Insights on somatics from Newfield Program Coach, Carol Harris-Fike, NCOC, PCC
I was leaving a 30-year career in education to become a full-time coach, had my house up for sale, and was getting married.
These life altering changes arose six weeks after taking Newfield’s Foundation Course where Julio Olalla asked us to set an intention. Mine was to let go of “ways of being” that I’d been holding on to, that no longer serve me. Such as, there’s a perfect man out there, my life purpose and declaration since I was 9 years old was to be in education and my dad always said, “You choose a career and you do not change it.”
A few weeks later, I woke in the middle of the night frozen in fear. I had so much doubt. “What if I don’t like the new place I’m moving to?” “What if my fiancée dies tomorrow?” “What if I missed being in education too much?”
When I shared this with my program coach, he asked me to observe how I was sitting. I realized I was leaning forward and my hands were in fists on my desk. He then asked me to shift my posture by leaning back, opening my shoulders and my arms, and taking slow deep breaths. In silence, I held this posture for a few minutes. When I spoke next the fear was gone and I noticed there was something else. Optimism. I had initiated these changes and I wanted them. I was amazed at how this simple shift in my posture and breathing had allowed me to connect to a new emotion and insight.
It’s been 12 years since that “ah-ha” experience, and as a professional coach, I’ve been using somatic practices with my clients ever since. When we go to the body and shift how we are holding it; we give ourselves the opportunity to experience different emotions and have different responses.
Shift Your Emotion with a Somatic Exercise
Here’s a somatic exercise I’ve found effective:
Start by noticing an emotion and how it shapes your body. So, for example, fear may feel like curling up. Now, exaggerate that posture: curl up your fingers, toes, and tense all your muscles. Hold it for 30 seconds. Then release it, take a deep breath, and notice any shifts in emotions and sensations. This teaches us to accept the emotion that is there, honor it, and then watch it release. Emotions need to keep flowing; holding on is what makes them problematic.
Next, move to an emotion you would prefer feeling, for example, joy. Maybe that’s embodied by extending your arms up and wide. Whatever it is for you, take on a body posture of joy. Again, exaggerate and hold it, then release, and observe.
This simple exercise demonstrates that the body can be a powerful tool for shifting. We have the power to shift from one emotion to another. That we are not stuck or a victim to an emotion.
That we can train our bodies to take our mind to where we want it to go. And that is truly radical!
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Author: Carol Harris-Fike
Carol is a Newfield program and mentor coach and also Newfield's ICF, ACTO, and Program Coach Coordinator. Areas of expertise include an understanding of the latest research in the science of the brain/body and extensive study of energy through Reiki and Qi Chong. Carol is the author of 5 Life Energies: The Choice You Have in How Energy Shapes Your Life. She co-created JICT Images: Journey with Intuition & Creativity for Transformation, a box of 72 evocative images designed to create a metaphor for users that lead groups and individuals to the “heart of the matter.