The beauty of free, natural movement: A word about somatics (& pain relief)

9.7.2021

10 years ago in the vegetable garden in Punkaharju I got the first idea of saimaaLife. The blog saw its daylight a year later, but I feel that my own journey started already on that gardening day. These 10 years have included lots of life with all kinds of ups and downs. The decade has also included finding an amazing amount of both mental and physical tools and ways to better natural wellbeing. During the past year, the biggest thing has been finding the beauty of free, natural movement and somatics.

Free movement and somatic practices in the Finnish forest

From mentally and physically locked girl to open and free woman

What comes to finding free, natural movement and somatics, it all became concrete in my life like this. Here’s my Facebook update that I published a year ago in spring:

“Tonight something big happened. I want to share it with you because it affects also saimaaLife. I’m grateful that I managed to get this on a video before the sunset. As you know my personal journey has been long and tough. Still, piece by piece I’ve opened up and become more and more whole. When I moved to this forest cottage -right from the beginning- I found the power from my voice. After that, I’ve looked for energy from singing while I’ve been here alone. Now, last months have got my body and mind locked again. Some time again also nerve pains in legs and arms -everywhere- came back. It has been distressing.

However, tonight -after coming home from my forest walk and talking with a friend- I put the music on and looked at the beauty of the setting sun. I felt good and relaxed. Then I got a very strong feeling that I want to put my feeling into a movement and let the light and music take my body. I started small but as I continued my movements grew and it got the shape of dance. I thought nothing, I just let myself flow with the music. I had never been able to do something like that before. I’ve wanted many times, but something has always blocked me. It felt incredible when positive energy and life started to come into me! Also, all my pains and tensions faded!

Big and deep lock -a lock which roots are far away in my history and childhood- opened inside me tonight through this free movement and dancing which was inspired by the beautiful light of the setting spring sun. The last lock that I had waited long to open in me, and also a lock that was caused by the stresses of this wintertime. Now it happened! As the last thing at this forest cottage. An amazing feeling! I feel that now I am ready to move on. And I know that this knows good things -not only for me personally- but for you too, and SaimaaLife.”

– This text with this video I shared a few days ago in our saimaaLife Ladies WhatsApp group. This same I now want to share with you.

Spring is the time when nature awakens. It’s the time of new beginnings and even rebirth. We say farewell to one era and welcome to another. For some spring is an easy time and for some tough. Change in some way it is for many of us. Changes and uncertainties of life cause tensions and fears in us. These all feelings are natural, but they are also something that is good to melt away from our body and mind. Through my experience, I was able to release a new tool inside me to use in the future to feel better. Free, natural dance, that is. 

Have you ever tried it? If not, it may not feel natural nor comfortable to do it now. But put it as an idea behind your ear. I warmly recommend trying one day. When you are alone and feel like it. It may end something in you that is meant to end – and at the same time be the beginning of something new. Maybe something lighter in you.

Today it’s the last day of April. This is my last day at the forest cottage and also the day to celebrate May Day. A new month is about to begin. Let this following quote escort you -and me- to May:

“Go with the flow.
Force nothing.
Let it happen
– trusting that whichever way it goes.

It’s for the best.”

– Mandy Hale-”

The spring went by, I and the kids moved to a new home. Every now and then I took a moment for myself, put the music on, and let my body take me in the way it wanted to move. All that made strengthened the feeling that a new page had turned in me and my life BIG. It felt so good!

Then, in summer I called my friend Elina and asked her to come to the forest with me with her accordion. We went to take some photos but we ended up making spontaneously this video where Elina is playing her self-composed Löksä (Löksä is the name of their family’s lakeside summer cottage nearby the forest we visited) and I gave her composition a form of an intuitive, free movement and dance.

I cried out of happiness to Elina when I saw this video – it was only a few weeks before I was turning as a woman to a new decade and becoming 40 years old. “I can’t believe it really is me who is dancing there! For so long shy and both mentally and physically locked girl has peeled as an open and free, sensitive and beautiful woman!”.

At that moment I realized how much I had grown during the past decade. I felt great gratitude and happiness. Also, my understanding deepened further that all ups and downs, good and bad things that had happened in my life, had belonged to my journey. Without them, I would have not grown and peeled to be the woman, who was dancing so light and beautifully in the forest. 

Free, natural movement and somatics as a natural stress and pain relief way

But what is free, natural movement and somatics in general? In an article “A Brief Intro to the World of Somatics “ it is explained:

“Somatics describes any practice that uses the mind-body connection to help you survey your internal self and listen to signals your body sends about areas of pain, discomfort, or imbalance. These practices allow you to access more information about the ways you hold on to your experiences in your body. Somatic experts believe this knowledge, combined with natural movement and touch, can help you work toward healing and wellness.”

The mind-body connection is the heart of somatics. I feel that after it comes trust; trust in your body and mind and trust in your ability to let yourself go free and intuitively.

Fibromyalgia led me to somatics. Fibromyalgia came as my life companion in the past partly because of my inability to leave the life situation where I was the target of mental violence for many years. Another reason was my own inner world and workaholism that caused exhaustion and anxiety to me. All in all, for too long I lived under too big mental stress. The life situation prolonged my depression too. Over time the mental stress triggered physical symptoms and pains in me -and ended up in fibromyalgia. Luckily the story had a happy ending when I understood my life story and was able to outgrow the circumstances that kept me distressed.

Nowadays I’ve accepted that fibromyalgia -the scar from my past- is here to stay and what I can do is to nurse and live with it with compassion and gentleness. I’ve looked for and found many natural ways to keep the pains away or as minimum as possible. Free movement has become one of the most effective ones. It affects positively both my mind and body. Later on, I’ve read and heard that somatics is used by people to relieve many other kinds of physical -and also mental- pain in them too. 

Besides fibromyalgia pain relief I use free movement and somatics, also as a way to release stress and find questions to the life or work questions I’m thinking. Sometimes when I feel that my thoughts are “locked”, I take a break, put some music on and let my body take, and “unlock” my thoughts. It’s a wonderful, natural way to get connected with yourself. Free movement also helps me to get connected to my creativity and sometimes I also use it just for relaxation and to enjoy the pure joy of life. 

finnish summer forest and blue sky

Test for yourself: Take a first step to the world of free, natural movement and somatics practice

Besides being an accordionist and a godparent of my youngest daughter my friend Elina is also a yoga and somatic movement instructor and a mompreneur behind Inspire Flow. Elina’s interest is to explore the body-mind connection and share the joy and wisdom of somatic practices.

Through somatic practices, Elina believes, we can awaken and strengthen our sense of connection: Connection to ourselves, to our body, our connection to others, and to nature, as well.

After my personal experience, I totally agree with her.

If you’re interested -and I recommend- do the following practice by Elina:

“Close your eyes for a moment and notice your breath. Let yourself sense your body breathing, being alive. Sense the soles of your feet in contact with the earth and feel all the rest of the body; legs, upper body, arms, hands. Continue to feel your body up until the neck and crown of the head. Take your time. Then, you may open your eyes gently, if you wish, and notice the way your body wants to move naturally, at this very moment.

There are no rules, no choreography, no pressure to accomplish anything. Just listen to the subtle signals of the body and let yourself start to move calmly, slowly, listening to the sensations that each movement creates.

You can start moving just some parts of your body, for example, the fingertips, and then let the rest of the body follow step by step. There’s no need to hurry. Give yourself time and the freedom to experience your bodily expression, at this moment. With curiosity, enjoy and explore, like a child!

The beauty free, natural movement in the forest

In the beginning it may not feel natural or easy to let your body and natural movement take you. As I wrote earlier, also I felt long that I would have wanted to do it, but I just couldn’t. Do not force you but wait that the time feels right. If you have the desire, the time will come. And when it comes, use your chance. As I wrote you too: 

“Go with the flow.
Force nothing.
Let it happen
– trusting that whichever way it goes.

It’s for the best.”

With love from Saimaa,

Mari

PS. Somatics is one great natural way to get connected with yourself. There are plenty of other ways to get connected too. For example, these 10 Ways to Connect with Nature and Yourself.

Elina Kapanen, yoga and somatic movement instructor and mompreneur of Inspire Flow

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