Meghan Sickner
Tools for Love

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What is Somatic Experiencing® (SE)?

As we go through life, most of us do not realize how ongoing stress, an event or series of events have the potential to negatively affect our health, and our ability to deal with and manage stress.

Somatic Experiencing®, or SE® for short, is a mindfulness based method designed to help us overcome the effects of accumulated or ongoing stress, and move through and resolve many types of trauma. By working with the mind-body system, SE® also helps restore balance to our autonomic nervous system, which is the “stress response system” in our body, enabling us to self-regulate (without the use of medication) and manage stress more effectively.

How Somatic Experiencing® is Different From Other Therapies

Dr. Peter Levine, a Medical Biophysicist and Psychologist who has studied the stress response for over 40 years, developed the Somatic Experiencing® method. SE® differs from other mind-body methods in that it does not engage the higher, cognitive brain, but rather the lower, instinctual brain, which is where the autonomic nervous system (the stress response) is housed. In addition, SE® is a resource-oriented model, which means during a session we do not focus on what is wrong, but rather on what is right. SE® is also unique in that we slow down the process and allow time for the autonomic nervous system to adjust and balance.

By working with the mind-body system, the highly aroused “fight, flight or freeze” energies, that are mobilized during a stressful or traumatic event, can be safely experienced and gradually discharged. While animals discharge survival energies produced by stressors naturally, most people do just the opposite by constricting muscles, clenching jaws, constricting the breath, etc. SE® invites the body to release stuck energy, thus restoring balance to the nervous system. You will also learn to identify when you are becoming stressed and learn techniques to help you remain calm and focused.

The Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Institute

The Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Institute was founded in 1996 by Dr. Peter Levine, who has been developing and practicing SE® for over 40 years. Dr. Levine holds doctorate degrees in medical biophysics from the University of California at Berkeley and psychology from California International University. He was a consultant for NASA and has served with the World Affairs Task Force for “Psychologists for Social Responsibility,” and the American Psychological Associations “Presidents Initiative on Responding to Large-Scale Disasters.”

The Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Institute is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit educational and outreach organization dedicated to the worldwide healing and prevention of stress and trauma. It provides professional training in Somatic Experiencing® and outreach to under-served populations and victims of violence, war, and natural disasters. Somatic Experiencing® compliments psychotherapy and other cognitive therapies by bringing awareness of the bodily experience into the equation.

Somatic Experiencing® is currently taught and practiced worldwide by over 5,000 SE Practitioners across the globe. The number of schoolteachers getting certified in the Somatic Experiencing® method is growing as statistics indicate that many of today’s youths have a stress response system that is not functioning properly, resulting in an inability to self-regulate. A teacher’s personal familiarity and experience with Somatic Experiencing helps them stay grounded and calm during challenging classroom situations.

The inherent capacity of the nervous system to self-regulate can be restored, and symptoms of stress and/or trauma can be diminished and, in some cases, even eliminated. If you’d like to find out more about how Somatic Experiencing® can help you, please call 949.510-1621 for a 15-minute consultation.


Your Values Dictate your Destiny.

Your values arise from and are therefore determined by your conscious or unconscious voids (what you perceive as most missing). What you perceive as most missing (void) in your life therefore becomes what you perceive as most important (value). Your underlying private voids drive your overlying public values.

Your fulfillment means the filling of your perceptually empty voids. The hierarchy of your voids determines the hierarchy of your values. The hierarchy of your values determine how you perceive (what you selectively attend to) and how you act (what you selectively intend upon) in your world and therefore they determine your immediate destiny. Since your values change over time, your destiny therefore changes over time. The summation of your series of destinies determines your evolving life journey. Your ultimate or relatively unchanging core value dictates your infinite journey the most. Your transient, changing, crusted hierarchy of values dictates your series of transient finite destinies.

The more important a value is - the higher it will be on your hierarchy of values and the more discipline and order you will have associated with it. The less important a value is - the lower it will be on your hierarchy of values and the less discipline and more disorder your have associated with it.

When you live according to your highest values you become inspired and awaken genius. When you live according to your lower values you require continuous outside motivation and you suppress your genius. Your present purpose or mission for life will reflect your present highest values.

Although determining your values can be practically useful in your daily reality, in actually, nothing is void or missing in the first place, it is only in another unrecognized form. But what you perceive to be 'missing' will become what seems to be 'important'. So this is why our private voids give rise to your public values. You fulfill a void and value through either a perception or an action.

Somato Respiratory Integration Wellness Information

Somato Respiratory Integration Wellness Education is specifically designed to support you in furthering the strategies introduced in Network Spinal Analysis, while giving you new tools to deepen your connection with yourself (body and mind). Through the practice of Somato Respiratory Integration (SRI), you will develop greater access to, and more wisdom from, your body and mind that facilitates greater long term healing.

SRI is achieved by giving the practice member new tools to influence the rhythm of their body. One of the most powerful, and simple ways of achieving change within your body is by changing the pattern and rate of your breathing.

Have you noticed that when you are stressed out, angry, frustrated, or rushed that you breathe differently than when you are happy, relaxed, feeling no stress, or content with what is happening. When you are reacting to negative stresses, usually your breath will be shallow, constricted, rapid, and confined to an isolated region of your chest or abdomen. This breathing pattern puts your body into a defensive reaction, and creates an environment that is anti healing. In this way, your body has taken its energy and resources away from healing, and diverts them to bodily processes used for defending itself against a perceived threat (which the negative situations/feelings create in our mind and bodies). When this negative situation occurs, stress and tension build throughout the body, and it becomes harder and harder to focus on anything other than the threat. At this time, you create a disconnection between the mind and body.

When you are happy, relaxed, under no stress, and content your breathing is deep, expanded, slow, and spread throughout the abdomen and chest. This breathing pattern puts your body into a relaxed and peaceful state, and creates an environment that is pro-healing. Here your body uses its energy and focus for repair and healing because it does not need to spend the energy on defending itself. In this state, stress and tension leave the body, and the mind finds that focusing is much easier. When you are relaxed you are more connected between mind and body. Therefore, your body is more efficient in all of its functions and your mind is able to utilize its energy for critical thinking and coordination of healing processes.

With many people, the ability to “re-connect” back into states of peace and ease after a stressful event has taken place is difficult. Many times these stressful events can create long term patterns within us. You may notice that when you think of a particular event, time, or person that caused you stress in life, your body and mind still react as if the event just happened to you. Your muscles tighten, teeth grind, facial expression changes, tone of voice changes, posture changes, and overall you feel the emotion of it all over again. In this way, significant events or a series of significant events over time can change the body/mind’s pattern of reactions so that even when you are not directly under a stress, you body still stores tension and reacts as if it was.

SRI gives you the tools to break the long term patterns that lock the body and mind into defense. SRI is a combination of breath, movement, focused attention, and light touch that coordinates the body’s rhythms. These exercises give you the ability to connect to the stimulus of the tension, and then through the coordination of breath and movement “re-connect” back to states of peace and ease. Learning to control your breathing while consciously accessing the event(s) that caused your body to develop patterns of tension, allows you body and mind to let go of old patterns and start generating new ones.

It is common for self-awareness to heighten during the course of care in NSA/SRI. Since you will be learning to pay attention to the body’s subtle rhythms, area’s that have been disconnected from your awareness will start to ‘re-connect”. Also, you will learn to redirect your body/mind’s attention from a distressing circumstance to one of inner safety and peace.

During and after some SRI sessions you will likely be aware of emotional shifts. Sometimes the changes will be subtle, and sometimes more intense. You may experience physical sensations such as energy, vibration, heat, or possibly discomfort during or after the session. Connecting to areas/ideas/emotions in the body/mind causes you to become more connected to your truest self, and in these moments powerful changes can occur.

When utilizing these exercises during the session or at home, if you are uncomfortable with your experience or if you feel fear, slow your breathing rhythm and/or use less breath. Focus on directing movement into the chest or abdomen. Remove your hands from the area of distress and redirect your attention to an area of comfort and peace. We will teach you how to locate areas of peace and ease on your first SRI session so you’ll be well prepared to do these exercises.

SRI is made up of 12 different stages (aka breathing exercises). Each stage has skills and breathing patterns that are unique and only found in SRI care. Each stage will help you better connect to you body/mind, and re-establish peace and ease where tension and stress once were.