793px-NautilusCutawayLogarithmicSpiral“Whatever’s wrong, the solution is the same,” my client Bianca just said, referring to Restorative Yoga. Restorative Yoga works for her because it is non-verbal and experiential. Her nervous system is soothed, she slows down, she takes in nourishment. Not to mention another special element: it’s non-relational. Once in the pose it’s all about the connection with oneself. Stillness, soothing, simplicity.
Sounds like an antidote to me.

I’m onto something here: combining Restorative Yoga with Somatic Counseling in my healing practice and courses. I’m overjoyed about the combination and I’ll tell you why.

Restorative Yoga is a practice that utilizes props to support the body in positions of comfort and ease to facilitate relaxation. It’s not about stretching but rather about opening. It’s a practice of receptivity and stillness, of pleasure and ease. In essence you get to connect with your inherent, divine goodness without having to do anything; a radical concept in our über-productive culture. And it teaches you something on various levels, conscious and unconscious.

Ordinarily we’re in overdrive. In everyday life we experience chronic stress to such a degree that even after a stressful event has passed our adrenals continue to pump our systems full of stress hormones. The danger is gone but we’re still on high alert. Sleep is disturbed, immunity is compromised. For so many of us this is our reality. Getting a massage or taking a yoga class doesn’t stand a chance to counter the compounded accumulation of chronic stress.

Restorative yoga is a practice of conscious rest which offers the nervous system a chance to reset. Immunity, brain function, mood, digestion all improve when given such support. So a great deal happens on the physiological level.

On the psychological level we are untangling the habit of overdoing. All the parts of the identity that are bound up in being productive are given another message. It’s OK to stop. You’re still good even if you don’t do a thing.

And then with the warmth, support and stillness of the restorative practice the mind stops churning.

As the physical body relaxes and layers of stress unwind we drop our guard. From this more receptive place it’s quite extraordinary and beautiful: an embodied, wise part bubbles up. It’s actually the highest self, the true self that emerges in this quiet place.

How do I bring this into my Somatic Counseling?
People come to work with me who want change. They want greater ease, more confidence, less anxiety, more joy. Here’s the secret that I’ve discovered: Try as we may we cannot deliberately create change with the conscious mind. This is because the subconscious mind is actually the driving force behind behavior. The key to change lies in the body and in deeper layers of consciousness.

My first step with clients is creating safe space and building trust. We use mindfulness to explore those powerful patterns that replay over and over. Clients experience acceptance and gentleness and get to encounter lost parts of themselves.
“I’m finding a self I didn’t know existed.” “I’d forgotten this part of myself.” “This is my self from long ago, this is who my husband fell in love with.”Clients have said recently.

Reverend Eloise Oliver of East Bay Church of Religious Science says that all stress is forgetting our connection with the divine. That’s deep.

So much of our lives draw us into a trance. Staring at the computer all day we forget the fullness of our bodies and selves, beyond our eyes, brain, hands. Rushing, overdoing, all the stimuli of our lives, these things combine to lull us into trances.
We all need that reminder. My commitment to myself and my clients is to continually wake up to the inherent goodness within. The patterns and the trances are a mirage.

Slow down and listen.
And keep waking up.