Book Reads: The Somatic Therapy Handbook (Cher Hampton)

May 05, 2024

This book is another one of my discoveries in the Kindle Unlimited library. I have been seeing the term "somatic" in terms of yoga exercises in my Instagram ads, and so I got curious what this really means. And so, upon a quick search in the Kindle library, I found this book, which I chose to borrow to learn more about the topic.

It was a nice read, very introspective. I was reminded of lessons that I already knew, but needed some reminding. The concepts that the book teaches overlap with the holistic wellness that I have learned in other wellness fields, and I am grateful to have stumbled upon them in this book.

Somatic therapy apparently focuses more on how the body can lead the way towards holistic healing. Here are some of the notes of the nuggets of wisdom that I took down while reading the book.

  • The mind is like a garden, and its natural beauty is hidden beneath the chaos.
  • Healing is rarely ever about maintaining a sense of calm but rather about maintaining our sense of choice. It’s about immersing ourselves in experiences and activities that can help us cultivate inner peace and a sense of well-being.
  • We can’t change what happened to us, but we can change how those experiences affect us now.
  • Somatic therapy is based on the belief that our bodies hold onto memories, emotions, and stress that can contribute to mental and physical health problems. By focusing on the body and its sensations, somatic therapy aims to help people release trapped energy and emotions and ultimately achieve a greater sense of well-being.
  • Somatic therapy uses a variety of techniques to help us become more aware of our bodies and the physical sensations they experience. These techniques may include breathing exercises, movement practices, meditation, and other mindfulness-based practices.
  • Trauma can get trapped in parts of our body and manifest physically. It is rooted in the idea that our emotions and experiences are not just in our heads but are also stored in our bodies.
  • The one thing that we should understand is that the body has its own innate wisdom and ability to heal.
  • Stress is like the uninvited guest at our orchestra’s performance.
  • Working with the body and not against it can help us release these experiences and promote healing.
  • We can choose to notice sensations when they arise and facilitate the movement of these feelings by allowing them to exist.
  • It starts within, a process that begins with understanding our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
  • Self-awareness is not an easy state to get to. Understandably so because it requires us to confront our own thoughts, emotions, and beliefs, which can be uncomfortable and even painful at times; that’s why it’s natural to want to avoid discomfort by distracting ourselves with external stimuli like social media, television, or work, rather than turning inward to reflect on our inner world.
  • Approach your emotions with less judgment and more curiosity.
  • Shift your perspective from the idea that they are something to be feared or suppressed, but rather as a source for valuable insight and information.
  • Let go of comparison and lean into gratitude.
  • Create more than you consume.
  • Start focusing more on where most of your energy is going.
  • The only way out is through, more especially in the context of self-awareness.
  • Your body hears everything your mind says.
  • Our bodies possess an innate ability to absorb and retain information from the world around us.
  • I like to think of self-care as gardening work. Just as a garden cannot thrive without proper care and maintenance, our souls and bodies cannot thrive without proper attention and care.
  • Being stuck in a fight-or-flight response mode can look like this: You are becoming extremely reactive or defensive when you’re being held accountable for something or criticized. You are ignoring or shutting out other people’s perspectives. You are feeling easily threatened in some way or another. You tend to shout or become overly aggressive during conflict situations. You have an explosive temper with a tendency to experience shame afterward.
  • Avoidance: you are physically leaving uncomfortable situations or avoiding difficult topics or hard conversations. You are escaping reality through distractions such as choosing to overwork yourself or other types of coping mechanisms. You are struggling with commitment and feeling trapped.
  • By creating more space between your thoughts and actions, you empower yourself to make more intentional choices.
  • The body rewards us when we reward it.
  • Prioritize self-care to foster a stronger mind-body connection.
  • Let go of any judgment or criticism toward your body. Accept it as it is, knowing that it’s unique and capable of amazing things. Embrace your body’s strengths and appreciate all that it allows you to do.
  • We adopt coping or defense mechanisms and put on masks to protect ourselves from pain or to meet societal expectations.
  • Most of us have long-held assumptions about ourselves.
  • Learning to self-soothe doesn’t mean forgetting about the past or pretending everything is okay. It is about finding healthy ways to comfort ourselves and regain a sense of control. It’s like adding new tools to our toolbox, ones that help us feel safe, loved, and grounded.
  • Nature, in particular, has an incredible ability to heal and rejuvenate us.
  • Self-compassion is the equivalent of having a personal cheerleader who’s always by your side, ready to offer comfort and understanding when you’re struggling or feeling down.
  • It’s all about treating yourself with the same kindness and compassion you would offer to a dear friend.
  • Touch therapy and self-compassion go hand in hand. Touch therapy involves using techniques like self-massage, aromatherapy, acupressure, or energy healing to connect with your body and nurture your well-being.
  • Our pain is not all-encompassing and that there is a greater purpose to our existence.
  • In choosing to lean more toward gratitude, we shift our focus from what is lacking to what we already have,
  • You are more than the sum of your physical attributes. You are a complex and beautiful individual deserving of love and acceptance.
  • Here’s a list of self-care suggestions:
    deep breathing exercises
    taking a warm bath or shower
    practicing yoga or gentle stretching
    going for a walk in nature
    listening to calming music or nature sounds
    writing in a journal or practicing gratitude
    engaging in a creative hobby, such as painting or knitting
    reading a book or listening to an audiobook
    trying aromatherapy with essential oils like lavender or chamomile
    having a cup of herbal tea or warm milk before bed
    spending quality time with a beloved pet
    watching a funny or uplifting movie or TV show 
  • The crux of the matter is that addiction creates a false sense of security. During our pain and our struggles, it offers an illusion of comfort, a refuge from an often harsh reality. In the long run, it does more harm than good.
  • This hypervigilance and negative outlook can drain our energy and contribute to feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be yours.
  • Good boundaries also safeguard our ability to love. They prevent us from losing ourselves in relationships that no longer serve us, ensuring that we have the emotional energy to invest in new relationships or deepen existing ones. They give us the resilience to say goodbye, not as an end, but as a new beginning.
  • Setting boundaries is a form of self-protection, and it allows us to establish a clear space for our healing work to take place.
  • We can slowly, gently, and tenderly teach our bodies that the unfamiliar doesn’t feel unsafe. Unfamiliar can be beautiful. Magical. Unfamiliar can be glorious. Unfamiliar can be healing.
  • As we begin to build trust and safety in ourselves, we can also start to explore new experiences and sensations. This might mean trying new foods, exploring new hobbies or interests, or simply spending time in unfamiliar environments. As we do this, we can remind ourselves that unfamiliarity doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming.
  • Celebrate your body for its uniqueness, nurture it with healthy decisions, and trust it to carry you through life’s ups and downs.
  • Just like landmines, triggers are hidden beneath the surface, waiting to be activated. When someone steps on a landmine, it detonates and causes an explosion. So, when a trigger is activated, it sets off a powerful reaction within your nervous system.
  • I didn’t need to focus on erasing the memories completely. But rather on incorporating them into my whole self, accepting them, and being conscious of them.
  • In choosing momentary discomfort, I am creating a strong foundation of self-love and self-acceptance.
  • I am open to receiving healing energy from the universe.
  • The past does not define me, and I am creating a bright future for myself.
  • I am resilient and can bounce back from any emotional setbacks.
  • It’s through vulnerability that true healing and growth can take place.
Just reading through these notes that I have highlighted on my Kindle, I am again reminded of the lessons that I have stumbled upon reading this book. It reminded me of those destructive habits that I go to whenever I feel stressed and depressed, and this is a reminder, again to myself, that those habits offer immediate comfort only, and it's not really resolving the root cause. I'm just grabbing some immediate gratification and not really facing the problem. 

I'm glad to be writing this post because it became a reminder for me to listen to my body and to pause and do more self-care.

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