generative somatics is a methodology of individual and collective transformation. It offers a path of embodied transformation, supporting healing individual and collective trauma and addressing privilege and oppression.
The combination of somatic, body-based practices, in-depth conversation, and healing work creates the possibility for lasting change and the ability to take new actions under the same old pressures, both individually and collectively. generative somatics combines techniques from modern western psychology, findings in neuro-science, mindfulness, aikido and liberation politics.
The body-based transformation methodology was founded in Oakland, California, and is currently being taught to and practiced by a range of social and environmental justice activists, groups and organizations in the US who reported sustained shifts in their beings and work.
The word “generative” points to the possibility of finding new ways of being in places where we are stuck. “Somatics” is derived from the Greek work “soma” which means the living organism in its wholeness. The combination of somatic, body-based practices, in-depth conversation, and healing work creates the possibility for lasting change and the ability to take new actions under the same old pressures, both individually and collectively. generative somatics combines dynamics from modern western psychology, findings in neuro-science, mindfulness, aikido and liberation politics.
Why the body?
Changing our thinking alone is not enough to bring about the personal and political transformation that we seek. Somatics focuses on the body in way that goes beyond a mechanical, objectified view and includes the mind, emotions, spirit, relationship and the body’s interface with the environment. The body is a key location for liberation because it is the most direct and efficient way to address our deeply held practices and reactions. We need to change what it is we embody and what our conditions have embodied in us.
We all have what we call conditioned tendencies that have been useful at some point in the past and now get in our way, both in our personal life and in our political work: fear that paralyzes us, triggers that make us angry or run away, situations where we space out or get stressed, pressures that make it hard to think or to stay relaxed and connected. Somatics offers a method to shift these tendencies and to learn ways of being that brings us closer to how we want to be.
generative somatics originates out of a living lineage influenced by healing work from different traditions and continues to evolve with the input of its diverse teaching bench.
The methodology of generative somatics has developed out of “somatics and trauma” courses, designed by Staci K. Haines, who has been working for a long time in the field of somatics and social change, specializing in healing trauma and applying somatics to social justice movement building. The work builds on the Somatics tradition of Richard Strozzi Heckler and Strozzi Institute, integrating Polarity Therapy, Gestalt, meditation and Aikido.
In 2005, Spenta Kandawalla and Staci Haines founded an organization with the same name in order to increase the reach and the impact of the methodoloy.
Through the contribution of a majority people of color staff, partners and teaching team members deeply rooted in organizing, generative somatics now works with movement partnerships across the US, offers courses to social and environmental justice organizers, trains healers, and maintains a generative somatics practitioners network.