Somato Respiratory Integration
– SRI Stage One
Stage one is instrumental for parts that have been abused, traumatized, wounded, ignored, shamed, or in some way misdirected. It can take you from pain and suffering to acceptance, whether it’s emotional pain, physical pain, or both. Paradoxically, the change you may be seeking in stage one, will not occur until you feel it as it is without trying to change it, if only for a moment. Even just an itty-bitty of acceptance must come before any pain relief. Pain or no pain, Stage One is a fundamental building block for all stages of healing.
The short & skinny for moving through Stage One, if all you need are the basics to get started
- Easiest position for this procedure is lying down but any position can work.
- With one hand placed over the other, place both hands over the specific area you’d like to explore. Best for your touch to be somewhat flat but relaxed Fingers not interlaced. Best to center the touch around a fleshy part of the hand that sinks in the most, such as that fleshy bulge of the palm at the base of the thumb (thenar eminence), or the bony part sticking out at the base of the index finger. Or at the base of the pinky finger, etc.
- Lift the area from the spinal segment underneath as you breath in through the nose. Let the area sink all the way down to where you lifted from as you breath out the mouth. Follow your body’s natural breathing rhythm, allowing it to change as needed.
- Let the tension of the movement follow the tension of the lungs expanding and contracting. You can tell when the timing between the movement and respiration are in sync because it will be more natural — no longer controlled or mechanical. And you’ll be present with what you’re experiencing.
- But if you can’t find peace using stage one on any part of your body, you may want to try gently placing your hands anywhere on your face or head, letting your touch be in rapport with your breath, and letting your head and neck rock back as you breath in. Allow the head and neck to move in the opposite direction as you exhale.
- Allow yourself to explore the different possible ranges of movement – from the deepest movements to the shallow movements and everything in between. Explore! Avoid boring repetition. Don’t try to continue the exercise once you feel you’ve had enough for now. Even if it’s only been a few seconds, that’s ok. You can always come back later.
- Explore in whatever direction seems to create more peace. Compassion for whatever you’re experiencing can only help.
- It’s more than ok to improvise if you have issues with regards to breathing or upper limbs, such as arthritis, nasal congestion, etc.
What’s This All About
When there’s any form of suffering, stage one of healing can be divided into 3 phases, oftentimes almost occurring all at the same time – The Triple A:
1) Becoming Aware of what’s escaped your attention or is not being accepted.
2) Acknowledging what you just became aware of.
3) Acceptance, making your peace, or moving in that direction.
The best attitude, believe it or not, is to not have any agenda other than to just feel what there is to feel. Pay attention to what changes feel more peaceful or resourceful. You want to find some measure of peace, and then let that peaceful zone gradually expand. Become aware of whatever there happens to be to feel in the moment. Let it sink in as long as it’s where you’re finding the most peace, however painful or disagreeable it might be.
Do not try to fix or solve anything. In stage 1, feeling helpless, if that happens to be the case, is a good place to start. You don’t have to figure anything out. Satiating yourself in what you already know will only get you more of the same. Let your feelings explore what you don’t have to intellectually understand. You’ll find both wisdom and healing when you can let go of trying to control things.
Note: The rest of this page has some key information on how to conduct yourself during this exercise.
For the basics of what you actually do during stage one of healing exercise, the book at this link can be very helpful, especially if not able to be with an NSA chiropractor or SRI facilitator. The book gives you a step by step guide for facilitating the basic patterns people go into with their bodies when each stage of healing is taking place, which often leads to an emotionally physical release.
There are parts of your body that perhaps you feel quite readily and peacefully, and then there are those things inside you may seem to have no clue about until it hurts. Somewhere inside that has taken on your wounds, injuries, stress, abuse, neglect or shame, and at times been misdirected. No clue could be from when the wounds are from hard times of distant past, when you had to brush things off to survive. To become aware of whatever has been disassociated, and to acknowledge it in your physical emotional being, is an important first step.
Could be anything you were hardly ever feeling, or perhaps now wish you didn’t. Segments of your spine that were “just there but never felt”. Or a sprained ankle, an upset stomach, or any body part that all of a sudden feels uncomfortable “for no good reason”. Or it could be a bad, generalized feeling that maybe doesn’t seem all that physical. If that’s the case, pick the first area on your body that comes to mind for the SRI stage one exercise. If that area is on your back, place your hands on the area in front that feels connected to the area in back.
Poor posture, which in the past 100 years has accelerated into a degenerating acceptance of what’s normal, can only be the result of alienated parts of your spine. Not only with healing but even when engaged in a sport, or any performance activity, it’s the alienated parts that will hijack your health, along with your best form, vitality and capabilities.
Stage one – feeling, acknowledging and accepting it, is the best antidote for those alienated parts. Or, for that matter, anything that comes up in your life. Otherwise, suffering is all but inevitable. The moment you feel whatever there is to feel for what it is – finding that peaceful love zone, without the mental control faculties trying to put a spin on it, even if what’s troubling you can make for a bad day, stage one connection is coming to the rescue. That is, the beginning of some light at the end of the tunnel – setting the direction for healing to commence.
Yet, alienated parts have now taken center stage: The sprained ankle might be seen as a recent event that “wasn’t supposed to have happened.” The neck or back pain that seemed to just come out of nowhere. Any absence of feeling or unwelcomed feeling – not only pain but even such feelings as rejection, loneliness, lack of self-worth, and shame. In all cases, there’s a new kid on the block, or an old kid on the block demanding new recognition. Any progress towards healing will have to involve some peace between your former ways and something new emerging.
Easier to accept when you can empathize with something worse. What would it be like living with the worst that can come of this, for the rest of your life? Let your imagination take over and there’s bound to be something that triggers relief, or gratitude for what you have left. It’s the questions you wonder about, no matter how lousy or unreal the answers, that can set you free, inasmuch as your wondering brings your experience into a new perspective.
During the onset of an intense tragedy, especially while the event is unfolding, the input floodgates are in full gear. Once things have settled down to collect your thoughts, it’s good to remember stage one as the stage of loss: loss of a loved one, any loss, and, at least the beginning of, accepting it.
Especially for very difficult situations: Regrettably, any holding on at such a time to what you feel you absolutely must have “or else”, or how you think you’re supposed to feel, will be pretty miserable, not at all helpful. Without the stage one SRI exercise, your body may go more into defense – shallow breathing, posture showing about as much flexibility as a robot. A prolonged fight-flight-or-freeze response, with the sympathetic nervous system in over-time. This is the physiological state where healing becomes all but impossible.
The SRI stage one exercise is critical for those especially difficult times. It’s much easier to let the stage one exercise break the challenge down into the smaller steps that you can be at peace with, especially for those times when you’re in the middle of losing whatever you may feel deep down you were entitled to or could not possibly have done without. Stage one can be applied towards anything, even something as horrendous as losing all of your savings, or, losing your reputation. To take in what there is to acknowledge, and to follow whatever brings even the slightest peace, or curiosity, between the old and the new.
Actually, stage one occurs whenever you catch your breath to take in whatever wasn’t fully felt – good, bad, or neutral; not momentarily absorbed or sinking into something pushed aside for years. Stage one can oftentimes be a fleeting moment made little note of in passing. Ordinary life, and performance especially, often demands the quicker dynamics of every stage.
Stage one: Acknowledge. Accept.
A resistance to feeling anything coming up for you and you’ll be spinning your wheels until there’s that stage one connection. That’s why stage one comes before the other stages. Especially with the lower numbered stages, moving thru the 12 stages in the order they’re numbered is, more often than not, believed to be the best way to go. The more experience with each stage, the deeper the experience and breakthroughs in your performance, and the more you become master of your own ship, employing just the stage you need at the right time, even if not always in the prescribed order.
Stage one conclusion brings a moment of assurance.
Stage One in Real Life:
A stage one reconciliation between the old and the new can bring on the opening for most any advancement in skill level. Changes involved might be quite different from what you would ordinarily allow for through more comfortable habits. There could even be a curiosity for exploring an old pain, no longer as repelling. As in all of the 12 stages, any of the results from stage one will pave the way for new insights, opening up opportunities for improving form, posture, technique, the ability to bounce back from stress, injury, trauma, and to adapt. With the “new kids on the block”, stage one can guide you in making the adjustments you’re most ready for, as you move towards something intriguing, even if it’s something that feels weird.