Today I want to share an easy yet powerful technique to improve mental health. It’s called somatic tracking. Now that may not sound simple, but let me break it down. Somatic refers to the body as distinct from the mind. Somatic tracking is about mindfully attending to our internal state and whatever bodily sensations we are experiencing in the moment with calm, curiosity and compassion. Those of you who meditate may already be doing this on a regular basis.
Wherein lies the power of somatic tracking? For one, it communicates a message of safety to our entire organism. Picture a crying baby or a distraught child. The fastest way to cure their stress is often reassurance on the part of a parent or loved one. When we experience anxiety or physical pain as adults, our body is sending out distress signals. We can’t help but hear the signal, like a crying baby, but we often don’t attend to it. When we mindfully attend to our body’s distress signals, our mind gets the message that it is safe to turn off the fight-or-flight response that feeds chronic stress and illness. In a word, you and I have the ability to console ourselves much like a parent consoles a child, or a friend consoles another friend.
Before you go, I want so share some awesome quotes from an article on somatic tracking written by Alan Gordon, a TMS Therapist who specializes in mindbody medicine. It was his article, in fact, that introduced me to the concept several months ago. I recommend you check out the full article here. It is an easy read and well-worth your time, as is the entire free 21-day healing program of which it is a part.
It feels wonderful just to be checked in on. It can make you feel cared about and attended to, and can remind you that you matter in this world. But many of us don’t check in on ourselves, and this subtle self-neglect can actually have many physical consequences.
Neuroscientists have found that mindfully attending to our bodily sensations can actually shrink the “fight or flight” center of our brains. Furthermore, this practice enables us to have better control over our brains’ processing of pain and emotions.
Somatic Tracking is the most important component of overcoming neural pathway pain. When you attend to your physical sensations mindfully – without fear, without judgment, and without motive – not only are you communicating safety, you’re giving yourself the message that you deserve to be treated in a loving way.
Until next time, happy somatic tracking.