Hanna Somatic Education™
The Somatic Revolution
Certified Hanna Somatic
Former Associate Instructor for The Novato Institute for
Somatic Research and Training
Thomas Hanna, educator and founder of the field of
Somatics, was a revolutionary, in a sense. He wanted to
see a revolution in the field of health care and
developed a means to assist that revolution: a way for
people to improve their control over their own body to
eliminate pain and improve body functioning. He even used
the word, revolution, and meant it in an actual sense --
as actual as the sense of the words, computer revolution.
Only, instead of a revolution of human technology, he
meant a revolution of human understanding and ability --
a somatic revolution.
Health care still operates primarily from the
mechanical model of the human body -- the body as a
"marvelous machine". Though the effectiveness
of that model is evident, it has limitations.
Particularly, it fails to address stress-induced diseases
effectively -- chronic muscle and joint pain, chronic
tension and tension headaches, back trouble, and the loss
of mobility and the appearance of pains that accompany
The aforementioned stress-induced diseases do not
happen to a person; they result from what a person is
doing -- that is, from habitual muscular responses formed
after injuries or from stress, responses that operate
seemingly beyond a person's control.
To address those conditions more effectively, we must
adopt, resort to, and exercise a way of seeing and
operating that is more than mechanical; we must adopt way
of operating that is somatic.
Here's the difference: As living beings, we respond
according to what we sense, both externally in the world
and internally as our sense of self. Those responses
affect our physiology, sometimes with lasting
consequences. Mechanical interventions do nothing to give
a person control over their habitual responses.
Somatic education gives a person a way to decisively
resolve such complaints by simply dispelling the habitual
responses and replacing them with the freedom to respond
Until a person takes control of those habitual
responses -- and we can -- no amount of mechanical
intervention and no drug can be effective, except
temporarily; the condition returns because the person
returns to it -- habitually and unconsciously.
There are numerous approaches to somatic education
developed by such individuals as Alexander, Gindler, Speads,
Feldenkrais, Trager , Aston , and Hanna; out of
the traditions of yoga,
the theatrical arts, sports, dance, and . Their
techniques have similarities and differences; their
approaches stand on common ground.
Somatic education is not "a technique"; it
is a way of operating that relies upon people's awareness
and their desire and ability to become more self-determining.
It is an act of freedom, not of bondage, of power, not of
What I am speaking of is not merely a technique to be
added to some therapist's professional armamentarium, but
an entryway to a way of operating that can make other
techniques more effective. This distinction can be
overlooked only at the expense of effectiveness, and I
believe it may point to a basic step in the "health
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