An Intro to Somatic Experiencing as Spiritual Practice

Kirby Moore (the author) offers Somatic Experiencing sessions over distance and in person. He also offers Craniosacral Therapy, Birth Process work and Asian Bodywork in person. In addition, he offers Trauma-informed Astrology interpretations, both in person and over distance. You can go to for more or click here to schedule a session:

Hello Dear Readers,

I am writing this post to discuss how Somatic Experiencing (a trauma resolution, nervous system repair-oriented modality) can have additional benefits supplementing an established spiritual practice.

And just so my biases are out there, I am a Buddhist practitioner, on the Tibetan Buddhism or Vajrayana path. I was raised Christian and have a deep respect for authentic spiritual practitioners of any faith who are sincere and who look to grow and become better human beings. Obviously many people work to become better humans without having a spiritual practice – however you do it, Great!

Personal growth work and becoming a better human are some of the benefits of practicing Somatic Experiencing, SE for short. SE is a supplementary modality or a lens through which one practices psychotherapy, bodywork, yoga or other self-help / therapeutic modality.

In SE, we track the nervous system – where is the client in their autonomic nervous system responses (sympathetic or fight-or-flight-oriented, parasympathetic oriented – in this case dorsal vagal response meaning “are they in freeze?” or socially engaged, ventral vagus, alert-and-relaxed response)? If they have trauma symptoms, we gradually tease apart compression (trauma is typically a compression of time, space and resources). We add more time and space into the client’s process, and give their nervous system precious time to process and integrate, to re-organize and renegotiate these old stuck patterns. An SE certification requires at least a 3-year training, so I am oversimplifying things a bit here. But I want to point out that SE focuses primarily on repairing the nervous system.

So how can SE become a spiritual practice as well? I want to point out that it is probably best to follow an authentic and established spiritual path to begin with. SE is taught as a secular healing modality for therapeutic practitioners – whether talk therapists or bodyworkers (touch therapists). It is not taught from a spiritual or religious perspective. This idea that SE can also be used as a spiritual practice is my own.

In my advanced SE training (the final year is known as the advanced levels), I worked with an incredible SE faculty member – Raja Selvam. He taught us the SE advanced techniques, but also introduced us to additional topics and tools. Then I did additional training with him on working with Pre- and Perinatal Trauma. Some of what he said spoke to my Buddhist principles, and some of what he said even informed my practice of Western Astrology (but that is a story for another time).

In SE, Raja commented that there is not enough emphasis on emotional-trauma repair. SE works with sensations, images, memories, emotions, behaviors and even can help to clarify meaning (the “Why” questions). That is a lot about which to be cognizant. SE is often better suited for dealing with acute trauma (shock trauma – accidents, injuries, falls, surgery, etc). And Raja mentioned that we need additional training to work with developmental or emotional trauma, which I agree with. Thankfully I have some of that training with my PPN / birth process work training, along with additional training in working with the Polyvagal System.

Therefore, Raja set out to “fill-in” some of those gaps in healing emotional trauma for us. And I am deeply grateful for this! And in doing so, I realized that he was speaking the language of a spiritual practice in addition to profound healing modality.

Continued in the next post…

Published by Kirby Moore

Kirby Moore is a healing facilitator based in the beautiful rolling hills of Charlottesville, Virginia. He does sessions in-person and long distance via Skype and Zoom, working with Spiritual Astrology, Somatic Experiencing, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and Birth Process Work. His healing work is informed by fifteen years of meditation and Qigong practice. He works with client's intentions and deepest longings to attain clear, tangible results. Contact him for more info at (email): kirby [at] mkirbymoore [dot] com

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