticism, understanding -- on an intellectual level -- our world and ourselves and how it all functions together to make the whole.
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