By Emma Palmer
I’ve loved writing regularly for Somatic Psychotherapy Today. The initial writing brief for my first Bodywise article back in the summer of 2012 was to say something about my work from ‘across the pond’ – as many contributors are based in the States. Brief sounds chilly and formal. The reality was a warm invitation from Nancy Eichhorn, the founding Editor-in-Chief, to reflect on my current work as a relational body psychotherapist, my Buddhist practice, and my work as an ecopsychologist, and then to write about them. So, I did, associating as best I could the work I was currently doing with the theme of each edition of Somatic Psychotherapy Today. It was an enjoyable challenge! Somatic Psychotherapy Today’s themes over the past five years have been many and varied, from diversity, diagnosis, and trauma to pre and perinatal psychology, embodied spirituality and societal embodiment and disembodiment, amongst others.
Reading Bodywise in preparation for its publication in book form was a bit like reading my diary. It reminded me of how I was and what I was up to at the time of writing each of these pieces – as well as the odd moment of thinking “wow, I wouldn’t write that now!” (The Buddha was definitely on to something when he kept going on about impermanence . . . ). It also reminds me of the events shaping my work during that period; from recollecting the losses and celebrations of friends through to world events of the past and present – World War II to the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015.
I am struck afresh by how the therapeutic relationship is shaped by rich ingredients from all realms of life; from the personal to the global, the political, economic, ecological, social, transpersonal – it’s all there. Our animal bodies; our energetic bodies; our intellectual bodies; our feeling bodies. Our passionate bits and ambivalent bits. As two humans meet as client and therapist in that moment in time, all the meetings and encounters we have ever had also meet, in a sense, as we move in and out of contact, doing the work. Maybe this is amplified even more in working with an active awareness of the integration of body and mind, bringing the riches of body memory and body wisdom. In recollecting this I am freshly inspired by and in awe of this healing work we do.
Bodywise is different than my other two books. In Meditating with Character, I gave myself the challenge of translating and conveying post-Reichian character structure for a for an audience practiced in the art of meditation as well as trained psychotherapists. It was an experiment close to my heart as a body psychotherapist and meditator. Other than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind was challenging given the controversial topic of elective childlessness–pro-natal taboos sadly remain. Writing Bodywise was an altogether different experience. It was the drip, drip, drip of everyday life and work and practice over five years. It has been easier to write, as it never started out as a book, it started out as individual articles.
Bodywise matters to me because its creation has been a unique opportunity to write about the practices I most value and offer much to the world: body psychotherapy, ecopsychology, ecodharma and Buddhism. In founding Somatic Psychotherapy Today, Nancy Eichhorn offers a great gift to those of us working in these fields. Somatic Psychotherapy Today is a gift as it is a space in which we can share thoughts, feelings and expertise. To me it feels like an experiential, experimental – in the best sense of the word – space that is much needed given that many publications are only accessible to established writers, or those at the top of their tree, or academics. In creating Somatic Psychotherapy Today Nancy has cut through those restrictions with a vision to create a publication that is open to all in the interest of healing. She is the most supportive of editors who has a knack for bringing out the best in one’s words. For that I am grateful!
All proceeds from this book will be donated to the ongoing costs of creating and publishing Somatic Psychotherapy Today, helping to defray the costs associated with an independently run international magazine. It is through generous gifts like Kamalamani’s and others’ who donate to Somatic Psychotherapy Today that it continues to exist.
Emma Palmer is an Embodied-Relational therapist, Wild therapist, supervisor, facilitator, and writer, living and working in Bristol, England. She’s been a practicing Buddhist since her early 20s and loves seeing how age-old teachings and practices are relevant to contemporary life. She works at the interface of body psychotherapy, ecopsychology and ecodharma, drawing upon her experiences of being a development worker in sub-Saharan Africa, a lecturer in International Development at the University of Bristol, her current meditation practice and being a child lost and found in nature. She has published three books: Meditating with Character (post-Reichian character structure applied to meditation) and Other than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind and Bodywise: Weaving Somatic Psychotherapy, Ecodharma and the Buddha in Everyday Life, a compilation of the Bodywise articles she has written for Somatic Psychotherapy Today over the past five years.
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