LICENSED SOMATIC PSYCHOTHERAPIST
Body sensations include tension, temperature, weight, volume, etc. Sensation provides us with information about our emotional state. For example, we might feel tension or heaviness in our body when we’re around people who make us feel uncomfortable. We might feel warmth and openness when we’re in love.
Emotions are like sign posts that literally guide us through the world. We might be drawn to experiences that make us happy or repulsed by people, places and things that cause us to feel shame. Without access to emotions, important life decisions become next to impossible. Most people assume that their behavior is driven largely by cognition, but addiction provides a clear example of emotion’s dominance over behavior. Many people who struggle with addiction KNOW on a cognitive level that their behavior is harming them, but they continue to use because drugs and alcohol are managing powerful emotions such as grief, anxiety, rage, fear, etc. For many people, extended sobriety would create a huge, seemingly unmanageable avalanche of negative emotions -- so they remain addicted.
By Dario Martinez
I offer my clients a wide range of Mindfulness and Emotion Management techniques to promote the development of observation skills. Observation is important to the therapeutic process because it encourages us to slow down and actively examine ourselves as we’re moving through life.
Observation also provides powerful opportunities to disengage— or step away from automatic behaviors and unconscious patterns. By disengaging, we can begin to examine our role in unconscious behavioral patterns—and consciously decide if we want to change.
To simplify the observation process, I introduce an easy-to-understand “map” of human experience called “Core Organizers.” According to Pat Ogden, creator of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, human beings organize and process experience through six distinct levels of perception called “Core Organizers.” Each level represents a different way of engaging with experience.
For example, we might process an experience through the lens of “cognition” by having thoughts about what’s happening to us; or we might “feel into” an experience by engaging “emotions.”
Core Organizers make observation and mindfulness much more accessible by providing six clearly defined focal points for a wide range of mindfulness practices.
Our experience is largely defined by how we feel about our relationships to the people, places and things that we experience. When we get overwhelmed, we might lose our capacity to remain connected to our experience of relationship. A common example of this occurs for people who’ve been sexual assaulted. They might experience difficulty staying “fully present” and connected to partners while having sex—even when they feel “safe.”
Five senses which include sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
Our ability to observe ourselves and manage our emotions is strongly impacted by our ability to maintain a connection with all six organizers. Challenging life experiences can sever connection with specific organizers.
For example, a child who is emotionally abused may develop a weak connection to emotions -- while children who experience physical abuse may have difficulty feeling bodily sensations when they get older.
Core Organizers can be used as a tool for managing overwhelm. By directing our awareness from one organizer to another, we can literally “change the channel” in our brain:
For example, if I’m feeling overwhelming anxiety in the Emotions channel, I can change over to the Five Sense Perception channel by beginning to count all the red things that I SEE or naming specific sounds that I HEAR. For a visual representation and more information about this process, please see The Wheel of Meta Awareness.
Copyright © Dario Martinez. All rights reserved.
We feel impulses to either move toward or pull away from people, places and things. Some experiences cause us to “shrink” or get smaller, while others allow us expand or get bigger. Movement impulses also include body language: our body might close off to people who make us uncomfortable and open up when we feel love.
The functioning of the mind. This includes all of our thoughts, beliefs, interpretations, ideas and perceptions about the things that we experience.