From many strands of mind and body work, drawing on both conventional science and traditional wisdom, Dr John Upledger developed SomatoEmotional Release®. It is a framework and toolkit for facilitating personal growth, away from illness and lack of potential and towards health and fulfillment.
Many of us are underliving our potential because of the retained effects of early life trauma, whether mental, emotional or physical.
This shows itself most obviously as chronic physical illness which prevents us from freely exercising choices, but more insidiously in sub-clinical dysfunctional patterns such as poor immunity, lack of energy, lack of confidence, anxiety and fearfulness.
Illness, rather than being viewed entirely negatively, can become a creative tool for sorting out our lives and redesigning our futures. To achieve this, we need an approach which enables us to listen to and learn from both mind and body. Most healthcare approaches separate mind and body - either physical therapy or psychotherapy, the body hospital or the mind hospital.
We know however that a radical change in physical health, whether for the better or the worse, is invariably accompanied by profound mental change. We also know from studies of behaviour and body language that the reverse is equally true - a major change in mental perspective is always accompanied by a change in body activity, posture and movement. SomatoEmotional Release® serves the purpose of combining all aspects of human nature, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, into one approach that can facilitate tremendous change and growth in a person’s life.
Retained emotions and the primitive brain
Many of the traumas we receive during the adventure we call life are either entirely emotional or have a significant emotional ingredient or reaction associated with them.
The basis of SomatoEmotional Release® (SER) is that people sometimes retain an emotional experience physically, leading to loss of flexibility in an organ and/or local connective tissue with resultant impairment of function and possible pathology. Working hands-on - sometimes assisted by dialogue, sometimes not - it is often possible to facilitate the release of the affected tissue concurrently with resolution of the associated emotional issue.
We understand that our bodies have a remarkable facility, inherited from our more primitive forebears, which enables us to hold at a deep neurological level "reactively" programmed records of certain events.
These events seem to be those which our primitive brain, or R-complex, has experienced as significant to our survival or some other important aspect of our well-being. By "reactively programmed", we mean that every time we have an experience that connects with that earlier memory, our original reaction to it is triggered, however inappropriate that reaction may be to current circumstances. Such reactions can, of course, involve either pleasure or pain.
How easily does SER occur?
There are many factors that can increase the likelihood or degree of emotional retention, but a key factor seems to be the ability, or otherwise, to accept or integrate a particular experience. In John’s case, not untypical, he is able to quickly get in touch with his problem and, with the right kind of help, resolve it. John had suffered for years in silence, the memory of his teacher so effectively buried that he had little or no idea he even had an emotional problem. He came from a safe and supportive home, and felt quite secure until he attended his first school.The teacher, however, made him feel ashamed and inadequate, unable to seek his parents’ help.Luckily he has good, deep resources to draw on, and as a result he has no real fear about getting in touch with his feelings.
For other individuals, the ease with which they can get in touch with their emotional issues will vary tremendously, and the process of SER may be subject to degrees of resistance. It is often, however, as if some unconscious mechanism allows us to start into our process of SER when we are at just the right time of our lives to make a change. And CranioSacral Therapy does seem to be very effective in preparing the ground, gently helping our issues to come nearer the surface, preparing our bodies to play their part in the work.