Somatic Games

After deconstruction, there is the body – your body, my body, the earth, us and we. Somatic experience can be both traumatic and empowering, like how eco-radicalism can be traumatic and empowering. So any game is probably best done when you feel ready to do it, by being true to your needs.

The anarchist play therapy developed by Roberto Freire, Somatherapy, has lots of somatic games that nurture healing and support rebellion. Somatherapy empowers those involved in the group work, by empowering each other through providing mutual support, sharing experiences, preparing each other to fight oppressors and various immediatist exercises. There is very little material available in English about Somatherapy, as formulated by Freire – probably something we should be pleased for, as it removes pressure to conform to Freire’s design. So the challenge then becomes to create your own games, with those you are.

Exercise, self defence and combat sports are other forms of somatic play that can directly empower individuals, both psychically and in their rebellions. They both require a certain amount of co-working/co-play, particularly in learning how to train and not hurt yourself, but they can be practiced individually once an intensity of skill is attained. The strength gained through these activities can be invaluable to vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups, like women who are at risk from rapists, or ethnic minorities at risk from racially motivated violence – The Black Panther Party for Self Defence was formed for self defence and worked to empower black people, while fighting for liberation.

A somatic game that I enjoy is standing on streets with Free Hugs signs and, during the chats that always follow hugs, talking about ecological collapse, the destruction of Reality and existential crisis. There is a double impact of having a bodily affect and a psychic effect of breaking the expected thought pattern.

The mental health and bodily health benefits of somatic work/play are obvious and immediate. As well as what practical and personal growth these can bring, these types of activities can just be fun – an experience we all can probably share in a desire for more of. There is no need for any mediators within these activities, as they are best done when self-motivated and not facilitated by groups or organisations.