You are what you do
We are complex, multi-dimensional beings operating in a complex, rapidly changing world.
Our brains and nervous systems are perhaps not designed for that world: our brain structures are ancient and come from million years of evolution when what mattered most was not to become a dinner to a bigger predator!
On top of this “hardware” (brain stem and limbic brain) we have evolved a pre-frontal cortex (operating system) that is what enabled us to progress so fast and develop qualities of language and conscious thought.
Yet the relationship between the hardware and operating system of our brain is not easy and we often come unstuck when the threat-based limbic brain fires off even though logically we know there is not much to fear.
Luckily, our understanding of how we could integrate the ancient and modern parts of our brain, make desired changes in our lives and respond to a rapidly changing world also has developed rapidly over the last 20 years. As a Psychologist I have many more tools at my disposal now then I did when I started my training 20 years ago!
Just as well, as we need all the tools we can get to navigate the modern world, with its complexity of information, lack of clarity what information is true and real and loss of trust in existing authorities.
It is my belief we need to up-skill ourselves fast to survive and thrive in this new world. I believe each of us needs to step up to find a meaningful and effective response, both on an individual and collective levels, to the threats we face in geopolitical and environmental spheres.
With that in mind, the programmes I offer are designed to be efficient, effective, accessible, based on cutting-edge science available in the field of psychology, practical, and enjoyable. They aim to create a deep and lasting change, to educate and empower each of us to be as brave as we can and act with much integrity and awareness of the common good as we can.
The most important thing I learned in my psychological practice is this: Insight is not Enough to bring a lasting change. I feel many psychological over-emphasise its importance.
We can see this overemphasis in CBT: people are seen as rational self-determining agents who can change their thinking at will, once they see “evidence” that indicates that their beliefs maybe faulty.
We also see it in Psychoanalytic approaches. Irrationality of human nature is acknowledged, yet the approach considers insight to be the holy grail that leads to change: once I know why I am behaving in this irrational way, I will change my behaviour by the power of insight.
Important as it is, in my experience. by itself insight is not sufficient to bring a lasting change. We need to find a way to translate our new understanding into action – a way to practice what we preach. Now we know better, we need to find courage, motivation and strength to do better.
Recent neuro-psychotherapy research points to the enormous plasticity of the brain even in adulthood. It also suggests regular practices can remodel the brain – both in terms brain chemistry (ie hormones) as well as structure and size of elements of the brain. Recent evidence clearly indicates that somatic awareness needs to be an integral and necessary part of psychological treatment.
Somatic practices can help you increase your ability to manage your moods and emotions, to know what you really feel and how to make wise use of that information for planning what to do; identify your real needs rather then false wants, give you better insight into self and others, increase your ability for making emotional connections and forming reciprocally supportive relationships with others; access vitality states of excitement, joy and play, increase your response repertoire rather then rigidly stick to familiar scripts, respond to everyday life more creatively, etc.
Yet, these practices are often missing in the mainstream psychology programmes. One reason is due to historical separation of disciplines that treat the mind from those that treat the body. We have body practitioners and mind practitioners and the training in work with one includes only cursory exposure to the other.
As a psychologist who has had additional training in somatic practices, I too struggle to incorporate them meaningfully into my client’s sessions. What is the reason? The reason is that these practices are generic, ie applicable to many individuals and as such could be tought and practiced more efficiently in a group. Teaching them in a 1:1 session feels indulgent to the practitioner as it is an ineffective use of client’s, often hard-earned and precious cash.
Where the client also has limitations as to how many sessions they can afford, as a practitioner I need to focus on what is most essential. I need to reduce the client’s distress and this is what I do. I do not have time to help them learn the skills to thrive, to really heal and re-wire their brain.
Having worked successfully with individuals for many years to help them reduce their distress and regain meaningful lives, I now feel compelled to find a way to help more people learn the skills and be supported in practising them so they can not just survive but thrive, especially amidst global change.
Embody Resilience Programme is my offering to achieve that. It aims to help people integrate mind with the body, re-wire the brain and nervous system to reduce its instinctual threat-based reactivity, help people respond to challenges of life with skill, clarity, confidence, accountability and caring.
By teaming up with a somatic movement practitioner, Jackie Adkins, who is a Feldenkrais method teacher, the programme aims to to give people opportunities to learn and practice ways that support their Thrive.
Self-Love is a practice. Somatic practices help us reduce tension, harmonise bodies and minds, help us achieve states of ease, openness and joy, help us rediscover pleasure and reconnect us with our drives and instinctive ability and willingness to take action when action is needed. Give it a try, that might be the best thing you can do for yourself!