My relationship to ‘cultural somatics’

My use of the words, ‘cultural somatics’, to describe my practice was based on the observation that cultures are in fact bodies made of bodies. Because of this, individual change and collective change are necessarily embodied processes that have a fractal relationship.

There was nothing less and nothing more behind it.

I acknowledge there may be some confusion here because there is a lot of politicized somatics work now out there that is self-labeled as Cultural Somatics, mostly from Resmaa Menakem’s branding of his embodiment work to address racial-cultural trauma.

Transparently, I don’t consider my work to be a part of that lineage, even though I have sometimes used the same name because of coming to the term independently.

The above distinction is important because I do not consider my work to be explicitly political, even though it is not apolitical. My general approach to collective issues such as oppression is that the healthiest approach is to neither dissociate through bypassing them nor fixating on them through a social justice agenda.

Finally, below are some ‘cultural somatic’ terms that I continue to use within my practice. Please feel free to use them also, with the acknowledgment that you feel is appropriate.

Cultural soma
The invisible sensing, feeling, and thinking body that emerges out of networks of complex relationships.

Cultural nervous system
The nervous system of cultural somas.

Cultural attachment
The concept that we form attachment relationships with cultural somas that exhibit similar behavior patterns as in our attachment relationship that we develop in early childhood with our caregivers. Cultural somas can also form attachment relationships with one another e.g. white culture has an attachment relationship to ancestral European cultures. (Indigenous social worker Estelle Simard is another person who has used the term cultural attachment and you may find their work here.)

Cultural somatic context
The cultural context of a body, impacted by everything from furniture, clothes, customs, medicine, and other key cultural elements.

Cultural dissociation
Cultural dissociation describes the dissociative mechanism in the cultural nervous system that protects certain bodies, especially those considered privileged, from processing trauma.

Trauma diversity
Trauma diversity refers to the phenomenon of how trauma held in cultural somas interact with our natural diversities in terms of race, culture, gender, neuro-divergence, and so on, to manifest diverse trauma experiences associated with different groups.