My goal as a bodyworker is to help people – whether they are working with trauma, pain or anxiety – reconnect to a sense of wholeness and include more in their sense of self. 

Embodiment is key to this process – when we feel at home in the space bounded by the skin, we feel less defended and fragmented in our internal world, and more connected to the flows, movements, resources and aliveness inside of us. 

This in turn allows us to feel safer to connect to others, to nature, to mystery, to all of life that isn’t human, and to a richer experience of being alive. 

Here are three of the important connections I’ve seen in my clinic work, and research about the connection between embodiment and health:

ONE: When we can’t feel, it’s hard to heal

To truly feel the size, shape and weight of our body is surprisingly tricky – I see this in my clinic work often. The struggle to map our bodies is predictive of poor outcomes when it comes to our experience of pain, anxiety and trauma. 

In trauma, many people dissociate, shut down, or immobilise to protect themselves. Although this gesture of disconnecting is useful, necessary and enables us to survive traumatic situations, it means we can lose contact with the size, shape and weight of our bodies and it can be hard to return to the body. 

Over the years, I’ve seen that maintaining a thread of good connection with the body predicts good outcomes when it comes to health. 

TWO: We are constantly recreating our sense of our body

Embodiment doesn’t stop just with a physical body, it is a journey of connection that moves beyond flesh and sensation. When we’re dealing with pain or looking to restore health, it’s useful to understand our body as a process that plays out over time, and involves engagement with a world that pushes back and shapes us and our experience of who we are. 

We are so much more than just structure. We are the constructs we hold. We are our family stories. We are the societies and cultures we’re embedded in. All of these elements affect every aspect of our body, from our stress processes, to our ability to breathe, to our ability to feel, to our ability to digest. 

There’s a strong strand of philosophy which says that we can’t ever know the thing itself, we can only compare it to other things. In this way, all pain can be seen as a metaphorical description, embedded in the symbols and constructs that we’ve learned from our family and culture, and we can only ever explain our experience in terms of those symbols and constructs. 

(A good example is when people say: “my back has gone out”. Sometimes I respond, playfully, “where has it gone to?”). 

The complexity of this can be daunting, but it’s also exciting –  it gives us lots of levers to experience ourselves and it allows a rich variety of ways to enhance our sense of ourselves as a living process. It shows us that we can constantly find new resources to recreate our sense of our body. 

THREE: Embodiment gives us a way back home to ourselves, after trauma

Trauma, pain and dissociative experiences take us away from feeling, which means we tend to have the habit of including less in our sense of ourselves. Areas of our body become unavailable – and we move away from them because they’re painful, or we don’t like them. 

In my clinic work, when I invite people who are working with trauma to try to connect with their body, they often have a sense of being outside looking in, or sitting somehow to the side of themselves. 

Embodiment tools help us to guide ourselves back from this sense of disconnection, to a lived experience of occupying the space bounded by our skin, and I have seen that this predicts less pain, less anxiety, as well as more choice, more effectiveness, and higher performance in all of life’s tasks.   

Embodiment tools form a key focus of my 2-year Art of Touch biodynamic craniosacral therapy (BCST) training. If you’d like to explore this approach to safe, relational touch either to add a new modality to your work as a health professional, or as well as a way to start a career in an exciting and evolving therapy, please join us for an intro session.

We have an intro session coming up in London on 11th July. 

The Art of Touch course is also designed so participants can attend the first seminar without committing to the full course. Seminar one is an introduction into basic contact skills and relating to biodynamic movements and will provide an opportunity to experience the approach and appreciate the extent of the curriculum. You can find out more more and register here.

Upcoming Trainings with Steve Haines: 

Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE®)
TRE intro days:
London: 20 May, 15 Jul, 23 Sep, 18 Nov

New TRE 1 year training:
London: starts June 2024
Nice: starts Oct 2024 – with Sylvia Benoist (English with French translation). 

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST)
The Art of Touch 2 year trainings:
London: starts Oct 2024
Galway: join at Sem 2 May 29- Jun 2 2024
Waterford: starts Oct 2024

The Art of Touch intro events:
London (evenings): 11 July
Waterford (days): 29 June