Indeed, this ability is innate in our human nature, albeit forgotten in a dark corner inside the self. Yet, it is there waiting to emerge into the light of our awareness. It becomes the space where our mind, body, inner world and the world communicate. Once in our awareness, presence will turn every experience into an opportunity to learn, adapt and grow. At this point an important question was born in my mind: How can I create space for people to experience presence by design?
The birth of Somatic Thinking
Somatic Thinking was born from the question, “How can I create space for people to experience presence by design?”. Leveraging my 30+ years of martial and healing arts experience as well as 15+ years of coaching individuals and groups on four continents in three languages, I felt empowered to build a shortcut to presence. I designed Somatic Thinking as a philosophy and coaching methodology with the sole purpose to create space for people to experience the state of presence and adopt it as their predominant state of being in the world.
The philosophy in the name
The first part of Somatic Thinking is the word ‘somatic’ originates from the Greek ‘soma’ meaning the body. A human being is a meaning-making creature that interacts with life, through a physical form that is called the body (Gendlin, 2003). Life is a physical experience, a world that is rich with sensory information (Gendlin, 2003). It offers us energies that stimulate the senses of our body, which is capable of sending and receiving sensory information. Once our mind perceives the stimuli, we interpret the sensory information giving it some meaning, forming ideas, making decisions and then acting. In brief, the body shapes the mind (Pfeifer, R., & Bongard, J. C., 2007)
The second part ‘Thinking’ is the ability to use the mind to consider something. ‘Somatic Thinking’ as a concept helped me describe the partnership between the body and the mind when experiencing life, which is widely known as embodied cognition (Mahon, B. Z., & Caramazza, A. , 2008) and recognized in coaching through the embodied perspectives of physicality in coaching (e.g., (Jackson, 2017)).
Somatic Thinking is defined
It is “Experiencing life in partnership with the body for presence and holistic awareness, making fulfilment and ease the prevalent state of being”.
I am not reinventing the wheel I am just upgrading it. The concept of body and mind forming a holistic partnership is well established in psychotherapy (e.g. (Reich, 1927). (Röhricht, F., Gallagher, S., Geuter, U, & Hutto, D. D., 2013)) and has been taken up by phenomenologists (e.g. (Merleau-Ponty, 2002) ), sociologists (e.g., (Waskul, D., & Vannini, P. , 2006) ), bioenergetic scientists (e.g., (Lowen, 1994); (Cotter, 1996)) as well as coaching scholars (e.g., (Silsbee, 2008); (Jackson, 2017); (Whitworth, L., Kimsey-House, K., Kimsey-House, H., & Sandahl, P., 2007)).
For instance, the steps of a) receiving and sending sensory information in the body and b) making meaning of this information through thinking form what I refer to as the human interaction cycle (HIC) in Somatic Thinking. This cycle is acknowledged in psychotherapy (e.g., (Reich, 1927)) and health care sciences (e.g., (Jarvis, 2012)) as shaping our relationship to current experiences and all our future relationships to similar experiences. Gestalt psychology (e.g., (Bluckert, 2006)) posits that it also helps us craft our values, beliefs, identity and behaviour.
Somatic Thinking offers a new perspective that rearranged the wisdom we inherited, about the body and mind partnership from western and eastern minds to pave a clearer path to presence that is simple, practical and in harmony with all cultural and religious beliefs.