Somatic Coaching &
Working with Power
Body Listening to Body Literacy
Our bodies are the home we live in, and wise messengers if we can learn to listen.
Our bodies have often been conditioned to hold painful experiences with tightness - the pain of loss, abuse, social pain, traumatic experiences, and more. But our bodies are beautifully designed to feel, move, digest and metabolize all of our experiences, though this innate ability has been lost for many of us through social and familial conditioning. If we can learn to listen, to notice and feel emotions, to let them move, our healing capacity expands. We can begin to sense more clearly a 'yes' or a 'no,' and not override important truths. We can feel more like ourselves, and have faculty over feelings and decisions.
Learning to listen to our own bodies also grows our ability to listen to others - not just their words, but what their bodies are sharing with us. Studies show that as much as 90 percent of communication is non-verbal. Our bodies have a language and are in communication all of the time. Body literacy can support better relationships for this reason. Body literacy is an increased capacity for listening to and understanding the body.
The root of the word 'somatic' is soma, a Greek work that means body. My somatic practice is dynamic, ever evolving as I learn from my own body and the bodies of others - clients, beloveds, community members, animals, the earth, etc. Bodies are my book, my biggest teacher. My practice is informed by personal experience and consistent exploration - my body is my lab, continual study, and consistent work with clients and groups. My studies entail the intersections of neurobiology, interpersonal neurobiology, yoga therapy, Integral Somatic Psychology, trauma-sensitive approaches, conflict transformation (MA), and social justice/anti-oppression and anti-racism work.
I work with individuals and groups. My work offers nonjudgemental facilitation of one's experience. I do not diagnose, though I may refer a client to additional resources or other types of therapy. I have learned that the wisdom of the body has a right timing and often what we need most is skilled accompaniment or stewardship - to be witnessed, held, and heard. I consider my practice one of coaching others towards a practice of listening.
About Me & Learning to Listen
In 2009 I began a career in international peacebuilding and women's inclusion in peace talks. A few years into the work, as I was working alongside women in Sudan and South Sudan to push for women's voices to be heard and included in negotiations to end conflict, my body began to speak. First gently, then loudly. I began increasingly suffering frightening heart palpitations, chronic insomnia, exhaustion, weight gain, painful anxiety, and debilitating back spasms. Some days I couldn't get out of bed or walk. Most nights I couldn't find sleep. Having been an athlete for most of my life, I tried to exercise it away but nearly every time I pushed, I would be injured or fall into fatigue. I also became increasingly agitated, unable to handle stress, and overwhelmed.
I didn't know it then, but I was weathering a painful burnout. Chronic stress from overworking, constant travel abroad, exposure to tropical diseases, unresolved childhood trauma, and secondary trauma from working in conflict zones merged together to become a fever-pitch of pain and confusion. I didn't know how to make it stop, or how to escape.
I began to study the neurobiology of trauma to learn what was happening to my body and what I might do to stop it from worsening. I wanted so badly to recover my health, my strength. I was certain there was an emotional or psychological reason for my body's decline into a state of dis-ease. I read endlessly about the connection between trauma, stress, the mind and the body. I took medical leave after being diagnosed with 'degenerative disc disease' and PTSD, and spent four months remote in the mountains of Northern New Mexico to rest and listen to my body. I began a gradual stream of treatments: very slow hikes in the wild when my body allowed, a gentle yoga and pranayama (breath work) practice, dietary and nutritional shifts, acupuncture, and somatic experiencing therapy. As I learned to listen to my body, it became clear that if I were to heal, I needed to shift out of Washington DC and slowly leave my career. This transition took a few years and was unimaginably difficult. Finances were meager as I tried to consult enough to pay bills and make a move across the country. I had to grieve the loss of my career and the many deep friendships I'd formed working abroad.
I relocated back home to New Mexico to be close to family, friends, and nature. After a couple of years of intentional recovery, my body, mind, and spirit are stronger, healthier, and more at ease than I can ever recall them being. I now have a deep faith in the body's ability to guide us if we are able to listen, and continue to employ the many tools I learned to support myself and clients in easing suffering and regaining well-being. Learning to listen to my body's messages was the catalyst for healing.
One hour on the mat with Farah can generate tremendous catharsis. The internal space created from releasing trauma allows our own wisdom to bubble up and guide us once again. I left our session calm, clear and with a few crucial tools to help my body move through stressful events rather than internalizing them.
I think you have a tremendous gift to guide healing in other people's bodies. I appreciated your presence with my emotional pain and your willingness to try props and positions. Thank you for doing the work you do, Farah.
Even this first session felt really profound for me in terms of exploring some old material. It felt like new truths were being revealed and like I was accessing a deeper level of pain and emotion around things than I have trying to process them verbally.
The entire session was healing and what I have found from my work with you in the past, is that the healing continues after the treatments with additional insights and clarity. You have the ability to touch things deep within me and bring them to the surface where they can be healed and integrated but you never push anything; always allowing my body to decide how far it wants to go.