The Somatic Arc of Transformation
The Arc is a powerful conceptual framework created by the Strozzi Institute that is a guide map to the journey of embodied change. It contains key distinctions that can help us recognise what stage our clients might be on that journey. As we are able to recognise this we can more skilfully and artfully support our clients to take the next step.
Two Types of Embodied Change
We can look at two types of embodied change. One is the deeper aspect our of felt experience that Richard describes as energetic. He makes the distinction between the thinking self, the feeling self and the energetic self. When we move past the level of pure sensation and enter the deeper energetic realm, the sense of “I” is eclipsed and there’s a deepening quiet.
The other type of embodied change is what Richard has termed, The Arc of Somatic Transformation, a map describing the journey of embodied change from our current shape to our new shape. This is a process that is consciously engaged with, that explores how the self is expressed in the body, and what the body tells us about how we’ve lived and the roles we play.
Both types require a deep centering, which means deep, full breaths and a quieting of the mind. This is a very good antidote to anxiety, which is partly what makes the embodied approach to change so effective.
The Unbounded Shape
The unbounded shape is the period between two shapes, two embodiments. When we go through transformation there is a phase in which we have let go of the old but have not yet fully found the new. This can be a very unsettling place to be, and learning to be with it is a big part of the process, so that the new shape can emerge organically.
Part of letting go of the old form is a deep acknowledging of the role it played in keeping us safe. This helps it to soften and creates more space for the new shape to begin to emerge as more possibility can begin to show itself.
Often when we let go of old structures that no longer serve us and create the space, we discover that what begins to come through is not surprising to us, but rather often somehow familiar.
Shifting into the new shape is a slow embodied process of taking new actions, holding new postures, making new commitments that align with what we are inviting into our new shape. As we replace old actions and embodiment with the new, the body begins to shift, our posture and the way we hold ourselves starts to change and in this way, gradually, old form becomes new.