Somatic Experiences: What is it?

What exactly is a somatic process, and how does it relate to ikigai?

Somatic processes involve letting go of analytical thinking and immersing oneself in the present moment. Jamila Rodrigues sought to investigate how this process relates to ikigai, and from her interviews, she formulated the framework of embodied ikigai.

The ikigai embodiment experience

Nick: Let's touch on your paper, you state that ikigai should be studied as both a somatic and embodied process. And I'll be honest here, this is why I learn, I stumble upon these words, but I don't really fully understand. And that would be somatic.

So these words are related to experiences of the body. But how is somatic, and maybe embodied process, how are these two terms different?

Jamila: Okay, so somatic experiences, right? Somatic experience is sort of like alternative therapy. And usually somatic practitioners work with treating patients or people with certain traumas, or certain stress-related disorders.

And somatic experiences, or somatic practices can be anything that relates to body and mind. So, I would say yoga therapy could be a somatic process. Walking meditation can be a somatic process. So a somatic experience that comes from the somatic process, right?

So it's this awareness of your body and mind as one -- soma. So meditation does that a lot, right? So when you have these, you know, your mind is not detached from your body, although you might have the sensation of detachment, right? The sensation of being not in the body, but that sensation of not being in the body, happens through the body. So it's paradoxical.

When you tell me, “Well, I had a sensation that I'm outside of my body.”, you can recall that sensation as a sensation of not being in the body. So it's a bit paradoxical. And the somatic practice happens with that.

So I think, when I started to walk again, after the car accident, I decided to do walking meditation, because I needed to retrain my feet, and I needed to retrain having the sensation of having the weight of my body on Earth, literally, because I couldn't before. So I call that a somatic practice, the awareness of where your feet are in relation to the floor, and the elements that were around me.

So I was in a forest, and I had dogs, and there are days that, obviously, you're walking in absolute silence, or you might experience the sun, or you might experience wind, or you might experience rain, and you don't overanalyse the sensations, but you let them happen.

And the somatic process, it's kind of related to that, this way of letting go with no analysing and just feel what happens now. And I wanted to explore that feeling of what happens of ikigai. If that makes any sense.

So then I developed a framework to study ikigai as embodiment. And that framework, again, doesn't come just from my hypothesis, but it comes from the interviews that I've done with my participants. So this is just an idea of my participants.

But I think, for example, the ikigai embodiment experience relates to the sense of self, to the interaction with the environment, with people's relationships with others, sometimes calls for reflection, for perception. Sometimes it's about imagination, how you imagine ikigai.