Somatics (body mind spirit therapy), on the other hand—the focus of study at the Lomi School—is a body-centered approach to living. The Greek word soma means “living body.” In ancient India, Brahmin priests drank a hallucinogenic concoction called soma, named after the Vedic god Soma, in rituals to expand consciousness. Richard Strozzi Heckler defines “somatic” as “the living body in its wholeness; or mind, body and spirit in unity.”
The tenets of somatics can be summarized as follows:
· Vitality, in the form of energy currents, flows through every body; when that vitality is fully realized we experience a natural state of health and well being. If our vital energy becomes clogged or blocked we experience disease.
· Somatic exercises, principally concentration or attention, strengthen the body, charge the spirit and relax the mind.
· A relaxed mind is interested and engaged in the present moment, with a tender attention to subtle change—not just differences in the body, the ebb and flow of emotions or fleeting thoughts, but to the laws of change that govern life and the world we live in.
· The primary goal of somatics is the union of body, mind and spirit: to achieve harmony outside oneself by finding harmony within.
The idea that the body itself had value—alone or in concert with the mind—resurfaced in the 20th Century. In particular, the relatively recent blending of Western psychology and medicine with Asian philosophies dramatically shifted the way we viewed and experienced our bodies. In traditional Western thought, the connection between body and mind was “psychosomatic,” which referred to health problems caused by distress or other manifestations from the mind (it’s all in your head). Many Asian cultures, on the contrary, saw the body as the very foundation of health and spiritual life.
The Lomi School was the first to synthesize different approaches of body-centered therapies into one curriculum. The importance of attention, or focus, lay at the center of Lomi proficiency, but the ideas of Wilhelm Reich, Fritz Perls, and Asian training in meditation and aikido also influenced the method. Additionally, Lomi co-founders Robert K. Hall and Richard Strozzi Heckler borrowed from Randolph Stone’s Polarity Therapy and the structural massage work of Ida Rolf.
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