Somatic Therapy looks at life in its fullness: body, mind, emotions, culture, nature and spirit. It reclaims the individual body the personal spirit and the transpersonal soul, holding that wholeness is what heals. We must tend our flesh just as we tend our thoughts. In order to heal ourselves, we must care for our relationships, the earth, and for all living things--knowing there is no separation. God is everywhere.

LifeMovesThrough is the idea that, if we bring our cells to the to the present, we become clear channels that life and love move through in radiant flow. It is learning to dance compassionately with challenges that arise, and opening the heart wide enough to hold everything.

This blog contains reflections on the process of healing. Videos of bodymind exercises, meditations, and ideas for healing challenges in the body, mind, spirit, earth that old paradigms may have called hopeless.

For information on individual therapy sessions or classes, contact Laura at lifemovesthrough@gmail.com

Monday, February 21, 2011

Movement and Organization (in unstable times)

I'm gathering that kids right now, and for the last few generations, are more intelligent and less organized than perhaps they have ever been in the past. And it seems like that trend is increasing. We have been called anywhere from "Indigo" to "Autistic" but I think simply we are at an evolutionary moment where the old structures (of control and rote belief, to name just 2) are falling away, but we have not found the new structures yet. Props to us, because this phase feels like falling apart, but we have some deeper compass or faith that lets us unplug from the old world, without reassurance that the new one will come.

Forcing old, unconscious structures is not the answer (thought in some cases one might find a way to force conform and think its a good thing). Nor is structurelessness, as there are all kinds of unconscious beliefs and energies floating in the air that someone without a strong sense of center might accidentally be taken by, feel overwhelmed, even lose their way. I see both options rising up: a surge in fascism and an equally powerful surge in structurelessness.

The reason that I work through movement is to give people the self or brain organizational tools they need in order to contain the world without dogma. Even long ago, Freud wrote, "The ego is first and foremost a body ego." (The Ego and the Id). We come to know ourselves through embodied experience; through an interactive process. Our brains and minds are patterned through our movement patterns in daily life. It is an emotional, psychological, and spiritual need to move and dance and tumble through life, this is why its important to me to restore our understanding of non-fascist forms of movement that build the amount of structure required for freedom.

"Fascism can be crushed only if it is countered objectively and practically, with a well-grounded knowledge of life's processes" (Wilhelm Reich The Mass Psychology of Fascism). Movement teaches the necessity of respect for life in all its physical forms. It also teaches neutral life principles: Gravity, Space, and Time. These studies become even more interesting now because, as many believe, gravity is literally shifting. The gravitational and magnetic fields of the earth may be shifting along with the alignments of the planets themselves (towards the rare and intense alignment of 2012). We feel these things in our bodies and I really wonder how much they might contribute to the increased incidence of challenges in sensory orientation. If we feel like we don't know where we are, we may be right.

"The existence of sensitive people is an advantage for humankind because it is this group that best expresses humanity’s creative urges and needs. Through their instinctual responses the world is best interpreted. Under normal circumstances, they are artists or artisans, seekers, inventors, shamans, poets, prophets….Sensitivity is transmuted into suffering and disorders only when the world is unable to heed the exquisitely tuned physiological and psychic responses of the sensitive individual" (Gabor Mate, Scattered).

They/We just need to be given tools--and I'd say movement tools that develop wisdom--to be able to find a personal harmony between stability and freedom. "Stability (when one is protected) increases the feeling of safety. Instability means risk but easy mobility. Both are biologically important. Becoming addicted to either one of them makes one unsafe for lack of choice" (Moshe Feldenkrais The Elusive Obvious).

Friday, February 18, 2011

If you have reached this blog seeking somatic therapy, I am very glad you have found me. I practice somatic therapy in the LA area combining Polarity Therapy with the wisdoms of Depth Psychology and various native and natural healing paths. This sort of work is helpful in dealing with pains that are physical, emotional, mental and spiritual; acknowledging that they are all related. It is particularly helpful in dealing with the effects of trauma, in healing stress and pain, and times when we seek clarity, balanced energy, or are going through life transitions and transformations.

The recent boom in information coming through research on mindfulness tells us that, in order to heal the worries of the mind and soul, we must be grounded in the sensations of the body. New understandings of trauma show that, often, the body communicates what the conscious mind can't dare to. An understanding of the body--both as physical and interconnected with others and the earth, and as spiritual--is certainly the next step Psychology must take.

I do not use this blog very often at this time (though I do hope to shift this soon), so it feels like the few posts I have on it are less than representative of me. If you would like more info on what a somatic therapy session is, or would like to schedule, please email me at lifemovesthrough@gmail.com or call me at 310) 753-3386

Friday, February 6, 2009

Self Gua Sha

I don't know if one is supposed to do gua sha on one's self, but I do. I've been studying and doing it for others a lot lately, but don't really have someone to do it to me. I got a friend to do it a little bit today, and it made me notice how much I really need it. After she had to go, I continued working on myself. ....Hi my name is Laura, and I'm a mess!:

Of course my technique on myself is horrible. Obviously, there is no way for me to reach and, on top of that, my strokes started to be filled with the emotion that they were releasing. Physically: hot, cold, dizzy, jolt. A gentle trip through time. Purple neck, red on tonsils and scalenes, almost bleeding grief points.

I noticed that--even after a lot of progress--I am still pretty bad off. Way less than where I began, but still more sha than many I've worked on. I wondered what this meant. It is always my personal work to make sure I move the pain of myself and others through me---not take it on. I don't know if sha is simply the necessary residue of pain moving through, or the result of holding on. The first time I was cupped, I bled black. I felt like my neck was 500 years old. I've felt some pretty bad pain in my life, and I questioned if there is any way to go through such things without sha.

I don't think we can judge ourselves for the collection of sha that comes with experience. And as much as we have to allow ourselves the sometimes-ugly pain, we have to allow ourselves its sometimes-ugly release. I think that techniques like gua sha are for when we know that there is an other side of the pain that comes in healing. Sometimes we feel pain and-- not knowing if it is the pain of hurting or healing--begin, then turn back over and over again. Of course, one also has to be ready; you have to be careful not to scrape off a defense while it is still a needed protection. But eventually, I think we have to travel through it.

Of the difficult things I am going through right now, my pain: of course it feels endless. That is its nature. But from the past, I know there is another side. Almost a year ago, I had gua sha done on scars on my arm that, before then, I barely would touch. Their shame matched a long strand of shame and secrets that I didn't even completely know. The sha was dark dark purple. I had waves of emotions as I went on with my day, then memories, then confessions....by the early morning of the next day, I was crying it out.

This time, I scraped it and it was clear.

p.s. if you didn't see it before, scroll down and watch the gua sha video (...or rate it on youtube). I notice that I am talking about the emotional release of gua sha and not many people are doing that. Gua Sha is a folk tradition--power to the people, especially to the mothers. However, videos show men doctors and stress that it is a science, based on reason, leaving emotions secondary. I think it is important to remember that the technique has an origin where emotions, organs, and the journey of an individual spirit are all different aspects of a whole.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dancing a new world--Poverty

More than a year ago, I participating in a
beautiful project that used the wisdom of
the body to feel a new possibility. I wrote
a piece about my experience, and am so
happy that it is going to be published!
(Upcoming issue of Somatics). I hope that
you will take the time to read it. Maybe it
will inspire you as you move your own

Click here to read it
and see videos.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


When I was a teenager I noticed that, when I couldn't move my mind, I should move my body. This was my first understanding of somatic therapy: the body--it's memory, it's position and location in time and space--is the lens we look through. At that time in my life there were a lot of situations that I could not move, but I noticed that if I changed my position, I could see things differently. I noticed the power of perspective and--through studying the body--I considered the human ability to shift and create change.

Moving the physical body moves the mind, emotions, nervous system and immune system. Science is showing how the lymphatic system, the nervous system, and emotion are linked together in more ways than we thought. The interesting thing about the lymphatic system is that it requires body movement. It depends on our volition: our choice to move. Unlike the circulatory system that has a heart to pump fluids, the lymphatic system has no heart--in relies on the contraction of skeletal muscles. Body movement is essential to the lymphatic system because, it is the primary way we move fluids through the body, release toxins, and recover from inflammation. Inflammation in the lymphatic system represents a state where fluids have pooled and are not flowing. It protects an injury and is part of the healing process but, if it stays around too long, it can result in chronic pain conditions.

Therefore, Inflammatory (Autoimmune) diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, or chronic fatigue also exist in the emotions and nervous system. And it is becoming more understood how depression and anxiety are just as much in the body as in the nervous system and the mind. It is interesting to think about how the nervous system's purpose is telling us to move (or not move)--fight, flight or freeze. It is interesting to consider how all these dis-eases may be unwound in the nervous system via physical movement--the experience of moving, and contemplation of what it means to move.

Here is a video of a basic lymphatic work out. The opening work out shows a woman who is courageously unwinding long-standing conditions in the body, mind and nervous system. In this workout, I consider inflammation and depression as one and the same--the goal being to allow energy--lymph, blood, thoughts, will--to flow.

Bodymind practices like yoga or Tai Chi involving daily movement give ways of keeping our system in flowing balance. In fact, a yoga vinyasa in the sun salutation, stimulates all the major lymph nodes plus aiding circulation. These daily practices can be considered preventative medicine. And if you are sick or stuck on any level, this idea encourages you to gently move whatever you can. Even if the ability to move is small at first, trust that it will grow and shift you on all levels.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gua Sha in Los Angeles

Maybe pain is friction. It doesn’t hurt when things are moving, or when all are still. Pain is the feeling of one part moving against another part that is stuck. It is the gap between where we come from and where we are going. It is the feeling of waking up. The stagnant part is our old world—our past and our old way of being. When we feel pain, its means it is time for something old to dissolve. Perfectly, friction contains is own antidote. The product of friction is heat. And fire is a requisite for alchemy. It is necessary in transforming your lead into gold.

Life force energy flows freely through the body when the system is healthy. This subtle energy manifests as blood and lymph, then tissues and organs. Matter moves more slowly, the more dense it becomes, but it still should be free to flow in its own way. Trauma, imbalanced nutrition, emotion and karma, can cause parts of us to freeze. Stagnation manifests in the body as sepsis, fermentation, muscle adhesions, scar tissue, and tumors. Sometimes stagnation can exist for a long time before we feel it. But when we try to move forward, we notice that some parts are stuck.

Gua Sha is a widely used folk remedy as well as a technique in Chinese medicine. Friction is created with a blade made of Jade or Water Buffalo Horn or simply a soup spoon or bottle lid with a rounded edge. When an area is scraped, if the tissues and related areas are healthy, the skin turns pink, then returns to normal color. But if there is stagnant blood, it rises to the surface as “Sha”. The darker the color, the longer it has been stagnant (less oxygen). It may be yellow, red, purple, or even black or greenish. Treatment effects the area directly scraped and related organ and lines of energy.

In some accounts, Gua Sha has been referred to as pseudo-abuse or pseudo-battery (wiki). This is because it looks like horrible bruises. This makes some people want nothing to do with it. But it is not that something harmful is being added to the body—instead, something that has been there for a long time is being drawn out. It is a demonstration of a healing process. We see the pain as it leaves, no longer hiding it inside of us. If we can look at it, and we can touch it, gradually we can let it go. As the once-frozen places heat up and melt, our cells are free to move again. They are free to find a new position that is in harmony with the present moment.

Practices of awareness and healing are not for those who are fully in the dark. Nor for those fully in the light. They are for those in the waking shadows. Wishing to be blessed by the old world while embracing the new. Those who search for the pain of waking up; knowing that there is something on the other side.

While I was writing this, there was a rolling earthquake. Reminding me that, even the things that I thought were solid, eventually heat up, turn to liquid, and flow.

If you are interested in experiencing this work, please contact me at lifemovesthrough@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Adam's Numbers

Here is an example of somatic therapy and how patterning the body can help organize the mind.

Adam has traits of Asperger's Syndrome (an Autism Spectrum Disorder). ASD is often viewed as an incurable psychological mystery. However, when it is seen physically--as a combination of toxicity, allergy, gut imbalance and brain starvation--there is a lot that can be done. Adam's family is working with diet, detox, and movement therapy.

At his first session, Adam was barely aware that I was in the room. He did not look at me much, and most of his language was reciting DVDs he had watched. He had a talent for words and numbers (common in Asperger's Syndrome). He could read well, but did not seem to understand that words related to things. For Adam, my plan was to restore the body as the link between the worlds of symbol and form. The theory was that his body had become too hard to live in because of discomfort and overwhelming, dis-organized, sensory information. I used movement to help him filter and process sense information, so that he could live in his body and, therefore, start participating in the world.

This video was taken shortly after Adam had stepped up his detox and transitioned to a modified GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) diet. His mom said they have been watching "the masks fall away".

techniques I use with Adam are: focusing, patterning and sequencing (building, breaking and editing), sensory integration and techniques where I reduce sense information and then build complexity while helping him stay oriented. For him, I use my voice a lot. Making sounds, and rhythms that express movement qualities and processing verbally what I observe him experiencing ("I am walking on the beam", "I feel my feet...I see the lights")