Every culture is unique and values emotional expression differently. Due to years of social conditioning in the West, in particular, we tend to not value this. Unfortunately, that has dire consequences for our holistic well-being. Emotional expression is part of being human! In fact, all animals need to express themselves. Think about an animal recovering from a fright – they often make sounds, shake, or other movements to let the energy go. As animals ourselves, we are no different. We need to be able to express ourselves in a range of emotions to be healthy, optimally functioning human beings… or ‘we hold our issues in our tissues’ (Tom Meyers).
Energy Healing Begins with Somato-Emotional Awareness
Somato-emotional awareness is a form of self-awareness. “Soma” means body and emotional, well hopefully you get that part. A few definitions first, so we’re all coming from a commonplace:
- Self-awareness, is awareness of our thoughts, actions, and emotions, in order for alignment. we are aware of how others can perceive us
- Introspection is our ability to examine our thoughts and emotions
- Interoception is our ability to make sense of internal sensations
All of these are very important! But what I’d like to explore is somato-emotional awareness, which is a bit of a combination of all three. This is a very important concept I explore in great detail with tools to nurture this in my yoga training and as part of my Craniosacral practice.
Why is Somato-Emotional Awareness Important for Energy Healing?
When we understand our emotions and how they are communicated through our body, we are able to move through and with our emotions with greater ease. While emotions are a temporary state, they are very real to the person experiencing them and are a large part of what makes us human and enables us to learn and grow from experiences. This is a very important tool for all to develop and ideally nurtured at a young age, however; it’s not something most of us are taught… in fact very few. In my work I come across many adults who are not aware of these subtle sensations, which leads to a large disconnect within ourselves. Sometimes we purposely disconnect so we don’t need to feel or if we have experienced traumatic situations that we are not yet ready to move through. Some of us are also born with neurological conditions that make it harder to develop this skill, however; it can still be shared and learned.
8 Benefits of Somato-Emotional Awareness
- Understanding our emotions to be able to move through them before they become ingrained in our nervous system, fascia, and tissues
- The ability to give voice to our emotions, again to prevent bottling up
- Confidence in being able to articulate how we feel in a healthy and appropriate way
- Healthier and happier relationships
- The development of empathy or the ability to try to understand another’s perspective stems from self-awareness
- Greater intuition – awareness of subtleties in and around us
- Emotional resilience (you can read more about resilience here)
- Release physical or chronic concerns
How Can We Nurture Somato-Emotional Awareness?
As I mentioned, this is so important for holistic well-being, and to share with children for their healthy development. If we can learn these tools, particularly as children, just think how many of societies perpetuating traumas and concerns we can overcome in the next few generations! Here are 3 simple tools I like to share – I think everything should be simple, otherwise we don’t practice it:
A long meditation is amazing to have in the morning (definitely sets you up for the day!), but more important is getting a few check-ins throughout the day. If you can only take 3-5 minutes to notice your breath and other sensations in the morning, and a few more times throughout the day, this is often even more helpful at helping us to be more clear-headed, objective, and move through emotions or those of others we may have picked up. For more details on Meditation for adults and children, please see my blog Meditation Myths.
This is a favorite tool of mine, something I stumbled upon as a child. When I was younger I didn’t do it visually but rather began to notice where I felt strong emotions in my body – anxiety for example was in my chest. I noticed when I did backbends (wheel), I felt so much release. As I learned about 15 years later when taking my Yoga Teacher Training, heart-opening poses, such as backbends are great for anxiety release. So this skill is about noticing what emotions you feel where – it’s different for everybody. Another amazing part of this tool is understanding what is yours and what you may have picked up from others. To do this visually, draw an outline of a person and color the different emotions on the body in different colors – a great tool for all ages. If you can then identify a few ways that help you release the emotion, it becomes that much more powerful!
This is especially important when working with children or those who have been through difficult experiences (and may feel disconnected from their bodies). Learning how to articulate our internal world brings so much clarity to ourselves, to others (no one really knows what’s going on inside us), and releases the power the emotion may seem to have on us. Teaching children words for emotions and offering them the opportunity to express how they feel without judgment is subtle but so empowering! From here, you can encourage them to explore ways to release the emotion – see details below on Somatic Tools. For children or adults who aren’t verbal, art and movement can be a great way to express ourselves – this is important for everyone in order to fully process too!
Here are some somatic tools to help move through emotions, when you experience or notice them. By doing this, we prevent build-up in our nervous system and viscera (organs):
- sound (a great tool for those who are not or are not yet verbal)
- movement (a great tool for those who are not or are not yet verbal)
- sharing or journaling
- art and creative activities
- meditation or mindfulness practice
This can be done as a family through play, laughter, breathwork, hugs… and incorporating my Children’s Yoga Cards, a Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient! Explore social-emotional and physical literacy in a fun, creative way! These practices are drawn from gloWithin’s Registered Children’s Yoga Training and offer children the opportunity to build confidence and learn to process their emotions in a healthy way.
Each card offers an affirmation, a question exploring how we embody this emotion and a way to express this emotion in our body. This deck is accompanied by a course on the gloWithin App (included with purchase), offering you practices to explore for the 3-6 and 7-10 age groups, and an activity for a larger group (classroom). You will also find so much more on the App for each card, and further explanations behind social-emotional learning for parents and educators, so you can truly empower your children to thrive!
These cards are perfect for families and classrooms to use daily to start the day off on the right note, and during challenging moments.
Additionally, for each deck sold $2 supports MamasforMamas – a Canadian Charity.
I also share a number of tools on the gloWithin App (for parents and children), which you can easily incorporate into your day!
Here are some more resources for you:
– Free Access to the gloWithin App: https://glowithin.ca/giveaway
– Children’s Yoga Cards: https://glowithin.ca/i-am-kids-yoga-cards
– Learn More About My Credentials + Book a Free 15m Chat: https://glowithin.ca/
I look forward to learning and growing with you,
About Katie Connolly
My life work is dedicated to empowering parents, educators, and children with simple tools to experience greater peace, love, and joy… Bliss!
I was given the gift of breathwork and meditation as a child by my Mother and discovered what I now know as Somato-Emotional Release (moving emotions through our body). Having these tools enabled me to stay present in my body and work through experiences (and potential trauma) as they came, so as to not store them in her body. As a result, I have been able to be resilient, and stay aligned with my intuition and gifts – my gloWithin.
Children naturally embody their gloWithin, and as conscious parents, we strive to honor this as we guide them on their journey… but are we honoring this in ourselves?
I experienced postpartum anxiety with my eldest due to reasons beyond my control and debilitating postpartum depression with my second due to lack of sleep. I am telling you this because while our situations may be unique, I get it and I don’t want you to feel alone.
I am a Highly Sensitive introvert (which also poses interesting challenges in parenting) and am passionate about being active in nature. I love the arts (music, dance, creating), and am a lifelong learner.
As a teen, I recognized our current way of living was not conducive to thriving families and generations, which inspired me (to finally 12 years later) begin Studio 202, a healing community space for families in North Vancouver, Canada. In 2020 I closed this space and took my offerings online, and it has grown from there with so much support from the community – thank you!
If you’d like to learn more about my credentials and connect, please visit: https://glowithin.ca/about-katie