Awakening Somatic Intelligence: The Art and Practice of Embodied Mindfulness—Transform Pain, Stress, Trauma, and Aging offers a guide to Somatic Learning, an innovative body-oriented approach that incorporates mindfulness, visualization, breathing exercises, postures, and stretches. Developed by author, psychotherapist, and award-winning songwriter and poet Risa Kaparo, PhD, Somatic Learning is based on leading-edge research demonstrating the power of the mind to activate physiological, mental, and emotional healing. Kaparo has successfully used her approach with patients suffering from chronic pain, high blood pressure, and mood disorders including depression and anxiety.
Recounting her own struggle with chronic pain, Kaparo begins with a moving description of her journey from crippling pain to renewed health and aliveness. Kaparo introduces the concepts and characteristics of Somatic Learning, a method that grew out of her personal healing experience. Incorporating the latest brain research in mindfulness and neuroplasticity, the book presents breathing exercises; postures and stretches for morning and bedtime; instructions for integrating mindfulness practice into one's daily life; and ways of deepening the practice through touch and caring interaction with others. Enhanced with over 100 detailed instructional photos and illustrations, the book includes inspiring case stories and the author's own expressive poetry that illuminate the healing power of this practice.
About Risa F. Kaparo, Ph.D.
A liscensed psychotherapist and award-winning poet and songwriter, Risa Kaparo, PhD, is the developer of Somatic Learning, a body-based approach that incorporates psychological, somatic, and meditative disciplines. She has developed training programs for health professionals and educators, and has taught Somatic Learning at MIT, John F. Kennedy University, the California Institute of Integral Studies, Dalian Medical University in China, and numerous other universities and professional institutions. The author of Embrace: Poems, Kaparo maintains a private practice in Richmond, California.
"Dr. Kaparo has a genius for both the body and its language. With the nurturing guidance of a great therapist, she offers a detailed operating manual for healing pain and awakening embodied joy."
—Rick Hanson, PhD, best-selling author of Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
“Risa Kaparo opens doors to a magical realm where we joyfully discover how small shifts in our awareness can have enormous impact in our relationship to aging and pain. This breakthrough book does for somatic intelligence what Daniel Goleman’s book did for emotional intelligence. It offers practical methods that will benefit all readers because they make us feel more alive and attuned to what extraordinary beings we are.”
—David Surrenda, PhD, CEO of Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, founder of John F. Kennedy University’s Graduate School of Holistic Studies, and coauthor of Retooling on the Run: Real Change for Leaders with No Time
“Dr. Kaparo has gone further than anyone in tapping into the intelligence of mindful awareness and discovering how this informs the functioning of each person’s unique bodymind. Her newfound knowledge allows us to effortlessly retrace the pathways that lead to optimal physical, emotional, and spiritual health.”
—Peter Fenner, PhD, founder of Timeless Wisdom and author of Radiant Mind: Awakening Unconditioned Awareness
“This book represents the forefront of mindfulness, psychology, neuroplasticity, body awareness, and self-healing integrated into practices that anyone—from novices to seasoned practitioners—will enjoy and deeply benefit from.”
—Shakti Gawain, author of Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life
“All of us find ourselves confronted with the tension between having a body and being some-body. We have to meet the challenge of integrating these two ways of relating to our body. Dr. Kaparo’s book can help us accomplish this integration and reap the fruits of mind-body wholeness. For this help she deserves sincere gratitude.”
—David Steindl-Rast, Benedictine monk, cofounder of gratefulness.org, and author of Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer: An Approach to Life in Fullness
“If all of Dr. Kaparo’s research and experience led to nothing more than expansion of your spine, the implications for your health would be enormous. Chiropractors should take huge notice. Her work, developed from her own personal healing journey, helps you experience the oneness of your body and spirit. Awakening to this essential truth can lead to a personal transformation in healing and conscious awareness.”
—Robert Jay Rowen, MD, editor in chief, Second Opinion Newsletter
“Dr. Kaparo’s passion for awakening and how that relates to the human nervous system has revealed many practical applications for all those who are exploring this new horizon. The inclusion of sensations and somatic intelligence assists in allowing the conversation between our older brain and the cortex to come into alignment, which allows for the embodiment of awakening. Her work and expression of what she has discovered in her journey resonates with the latest research that is helping so many. May her contribution benefit all beings.”
—Isaac Shapiro, author of Outbreak of Peace, It Happens by Itself, and Burning Questions
“This book is a precious gift to those who are open to healing and transformation. It is also the fruition of many years of work filled with Dr. Kaparo’s dedication and heart. I pray that it reaches and helps many people.”
—Anam Thubten Rimpoche, author of No Self No Problem
“Dr. Kaparo is a true original, and a genius at getting results. Awakening Somatic Intelligence offers the surprising keys to transforming your physical structure from the inside out. You will never experience your body the same way again because of the deep context Kaparo offers. This is a book that is on the leading edge of psychology, neurology, biology, and mindfulness.”
—Steve Bhaerman, coauthor (with Bruce Lipton) of Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There from Here
“Dr. Kaparo outlines an exquisite feedback system to enhance and accelerate the benefits of mindfulness-based practices, laced with the strength of her compassion and dedication to her compelling work. This comprehensive book is a culmination of her discoveries and insights; she shows us how to love those who are suffering—right into their own healing.”
—Trudy Goodman, founding teacher of InsightLA and contributing author of Compassion and Wisdom in Psychotherapy: Deepening Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Clinical Handbook of Mindfulness, and Mindfulness and Psychotherapy
“Though Dr. Kaparo’s work is still new to me, I almost immediately recognized her work as a missing link between the physical and spiritual. She has been the only one who has guided me to an understanding of how these two aspects, physical and spiritual, interpenetrate and are one and the same. She then gives a map to explore this as a real practical experience, not just philosophy. Because the path to her understanding was entirely experiential, she has been outside any spiritual system, which showed me how the spiritual is inherent in nature, not something born of Eastern or Western spiritual or religious traditions.
“This knowledge almost immediately switched my inquiry away from looking for the ‘spiritual’ or being on a path, to having an appreciation and direct experience of the vast beauty that I am composed of, and the incredible intelligence that is the foundation of my being. I have been able to relax and trust the process of awakening for the first time, not as something to figure out, but as something to rest in and savor. This understanding has allowed my potential and talents to be actualized much quicker, and has accelerated my authentic creative process.”
—Demian McKinley, somatic therapist and internationally renowned yoga teacher
“Research in the areas of neurological plasticity, interpersonal neurobiology, and sensorimotor/somatic treatment of traumatic states has only recently—often with the advent of cutting-edge instrumentation—validated and replicated the concepts and methods presented here, discovered by Dr. Kaparo over thirty years ago. Kaparo deserves recognition as a pioneer; she is the only person of whom I am personally aware who has formed her ideas through both her personally developed rehabilitation and subsequently applied and validated clinical experience in transformational healing. Her system is unique.”
—Stan Friedman, PhD, clinical psychologist in private practice, Los Angeles, California
“In her excellent book, Risa Kaparo shares with readers her process of ‘learning to navigate the ocean of life’ through a series of contemplative exercises that allow the reader’s mind-body experience to release and awaken to the freedom that is our true nature. This is one of the most comprehensive presentations available of learning how to be in the active experience of moment-to-moment ‘presencing,’ getting in touch with the subtleties of one’s own physical, non-dual integration with life itself. I highly recommend this wise and nuanced book that needs to be read a number of times to glean the fullness of its wide spectrum of wisdom teachings. This is a great addition to one’s personal library of spiritual guidance.”
—Rabbi David A. Cooper, author of God is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism
“This book represents a breakthrough in healing the mind/body split. It offers an artful, exquisitely subtle and integrated way of navigating the interior of the bodymind that is naturally good medicine as well as a means to greater awakening.”
—Dana Ullman, regular writer for The Huffington Post and author of The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy
“In this book [Kaparo] teaches us how to become aware of [the body’s] messages; release habitual tension through breath, elongation and realignment practices; and recreate our physical structure by replacing strain and density with space and freedom. Anyone suffering from chronic pain will benefit from taking heed of somatic intelligence.”
—New Conciousness Review
"Humans, as Kaparo describes us, are self-sensing, self-organizing, and self-renewing. We are 'evolutionary and intelligent,' and must confront every dimension of our nature. This book provides a theoretical framework for somatic experiencing, but the somatic experiencing itself is defined by the individual's practice and experience, and grounded in embracing the present."
—International Journal of Psychotherapy