The body in its heaviness longs for the lightness of breath, and the lightness of breath longs for grounding of the human body. Our ancient ancestors told stories about the sacredness of the breath, and many of the world religions, mystical traditions and indigenous cultures equate the moving, living breath with the soul of who we are.
The breath is the essence of who we are. We cannot meet our emotional and spiritual needs with the material world. We have lost our breath, and we can see it in the ways we desperately seek satisfaction outside of ourselves through alcohol, drugs, food, caffeine, sex, work, being busy and relationships. If we do not know the power of the breath of life, we will seek it outside of ourselves in what we can see.
Human beings have the capacity for such greatness in relationship to themselves and to the non-human world. But in order to live into this greatness, we must turn inward to face what lives within us - both the darkness and the light. We must experience and tell the truth about who we are in order to liberate our wholeness. When we breathe in, we often encounter resistance through physical pain, emotions we have not felt in years or limiting thoughts. Facing our shadow aspects is essential in awakening to our wholeness. We cannot have the light without the dark.
If we continue to exit our bodies during the painful parts of our lives, we miss all that shows up in our lives, including the joy. We must be “home,” and present in our bodies, to experience all that it means to be human. Many of us have not been taught to dance with our darkness. We have been taught to numb it, avoid it, deny it and run away from it. The breath helps us navigate the vulnerable, painful, maybe even terribly frightened, aspects of ourselves. We need spaces to explore the whole of who we are in order to live in ways that are integrated and alive.
Soma is a school dedicated to sustainable living through the integration of body and breath. This is a different kind of schooling, one where the student learns to walk his or her inner edge. The interior life is of the utmost importance at Soma, where it is understood that how we experience the world has everything to do with the quality of our interior lives.
Jenny Finn founded Soma in 2006 in response to a calling deep within her. Soma values the inner life, and offers experiences that foster the student’s ability to connect to the support of the breath of life. The way in which we educate is no longer sufficient for us to be able to creatively and wholly face the ecological challenges that we all face. We need schools that are devoted to the interior life, where students can explore freely what lives within them, as well as examine how this inner exploration affects their relationships to the world around them.
Soma offers experiential classes where the student is invited to deepen into his or her interior life and build relationship with body and breath. As Stephen Sterling, author of “Sustainable Education: Re-Visioning Learning and Change,” writes, “This new century might yet be the age of relation.”
Soma pedagogy is based in this understanding of relationship and that relationship begins within each being. The breath keeps us in relationship to our bodies and all that they experience, and connects us to all life that we are immersed in.
The student will find Soma classes include all or some of the following practices in its educational offerings to cultivate relationship with the interior life:
- Creative expression - art, ritual, dance, writing, poetry, storytelling and music
- Heart centered meditation
- Embodiment practices - yoga, qi gong
- Breathing practice and meditation
- Exploration of the non-human world
The breathing body connects us with the moment, and it is from this place of presence we can begin to hear an inner voice that is creative and brave. This voice within invites us to embrace the whole of our humanity and the beautiful truth of who we are. The relationship with the larger Earth body, and all life that we live with, begins within each heart. It is our privilege, and therefore responsibility, to embrace the act of awakening.
Jenny Finn is a licensed social worker, embodiment educator and owner of Soma, where she offers transformative experiences through creative expression and embodied practice. Jenny also traveled around the world with Semester at Sea, and taught undergraduate students the value and practice of self-inquiry through creative expression. She is now pursuing her PhD in Sustainability Education at Prescott College to explore the issue of sustainability through the lens of internal development, creative expression and bodily connection. Jenny lives with her husband and two children on an urban farm in Colorado Springs. To learn more about Soma, visit somamovement.org.