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“The Art of Somatic Coaching” by Richard Strozzi-Heckler: 1st review

The writer's copy with multiple tabs for future reference
The writer's copy with multiple tabs for future reference
Photograph taken by Paul Rest

Richard Strozzi-Heckler has hit a home run with his latest book. He set out of writing a book that would define somatic coaching, which he has done. But the book does much more than that. It also gives insight after insight into how we see and organize ourselves as individuals, as families and as groups whether at work or elsewhere, and how this is reflected in our own lives; and, especially in how we relate to the many factors that are at play in seeing ourselves as a whole person.

I’ll write a series of reviews over the next months outlining and sharing some of the most important insight from the author. As many of you know, the author is the Founder of Strozzi Institute, an institute of somatic leadership located outside Petaluma, California. He is also a 6th degree black belt, and the Founder of Two Rock Aikido and was one of the three Founders of Aikido of Tamalpais in Mill Valley, CA.

Here’s just one choice series of sentences that show the power of this book:

“Modern psychology and contemporary coaching models have taken us to a certain threshold of insight and ‘knowing,’ but they have failed to teach us how to discover satisfaction and meaning as we evolve through different shapes of living, and therefore different perspectives, throughout a lifetime.”

The author continues:

“Insight has a place, but it’s a mistake to think that if we change our minds, different behaviors will follow. (my italics) To simply have a good idea about something is not enough. To change how we are means changing how we act; it means functioning differently. It requires a different way of organizing how we feel, act, sense and perceive.”

A historical account follows of how our Western thinking evolved from Descartes and how this philosophy separated us from our bodies and created the dualism we see today in so many of our institutions and in the world consciousness (or lack thereof) that is reflected in our institutions and our environment.

The author is careful to point out that we should be careful not to discount the contribution of rationalism and the many positive scientific and cultural changes that occurred over the last centuries. He writes:

“Don’t mistake this as a condemnation of medicine and its practices [as an example]; they’re useful and necessary. But our lack of practice in being with the living presence of feelings, moods, emotions, spirit and energy keeps people objectified and at a distance. The price we pay for this includes isolation, stress-related diseases, an inability to related successfully with others, poor job performance, and a culture of resignation and dissatisfaction.”

This is a book that is worth reading whether you are in a coaching practice, a martial arts instructor or student, or simply someone who is interested and wants insights into improving and/or transforming your life.

“The Art of Somatic Coaching – Embodying Skillful Action, Wisdom and Compassion” by Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Published by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA $18.95 ISBN 978-1-58394-673-2