Dear Global Somatic Experiencing Community,
This is an exciting letter to write. I have just returned from the first in-person, 2-day touch skills training that happened for folks to finish their SE training. What an incredible experience it was to be back at an in-person training. As we all know by now, back in March 2020, SEI had to go from being an entirely in-person, mass gathering organization to an entirely virtual one. No one quite knew what to expect, and the virtual trainings blew us all away. Our virtual offerings have become so popular that we will continue to do them even after we make the eventual return to in-person events. We have come to learn that there is a preference for both approaches and we will make both available.
The Advanced II training is all about SE touch work. SE touch work is different from other forms of touch training. For this reason, back in March 2020, the SEI board, faculty, and staff, along with other members of the SE community, considered how to navigate Advanced II with a virtual world, one that we had no idea how long it would last. The decision was that we would offer 2-day, in-person touch trainings for students who did the rest of Advanced II training virtually. This week was the first one in Golden, Colorado.
For many of the people at this training, it was their first time in a large group since March 2020, or before. Of course, we were all masked, and we had sanitizer throughout the room. There also were no snacks. I know – an in-person SE training without snacks! We had no idea what to expect. What does it mean after a year of being distant from friends and family and large trainings to come together only able to see half of everyone’s faces? What does it mean when we know we heal through social engagement when we have been reminded over and over again for more than 18 months the dangers of being in close physical contact? I trust SE and I trust our community, and I certainly had my moments of hesitation about this training.
You know where this is headed, right? The training was fabulous! It exceeded any expectation I could have possibly had for how good it could go. I finished my SE training in September 2018, and since then I have not been to too many trainings for more than a few minutes. I certainly had somatic memories of what it has felt like to be in the field and have near constant contact with the larger SE community. Despite all of that, I had somehow forgotten just how incredible it can be to be in that physical space. At one point during the training, I had to step out of the room for something. When I came back in, I could feel my nervous system settling . . . perhaps more than it has in months. Just from walking into the room!
I am the first person who, prior to this past weekend, would have touted the importance of in-person trainings when they are safe and available for folks. I am the first person to say that being in an SE training field is, in itself, healing. I have talked about this with more people than I can count. Despite all of that, experiencing it again, after so much time away, felt like a brand new, and a very remembered, experience, all at the same time.
The pandemic is not over. We have no idea how long it will continue. We have no idea what the end of the pandemic will even look like, and what the world will be when it is finally over. What I think we are all coming to accept is that our lives will never be the same as they were before, again. I am sure we all can think of ways we can improve our lives from the lessons we learned from Covid, and I am sure there are aspects of our prior lives we will continue to grieve. My expectation is that, never again, will any of us, particularly in this community, take for granted the power of in-person connection and the felt sense of an in-person training.
For much of the time we have been experiencing this pandemic, I have wondered about a lot of things, but pertinent to this letter, I have wondered about the impact of the virtual trainings on our large, and growing, SE community. I have worried that some people will never know the 3-year intensity that creates lifelong friendships, while at the same time I have been astounded by the power and impact the virtual trainings have had. What I do know for sure is that the people working at SEI want to use Covid as a learning tool – how can we continue to offer trainings and community building in a way that supports people, in-person and virtually, long after the 3-year training is complete? While we do not have specific answers to these questions yet, we certainly have begun to think about the answers.
We know that when we are forced to make changes for public health and safety, we can do it. Now we must think about how to think outside the box, with SE containment principles in mind, without our hands being forced. This 2-day training was a perfect example of how we can adjust when necessary! It exceeded my expectations (and those of others as well), and then some. Our hope moving forward is that we can continue to exceed our own expectations with new ways of connecting from localities to the global SE community. Being in an SE field is an experience like none other I have ever had, and we are going to continue to find ways to make this space available to more and more people.