To begin with, it helps to understand why people get stuck in pain and discomfort. Then, you can understand what Hanna Somatic Education "handles" and how it handles it.
About 50% of chronic, severe pain can be traced to the effects of muscular contractions formed by physical injuries and high-stress emotional states. What follows, below, applies to that kind of pain -- and not the pain that results from organic diseases.
Here are the key terms:
- muscle-memory (muscle:movement memory)
- sensory-motor amnesia
Muscle memory is what you formed when you learned to walk, to ride a bicycle, to ski, to touch-type on a keyboard (as speed-typists do), or hunt-and-peck type (as in everyone who uses a smart phone or operating-system based device with a miniature alphanumeric keypad, does).
Sensory – motor amnesia is what happens when a high-intensity memory forms, either from a high velocity experience or a prolonged one, a high-intensity memory that interferes with muscle movement memory of how we are, when we are free to move. Sensorimotor amnesia occurs, generally, in a state of activation triggered by something that's happening. When a triggered state of activation becomes a remembered state of activation, a remembered state of activation becomes a general state of activation.
"General state of activation"means an ongoing state of activation, a kind of readiness for experience based upon learning about experience.
Much of the pain that we endure in life has to do with generalized states of activation that have become submerged in the obliviousness of familiarity. In other words they are there, still activated, but, our awareness of them has become subdued. We may intuitively feel how that is so.
Because our awareness of them has become subdued, our control of them has diminished.
That's how a personality forms. It's how a tension set forms. It's how a chronic feeling state forms. It's how our condition forms. It's how our complaints form.
It's memories affecting how we move.
Movement involves the muscles -- and of course, other systems.
Let's talk about the muscles.
Any talk about action involves talk about muscle tension and relaxation of tension. Every state of readiness involves a heightened state of tension.
Memory shapes readiness.
Memory shapes muscular tension.
Injuries form intense memories.
Memories are states of readiness. Always.
Injuries form intense states of readiness, heightened tension, ongoingly. Heightened tension, after a short while, becomes painful -- not just psychologically, but also bodily.
The key to the pain are the memories.
Hanna somatic education cleans up muscle movement memory. By cleaning it up, we eliminate unnecessary states of readiness, unnecessary states of tension, unnecessary discomfort, unnecessary limitation of movement.
The pain people bring to a Hanna somatic educator is the pain of residual conditioning by experience in which they hold and stay tight, habitually, but without recognizing they are doing so: sensorimotor amnesia.
So, in a roundabout way, we've just covered "what" Hanna somatic education handles.
Now we start on the "how".
Sensorimotor amnesia is another term for the muscle-movement memory of natural maturation "influenced" by the muscle movement memories of injury and prolonged stress. Hanna somatic education is a way of teaching people to take back influence over themselves, or to throw off the lingering influences of past experiences -- in this case, the lingering influences of past injuries and stress periods that lead to cumulative, muscular tightening up that "becomes who they are" (but are not).
What we need to do is to delete the automatic impulse to tighten up, to make "starting from rest" the default or customary disposition. The first way of doing that is to make them aware of the impulse to self-tighten. And then teach them to stop tightening themselves up -- not by effort to remember not to tighten up, but simply by not tightening up, in the first place, unless they mean to. They start at rest instead of from a an automatically-disturbed state of readiness. (Consider the mind of such a person.)
That's what the techniques of Hanna somatic education, and the intention behind their use, is. It's to teach people how to free themselves of conditioning influences, so they can feel more like themselves.
That, by the way, is the stated intention of many disciplines, but is most clearly stated as the intention of bodywork and somatic disciplines, in general. Some approaches are more effective than others.
When it comes to muscles, it means to awaken better control over our own tensing and relaxing of our muscles, of ourselves.
What Hanna somatic education does is clean up muscle movement memory so we can feel more like ourselves, when we are all right.
Hanna somatic education cleans up muscle movement memory and then improves it.
- movement, better
- pain, gone
- ability restored and enhanced
Hanna somatic education cleans up muscle movement memory.
Everything else that may be said would be the particulars of techniques and of somatic education exercise patterns – details that you might try to liken to therapies or exercises you already know. That might give you the wrong idea, if your ideas are based on approaches that work from the outside in, “on” you.
Hanna somatic education doesn't involve techniques that someone applies to you. It involves techniques of teaching you to get back influence over yourself. It's an outside-in AND inside–out job. That's why it works. We use an action or movement pattern "hard-wired" into us, programmed into everyone (and their dog), one related to yawning, called, "pandiculation". Yawning is pleasurable because it releases some of our tension. Hanna somatic education applies this "hard-wired", natural action pattern to clean up muscle-movement memory.
And by the way, because we're working with the programming side of things, meaning our memory conditioning, it works quickly and efficiently, in harmony with our influence over ourselves. Because it works in harmony, it works far faster than approaches that attempt to counter muscle-movement memory instead of dissolve its grip and then organize it. Being "worked with" works far faster and better than being "worked on".
Hanna somatic education works by cleaning up muscle movement memory that influences us in how we move and how we feel.
Muscle movement memory.