Clairsentience: A Somatic Approach to Intuition

By Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Ph.D

[Published December 2011 Choice Magazine The Magazine of Professional Coaching]

Clairsentience: A Somatic Approach to Intuition

Somatics has a long and intimate relationship with intuition. Wilhelm Reich, one of the first western somatic practitioners, diverged with Freud’s ‘talking cure’ in the 1930s when he spoke of the importance of the energy body and non-verbal communication as a foundation for transformative healing. The rituals and ceremonies of indigenous people refer to an intuitive body that plays an integral part in altered states of consciousness. In the ancient Sanskrit texts as well as in the writings of Japanese and Chinese sages there are countless references to an intuitive level of somatic knowing. Intuition is our birthright and we can access it through our soma.

First a few words about somatics. ‘Soma’ is from the early Greek which refers to the living body in its wholeness. Somatics is the art and science of the personal and collective soma. Wholeness in this sense includes the physical world of sensations, temperature, weight, movement, streaming, pulsation and vibrations, as well as our images, thoughts, attitudes, yearnings, dreams and language. Somatics declares the human form as the space in which humans act, perceive, think, feel, and express emotions and moods.

Seeing With Our Body

In this interpretation the body is the field where we build trust and intimacy, produce meaningful work, create family and community, bring forth a world in language, and live our spiritual longing. In this view human beings are recognized as a unity which expresses biological, linguistic, historical, social and spiritual lives. Our innate intuitive capacity is inextricably linked to our living tissue. To access our intuition, then, it is necessary to be in touch with the life energy that streams through us. In other words, we need to fully live in our bodies.

Connecting with our intuition through our bodies is called clairsentience; ‘clair’ meaning clear, from clairvoyant meaning ‘seeing clearly’ and ‘sentient’ meaning ‘capable of feeling’ or ‘conscious of,’ i.e. conscious feeling and sensing. We can think of clairsentience, then, as seeing with our bodies.

Experiential Intuition

There are two types of intuition. The first is based on knowledge and experience. For example, the coach who has achieved a level of mastery through study, time and experience that helps her ‘intuitively’ know what the client will do or say next, what move they will make in a particular situation, or even what they are thinking. This is similar to the Grand Master in chess who has played and studied hundreds of thousands of chess matches, which helps him to know – by probability – what move his opponent will most likely make next.

Great martial arts masters provide a similar example. They seem to be able to ‘sense’ where an attack is coming from even before their opponent makes a move. At first this seems like magic or some special trait that was supernaturally bestowed upon them. While it may be that the master martial artist has some predisposition for this skill, in reality this particular type of ‘intuition’ is based in years of rigorous practice and study that is embodied by the practitioner. Through their vast experience and dedicated training they are able to read the nuanced movements of their opponent and then respond skillfully.

Clairsentience

The second form of intuition, which is deeper and has more impact for the client, is when the coach is able to access the unconscious impressions of the client. This means that they have cultivated the capacity to feel and sense the client’s underlying habits of thought, emotion, motivation, and behaviors. Clearly this may be coupled with the first distinction of intuition that is based in experience and time, but it goes a step further in that one can enter into a more profound depth with the client. In this form the coach can distinctly feel what it’s like to be in the shoes of the client.

In clairsentience an intuition may arrive through a feeling, a sense or an image, and may be acted upon in a spontaneous, direct manner without a logical base. For example, when the client first enters the coaching space the coach may feel a sensation galvanize at the edge of their skin that makes them feel uncomfortable. Checking with themselves internally they can see that this state was not generated by them but appeared when the client came into the room. In other words, they were picking up something from the client. They could then ask about the client’s mood and see if their intuition is correct or simply continue to interact with the client and see if there is an underlying mood that is affecting them that they may be blind to.

Another example would be if the coach finds herself suddenly asking a certain line of questions that were unplanned or even unconsidered. She may be surprised about where this interest came from, but when she reflects on it she sees that a particular image appeared in her energetic field that spontaneously moved her to ask certain questions. Let’s say the client was focusing on a difficult relationship with a particular manager when the coach began asking questions about his relationship with his older brothers. “Strange” she may think, “Why did I go there?” Only in reflection did the coach realize that the shadowy image of a male figure appeared to her and it was then she found herself asking the client about his relationship with his older brothers. An intuition of this sort may open an inquiry about a difficult historical relationship with older males that could affect the client’s relationship with his male manager.

Keep in mind that I’m speaking about clairsentience; that is, the intuitive capacity to feel and sense deeply. In clairsentience we pick up things in our body as a feeling, sensing, or image. It’s a kinesthetic experience and it’s important to learn how to read these impressions and not to project one’s own wishes and fears on the client. In many ways this is a slippery slope as coaches can wrongly think of their “intuition” as real and indisputable.

The use of intuition in coaching is fundamental and important, but must be seen in perspective as simply another way to help your client. To think of an intuition as ‘truth’ is both unethical and highly egocentric. Training the facility of intuition must include standards for proper boundaries and a high level of respect for the client’s interpretations and views.

Training The Intuition

Can intuition be trained and embodied? I answer with an unequivocal Yes! Over four decades I have been witness to tens of thousands of people who have learned to develop their clairsentience and to use it skillfully.To develop clairsentient intuitive skills it’s important to remember that we were born with this gift, but it has been pruned out of us by a rationalistic education. We’ve been taught to ignore the deeper messages of our soma and to rely solely on our cognitive processes. Yes, we are rational beings and I’m not arguing against this, but I am saying we have gone too far in this direction and, in doing so, have covered up an important aspect of our potential. To develop our intuition is essentially an uncovering process of what is already there, albeit covered with layers of a Cartesian logic that splits mind and body, emotion and reason, intuition and intellect, the personal and the collective, nature and human. In training coaches to somatically develop their clairsentience we emphasize these points:

  • Be respectful of your client and be explicit about letting them know when you are moving from your intuition. It is very intimate to move into another’s energetic space and to listen to them from there. If someone is uncomfortable with you listening from this place, immediately withdraw your attention.
  • You may have grounding for your intuitive assessments or you may not, but do let your client know where you are assessing from.
  • Know the difference between sensing unconscious impressions from your intuitive body and projecting your own fears and desires. Understand when something is self-generated – coming from your own emotion, mood, history, conditioned tendency – and when you are picking up something intuitively from your client.
  • Learn how to interpret and articulate your intuitions so they are relevant to your client. It’s one thing to be highly intuitive and it’s an entirely different thing to be able to express them in an intelligent, relevant manner.

Clairsentience – intuitive knowing – is a skill that can be mastered. To do this it’s necessary to be in a learning community with a competent teacher who provides operational distinctions.

Coaching has now passed adolescence and is at a level of maturity that can own intuition/clairsentience as a valid and fundamental part of masterful coaching.

 

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Courage

Don’t just do something, stand there…… take a breather from the internet, infomercials, the dramas and challenges.  Go for a walk, take some space, sit in silence to connect to the real web ………and then do something.

Courage                                                                                                               
The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all of one’s heart.”

We all seek the experience of being connected and alive. The difficulty is that to find the connection we desire, we must not be afraid of it. Courage is not as much about going off to fight dragons as it is about facing our demons, tolerating our feelings, and not reacting so quickly, in order to hear what our emotions are trying to tell us. Empathy requires a profound fearlessness to listen to and even embrace what we do not know, sometimes for a long time. Sometimes it takes great courage to not do anything and just listen.

One day a young woman in her mid-20s, Joanne, showed up at our door. She was strung out, suicidal, and wanted help to kick her heroin addiction. Judith and I knew her a half dozen years earlier as a bright, loving, and capable friend. Now with her mind and body compromised by drugs, she was fighting for her life. Joanne spent the next month at our house. Never completely clean, her ability to be honest with herself was patchy. Several neighbors helped where they could, but none of us had much experience with this sort of thing.  We called on our friend Peter, an ex addict now clean for 30 years who surely had some understanding of what Joanne was up against.  Peter wept as he told us of people he had known, befriended and tried to help that had died and his fear of putting his heart back on the line once again with someone who might go back on the streets and self destruct. This being true, the next day he offered to go with Joanne to Narcotics Anonymous every day for the next 30 days if she would commit to it!  He cared. Her courage to fight moved him; his courage to help moved her. When last we spoke, Joanne was on a healing path! Peter, died recently and the mark he left most on me and the people who knew him is the courage he had for authentically being his caring, playful, jokester, artist self.

Carl Rogers, the founder of humanistic psychology, said, “What we are most ashamed of is often what is most common.” We’re wired to tell our stories, and even though our mother culture teaches us not to reveal our imperfections, this is where we can deeply connect. Common sense tells us that we are all in this together and this being the case there is a collective processesing and learning we are a part of.  Living our lives more courageously honest and transparently is an essential shift towards healthy community. Through the years in our workshops, there is nothing more moving than when someone who is afraid to reveal his or her self musters the courage to speak out and does so for the sake of genuinely connecting and contributing to the others in the room.

When someone courageously risks vulnerability against all his or her imperfections, it opens the hearts of those near by. Surprisingly, people who are considered the least likely leaders can end up inspiring us the most. Everyday people and everyday acts of courage and heart change everything

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Somatic Consensus

Somatic Consensus practices help align our core values with our words and actions. By “coming to our senses,” we can access a discriminating wisdom and be more balanced and centered as we face the unknowns of life, love and learning.

To live our lives  fully, it is essential to understand and articulate what we deeply care about. This is where Somatic Consensus begins. Somatic Consensus training engages our physical, emotional, linguistic, intellectual and intuitive resources and helps them work together so we can build our capacity to manage mood and emotion, take skillful, decisive action and relate compassionately. In our busyness, relationships are often not given what they need.  Somatic Consensus processes honor the time and space needed to create connection and build trust. Training draws upon the traditions of mastery from the non-aggressive martial art of Aikido.  Add Somatic Coaching and Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to the mix, and you get simple yet deep techniques for recognizing our mind and body’s habitual reactions to pressure.  This recognition paves the way to more skillful and inclusive responses in challenging moments and turns old reactions into powerful new resources for connection and healing. Intentional, deliberate and committed practice over time Somatic Consensus builds within us the qualities of dignity, grace, empathy, compassion and integrity in a similar way that a martial artist or a craftsman builds his or her muscles, skills and abilities.

These programs draw from the fields of:

  • Somatics and Somatic Psychology
  • The non-aggressive martial art of Aikido
  • Nonviolent Communication
  • Consensus Decision Making models
  • Mindfulness

(Brief descriptions are below) Objectives and Outcomes in a nutshell:

  • Sustainability
  • Skill building
  • Caring relationships and fostering empathy
  • Empowerment for the students and the school
  • Enhanced critical thinking and performance
  • Accountability and personal investment

“Body of Wisdom gave me tools to have better awareness and increased sensitivity within my communications.” —Doug Orton “Go to the Body of Wisdom workshop! It’s worth it, but you might not know the real reason why until afterward.” —Kathy Buys

 

David Weinstock is the originator of Somatic Consensus and founder of Liminal Somatics.  He is a certified Somatic Coach through the Strozzi Institute and Stuart Heller’s Five Rings Coaching Institute.  He is a certified international trainer of Nonviolent Communication and a teacher and practitioner of Aikido for 30 years. His workshops and classes are designed to develop the abilities to self-direct, self-generate, and navigate through the complexities of life with greater clarity and integrity. He leads trainings locally and around the world—in his community, schools, prisons, and communities on four continents.

David draws from 35 years experience as an entrepreneur and artisan. As a respected Master Goldsmith he helped to create Green Karat, an organization that tackles the environmental hazards of the gold industry by promoting recycled, post-consumer gold and stones. David is currently a board member and co-founder of Peace Dojos International. This is an organization that works for peace and justice by means of self- mastery and community service with the martial arts as its medium. David serves as Executive Director of Community Artworks an organization devoted to helping community leaders manifest their dreams through the practice of fully embodied skills and actions.

Judith Weinstock teaches Nonviolent Communication, Re-Evaluation Counseling and somatic practices through the mediums of food, music and communication. She has published two cookbooks and for the last ten years Judith has been teaching “Humanities Through Food”, a curriculum that she has developed that integrates history, ethics, economics, nutrition, agriculture, culture, science and food politics through the lens of food and the art of cooking.  She is currently writing a third cookbook based on this curriculum. Judith Weinstock teaches Re-evaluation Counseling and Nonviolent Communication .  She has taught/coached voice as a somatic practice.

David and Judith co-founded an intentional community, where they have raised their family over the past twenty five years. They have devoted their adult lives to practicing community, committing themselves to an integrated and intentional way of life. All of their work is based on building our connection to one another and to nature. They are committed to bringing all voices to the circle, reclaim community and value diversity so we can sustain life on this planet for generations to come.

 

Core Skills and Knowledge

  • Empathic listening
  • The Foundations for Mastery
  • Nonviolent Communication-verbal and non-verbal skills
  • Leadership Training
  • Earth/Body connections

 

Through this Program students will learn to:

  • Transform self‐limiting beliefs and habits
  • Effectively manage and regulate moods
  • Take decisive action
  • Trust their intuition and improve the sense of timing
  • Embrace a greater community vision while attending to details
  • Recognize and cultivate/ natural strengths, talents, and intelligences
  • Bring to a more conscious level what they communicate beyond words
  • Build the ability to take action gracefully under pressure
  • Develop their ability to self-regulate self-organize and self-motivate
  • Practice becoming a more receptive listener and offer greatersupport to one another
  • Reveal and enhance their unique leadership style, deepening the capacity to listen and speak their truth
  • Make requests that produce results
  • Take decisive action that aligns with values
  • Declare their commitments and more effectively fulfill them
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Somatic Consensus Training

Somatic Consensus practices help align our core values with our words and actions. By “coming to our senses,” we can access a discriminating wisdom and be more balanced and centered as we face the unknowns of life, love and learning.

2014-05-15 16.55.36-1To live our lives  fully, it is essential to understand and articulate what we deeply care about. This is where Somatic Consensus begins. Somatic Consensus training engages our physical, emotional, linguistic, intellectual and intuitive resources and helps them work together so we can build our capacity to manage mood and emotion, take skillful, decisive action and relate compassionately. In our busyness, relationships are often not given what they need.  Somatic Consensus processes honor the time and space needed to create connection and build trust. Training draws upon the traditions of mastery from the non-aggressive martial art of Aikido.  Add Somatic Coaching and Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to the mix, and you get simple yet deep techniques for recognizing our mind and body’s habitual reactions to pressure.  This recognition paves the way to more skillful and inclusive responses in challenging moments and turns old reactions into powerful new resources for connection and healing. Intentional, deliberate and committed practice over time Somatic Consensus builds within us the qualities of dignity, grace, empathy, compassion and integrity in a similar way that a martial artist or a craftsman builds his or her muscles, skills and abilities.

These programs draw from the fields of:

  • Somatics and Somatic Psychology
  • The non-aggressive martial art of Aikido2014-05-12 14.08.22
  • Nonviolent Communication
  • Consensus Decision Making models
  • Mindfulness

(Brief descriptions are below) Objectives and Outcomes in a nutshell:

  • Sustainability
  • Skill building
  • Caring relationships and fostering empathy
  • Empowerment for the students and the school
  • Enhanced critical thinking and performance
  • Accountability and personal investment

IMG_1816“Body of Wisdom gave me tools to have better awareness and increased sensitivity within my communications.” —Doug Orton “Go to the Body of Wisdom workshop! It’s worth it, but you might not know the real reason why until afterward.” —Kathy Buys

Core Skills and Knowledge

  • Empathic listening
  • The Foundations for Mastery
  • Nonviolent Communication-verbal and non-verbal skills
  • Leadership Training
  • Earth/Body connections

Through this Program students will learn to:

  • Transform self‐limiting beliefs and habits
  • Effectively manage and regulate moods
  • Take decisive action
  • Trust their intuition and improve the sense of timing
  • Embrace a greater community vision while attending to details
  • Recognize and cultivate/ natural strengths, talents, and intelligences
  • Bring to a more conscious level what they communicate beyond words
  • Build the ability to take action gracefully under pressure
  • Develop their ability to self-regulate self-organize and self-motivate
  • Practice becoming a more receptive listener and offer greatersupport to one another
  • Reveal and enhance their unique leadership style, deepening the capacity to listen and speak their truth
  • Make requests that produce results
  • Take decisive action that aligns with values
  • Declare their commitments and more effectively fulfill them

 

  1. Somatic Consensus: This portion of the training is designed to help students to clarify the future they desire and develop the skills they need to make this future a reality. Participants examine embedded patterns that often go unnoticed and learn simple daily centering practices for aligning their core values with their words and actions.
  2. Embodying Nonviolent Communication:Students will learn to work through conflicts and increase their capacity to resource diversity. In the NVC “Dojo”, practice transforms old embodied strategies and verbal patterns that no longer work for us into resources that produce an authenticity and presence that inspire trust and credibility.
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Nonviolent Communication Basics

We can make life miserable or wonderful for ourselves and others depending upon how we think and communicate.” Marshall Rosenberg

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a language of compassion and offers a path for positive social change to come back to when we lose our way in the complexities of relationship. The integration of thinking, feeling, and intuition is at the heart of NVC training and the domain of the consciousness it cultivates. Practicing NVC grounds word and action in a consciousness that cultivates compassionate connection with others by identifying the “needs” that underlie our own and others’ feelings and actions. In this appendix are some of the very basic forms and distinctions of NVC, that Marshal Rosenberg, its founder refers to as the map and not the territory. The territory is the consciousness. Marshall’s book is a quick, easy, and an excellent read for those wanting to learn the basics. As with any art, these rudiments necessarily must be learned, practiced, understood, embodied and then let go of so as not to become rote and block creativity. Like training wheels on a bike, they help us learn but can eventually impede us.

Nonviolent Communication in its most expansive form is a way of life and its principles of non-violence can be practiced everywhere. Nonviolent Communication is brilliant in its simplicity, with many distinctions and nuanced skills to learn. NVC skills emphasize taking personal responsibility for our actions and the choices we make when we respond to others, as well as how to contribute to relationships based in cooperation and collaboration. With NVC we train with the intention to connect on the heart level and, as much as possible, keep our attention in the present moment and not stuck in the past of the “he-said” “she-said” blame and shame game.

Honesty and empathy are two parts to Nonviolent Communication’s core language skills.

  • Honesty in the form of expressing your present-moment observations, feelings, needs, and requests.      
  • Empathy in the form of connecting with another person’s present-moment feelings and needs.

Empathy begins with self-empathy in the form of connecting with your own present-moment feelings and needs (experiencing them internally beyond simply naming them). Empathy, self-empathy and honesty are practiced and expressed through four components – observations, feelings, needs, and requests.

Observation: To state concrete, clear observations of actions you observe in yourself or the other person. It helps to describe observations as something that can be clearly captured on a video camera. Be sure to separate moral judgments and evaluations from the specific behaviors and conditions that are being observed. (This is much more difficult than it sounds.)

Feelings: State the feeling that the observation is triggering in you. Or, guess what the other person is feeling, and ask. Identify and articulate what you are feeling as distinguished from what you are thinking or the judgments you may have. Feelings include emotions, body sensations, moods, and states of mind.

Needs: Once you know what you are feeling, use that to help identify and articulate your needs. In NVC, “needs” are essential and universal human needs we all have in common such as safety, belonging, and understanding. NVC practices help distinguish needs from the strategies we use to meet our needs. If your perception of a need includes a specific person, place, action, or time, it is a strategy masquerading as a need.

Requests: Make requests that are clear, positive, actionable, and that honor one another’s needs. Be sure to tell the other person what you would like them to do, never what you want them not to do, or what you want them to stop doing. The primary difference between a request and a demand is that, if the other person says “no” to your request, there are never any negative repercussions.

NVC Quick Tips, Tools and Distinctions

Needs, not Wrong-ness

If you are feeling upset, instead of thinking about what’s wrong with others or yourself, think about what need of yours is not being met and what could be done to meet it.

Mourning and Celebration: We mourn what we love that we miss and celebrate what is present in our lives that we love. Both, forms of gratitude are essential to healing and their expression honors life.

The Four “D”s are ways of thinking that disconnect us from ourselves and others:

  • Diagnosis– judgment, blame, criticism and labeling
  • Denial– of responsibility for our own feelings and actions, or denying someone else theirs
  • Demand– a form of coercion rather than request
  • Deserve- assuming that certain behaviors merit certain consequences

Don’t put your “but” in someone’s face especially if they are angry. Learn to replace the word “but” with “and” and then re-work the sentence into a more congruent and positive statement.

Sorry

Whenever you want to say you are sorry, instead of self-deprecating supplication, express your sadness and true regrets for what you have done and what you would have loved to have done instead. A different way of saying I am sorry might be,

“I regret what I just said, it didn’t meet my need to help us connect in ways that honor one another.”

Exaggerations and Generalizations

Mixing what you actually observe with exaggerations and generalizations will invite reaction. Be careful using such words like never, frequently, always, usually, a lot, many, seldom, etc. Practice being as clear as possible with the words you use to describe what you observe.

“Should-ing”

“Should” is a socially acceptable yet somewhat veiled demanding way of telling someone(or ourselves) what to do. Whenever “should” is spoken, notice how it feels to receive, then translate it into a question to yourself as to whether it is something you willingly choose to do or not.

Reflecting

When things get emotional, ask if you can reflect what the other is saying because you really want to hear what they want you to understand. When someone really experiences you doing your best to understand him or her, there is very little for them to resist.

Demand or Request

When asking someone to do something, check first to see if you are making a request or if it is really a demand.

It’s Hard to do a Don’t

Instead of requesting what you DON’T want someone to do, say what you DO want the person to do in clear, positive, do-able language.

Find Common Ground

Before agreeing or disagreeing with anyone’s opinions, try to tune in to what the person is feeling and needing.

Yes behind the No

Instead of saying “no,” say what need of yours is preventing you from saying “yes.”

Expressing Gratitude

Instead of praising someone who did something you like, express your gratitude by telling the person what need of yours that action met.

Moral Judgments and Labeling

Liberate our selves from verbs” to be” Thinking someone is_____

Whenever you use the words, “You are….”, remember that you are either labeling or making a personal judgment of another.

Appreciation is not a Need. We are often taught to use appreciation as a way of manipulation instead of a sincere celebration of how my life has been enriched. Appreciation is a request for confirmation that I have contributed to your well-being.

40 words

We can often loose connection by using more than 40 words at a time in any heated dialogue.

Beware of Labels

Move away from the use of static labels to analyze, criticize, or categorize. Practice speaking in ways that recognize and honor one another as changing beings.

 Needs and Feelings

A brilliant distinction that NVC brings forth is that our deeper individual and mutual needs are one and the same, and that where we get hung up is in the strategies we choose to meet our needs. Identifying needs gives us both the focus and the energy to find the necessary words and take effective action—to form the kinds of requests that produce life-enriching results. Marshall and other trainers often give a list of words that help identify needs. Increasing our “needs and feelings” vocabulary to express such qualities of being is revelatory and essential, but words alone fall short in expressing the actual beauty and scope of what needs actually are. Universal human needs are something that we all share, and the notion is that we all have an equal right to have our needs met. I extend this idea to include the non-human world as well, recognizing our partnership and equality with the plants, animals, and earth as a whole. In other words, no one’s spirit is greater or lesser. It is how we think, judge, and interpret that differs. When we focus primarily on our different ways of thinking, we can easily lose sight of our humanness and the deep needs that we all share.

 

Needs

9 needs in order of physical to spiritual

Sustenance, Safety, Love, Empathy, Creativity, Play, Rest, Community, Autonomy, Meaning

 More Needs

acceptance
affection
appreciation
belonging
cooperation
communication
closeness
community
companionship
compassion
consideration
consistency
empathy
inclusion
intimacy
love
mutuality
nurturing
safety
security
stability
support
to see and be seen
to understand
to be understood
trust
warmth
air
food
movement/exercise
rest/sleep
sexual expression
safety
shelter
touch
water
authenticity
integrity
presence
joy
humor
beauty
communion
ease
equality
harmony
inspiration
order
choice
freedom
independence
space
stimulation
to matter
awareness
challenge
clarity
competence
consciousness
creativity
discovery
efficacy
effectiveness
growth
hope
learning
mourning
participation
purpose
self-expression

 

Feelings

Words describe experience. Most of us have a very limited vocabulary for how we feel. We feel good, ok, bad, tired, busy, or sad. Expanding our vocabulary and ability to feel into sensation and articulate the nuances of what we feel clarifies the messages we send. Thoughts convey to the listener what we are thinking. Feelings convey to the listener our emotional and/or physical states.

Generally, thoughts precede what we feel and what we feel can dominate our thoughts. Thoughts or beliefs (which are also thoughts) may be conscious or unconscious. Some of our core beliefs are buried deep below the surface of our awareness. A feeling can occur alone, and the mind will search for a thought, a story, to attach to it. That is precarious, because often the story actually isn’t connected to the feeling, but our mind likes to have an explanation. In order to be fully understood when discussing a conflict, the listener needs to know the speaker’s thoughts and feelings. Therefore, feelings and thoughts need to be clearly differentiated and articulated. This all matters for one simple reason: thoughts and feelings are two different types of data. More data and accurate data expressed gives us the best shot at being understood, loved, and respected. When we hear the word “I feel” followed by “like,” “as if,” or “that” and then a pronoun or a person’s name, the statement is most likely a thought, not an actual feeling. Let’s explore this somatically:

1. First imagine you are speaking with someone. Now, with feeling, say each sentence below, one at a time, as if each were true for you. After each sentence, notice if what you are actually feeling is actually clear to you or not.

·      I feel like you do not understand me.

·      It feels as if we are never going to be together.

·      I feel like you don’t care about a clean house.

·      I feel like Bob is heading for some big problems

 

  1. Now we’ll add a true feeling after the word “feel.” Read this set of sentences and see if what you feel is clearer
  • I feel frustrated when you tell me you will be on time and then you arrive late.
  • I feel hopeless trying to find the connection I so want with you.
  • I feel pissed when I come home to such a mess.
  • I feel scared when I see Bob drinking every night.

This first set of sentences each express a thought rather than a feeling. Receiving such statements will most likely be heard as an evaluation or criticism.

The second set of sentences conveys clearly the feeling experienced by the speaker. When our communication transmits that we are taking responsibility for our feelings, the listener will relax more and is less likely to hear blame or judgment.

Feelings when your needs are satisfied:

compassionate
friendly
loving
open hearted
sympathetic
tender
warm
absorbed
alert
curious
engrossed
enchanted
entranced
fascinated
interested
intrigued
involved
spellbound
stimulated
expectant
thrilled        vibrant
open
proud
safe
secure
animated
ardent
aroused
astonished
dazzled
eager
energetic
enthusiastic
giddy
invigorated
lively
passionate
surprised
optimistic
appreciative
moved
thankful
touched
amazed
awed
wonder
amused
delighted
glad
happy
jubilant
pleased
tickled
blissful
ecstatic
elated
enthralled
exuberant
radiant
calm
clear headed
comfortable
centered
content
fulfilled
mellow
quiet
relaxed
relieved
satisfied
serene
still
tranquil
trusting
enlivened
rejuvenated
renewed
rested
restored


Feelings when your needs are not satisfied:

apprehensive
dread
foreboding
frightened
mistrustful
panicked
petrified
scared
suspicious
terrified
wary
worried
aggravated
dismayed
disgruntled
displeased
exasperated
frustrated
impatient
irritated
irked
enraged
furious
incensed
indignant
irate
livid
outraged
resentful
animosity
dazed
hesitant
lost
mystified
perplexed
puzzled
torn
alienated
aloof
apathetic
bored
cold
detached
distant
distracted
indifferent
numb
removed
uninterested
withdrawn
agitated
alarmed
discombobulated
disconcerted
disturbed
perturbed
rattled
restless
shocked
startled
ashamed
chagrined
flustered
guilty
mortified
self-conscious
beat
burned out
depleted
exhausted
lethargic
listless
sleepy
tired
weary
worn out
agony
anguished
bereaved
devastated
grief stricken
heartbroken
hurt
lonely
miserable
regretful
remorseful
depressed
dejected
despair
distressed
distraught
edgy
fidgety
frazzled
irritable
jittery
nervous
overwhelmed
restless
stressed out
fragile
guarded
helpless
insecure
leery
reserved
sensitive
shaky
envious
jealous
longing
nostalgic
pining
heavy hearted
hopeless
melancholy
unhappy
wretched wistful
Some Marshallisms

Here are some quotes of Marshall Rosenberg that he shared in his trainings:

  • “Every diagnosis is a self-fulfilling prophecy. What you see is who you get.”
  • “When you see someone as complaining you are already in diagnosis. You have to learn how to enjoy their pain.”
  • “Empathic connection before fixing.”
  • “Only empathize if it is something you are doing for yourself. When it meets your need to go surfing with the divine energy. If not, then do something else.”
  • “There is a difference between asking if that is clear and would you tell me what you heard.”
  • “When you want someone to change, consider both, what would it is that you’d like the other person to do differently and what do you want their reasons to be for doing it?”
  • “When your feeling positive your needs are met.”
  • “When your feeling negative your needs are not met.”
  • “We all meet our needs to the best of our abilities.”
  • “Anything that is worth doing is worth doing poorly.”
  • “Empathize, don’t justify.”
  • “Unexpressed fear is almost always heard as aggression.”
  • “Rewards take the rewards out of it.”
  • “Respect as a feeling is a bit dangerous because we think we get it from another.”
  • “To give is domination, if I cannot receive.”
  • “When someone is talking a lot, look for need under the pain that is moving him or her to talk.”
  • “When some one is talking a lot you can say, I need to stop and need to know what you want from me. The feeling under the words must be patient.”
  • On regrets he said, “We do things we wouldn’t have done if we knew than what we are learning now.”
  • “Do not think what you say is empathy, this is off target; empathy is where we connect our consciousness with our intentions.”
  • “A hug is a mug, when you give it to someone when they need empathy.   When you do it to get rid of the pain because you cant stand their pain.”
  • “We are responsible for our intentions and actions.”
  • “How others reinterpret our actions and intentions is what creates their feelings, this is out of our control and we cannot be responsible for their feelings.”
  • “When people keep repeating themselves is where they need empathy.”
  • “We can only experience pain when it touches beauty.”
  • “Don’t try to be perfect try to get less stupid”.
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My Intentional Community

1https://wiseacrescommunity.squarespace.com

 

Wise Acres Cooperative Association, established in 1990, is a thriving multi-generational community in the rural waterfront town of Indianola, Washington. The original 9 home sites are individually owned and members share ~20 acres of forested greenbelt, a common house, gardens, orchards, well and roads collectively. Over the years Persephone Farm and various new friends and families have moved to adjoining lands, expanding our Community with their gifts and efforts.

 An “intentional community” is where people come together with the intention and commitment to create Community.  Wiseacres has chosen the path of consensus and its original intention of sharing resources, raising children together and nurturing the land made all the sense in the world and it still holds true.

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Interview for the workshop at the Bodhi Center

Head Shot best

                                                       Click here to listen

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David and Judith’s Music

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The Roots of Somatic Consensus

katya

Much of my adult life has been dedicated to fostering relationships and communities where all voices are valued and in which everyone thrives. This commitment took on a world of new challenges in 1990 when my wife, Judith and I joined with eight other families to start the intentional community in which we have raised our families. Our common vision—to steward the land, share resources wherever possible, and care for our children more collaboratively—made all the sense in the world then and still holds true today. Determined and filled with a sense of purpose, the other co-founders, Judith and I walked into the tasks of community with the best intentions.

The struggles and trials during our community’s formative years were plentiful and took us far beyond our comfort zones. Intuitively, we chose consensus as the process for working things out with the hope of making more inclusive, collaborative decisions together. At the start, we found precious few people we could ask for guidance—someone who had experience with consensus or even with an intact, healthy family or community in which inter-generational relationships were a part of daily life. None of us knew what consensus really was. None of us had grown up with it, and those who thought they did know what it was made the most headaches for themselves and the others. Our community felt like a pressure cooker in a house of mirrors, relentlessly reflecting ourselves in one another’s eyes.

The Seeds of Somatic Consensus

At a time when we were desperate to find better ways to work through our differences, one of my neighbors organized a weekend workshop on Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg, NVC’s core teachings illuminate how our feelings put us in touch with our deeper, universal human needs, and that when these become the source of our words and actions, we create conditions conducive to enriching, healthier relationships through compassionate exchange.

  • Nonviolent Communication

This introductory workshop brought up more questions than it answered, but the power in its principles was evident, so we pursued it further. Soon after, at another workshop, I was given the instruction to sit and listen with empathy to two women who were engaged in a role-playing conflict. At the time, I found the explanations of empathy somewhat vague, so I filled them in with my imagination. As the role-playing got underway, the women began to argue. I quieted my breath and thoughts. I imagined a listening field as a bubble around me that grew to include and gently hold the women with care. This produced a heightened sensitivity to who these women were underneath their heated words. The space felt charged with an aliveness that bridged the distance between us. Something felt familiar, and then I was struck with an epiphany. This is Aikido! I realized that empathy in Nonviolent Communication was the same as a ki field in Aikido, and that giving empathy to these two women was something that I had been practicing for 20 years while training in the peaceful martial art of Aikido.

  • Aikido

When I first started Aikido, I was working as an activist for social justice and environmental causes, teaching workshops and producing benefits to raise awareness and funds for these causes. Aikido provided a “do” or path to navigate the diversity, strong emotions and conflicts that arose with dignity and grace. Encoded within Aikido practice is the intention of loving protection for all. Aikido develops the ability to be skillfully empathic in the face of conflict. Not unlike the “force” in the famous Star Wars movie series, one of the more esoteric core aspects of Aikido is training with ki. When someone attacks in Aikido training, we learn to surround the attac

ker with an intention of loving protection, an energetic ki field, much like I did with the two women in the NVC role-playing exercise. When you include another in such a way, it becomes possible to sense the intentions and needs at the core of another’s aggressive words or actions, and by doing so, to harmonize the “attack” at its source, before it has time to turn to violence.

If initial signs of conflict are ignored or not attended to, often more harmful or violent strategies emerge in order to get our attention. The more difficult a conflict is, the more urgent the message that is trying to reveal itself.

From that moment on, I began to find ways that these two harmonizing traditions complement and inform each other. Nonviolent Communication offers an elegant language to those who study Aikido, and Aikido lends kinesthetic elements to every aspect of Nonviolent Communication. As a kinesthetic learner, I found it difficult to understand NVC in the traditional ways it was taught to me. Aikido’s time-honored tradition of mastery suggested exciting new ways to embody Nonviolent Communications principles.

  • Somatic Coaching

All roads led me to the cutting-edge field of Somatics—the art and practice of sensing the body as experienced from within, and I began my training as a somatic coach. The emergent field of Somatics clarifies how repetitive responses to life’s situations become lodged in our nervous systems and muscles and how independent and often inappropriate or unproductive our habituated responses can be from what is happening in the present moment. Simply put, your body will do what it has repetitively learned to do. Daily, we see messages that commercialize and distance us from our bodies instead of acknowledging the body as a source of learning and an ever-present wealth of information about ourselves. When you train your attention to shift from the dramas you perceive to what is happening in your body, your body becomes a place to come home to when you lose your bearings.

Somatics address historical habits with the promise of intentional recurrent practice in learning new skills and interpretations. It confirms the instinctual wisdom of our own bodies to participate deeply in our own healing. By tuning directly into our sensory experience, we can discharge the anxiety held in old embodied reactions, contact deep needs that have been habitually ignored, and cultivate resources for connecting with one another more capably and enjoyably. Our bodies put us in touch with our emotions, and our emotions, when consciously listened to, tell us what matters and what we need. Love is truly felt and followed by listening to our body’s most subtle messages.

  • Consensus

Consensus was the model my community chose from the start. Much like marriage or having children, no matter what anyone tells you, the only way to understand consensus is to experience it, over time. Paradoxically, like the proverbial chicken and egg, the principles of consensus inform its practices while the practices slowly reveal insights regarding its principles. Living consensus invites self-reflection, honesty, and transparency in relationships. Its ever-changing dance of interdependence trains those who practice it to pulse more fluidly between “me” and “we” and offers insights for entering the profound mystery of relationship with dignity and grace. Its dynamic processes develop an appreciation for the messiness inherent to enduring relationships. There are no straight lines. Insights from working with consensus show up in their own time. In the middle of the conflicts and protective stances that occurred in my community, a sweetness arose that created the bonds and longevity of our community, and that birthed an intense devotion and tolerance for our differences. Far more than an alternative to Robert’s Rules of Order or parliamentary procedure, the consensus process we have nurtured over the years has revealed itself to be a way of life. It is about who we are and how we show up with each other within and outside meetings.

Practicing consensus within a community, the skills of Aikido, Nonviolent Communication, and Somatics are the cornerstones of Somatic Consensus. These currents join in the practices I present as a way to synchronize language, emotions, and actions through meaning that is deeply felt.

Reclaiming our faculties to deeply feel and empathize is central in Somatic Consensus practice. We need only ask ourselves, “Why do so many marriages end in divorce these days?” “Why the alarming rate of sexual abuse and sky-rocketing incarceration?” “If we truly felt our interdependence and our common humanity, could we cut down ancient forests, bulldoze delicate ecosystems, overfish and pollute our waters, and in doing so extinguish species at such an alarming rate, jeopardizing future generations’ sources of life?” “Would we create such incredible weapons of mass destruction or let such an enormous discrepancy grow between the haves and the have-nots?”

From intimate relationships to international politics, the consequences are evident, and the cause originates from the deep mistrust of our own bodies, feelings, and senses. Our society’s glorification of thinking over feeling splits heart-brain unity into two essentially separate and even antagonistic systems. This schism leads to a long procession of incoherent and destructive personal and communal patterns. Who we are is a whole body affair.

Quiet your breath and thoughts and just feel your body. Your body is a web of interconnectedness. And your survival depends on one quadrillion single-cell microorganisms—not human cells—that make up all but 10 percent of your body weight. Your body is a diverse community. This is who you are.

Whether endeavoring to listen to our internal conflicts in our most intimate relationships, raising our families, building community, or growing organizations with thousands of members, the virtues to cultivate and the basic skills to be learned and honed are one and the same. The more practice the better! Somatic Consensus distills processes for the practice of community. It addresses a politic based in the reclamation of more whole and healthy relationships that grow our ability for living more collaboratively and thinking more collectively. This is where choices are made from a broad moral commonwealth that can sustain and generate a nurturing future for generations to come.

 

 

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The Missing Ingredient

2013-07-12 15.13.10A RECIPE FOR COMMUNITY

We are—by our very nature—communal. Our bodies are a wildly complex ecosystem that reflects the vitality and diversity of the landscape that feeds us. Somatic food practices invite us to fully and empathically engage in the connection between the life we live and the life that feeds us. To begin these practices we must tease apart and identify what we care about and how those values inform our choices in how we answer to our hunger. This can be an arduous and challenging process, because every aspect of being human is cellularly shaped by our primal experiences of being fed and loved. These two fundamental needs fit hand in glove: they are the prime ingredients for creating a sense of well being that supports our potential to imagine, engage our curiosity, explore, invent, and create. But first, we must eat to stay alive!

Marshall Rosenberg brilliantly articulated the human duality of me/we, and our striving for both autonomy and community, a sense of belonging. The premise of his articulation of universal needs is that it is possible for everyone’s needs to get met. Marrying this idea to somatic food practices when so many are going hungry on this planet, we are participating in a revolutionary process: to answer to our hunger in a manner that is life-serving, around the planet and across all species.

Within a global food system in a global economy our food choices impact all life. This most personal human act has profound public ramifications like no other time in history.

Our personal health and the health of the planet are bosom buddies. They suckle from the same teat. We are as inextricably linked as the roots of the apple trees in the earth that holds/feeds them to produce those delicious apples that we put in our children’s lunches or in the pie that we put on our table for dessert. The health of our internal landscape is in direct relationship to the health and vitality of the community of life that fills our plates and bellies. To nurture and reclaim the health of our bodies is to restore the health of the earth.

Somatic Consensus and FoodIMG_0450

Somatic consensus provides a foundation from which we can begin the journey and practice of aligning “head-over-heart-over belly” as a generative practice to inform our food choices. The following is an example of what this process might look like:

Belly: I’m hungry!!!! Feed me. NOW!

Heart: O.K. Settle down. You’re not starving…let’s go out to the garden, pick some veggies and make a beautiful meal. We can invite your friend over!

Belly: I can’t wait! I’m hungry!!!!

Head: We need to make sure we get something healthy into our body. Some protein, a vegetable, a fruit, a little bit of starch.

Belly: There’s a Taco Bell! Let’s stop!

Head: Well, they do have a salad bar…maybe that will work. But, none of it will be organic or local.

Heart: Ah, come on…you know that isn’t the same as cooking something all together and sitting down at the table to share it. Let’s go home and make a salad! I promise we all will feel much better if we do.

Belly: O.K Can we make it quick though?

Head: I’ll gather the salad mixings while you two make a dressing and set the table.

To reclaim our health in somatic terms, we must first embrace the enormity of the importance of community. Spiritually, we hunger to belong. Intellectually, we understand the importance of it. Physically, our health depends on it—food security is by definition biodiversity, which is the abundant community of life that feeds all community—the community of life that is on our plate, the human family/communities that we belong to and the communion of earth, air, water and fire that comes together in cooking for ourselves.
How we relate to food can become a daily empathic practice for deepening connection to all life.  Empathy, our first language and birthright, puts us in touch with the wider horizons of our collective living.

A truism of modern neuroscience is “use it or lose it.” In a culture that values thinking over feeling, our empathic faculties have become somewhat atrophied. Revitalizing our innate empathic abilities takes practice–the more, the better–and since we eat several times a day, our relationship to food presents possibilities to cultivate connection, joy, creativity, and meaning.

When I first feel pangs of hunger, I am aware that in the simple act of turning my attention toward eating and the anticipation sparked begins the process of feeding myself. Hormones are released, my excitement is ignited, the conversation with my body as to what color, what flavor, what texture, what taste is being asked for is the practice of trusting the wisdom of my body and loving that it knows exactly what it needs.   In my delight, I walk out to the garden. Greeting all the colorful and diverse plants there, I invite the intimate conversation my belly so easily divines with the plants.  The following thoughts came out of a walk through the garden to make my lunch.

I walked out to the garden

To listen to the plants whisper their healing message

As I followed my hunger for life.

Red orach screamed purple for passion, beauty, family, community.

Parsley spoke the taste of bitterness, and the ability to transform it to strengthen the beating of my heart.

Arugula—not too much, she said—appreciate spicy medicine and know when to be more gentle on yourself.

Chickweed spoke of living fully within my skin, old and wrinkly as it may become.

Dill smiled and offered the delight of nuance and accentuation.

Spinach was open and abundant, offering nurturing, tenderness, succulence and nutrition.

Mizuna spoke of delicateness and how it can dazzle in the right light.

I came back to the kitchen and spoke my gratitude to each as I placed them in my bowl.

To renew.

To become.

To share with you…………

As a somatic practice, ask direct questions to your body to nurture and build trusting the wisdom of your body. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, the body never lies.

It might unfold something like the following:

“What color?”

“Orange!”   So, Buttercup Squash goes into my basket. “Something green!” I pluck the kale and add it to the basket. “What texture?” I might ask.

“Something crispy and sweet” and Kohl Rabi joins the ever expanding harvest.

“Arugula!”

“Golden Purslane!”

“Tomatoes!”

Even before I walk out to the garden, the rush of anticipation noticeably releases happy hormones into my bloodstream as I respond to my hunger with wide-open arms.

________________________________

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable.  I am not alone and unacknowledged.  They nod to me and I to them. Our meal begins and nutrition added when we respond to our hunger with appreciation that our body knows exactly what it needs.  Our bodies never lie.”

—————————————————————————————-

IMG_0393A Somatic Food Practice
Stand in a  vertical stance–head above heart, above belly.  Take a deep relaxing breath and then ask yourself the following questions.  When asked, invite your senses and imagination to listen for answers that you might not otherwise hear. The following loop of identifying stimulus, needs, and strategies provides a formula for changing habits to better meet your needs. These kinds of questions exercise your felt sense, the same faculty that you engage for empathy!

First: Identify the Stimulus
Before you eat, ask yourself:

  • “Am I hungry? —-How do I know I am hungry? — What happens in my body that tells me this?”

Be specific. Notice and distinguish the difference between the actual physical feeling of hunger and other feelings that trigger strategies to meet a need other than sustenance, such as boredom, nervousness, anxiety, fear, anger, or excitement.

  • What is my first response to those “feelings” in my body that are telling me I am hungry?  

Do you ignore it?  Grab the first food in sight?  Think about what you would like to eat?  Think about what you think you should eat?  Get in the car and drive up to a fast food window?  Go for a run and wait it out?  Make yourself a beautiful meal and invite a friend over?

Second: identify Your Needs

  • What do I care about and value the most when feeding myself? 
  • “What am I hungry for? Sustenance?  Connection?  Excitement?  Love? Empathy?  Ease?  Rest?”

Third: Choose Your (new) Strategies
AFTER IDENTIFYING THE STIMULUS AND NEED, CHOOSE YOUR STRATEGY FROM A PLACE OF INTENTION AND CLARITY—HOW CAN I BEST MEET MY NEEDS AT THIS MOMENT?
If you are actually hungry for sustenance, ask yourself:

  • “What would sustain me perfectly right now?”  (Be as specific as possible—Sweet.  Sour.  Starchy.  Chunky.  Smooth.  Purple.  Orange.  White.  Pink.  Red.  Soft.  Hard.  Crunchy.  Silky.  Cold.  Hot.  Cold and hot.  Cooked and Raw.)

Actively engage each act of preparing your meal.  In this vein, some questions you might ask yourself are:

  • “When I cut this carrot, what shape would be most pleasing as I place it on my tongue?”
  • “How would this meal give me pleasure to look at on my plate, or in my bowl?”
  • “Would I like to eat alone or with somebody?”
  • “Would I like music or silence?”
  • “Would I like to sit at a table, on the couch, or on the floor?”

Use your imagination and wisdom to broaden your attention and listen to what may be the most nourishing strategy for meeting our common needs when feeding yourself.

 

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