Asia West Pacific

Somatic Re-membering Practice

By Rakha Katresna, Indonesia

The Somatic Re-membering Practice and Gathering officially ended with a Facebook announcement by Alexia Buono on June 19, 2020. 

Unexpected Call

On March 24, 2020, I received an email from Nadine that the first Somatic Re-membering and Gathering would be held in 3 hours by Alexia J. Buono. I had just finished an online philosophy class, and got ready to join. I remembered Bang Iqbal’s message in 2016 that Aikido could be used to practice peace. After that, I attended Susan Sentler’s somatic movement workshop, and was pleased that Friends Peace Teams’ International Peace Training 2020 encouraged community peace work through the arts. It was a Godsend for me to be invited to this Alexia J. Buono’s training.

Linking Body and Mind

This training helped me see how my body and mind interact. I learned to notice and understand the signals of the body and mind so I could treat myself better. I needed the whole 3 months of practice to recognize even the basic signals like eating, sleeping, toileting, and moving.

I went through a process of re-learning in terms of interactions between the body and mind. At first I thought that the body must be conditioned to reach the target determined by the mind. But apparently that is not right. My body rebelled. I fell ill and was confused about what I needed to do in life. Somatic practices performed with Alexia were simple, and taught me to listen to my body. The speed of bodily processes turns out to be faster than the mind, so the mind often hinders movement in the body and then feels sick and uncomfortable.

I realized that I was going through a peace process between my body and mind as they learned to work together. Mindless movements ultimately showed my own thinking through moving. It can be a fast and voluntary process. The main point was to go back and start with natural thoughts and movements.

Achieve the Peak Experience

Practices with simple, easy instructions facilitated my experience of flow. Understanding and insight arose through the flow of practice until I reached a peak experience. I gained a new understanding of the interaction of the body and mind, a new strategy in dealing with anxiety, and a new sense of the meaning of life for myself. This experience just happened without a plan. I really didn’t know what new things would emerge until the peak experience happened.

In the Face of Anxiety

Anxiety manifests clearly through signals. Naturally, tension of the head and other muscles is a form of resistance to threats that might overwhelm me. But this can become a permanent pattern in my body. My mind then produces content around what might be a threat, and then the body reacts again by giving off increased danger signals. Neglecting these symptoms can lead to permanent patterns and weaken the signals’ effects. The mind and body may no longer be able to distinguish real threats. Alexia made me aware of anxiety and showed me how to translate the body and mind signals that I felt.

The Meaning of New Life: My Dancing Skills

My interaction with Alexia made me remember my long-lost determination: to be a choreographer and dancer. The rediscovery of my dance body brought new meaning to my life. Somatic practice facilitates reinventing the dancing body. With Alexia, I experienced dance as a natural expression. This, in the end, led me to believe that what I felt was true. I recall finding a clear conviction of purpose through activism at the 2020 International Peace Training in Pati, Indonesia. I found a clear conviction of my needs and life in dance through this Somatic Re-membering and Gathering experience.

Evaluation and Next Steps

The schedule was at 22:00 in Indonesian. I had fights with my father about why I was awake when the family was sleeping. Then my life became so busy I was too exhausted to join the last meetings. My cramped bedroom forced me to improvise during the movements, which felt good. I had to consider how to do all the movements in a very limited space. This spurred my creativity. After the announcement of the end of the Somatic Re-membering Practice and Gathering meeting, I proposed to Alexia to take part in learning about Embodied Justice. This is a challenging and fun process for myself. I thank you very much to Ms. Nadine who invited me, Friends Peace Teams who participated in the training together, and Alexia Buono who organized this activity.