Graphite sketch of flamingo flowers in dark green

somatic trauma healing immersion from the embody lab

an experience update from Pea Flower Tomioka

Oh my goodness.  My fam, my friends. My pals.  My cohorts.  My besties.  My fairytale things, my playfellows, my intimates, my famliars, my comrades.  My god.  Y'ALL .  I've had myself a healing, if I do daresay.  I've done myself a wholeness.  I was, to say the least, unprepared.  I don't even know where to begin.

Oh.  Yes, I do.  We'll begin with Dr. Gabor Maté .  Or, at least, they did.  But who are they?

They are The Embody Lab- an educational site where people can get trained in various somatic approaches to healing and wellness, led by leaders in the somatic industry- and they had a five-day summit absolutely packed with incredible content.  I'm STILL recovering and processing information, and it has been almost a month.  I'm sorry it took me this long to write about the experience, but having to hold an experience like that alive in my body has been a time-consuming process that I'm still trying to unpack.  It's been, if I may understate the issue, fucking lifechanging.

These people granted me a full scholarship to attend the five days virtually, and I was absolutely glued to my computer for most of the time. Even still, I know that I will be watching and rewatching the videos for the rest of my life.  We were blessed with an incredible panel of speakers and educators, including Dr. Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score), Dr. Peter Levine (Somatics leader), Dr. Scotty Lyons (creator of the somatic trauma release technique), Dr. Gabor Maté (The Myth of Normal, Scattered Minds) Kai Cheng Thom (activist, poet, and somatic sexologist), and Dr. Albert Wong (somatic trauma specialist), just to name a few of the headliners.  I still can't believe the powerhouse cast for this event.  I'm agog.  Just over here full on geeking out.  I feel like a kid at a rock concert.  This is even better than the time I met Jon Bon Jovi in person and fainted dead away.  (Cut me some slack.  I was 13, and he called me- by name- like we were pals.  Of course, I giggled like an idiot and blacked out cold, pitching backward to the floor.) But I'll tell the full of that embarrassment another time.  The takeaway here is that the immersion summit was a rock star event with a famous cast of headliners, marking the absolute peak of the field of somatics, trauma healing, and embodiment.

They kicked it all off with none other than Dr. Gabor Maté.  If you've never had the pleasure of hearing him speak, I recommend you head on over to youtube and look him up.  You'll find countless interviews showcasing his vast wealth of compassion and knowledge.  He spoke eloquently about the embodiment of trauma and how it continues to impact us throughout our lives, citing examples and taking questions from the audience with increased energy and enthusiasm.  I would have said he was the highlight of the whole immersion, but then, Kai Cheng Thom spoke on the third day. Her talk on embodied activism was both empowering and affirming.  It helped me realize the depth and need of the program I'm building, and I knew that these people were the ones I needed to learn from.  When Dr. Albert Wong spoke about somatic methodologies for releasing traumatic episodes from our bodies, I wept.  I cried so much, that I wasnt' able to process most of his incredible talk.  Likle I said before, thank the gods for replays of the videos!  When Dr. Levine and Dr. Lyons gave a discussion on the future of somatics, I felt like I knew I was in the right place at the right time.

I need to step outside of myself and talk about that for a moment. Briefly, I promise.  I'm someone who as spent most of their life drifting.  I've always been rooted in healing and in art, but my purpose always had to define.  When someone would ask me what I did for a living, I'd just simply say "I'm an artist" and stick to the art itself, glossing over the depth of healing and reinvention that art empowers in my life.   This immersion centered a lifetime of healing for me- right to the needlepoint- showing me exactly where I've been headed all of these years.  I've never felt so seen.  So focused.  So... embodied.

So ready.

Ok.  Back to the immersion.  Watching Dr. Bessel van der Kolk was one of the best moments ever.  His book, The Body Keeps the Score, is foundational to traumatic healing and should be required reading for... well... I was going to say all health professionals, but I really do believe that everyone should read it.  Absolutely every adult should read this book.  If you have, you understand why I think so.  It's the core of being human, and the roadmap to healing.  So, hearing him give a talk was a major milestone for my own journey.

But nothing compares to having my poem read live before a closing panel with Dr. Scotty Lyons, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, and Dr. Peter Levine.  Lyons lead the group in a short somatic exersize and invited us to write poetically about the experience.  My poem was chosen from the online crowd and read by the moderator.  It was fascinating.  It was incredible.  It was, probably, one of my top three most proud moments as a published poet, and I have to wait until tomorrow went he recordings are finally released to revisit it, because I can't remember exactly what happened.  I only know for sure that I made everyone on that panel laugh, think, feel, and hope for the future.  I'm so proud of myself, and I hope they remember me fondly, as I will never forget any of them.

I got head nods and finger snaps from my heroes.  That, all by itself, was enough, but the education I received over the five days can't be undersold.  I remember turning to my husband halfway through the first talk with Maté and telling him that I realized I was not going to be the same person when I came out of the other side of this event.  I was right, but moreover, I still can't process the positive impact of this experience, and I am forever grateful to The Embody Lab for gifting me such a powerful experience.

Soon, the recordings will all be released on their website for me to revisit, but until then, I'm pouring over the marathon of notes I took and trying to remember van der Kolk's face as he realized I'd quoted him in my poetry.  I hope I never forget his smile at that.

Handwritten, cursive signature says "pea flower tea" in lowercase letters. The flower is a small sketch of a bloom, instead of the word for "flower".

About the author

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Pea is an artist focused on building an art therapy platform through transformative art and positive erotica to help victims of sexual violence reclaim their power. She lives on a small island and hides from loud noises.