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For this exercise we’re gonna hold our arms and upper body in a somatic hug.

  1.  Sit on the floor or in a chair, or stand with your feet planted on the ground.
  2. Take a second to intentionally pause, wherever you are. You might be coming into this practice with uncomfortable sensations, emotions, or thoughts, and I'm here to remind you that this is okay. This is a nervous system response - and we can maybe thank our nervous system for trying to protect us, and just spend the next few minutes being curious about trying something new. 
  3. Take your right hand and place it around the ribs at your left side, nestled underneath your left underarm and beside your heart. 
  4. Place your other hand on your right shoulder, so that you are giving yourself a hug
  5. It might feel really hard to be still here right now, so if it feels better to have some movement you can invite a gentle sway if that feels right for you throughout this practice.
  6. Spend a few moments now noticing just the sensations of your hands — the pressure of the palms as they hold you in this hug.
  7. And now extend this focus to your arms as well, noticing the sensation of both holding with your arms, and being held by your own arms. Noticing how you have control here — how you can hug yourself as tightly or as softly as you need in this moment.
  8. Visualise how your arms create a container for yourself and all the emotions and sensations you’re feeling. Notice what it's like to be held by yourself in this way.
  9. And see if any of those sensations or emotions that you’re holding are willing to soften, just a little.
  10. If it feels okay you might want to introduce a phrase, maybe saying to yourself — “I’m here, what you’re feeling is okay, I’ve got you”. 
  11. Continue holding yourself for however long feels right, just noticing what it's like to be held by yourself in this way. How no matter what might be coming up, there is this strong boundary in the edges of your arms that can hold it and contain it. Just feeling the support of your own hug, as simple and as cliche as that might sound.  
  12. Once you’ve finished, notice if anything is different from just a few moments ago. Are there any shifts, however tiny or subtle, in how your body feels? Remember that whatever comes up is okay, and if you can, just check in with yourself and see if there’s anything else you need in this moment.

( i )      Somatic resources such as this help us to regain a sense of being connected with ourselves when our nervous systems become dysregulated. Using mindful self-touch to place awareness on the boundaries of our bodies can provide a sense of containment that is comforting and soothing for the nervous system.