all about { somatic magic }

 

= bodywork / embodied { everywhere }

– who what when where why how

 

Who ?

Founder :

raz-ma  { alias : alexa razma }

Why me?

My personal proclivities have positioned me as a being able to bridge the residual rift between the body & mind. My family’s mantra of “school comes first” was reinforced young in my rigorous academic training beginning in grade school at a selective elite institution called Morgan Park Academy in Chicago, Illinois. My penchant for intellectual inquiry and discourse grew by leaps and bounds in the mentally fertile environment at Northwestern University where I studied psychology through Human Development and Psychological Services (the subject that I found most fascinating was group dyanmics). Finally, my thread of though development led me to graduate studies in transpersonal psychology / expressive arts therapy.

Above and beyond my officially sanctioned schooling I am a ravenous bookworm and would read psychology textbooks for fun. My family went so far as to ban reading books at the dinner table because of my obsession. I would even try to combine reading with physical activities, such as biking with a book balanced on the handlebars. (here is my college entrance essay demonstrating my dedication to the written word *)

Although I rapidly and painfully realized that book-biking was not going to take off as a national pastime, I enjoyed exerting my body through team sports, hiking, biking, swimming, skiing, cavorting/building in the forest, and traditional Lithuanian dance. I believe that the size of my somatic vocabulary (body language dictionary**) and my openness to expressing myself physically stem directly from my eagerness to dance ever since I could walk. I was fortunate to be trained in traditional Lithuanian dance and toured the US and Lithuania performing in the highest regarded youth group in the nation. This formal expression through group dances was coupled with my life-long passion for using movement for communication and catharsis. I still reminisce about coming home from school after a draining day and dancing with abandon outside under the oak canopy to decompress.

Some of my earliest memories are of trading massages with my mother – an avid fan of massage therapy in all forms. I was fortunate that my mom would often gift me massages for birthdays and as a present for good grades. As I lay luxuriating in simply receiving sensations, my body would absorb the physical knowledge of pressure points, strokes, and delicious spots and would come away from a massage feeling like I was in body school. I suspect that my mother continued to provide me with the gift of massages because she also benefited from my increased skill and sensitivity during our frequent trades.

Only after using massages as barter offerings in high school and college did it dawn on me that not everyone was able to naturally tune into the body of another as I could. I was met with only blank quizzical looks after asking friends whether they too had the experience of their consciousness concentrating into the point of contact then flooding into the recipient’s body when touching someone else. I realized that what I often attributed to flattery after giving a massage - “I have never felt so listened to before” and “that was the best massage of my life” – was unadorned, naked truth for those on the receiving end of my touch. Once I understood I was deeply somatically empathic, small experiences I never understood became clear – such as why I would forcibly shudder and cover my ears when anyone told a story of bodily pain, for I could acutely feel the sensations of the shocking stimulus within my own body.

Just as I was just beginning to bloom into being comfortable and powerful in my body, I lost my virginity to rape at the age of 20. Although psychological counselling helped me understand the patterns present in my mind, talk therapy was unable to touch the trauma and patterns in my body. Fortunately, I moved to the Bay area for graduate school – a fertile environment for contact improvisation, conscious dance, radical bodywork, evolutionary gathering, artist collectives, and housing cooperatives.

Through dance, platonic touch, massage, contact improvisation, and the body-celebratory culture of the bay area I could finally release these imprinted body patterns and guarded, frozen trauma.  Now that I live a somatically-nourished life I feel a duty to share the skills I have painstakingly gathered on my healing journey to accelerate our collective evolution. Due to my training as a writer and communicator and my gratitude for the immense transformative effect of these technologies I feel compelled to translate ephemeral embodied teachings into the written word to expand access to the somatic healing realm across the globe.

Solution to violence due to touch isolation

I believe that violence stems from a feeling of disconnection on the part of the aggressor. This disconnection is amplified due to the touch starved nature of mainstream US culture (especially for males who live in a state of touch isolation outside of sexual partnership). Compounding this touch isolation is the blanketing paradigm of emotional numbing which judges those who express ‘un-palatable’ emotions such as sadness, and shames sensitivity as a sign of weakness. These issues are large, pervasive, and pernicious, and although I affect life-long positive change with my private bodywork and embodiment clients, I am limited in how many people I can reach as an individual working simply one-on-one (or one-on-two in the case of couples). I feel an obligation to do justice to the privilege of my life path and expand the number of people who can access these techniques. Sharing my compiled wisdom more broadly honors my intended gift to humanity – exponentially multiplying the love and connection on the globe. The world is crying out for compassion, and I hope that through our earnest sharing of these teachings we can increase the peace on our planet.

Why I became a bodyworker

I started earnestly practicing in the field of massage because I delight in making your body a place that you want to be ! I create and compile spaces, tools, and techniques that deepen, encourage, and propagate embodied living. I seek to normalize body bliss being supported in the structure of mainstream culture in all spheres of life (eg. replacing smoke breaks with stretch breaks). In the pursuit of this goal, I am a touch activist lending my talents to galvanize a movement of body awareness, body positivity, and to normalize platonic touch through a foundation of safety that emphasizes consent and clear boundary management.

Before it had a formal name, I originally started exploring and creating the technique of the { somatic magic } style because it felt wonderful to me, and when I played with others their moans and positive feedback made me realize that the world was eager to learn.

For more detail about why embodied / bodywork { everywhere } and { somatic magic } were created read my personal consent history

History of my involvement with the Squish Squad, founding Bodywork { Everywhere } and the { somatic magic } style and the connections between them :

 

After moving to the Bay Area, I immediately found my fellow body folk in the contact improvisers, bodyworkers, and ecstatic dancers of the Bay Area. I am at the heart of the Squish Squad (SS) as Queen and the founder of Bodywork { Everywhere } : Bay Area (BE:BA). I had found other beings who were as somatically sensitive as I! We gathered together to explore and expand the practice of bodywork - melding, mooshing, and manipulating, we managed to meld styles and strategies into an altogether new synergy.

The Squish Squad is the space curation crew that creates the container for the practitioners of  Bodywork { Everywhere } : Bay Area (BE:BA) to play in the a diversity of styles, my own personal flavor being Somatic Magic.

 

Exponentially multiplied collective healing fields

 

I have noticed an amazing phenomenon when members of SS and BE:BA gather together in shared intention – we create a magnified healing field in which our powers to channel therapeutic movement and clear physical and energetics blocks are exponentially multiplied. I noticed the most during my travels, when clients would fly my to New York and I felt as though I was the lone member of my body tribe attempting to hold the resonance of the group field on the other edge of the country. Although my clients in New York did not want me to leave, I missed collaborating with a crew which allowed me to with others who understood the language of the body . My frequent world-wide wanderings also helped me understand just how rare and unique the communities I was a part of in the Bay Area were on a global level. My academic interest in group dynamics also made me realize how precious this synched up state was, how hard it was to hold onto and the possibilities for utilizing the collective field for creative, constructive purposes (think groupthink but for the common good). This in turn catalyzed my sense of responsibility to create media about the { somatic magic } style I developed while in the Bay Area to share this gem with those who do not currently share physical proximity to my location. Through the media I am privileged to produce, now people anywhere around the world can benefit from this body wisdom (I know that I frequently reflect on how different my life would have been had I known the life I live now is possible).

 

When SS and BE:BA gather together in mutual respect and intention, we collectively form a super organism, symbiotically filling in any individual’s spaces or gaps through the overlapping combination of our discrete strengths. When we gather together in shared space and reach critical mass, we catalyze a chain reaction amplifying our collective composite field. When you consider the fact that we often literally stack bodies on top of each other for maximum therapeutic impact, we are not only emotionally or socially supported, but also physically entwined. Throughout time we holding each other in deep medicinal space and are confident in each other as chosen family. We have vetted each member’s inclusion in our trusted circle and vote with our continued commitment of time spent together.  Additionally, through knowing each other’s strengths, flavors, specialties, and proclivities, we direct seekers of healing to their closest therapeutic match without personal attachment to any specific client. We recognize and honor that each has to take the medicine they need in that moment. *values principals

 

Bodystorming

 

Additionally, together we act as advanced professionals in a therapeutic laboratory when which we prototype techniques and tools among each other. Due to the open nature of disclosure and interest in each other’s personal and professional development we act as transparent respected peers and scientists of the shared discipline of bodily harmony. Due to each member’s honed body sense we can provide exquisitely detailed feedback on new ideas so that they may rapidly iterate and evolve. We bounce both ideas as well as bodies back and forth through our bodystorming sessions – a new method of co-working we developed that involves physical contact combined with discussion (a brainstorming thinktank with movement). *kinetic café

 

Scribe of the Tribe – the difficulty of translating bodysense into wordform

 

Fortunately for this movement movement, I have a penchant for documentation (hence the inscription you are perusing). I would record jottings of interesting metaphors to seed movement patterns, contemplate consent with the collective, and record intriguing informal interviews. Not much has been scribed about these groups or behaviors because by their very nature most members are more interested in movement, action, and immediacy rather than the more static process of writing and other documentation forms.

There is an additional consideration of translation – between the experiential realm of the body and the postulations of the mind. There are many words about words, but precious few about motion, emotion, and bodily experience (especially considering how much data, and depth of data, the mind is taking in regarding these aspects of experience) . Not only is there a dearth of language communicating the felt bodily experience, emotion, and its nuance, but the parts of the brain used for movement and those used for intellectual discourse and documentation are also different. I can physically feel the shift in neuron energy flow when I have been deep in bodyspace and someone asks me a question requiring a verbal response. Mentally, I feel as though the bubble of my body bliss has been popped and I rapidly surface from the depths of my subconscious sensate ocean attempting to hastily gather the foam of form in the slippery spoken shallows.

Occasionally phrases would float to the surface, and I would attempt to repeat them as mantra while I moved, recognizing them as verbal seeds to sensate experiences, bringing an unexpected harvest back from the world without words. However, as is often also the case with dreams, the words would wiggle away unless I diligently broke out of the body trance and doggedly downloaded the details in my digital device or analog notebook. In these moments I felt caught – was all writing an attachment to the past or a prayer of gratitude and remembrance for the flashing fleeting moments of inspiration?

I realized that it was my personal path to write about the felt bodily experience in service to the acceleration of collective evolution and expanding the circle of healing I had found safe harbor in. I recognized the precious gift I had alchemized within my being –a capability to clearly convey with the written word as well as sense deeply with the body. These pursuits often feel diametrically opposed (especially when I am antsy and attempting to steel my resolve and write…then they seem like antipodes). At first I thought one was stillness and the other movement – but really they are both a dance between the two – both the stillness of inner solitude waiting for a spark, and the motivation of the muse to movement.

So I toil, teasing out translations, building bridges between disparate disciplines and demure in my demanding doggedness to hold onto the smoldering snapshots long enough to share them (and ensnare them in eternal expression). I intend nothing short of creating therapeutic thought forms, values which inform our forms, motivational memes for the masses. Catalyzed from conversation, contemplation, and careful composition I coalesced a sketch of the skeletal structure of bones upon which was built our way on being together – a shared philosophy. Find the culture code here*. My evolution lies in the convolution of multitasking between sensation channels, merging the mind with motion, the body with brushstroke, and finding ways in which we do not have to choose between the mind and matter, but uniting both into masterpiece.

 

I set it upon myself to be the scribe of this tribe because I felt a sense of responsibility to my previous self and what a gift it would have been to know how to create the delight, connection, and ecstatic bliss I am privileged to frequently experience. The communities of the SS and BE:BA have radically altered the course of my life for the better – towards an expanded compassionate holistic mindset, greater intimacy, and generous openness. In a spirit of gratitude, I share with you the healing work we have been doing and how to create communities of the same for yourselves. I pray that our compassion and values turn viral.

 

What?

The { somatic magic } style

 

Also fondly called a variety of names as diverse as the clients. Personally, nicknames indicated fondness and kindle delight in me. Below find a few of my favorites :

Aliases for the { somatic magic } style : compassionate contact, mutual massage, roly poly, contact bodywork, body opening, squishing, smooshing, getting razzed, getting juiced, body rolling, body love, body bliss, bodyworming, safe loving touch, body sensing, body empathy, somatic sensitivity, somasense, somatic empathy, somasphere, somassage, body play, squish, getting squished, somatic satisfaction, somasati, somasensi, . somasphere, razmassage, razma.sage, razma.love, royal raz treatment, raz.ma.sage…

 

 

I am well known for my hugjustments – a two-minute tune up which is a vertical sample of my style.

Friends and clients will often request a quick spinal traction utilizing gravity through weight draping, especially when floor work is contraindicated (eg. in city).

What the experience of the { somatic magic } style feels like :

Imagine a practice where dance + massage meet (my style is especially evocative of the marriage between contact improvisation / thai ). Visualize your masseuse as a human foam roller, a responsive rolling pin kneading the dough of your tension, using their whole body as a massage tool. The sole focus of the giver’s awareness is to listen ever deeper to the receiver’s body’s language of motion and sound. Giver flowing from compression, to pinning between limbs, twisting, coiling, applying broad pressure all the way to fine scalpel edge as a snake of water flowing across your form. Depending on the client’s preferences, the session can seem to be more like wrestling or body domming (domination) with the client actively participating in positioning and moving the pressure to where they want it. In the more active receiver style, it often feels as though the participant closer to ground is the ocean steering how the rider surfs your wave. The fluctuating nature of who is on top/bottom leads to body positions that are impossible in a situation where the receiver is completely limp, flaccid, and flat.

Above all the { somatic magic } style is an embodied experience of being deeply listened to, body to body with a strong container of safe loving touch.

Unique characteristics of the style :

Using my whole body as massage tool.

Most of my first-time clients state that they have no idea of what body part is contacting them or where my body is in space related to theirs. Depending on the situation I may use my full weight on the receiver or unexpected portions of my body such as : top of the head, shoulder, ribcage, chin, sacrum, side of hip, feet…). Pulling power from the earth and using my whole body allows me access to type of pressure that are impossible to generate with the limited rage of simply one’s hands, wrists, and forearms (often the sole tools for most bodywork styles).

Active consent / encouragement / redirection through a responsive receiver who is not passive or tranced out (unless they want to be!). Client can move contact/touch to places that their body craves, adjust pressure and position by moving toward and away from the masseuse

Active positioning – angles/places in the body that styles of passive massage is unlikely/unable to reach/create (eg. using the side-body, massaging the ribcage as whole with broad wide pressure, stretching the whole body from soles to crown through coiling).

I utilize the ever-evolving composition of participating bodies + physical characteristics of the space (walls, furniture, cushions, yoga balls) to weave a comprehensive somatic reboot that is unique each time I work with a client (even years-long fans of my work). I place an emphasis on immediate evolution and adaptation, and because of the flexible nature of the style I am constantly upgrading techniques through learning from my body and the bodies of others.

Although I frequently do bodywork { everywhere } with only what the situational context provides as a challenge, I solid (…well technically soft…) foundation for the work is to have a mat and pillow available for cushioning. My basic portable professional setup uses a deluxe inflatable mat, and sheets to wonderful effect. My entire ‘body wonderland’ system includes : yoga swing and rigging, yoga balls, yoga peanut, small and large buffers, jigsaw puzzle piece foam flooring, self-massage sticks, lacrosse balls, tennis balls, and a head-spider personal massager.

Read more about my recommended tools *

I recommend setting up the play space nestled into a corner so that the walls can be used for leverage and vertical work (hallways are also good fun if they are not needed as passage-throughs).

When ?

 

Anytime you’d like to :

 

Dive deeper into body sensation

dispel destructive (unwinding) mental loops

check in with your body state

get grounded

celebrate / innovate what your body can do

feel your edges

 

Where ?

Anywhere, and hopefully everywhere ! This highly versatile style is eminently portable, and my own practice changes with place.  In SLT a massage table is not needed, and indeed often limits the potential for full expression and extension. However, squish (eg. a mattress pad) on the floor can help nullify the potential of uncomfortable pressure between bones and hard floor.

 

I relish experimenting with unexpected places/positions/time durations to hold certain moves { do it in transit! At the library, on the street, in the park! Make a scene / performance piece out of it ! }

 

Why?

Massage is nourishing.

 

More Specifically, { somatic magic ]  aids in :

triggering the parasympathetic ( rest and digest ) pathways that promote healing and restoration

Facilitating lymphatic circulation ( because the lymph system does not have a heart to pump upward the movement of lymph is dependent on the motion of muscle and joints http://www.lymphnotes.com/article.php/id/151/ )

manipulating fascia (combing/stretching/breaking up)

increasing circulation of blood and body fluids

encouraging relaxation

re-alignment

altering movement patterns

increasing flexibility

applying pressure to bone increases density and strength

Increasing sense of well being

allowing space for the body to communicate / be listened to and nourished

creating a safe space for trauma that is locked inside the body to be brought up and released

 

{ somatic magic } improves relationships :

Due to the mutually beneficial nature of { somatic magic } , being the one to massage is great for the giver (not just the receiver as in traditional massage) and allows for the giver to stretch and massage themselves while they give bodywork to another ! The astoundingly low level of fatigue for the giver of SLT makes massage more sustainable for the giver – diversifying and removing the traditional (and tragic) acute wear and tear on hands, wrists, forearms, and shoulders that occurs with the most common massage styles. This not only increases the likelihood of longer and more frequent massages for clients in the short term, but also supports the body and longevity of the masseuse’s practice over their lifetime.

The egalitarian nature of { somatic magic } is paradigm shifting – transforming the practice of massage from a one way flow of energy from giver to receiver into a synergistic collaboration. { somatic magic } balances the power dynamics that often cloud the gift of giving or receiving a massage (eg. what do I owe the person giving me a massage, feeling guilt for ‘not giving back’, feeling as though it would be insulting to shift or move the touch to a more satisfying place). For other-focused individuals (eg. mainstream-socialized females) this can remove one from simply receiving the pleasure of the experience in the moment due to worries about restoring parity in the future.

Some of my most rewarding work has been with families, teaching children how to massage their parents by rolling and stretching on them, allowing the act of massage to be a time of bonding that supports the movement needs of children and the relaxation needs of adults simultaneously.

My motivation in sharing the { somatic magic } practice is to catalyze a revolution in bodywork, making it more frequent, accessible, egalitarian, and inclusive.

 

The future of healing & bodywork

I share a radical vision with my radical bay area cohort that in the near future public bodywork and healing processes will be so common as to be unremarkable. Flipping the mystery and exclusivity of our current ‘closed door’ one-on-one healing model (eg. massage, talk therapy / psychological analysis ) into being witnessed in one’s healing process in public space (‘performance healing’) has benefits for all involved.

Benefits to the client include : facilitating and strengthening the integration process – reinforcing the ‘new future self’ in real time as it happens through being witnessed in-vivo throughout the transformational healing process (this may come across in relationships that already exist between the client and the onlookers or simply as ‘being seen’ by others as reinforcing the concreteness of the new reality and preventing ‘slipping back into old ways’ [same principal as getting an exercise buddy to keep each other accountable to promises to work out ] ). Getting comfortable with being witnessed in authentic self-expression – allowing more of yourself to be seen more of the time – and sensing that this is ok through the supportive group response (similar principal as getting over nervousness of public speaking through doing it).

 

Benefits to practitioner :

allows potential clients to see a style of work they may have never encountered but sense that they could benefit from after witnessing it(unlikely to blindly ‘sign up’ for a paid session);

facilitates training (both in/formal) of new healing modalities & combinations

lowers barriers of entry for collaboration between practitioners and styles ;

promotes creativity, experimentation, and exposure

 

Benefits to onlookers : witnessing authentic transformation catalyzes internal processes of audience; learn about self through lessons learned by others; examine personal stories / inner monologue.

How ?

Prompts :

Cradling beloved rag doll (Karin Moriarty) - being held tenderly

the experience of feeling your boundaries (especially ribcage and lung capacity)

get grounded

embody an element : earth, wind, fire, water

how much can you relax your jaw, your tongue, your pelvis, your spine

comforting blanket : The joys of feeling full body pressure

how many different sensations can you create in your partner?

you are the ocean and you are steering how the receiver rides your wave (you are on the bottom)

can you tune into the release of oxytocin

more exercises and in-depth directions on the consent thread

 


But what if I don’t know anyone else playing in this style?

If you are in the Bay Area, jackpot! You’re surrounded by a treasure trove – not only do I currently reside here, but this is the conscious movement mecca of the world. recommended events**

If you’re in LA, you’re also in luck, as I travel to LA semi-frequently from the Bay to teach and in service to building a network of Radical Bodyworkers. If you’d like to hire me for a session or would like to host a workshop reach out to x [at] alexarazma [dot] com to check my availability.

Travel / workshop calendar forthcoming. where in the world is razma?**

If you are interested in hosting a { somatic magic } workshop (even if you are located elsewhere besides the Bay/LA) please reach out to x [at] alexarazma [dot] com so we can see what’s possible. I have travelled as far as New York, Chicago, and Oregon to teach and have a history of international travel.

Hosting a workshop is a perfect starting point to create an embodied { everywhere } play group !

To begin - send out a message to interested friends, link to your favorite videos and writings on the site, and see who is game. Fruitful spaces to seek & find fellow body folks : contact improvisation jams that meets regularly near you, people who work in the field of massage, those in massage school, athletes, dancers, physical therapists, cuddly friends, and family members.