Through the body: ecosomatics as a means to cultivating a sense of belonging.
Updated: Jul 21
Firstly, let's tackle this thing we call ecosomatics. Ecosomatics is a interdisciplinary field that aims to bring together lots of different practices and approaches that are connected by ecological consciousness. Ecosomatics supports the recovery, or union, between the body, the mind and the Earth. It does this by helping us to listen to and expand our sensory perceptions as a way of being in and part of the natural world. Somatics, (from the French term somatique and the Latinized form of Greek sōmatikos, meaning "of the body"), refers to the practice of experiencing the whole body from within and analysing these internal perceptions through movement. In this way we gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of what it means to be/have a body. Somatic practice provides us with opportunities to tune into the innate knowledge held within our body. We become better equipped to recognise and release habitual tension and discomfort and mobilize towards a more efficient, easeful and enjoyable movement. This can help support our endeavours to self heal and nourish. Ecology studies the relationships and interactions between organisms and their environments. Ecological thinking teaches us about interdependence between species and environment. In this way, it encourages us to take responsibility and care for the planet. Fostering deep dynamic relationships between ourselves, other living beings and the natural world, enables us to recognise more sustainable ways of being in and with the world while understanding how “the movements we make, make us” (LaMothe, 2015, p.4). The appreciation of the reciprocal relationship between the Earth and the body is the domain of ecosomatics.
Climate crisis, Covid-19, global diaspora and an irrepressible techno-industrial society are reminding us that humans cannot live meaningful lives without meaningful connection with the rest of the natural world. Our experience of the withdrawal from nature, from other humans, and from our homes, brings with it another acute realisation - the troubling notion that humans are experiencing disconnection from their own bodies. The daily practices of western lives have evolved in favour of the mind over the body. Consequently, we are losing our ability to listening to and believe in the wisdom of our bodies (LaMothe 2012). Yet, our bodies have so much to teach us about: inter-relation, aliveness, belonging and our sense of home. To secure respectful relationship to place, we need only to consider what we know about infant development. As babies our first human experience of place is through our sense of gravity and the felt sense of our physicality through touch - our flesh and the Earth in union. This primary relationship with Earth forms the basis for all other developmental progressions (Hartley 1995, 2004). Ecosomatic movement work can introduced us to strategies that inspire a reshaping of our relationship with our bodies. We can find ways to acknowledge the body as our primary ‘home’, developing consciousness towards the sensorial basis of our [re]connection. From here we can explore how re-inhabiting our body is crucial for ecological reconciliation, enabling us to honour home - respect for our bodies demonstrates respect for the planet. By shifting and moving our bodies in response to sensory perception we can sustain and build upon our kinaesthetic understanding of self, other and environment towards “emersion of new sensible data” (how re-inhabiting our body is crucial for ecological reconciliation, enabling us to honour ‘home’. By shifting and moving our bodies in response to sensory perception we can sustain and build upon our kinaesthetic understanding of self, other and environment towards “emersion of new sensible data” (Andrieu et al. 2018).
Andrieu, B. Sirost, O. Parry, J. & Porrovecchio, A. (2018) Body Ecology and Emersive Leisure. United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.
Hartley, L. (1995). Wisdom of the Body Moving: An Introduction to Body-mind Centering. United States: North Atlantic Books.
Hartley, L. (2004). Somatic Psychology: Body, Mind and Meaning. United Kingdom: Wiley.
LaMothe, K. L. (2015). Why We Dance: A Philosophy of Bodily Becoming. United States: Columbia University Press.
LaMothe, K. L. (2012). What a Body Knows: Finding Wisdom in Desire. United Kingdom: John Hunt Publishing.