I recently attended an introductory course on trauma and boundaries with Moaiku founder Merete Holm Brantbjerg. Moaiku is a somatic or body based psychotherapeutic discipline originating in Denmark. Working with both embodied approaches to leadership and with resilience and trauma this was a bit of a treat. Here are a few nuggets from the course from my limited understanding:
Hypo and Hyperarousal
As a result of stress wether from office hassles or overwhelming traumatic events, there are too basic response patterns that happen in the body – under and over arousal. The latter is the well known “fight or flight” pattern of sympathetic nervous system response. The former can result in dumbing, low energy and dissociation and is less well known. Moaiku works with both of them.
Fundamentals of Self-Regulation
The six solo-self regulatory practices that were taught at the weekend were:
Flexibility – Is there awareness and “life energy” throughout the whole body? Slow movement can help.
Grounding – relaxing downward and an upward :spring-back” element
Centring – getting in contact with centre of mass through attention and shifting the sit bones/feet
Boundaries – Feeling one’s skin and personal space
Regulating contact – Finding the connection between one’s arms and centre
“Filling out” – Feeling one’s own muscular strength and sense of self.
Dosing and Empowerment
One strong element in moaiku is having participants adjust the “dose” of any challenge to keep in the growth rather than trauma “zone” and create empowerment. Merete describes her work as “resource orientated skills training” because of this and the approaches practical applied nature. Dosing and putting the receiver/learner in charge is consistent with Paul Linden’s work and his notion of “calibration”.
Where a lot of practices such as most forms of meditation and yoga limit their usefulness by not helping practitioners make the leap from solo practices to coping with triggers from others. As we’re social beings and most of our stress is social this is an issue. Moaiku addresses this with a number of paired walking practices that explore how we engage in contact and relationships. These bring to life issues of contact and boundaries in a rich yet safe way. Many were reminiscent of the work of several teachers I know coming from aikido-based body-work.
Language and the body
While primarily a somatic practice Moaiku also looks at how we use language. She make a useful distinction between description of bodily events (body sensing) and subjective evaluations based on these (body experience – metaphors, thinking influenced, emotions, etc). Merete’s reframing of the narratives people on the course have around their bodily experience were very useful and she helped people get clarity. E.g., “are you overwhelmed? What exactly do you feel? Where?”
On the whole I really enjoyed the workshop and rate Merete as an embodied teacher and trauma specialist. The techniques she teachers are all sound in my experience and her understanding of the complexities of dosing and arousal I learnt a lot from. I believe the language could be firmed up further to add rigour (the word “energy” for example is a personal dislike of mine with multiple meanings) and I disagree with her notion of “feeling safe” (being safe is what matters to me) but these are just gripes and I recommend her work.
If you liked this you may also like:
List of embodied training resources (scroll down).