A pleasure to speak with Dr. Sam Berne about the mysterious landscape we call "the body", how somatic work can support us in these wild times, the power of an indirect approach to healing, and how we can begin to dismantle hierarchies within our bodies. Some snippets below.
Healing requires a changing of context, of support, not a fixing of parts.
“We tend to think of our bodies as an object, a conglomeration of parts, and that those parts might need fixing or changing or healing. But really, what we call our body doesn’t end at the boundary of our skin. We can broaden that definition to also include our environment, the world around us.” Because we are a continuum that extends from the tiniest particles within to the world around us, healing always requires a shifting of our context. The behavior of our cells is an outcome of their environment, both internally and externally. By changing context, behavior changes, on all levels. It is a kinder approach. Every cell is driven towards its own vitality. If given the right supports and nourishment, those “parts” heal and we feel good.
“One of the gifts of being so ill at a young age - a time when most people are developing their outward lives, but mine was deconstructing - was that I was forced to create a life and a lifestyle that actually supports my biology. But it was only in being able to *feel* my biology and my inside world that I would have a way of knowing what a sustainable, healthy life would need to look like for me. “
During the pandemic, so many people came to a place of realizing they couldn’t go back to how things were. “Not going back” became part of our vernacular some months back. But as vaccinations took place and people did start to go back to work, they felt like they were being squeezed back into lives that no longer fit.
Realizing something doesn’t fit is an essential awakening. But the harder question is “what does a sustainable, healthy, realistic life actually look like for me, for my body?” or “how does my lifestyle impinge on the movement of my vitality, and can I offset the challenges of my lifestyle and it’s effects on my body? What supports can I call in to lean on?”
This was the gift of getting so ill before I had created all those adult life structures; I didn’t get a choice. I had to drop out of everything I was building. But by listening to limitations and honoring my weaknesses, it allowed me to build a life that honors the reality of who I am, my needs and my capacities. And it turned out a lot of the things I’d been working towards had more to do with affirming external expectations than my deeper callings.
Practices that teach us to sense and feel our internal worlds offer us the opportunity to become more self-referential. To know for ourselves what we need, what supports us, what doesn’t. They help to liberate us from the external references that bombard us with ideas of how and what we should be, think, do.
Which is *certainly* not to say I have it all figured out. I am constantly meeting the guards of internalized capitalism, the voices that tell me my worth depends on my work, my productivity, how busy I am. I am constantly struggling to carve sufficient time for the things that are life affirming - my internal practices, my creative practices, my relationships.. and for the tending and maintenance that my dear body requires. As all of ours do.
Just like the Earth, our bodies are not resources to be extracted. They are portals to nurture. Alchemical altars to bring hand-picked offerings to. We are living, breathing organisms. A union of a trillion cells, each living, breathing, pulsating with an innate intelligence from which our thoughts and feelings and sensations arise. May we flip the hierarchy. May we reverse the light of our awareness inwards towards life, land, water, breath. What is living? Where is there movement? Turn your attention there. Nurture that. Work in service of that. Vitality.
Today we have a special guest, Emma Destrubé. She is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and physician of East Asian medicine, as well as a somatic movement therapist and Continuum teacher.
Beginning in her teens, she apprenticed under somatic movement pioneer Emilie Conrad, founder of Continuum. Together they researched and developed fluid movement/sounding protocols for neuromuscular compromises and other therapeutic applications of somatic movement and breath work practice.
Emma holds a private holistic health care/healing arts practice in Los Angeles, where she helps to cultivate vitality with patient-empowering, poetic medicine including acupuncture, herbalism, somatics, and energy work. Her patients are a broad mix of creatives, celebrities, athletes, artists, activists, meditators, and even children.
She also teaches weekly online classes called Soma – a Continuum-based subtle movement, breath, and embodied meditation practice that sources somatic inquiry in the wisdom and poetry of Taoist medicine.
You can follow her on Instagram at @emmadestrube or check out her website: https://www.emmadestrube.com/about