How to Build Somatic Capacity & Resilience

Katrina Clark
Written by Katrina Clark

Let’s begin at the beginning. If you are wondering exactly what this means?

You are not alone.

The word Somatic is used to describe the experience of the body, how your body experiences sensations, emotions, and all types of regulation. A Somatic experience is how you connect with your world via the language of your body.  

This simple guide will help you create a stronger relationship, or discover one for the first time perhaps, with the somatic world of your body. In doing so, you create a foundation for inviting in resources to support you in finding freedom from old patterns and narratives and creating new pathways to greater health.

To build more capacity and resilience we learn how to bring safety, connection, and belonging to our nervous system. We learn how to regulate and process all emotion and sensation and to understand how we respond to our inner and outer world, so we can be present with more vitality, and openness. 

Photo by David Garrison

Regulation is the term used to describe our ability to manage our emotional states and to calm ourselves when in heightened states. When we are fearful, frustrated, angry, or in despair.  Regulation is something we learn from a very early age, by observing others and our attachment to our early caregivers.

For many of us, this may not have been a healthy experience. We may still be in a dysregulated state and have adapted over time. Learning healthy regulation is one of the most important skills we can gift ourselves. It’s core to any healing in our emotional world. 

Regulation gives more self-acceptance and understanding, which of course brings more confidence and aliveness to all our relationships. 

Given we are always partnered with ourselves, let’s start here.

I have created this list for you to begin a practice, be that daily or just as regular as you can manage. I have kept it simple, as you can do deeper as you progress with this work. 

You will find audio in other resources I offer that will guide you through a practice, but for now, let’s just get familiar with a sequence that can provide much-needed guidance and structure as you navigate the intimate world of your nervous system.

1. Orientation

Find a comfortable place where you feel safe/neutral. Take time to look closely at this environment.  If it’s familiar you can look around with a fresh curiosity at the colours, textures, and shapes of objects around you.  Look out of the window, and see the sky, the land, nature. All that is familiar to you.  Move around, touch objects, and feel the texture of walls, and flooring. Move very slowly as you are taking it all in. If you are outdoors, notice the temperature, the air quality, and the space.

Photo by Max Rahubovskiy

You are doing this to find a grounding, noticing where you and your external world meet. To orientate and feel connection, belonging, and safety. Take as long as you need, go as slow as you can.

2. Notice your Somatic Response

Simply bring your attention to what is happening in your body. How fast or slow you feel your natural rhythm is.  Is there tension, tightness or openness in your physical body? How does your body let you know you are safe? Integrate this by bringing awareness to this experience. 

What emotions are present? Can you identify them without getting too involved and running a story? Can you simply notice them and give space to them? Let them be there without any desire to change them in any way (regardless of whether they are experienced as ‘good or bad’) 

How is the temperature of your body? The heaviness or lightness?

The invitation is for you to simply notice and let it all be present, without getting in the way. Let the mind rest and your body communicate. 

If you feel any overwhelm or get ‘stuck’ and over involved with an emotion, come back to the orientation, back to where you are in the present. 

3. Breathe

Super simple, no big fancy breathwork (unless that is your thing, and if so, go for it!). Just find your natural rhythm of breathing. You can decide if you want to slow it down or speed it up.

Photo by Cup of Couple

Experiment, enjoy, and notice that you are breathing. Allow your breath to make space in the body. If you like you can breathe in for a count of 4 through your nose, and out for a count of 6 via your mouth. Extend for whatever count is comfortable. Outbreath being longer than in breath will always help you down-regulate (relax) your nervous system. You can have bonus points for a heavy sign on the out-breath, the nervous system loves this!

Stay with this, while staying connected to the first two points, and bring it all together. This allows you to simply feel what you feel, to learn how to notice and come closer to your body. It takes courage, it can also be a huge relief and revelation. If you need stronger support or want to take further steps into allowing more of who you are to come into being.

I am here.

Main – Photo by BYB BYB