Ten Principles of Neural Somatic Integration® (NSI)
1. The Body as a Portal
The physical body “carries”(stores) ALL our experience (from trauma to pleasure) in neuronal fabric circuitry and/or chemical functionality and physical functionality and structure. This makes the physical body a portal for healing and trauma relief.
2. Stress Responses Lead to Pathology
Chronic distress (pain) --- physical, mental/emotional that is not “organic” in its origins (i.e., the result of disease or accident) is the result of a defensive physiognomic response to past experienced or anticipated threat or pain. Called “stress,” these responses, while originally intended to preserve or protect (e.g., signals to the organism to either flee, freeze or fight), when persisted in after the perceived threat has passed, create pathology.
Release of these no---longer functional responses results in “discharge” (an electrical term that is applied to what the body/mind experiences when released from constrained or restrictive constructs.) Discharge is a pleasurable experience, even exhilarating: energy that has been “cooped up” in neuro---circuitry is now free to move, flow, and be available for creative and productive and pleasurable experiences.
4. The Role of Cognition
Psychotherapy (including all forms of psychological intervention) seeks to obtain this release through cognition – through analysis, synthesis, “understanding” (and accepting and/or changing) the historical causality that resulted in the pathology. Beyond simple “understanding,” however, effective psychotherapy provides a compensatory emotional container in which the mind/body can “let go” of what it no longer needs to protect itself and discharge the related neural energy that has been devoted to holding the complex of beliefs, emotional triggers, and corresponding physical configurations in place. Talk therapy has begun to acknowledge the role of the body in healing psychological trauma and neuroses. The work of Gene Gendling and his introduction of the concept of a “felt sense” present IN THE BODY as a key to effective therapy is an outstanding example.
5. The Evolution of Body Work
Bodywork has also “evolved” very quickly in recent years (or perhaps rediscovered what it was originally) from addressing only the physical manifestations of a distress complex (i.e., the gross anatomy of muscle, ligament, tendon, lymph gland, and physical symptoms of restricted motion, cramping, etc.). Pioneers such as Feldenchrais, Trager, Alexander, Rosen, Ida Rolf, etc. developed methods to address the underlying patterns of body dysfunction. The work of Peter Levine on trauma release processes is particularly relevant to this discussion.
6. Neural Causality
Neural Somatic Integration® (NSI) is a continuation of the process of addressing the underlying neural and biological patterns that are the proximate cause of a given distress pattern. Proximate, because it is the cause that is present in the organism, be it in an unconscious or conscious way – a memory, a body structure/posture, a feeling, or a pain symptom. The historical cause of a distress complex is not present. Only the residue of the organism’s response to the distressing input remains in “flesh and blood” including the entire network of neuro---biologic circuitry.
7. NSI Brings Release from the Past
NSI® offers opportunities for the client to heal himself by bringing attention to the pathologies and distress complexes that the practitioner “senses” through visual observation, touch, and/or verbal and physical feedback. The practitioner does not presume to know “how” to heal the client. He places faith in the client to heal himself, yielding to the extraordinarily complex self--- healing and self---regulating mechanisms of the autonomic nervous systems. The practitioner’s role is to be a “living feedback mechanism” to the client of what he senses about the client’s physical condition and to encourage the client to shut down pathologic psycho--- physical protocols and allow itself to function “naturally and organically” (i.e., without a pathologic syndrome interfering with health and life). The practitioner “senses” through visual observation, touch, and/or verbal feedback. The practitioner does not presume to know “how” to heal the client. He places faith in the client to heal himself, yielding to the extraordinarily complex self---healing and self---regulating mechanisms of the autonomic, nervous system. The effect is to allow the client to “breath” naturally, to feel itself, to release what has been held onto out of a reflex of fear of continued or repeated wounding. The client is shown that the historical cause of the distress reaction is no longer operative; or, if it is, it must be shown that options for “escape” or change or alternative responses are available. NSI’s message to the body is: You no longer need to hold on to this or that defensive complex which may have once provided you with security or even enabled you to survive and was a perfectly “natural” response to the trauma that was experienced --- but which is now killing you, or at least restricting your ability to experience your body, your mind, your feelings (i.e.., your life) in the present, and is limiting your access to the positive states of joy, peace, love, hope, courage tranquility and courage.
8. Body Worker As Listener and Observer
The body worker who employs NSI will not follow any regime of massage or manipulation, even those of ancient tradition (e.g., reflexology, acupressure, etc.) Rather, he/she will “listen” to the client as it speaks through gesture, facial expressions, voice tones, muscle tension, pain sites, posture, responsive imagery, recollection, etc. He/she will observe in a neutral, loving, safe way and a non---judgmental fashion what is really there in the client, reflect this back through feedback, verbal and tactile, to the client, and offer the client the opportunity to release, discharge, and heal. The practitioner cannot “force” this release. He/she cannot force the client to “let go” of a long---standing neural defense/distress structure. Such pressure will inevitable be greeted by the client as a further attack or stress and it will respond with a reinforcement of the very distress complex the practitioner is seeking to relieve.
9. Trust and Safety
Only when there is a free and safe interchange between practitioner and client will healing occur. Trust is necessary for any healing relationship. Without it, the client remains “on guard” against further distress, thereby strengthening the neural circuitry one is attempting to “unplug” and release into life giving, health producing somatic neurology.
10. Course of Treatment
Given the historical duration or intensity of most trauma or distress patterns the kind of Neural Somatic Integration® we are seeking will not likely occur quickly. It is possible that one could expect to spend a year in weekly NSI work for every decade of life in order to work through the various distress complexes one might have, though this of course will vary from client to client. However; at a certain point, it will become possible for the subject to become his/her own healing practitioner. NSI is not simply a “therapeutic” process; it is an educational one, and clients can become attuned to their own body/mind in a new and healing way, and begin to self regulate using strategies learned in formal NSI sessions. In this sense, the healing process is life long. Resolving old traumas and distress symptoms does not ensure that the client will not suffer new traumas or distress. However, once the dynamic and creative process of NSI has been internalized, the client will have tools to respond to contemporary distresses in ways that will minimize the establishment of defensive complexes or relieve quickly those which occur.