If you feel you are being called to the world of somatics, do not hesitate to respond to it. It will not only give you a chance to serve other people but also the opportunity to experience deep personal growth. Giving you the motivation and inspiration you need for this journey are Ani Anderson and Brian Trzaskos, who open up about how they answered their personal callings to somatics. They explain how dealing with back pain, depression, frustration, and cancer scare opened their eyes to body-mind centering. Ani and Brian also discuss how getting into somatics allowed them to leave their day jobs, start their own private practices, and offer great value to people when it comes to growth, healing, and transformation.
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
How Getting Into Somatics Can Bring You Personal Growth
Brian, before we get started on Episode 5 here, I want to say that a lot of people who contact us about the certification programs are like, “How do I get started with somatic coaching?” They want all in. If that’s you, if you have been reading and following and your interest is piqued, I encourage you to have a conversation with our team. Our team is made up of graduates. They can share not only about the certification program but about their experience and people love to talk to our team about the certification program. If you have been thinking about it, give our team a call. Let’s get into Episode 5 here.
Episode 5 we are talking about, are you feeling called to somatics for your next level of personal growth?
A lot of people tell us this. Not just some but most. People tell us when we talk on the phone with them that they are interested in our certification programs and that they feel called to the work. It feels like a deep calling, or they say things like, “I have been praying for a solution. I have been looking for an answer.” We even have people tell us, “I don’t know why I’m calling you. I just feel compelled.” those kinds of things. It’s always fun. Let’s see why you are calling us.
Ani, can we talk a little bit about our callings to somatics?
It happens quite frequently as a calling. What was it for you? What was the call?
Before we jump into that, for me, there are two levels here. One, it was a personal calling to somatics for my personal growth, and then there was a professional calling like, “How do I use somatics in my life to heal my life, and then how do I use somatics to help other people in their growth journey?” For me, it’s been those two parts.
That reflects what our students do. People ask us sometimes. They are like, “Is your academy for personal growth or is it for professional growth?”
How do you separate the two of those things?
It’s both. People come to us 100% of the time looking for their personal growth that they can then share things with other people too. It happens all the time. It was a two-step process for you.
The first step started when I was fourteen years old. When I was fourteen years old, my paternal grandmother died of cancer, and it was emotionally devastating for me in so many ways. She was probably the closest person to me in my life at that time. The whole way that she ended up passing away was horrific for me in a lot of ways.
Those days, cancer wasn’t a palliative care. It was like, “Let’s give a person as much chemotherapy as they can tolerate and see who wins this. Does the cancer stay alive longer?” Who dies first, the cancer or the person thing? I remember seeing her the night that she died, and she didn’t know anyone. She was totally in so much pain and suffering so terribly. She didn’t know who I was.
Not having that closure to be able to say goodbye to her crippled me in a lot of ways emotionally. Very soon after she passed away, I developed some terrible back pain. I didn’t know at the time like, “Why would I connect those two things?” Nobody around me connected those two things either, but I knew I had this back pain that I had for about 27 years chronically and terrible episodes of back pain. I’d end up not being able to get off the toilet by myself and be laid out on the couch for a couple of weeks. I was still a fairly active person. There was this weird contradiction between how I was active as a person, but I still get laid out with these episodes of horrible back stuff that would go on for me too.
As I went on, I did start to make connections between my back pain episodes and things like being frustrated, angry, or not expressing my anger. I had episodes of depression, and those kinds of things would happen a lot. I was starting to make connections, but I still wasn’t putting all those pieces together, but I was drawn towards it. The other part that flipped that for me was when I was working as a very young physical therapist at a world-renowned medical center called Craig Hospital, where we specialized in helping people who had traumatic brain injuries or traumatic spinal cord injuries heal.
I noticed as we were working with people that not all the patients in that hospital healed the same way, at the same rate, or at the same times. A lot of times, regardless of what their diagnosis was, some people with horrible diagnoses and prognoses healed better and had better outcomes than people with better prognoses. Something for me didn’t make sense. I started asking myself, “Why do some people heal and other people don’t heal?” When I started asking that question and looking at myself around why was I not healing from my back pain, I started to understand more definitively that body-mind connection.
I was on this arc of being introduced to somatics while suffering from chronic back pain, depression, frustration, anger, and a whole series of relationship problems in and out of relationship stuff. It wasn’t like a pretty life in a lot of ways for me early on, but I was still drawn to this idea of the body-mind connection. That started my arc or my personal interest in somatics for me. How about you?
You were fourteen. Mine was when I was nineteen. I was a junior in college. I had some abnormal bleeding and I went to the health center. At that time, I didn’t have a good relationship with my parents. I didn’t necessarily have a place to go home to during college. I was managing this on my own and relying on the health center to help me. It’s like I had my parents to talk to.
I went to the health center and I saw a nurse. She said, “It’s probably cancer.” I’m like, “It wasn’t.” What a terrible thing to say to a nineteen-year-old. “It’s probably cancer because this doesn’t happen to people your age.” She sent me to the doctor. I went to the doctor. They ran some tests. They could not figure out what was up. They ran some more tests and could not figure out what was up. At this time, I was getting scared and frustrated, and I felt very alone.
My mom had sent me to college with Caroline Myss’ book, Anatomy of the Spirit, and I had it on my bookshelf. I hadn’t looked at it by the way. I’m feeling a little despondent. I didn’t know what to do. I don’t know that I was looking for answers, but that was the calling to me. That book kept standing out on my bookshelf. It wasn’t that I was searching, it was like, “Pick me up.”
I read the book and it was talking about the energy centers in the body, and this was not a conversation I’d heard anybody else having in my life if any of that would have been like, “That’s weird.” She asked very specific questions based on certain body areas that you could contemplate and think about. One of the questions that came up was about family issues. Do you have certain family issues that need to be resolved? I did.
I had a very significant difficult conversation that I had to have with my mother that I was not having. I was avoiding it at all costs. At the urging of the book and the promise that could something change, I was brave enough to have a difficult conversation with my mom and my symptoms changed. They went away.
I went back to the doctor and I was pissed. I went back to the doctor and he’s like, “We should do more tests.” I’m like, “My symptoms went away and I don’t ever want to see you again.” I didn’t have to do anything else with that. I was like, “Whatever that was, I want to know more about it and whatever that was, I want to be able to bring it to more people because more people need to know about this.” Whatever that was, that was magical.
A lot of the people that come into our academy and the people we talk to, our private clients and those types of things, a lot of them have stories like that they were called. That’s why we are in a relationship with them. Most of the time, people didn’t have some calling to somatics. They are probably not going to be in our orbit and we are not going to be in their orbit necessarily. People think, “It’s an intellectual thing and I’m not interested in what happens in the body.” We are not in association with them that much.
We do have people who contact us who are like, “Somatics, I heard about it. It’s cool. Maybe I’d like to learn.” Most of the people who talk to us have something that they have gone through and they want to be able to make a bigger impact in other people’s lives, whether or not they had a positive result from what happened to them because sometimes it didn’t go well and they know it could have gone better or it went amazingly for them and they want to be able to help people too.
A distinction that people make, too, to take a little side trip here, is some people are trying to decide whether or not they want to learn about somatic therapy or somatic coaching, and obviously, the people who want to do somatic coaching and people who study with us. That’s a fantastic conversation to have with our team if you are trying to figure out for yourself what’s best because it’s very different. We will talk about that in another episode.
This whole idea of being called to somatics. Me and Ani were personally called to somatics. I was doing a lot of my work and studying, reading, and all those kinds of things. I’m sure you were doing your studying, reading, and working with people and all that stuff.
Especially after that, I wanted to know as much as I possibly could so I started to digest all kinds of books.
I got to a certain point in my development, I didn’t have everything solved. I would have to say I still don’t have everything solved because there’s so much mystery here to still be unraveled. I don’t ever think we will know all of it. I got to a point where I knew enough where I was like, “I want to start doing this with other people.” I remember when I left my job at Craig Hospital where there was a lot of integrative focus.
As a physical therapist, it’s the top of the heap. It’s like nowhere to go after that in a lot of ways because you are integrating with occupational therapy, rec therapy, nursing, neuropsychology, social services, and speech therapy. We are all working together to help someone heal holistically in an integrative model. I was under the illusion that everywhere did that. I left the Garden of Eden of Craig Hospital and found myself in for-profit outpatient care. The first day I walked into that office, I was given a list of twenty patients to see that day and I was like, “What?”
I had a similar experience.
As soon as the rubber met the road on that, I started thinking, “No way. I cannot do this.” I started having this longing to bring more. There was no body-mind at all. It was all body after body.
Body parts because they have something else going on. You can’t do anything about that.
Somebody comes with knee pain and I’m like, “It’s their lumbar spine, but I can’t treat their lumbar spine because they have knee pain.” It’s so frustrating inside of the Western medical system. I was not able to see people holistically because of the time demands I was under. That was incredibly disheartening for me, but I’m still studying.
I had a half an hour’s trip back and forth to work every day. On that half an hour trip, I’m listening to tapes. I’m listening to Deepak Chopra tapes. Any physiology I can get my hands on, I’m listening to body-mind physiology. I listen to tapes. Maybe there are some CDs out, something like that. I’m memorizing the depth of epigenetics and all these things. I’m getting into this and I’m like, “I can’t apply it anywhere with my patients.” Every day I’m listening to it and I’m visualizing and starting my holistic practice or my holistic wellness center. I visualize that every day on the way to work and every day on the way home from work for several years.
That’s a long time. Aren’t visualizations supposed to make things happen?
I’m like, “I have this calling.” You have a great phrase. When the Universe calls, you got to pick up the phone.
You have to do something is the thing. When the Universe calls, you have to do something. Similarly, for me, I was meditating, waiting for buckets of money to land in the mailbox, fly, or carrier pigeon, I don’t know. I can remember the times I would meditate, visualize, do vision board stuff, and affirmations, which are all great and awesome. It was a part of my process, but it wasn’t until I started picking up the phone and doing something that things started to change.
What does it look like to pick up the phone? For me, and we talked about this on a previous show when I decided to leave my hospital job, was when I was seeing so many people there that I realized, “I can maybe do this on my own.” The way I wanted to do it on my own was I wanted to have a private pay non-insurance practice. Private pay, private practice. I was not going to bill insurance.
People said, “You are crazy. No one is going to pay you to come from physical therapy to see you when they go down the street and have their insurance company pay for it.” I said maybe, but the calling at that point had become so intense for me, and I could tell because I would get so angry every time I walked into work.
I wasn’t angry with the people I worked with. The people I worked with were nice. I was angry every day. Finally, they put in these biometric time clocks. I had to put my finger on to punch in and punch out, and that broke the camel’s back. I was like, “No way. I can’t do it anymore.” That’s when I finally picked up the phone and I decided that I was going to start my practice.
I figured out how much money I needed every week to match the income that I had from the hospital. I figured that out. I knew what my minimum was. I remodeled a room in the basement of my house and I left my comfortable go-to-work, 9:00 to 5:00 everyday hospital job to pick up the phone, what the Universe had been calling me for years to start my own practice that was focused on holistic care, which meant that I was going to spend an hour with every single client, not twelve minutes that I had when I was in the hospital.
I committed to that. I organized my whole payment structure around it and knew how many people I had to see. I jumped into the deep end of the pool and the Universe caught me. One of the things that we talk about a lot when we talk about natural law is at this Somatic Coaching Academy. Whenever we have a desire for something like a very clear idea, for me, it was to open up a holistic wellness center, which we ended up doing together. The first one that we both opened was together. That’s a cool segue in the story.
That was an actual call too.
When you have a vision that is very clear, already included in that vision are the ways and the means to make it happen, that the ways and the means are waiting for you, but they show up after you make the decision. Not before.You have the ways and means to make your vision happen, but they show up only after you make the decision and not beforehand. Click To Tweet
You can’t see them beforehand. I was thinking about it for myself. When I started my private pay or private practice, I was an occupational therapist working in the system. I had wanted to work in pediatrics because, similar to you with Craig, I had done an internship at the Denver Children’s Hospital when I was in college and it was awesome.
I thought everybody did pediatrics like them. It turns out that not everybody did pediatrics and no one was doing treatments like them in my area, not even close. There’s that frustration piece. I was like, “Now I dumb myself down. This stinks.” I ended up working with outpatients, long-term care, and skilled nursing facilities and I was not happy.
I knew I had skills in pediatrics that other people didn’t have. I was an occupational therapist and I’d been learning craniosacral therapy. I was dreaming of getting out of my day job and I started seeing some clients on the side. I was pretty sure in the area that I was that I couldn’t hang up a flyer and people would come to me because there were already two people in the area who were good with craniosacral therapy and everybody went to them.
My job was crushing my soul. I called one of them and I said, “I specialize in pediatrics, do you see kids?” She said, “No. I’d love somebody to send kids to.” There it was, but this calling was this niggling like, “I have got to get out of here.” I was called to work with kids and I couldn’t find anywhere in my area where I could get a job. My employer at the time kept promising me that they would put me in a pediatric place and they kept dangling the carrot, but I felt called to work with kids.
Was that the decision point for you to follow that calling that you wanted to work with the kids and they kept promising you but it didn’t happen?
It was the mounting frustration. I couldn’t take it anymore.
That’s an interesting point too. Do you think that when you were nineteen years old and the experience you had that it was your call to somatics?
Do you think on some level you knew that the mounting frustration that you are experiencing may result in some type of somatic or body-oriented problem that you didn’t want to experience? Were you making that connection at that time?
No, but when I hear you say that, what I think is people ask us all the time how you put the body and mind back together. We say, “We come from a perspective that the body-mind split never happened.” When you come from a place of that perspective that the body-mind split never happened, then you come from a position of body, mind, and spirit are all this holistic way of looking at an individual.
This calling, longing, and yearning come from a spiritual nature. It has this spiritual element to it. You can’t grasp spirit but you can tangibly feel the body. It’s this interesting holistic interplay of spirit being able to become tangible to us. It is those moments when, through the body, we can feel our spiritual nature that it becomes so strong and compelling.
That’s one of the reasons why a lot of people say that they are called somatics in whatever way because it’s this interesting moment in our growth where it’s a major light bulb moment where we understand that the body, mind, and spirit cannot be separated and that we must look at them together. It becomes this fascinating and enlivening experience.
That segues for me into a belief that some people who think about working with us at the Somatic Coaching Academy come up against, but then maybe don’t move through, is that there’s a belief that I have to go through my growth before I can help somebody else. I need to know exactly how somatics work for me rather than for somebody else.
I wanted to debunk that for a second because, in my experience, I would say it did not heal that chronic back pain stuff until I decided to start helping other people. I don’t think I ever would have gotten there until I was moved and impelled forward into that decision to help other people. One of the other things that impelled me is another somatic crisis that I had around a massive stress crisis experience where I was having all these somatic symptoms like high blood pressure, acid reflux, and all types of frustration. In a lot of ways, that core thing that started happening when I was fourteen years old was my back issue was a piece of that.
When I was in my early 40s, that all blew up in a whole other health crisis. That blowing up of that whole other health crisis for me was a wake-up call for me that I needed to decide what I was going to do like get my stuff off the pot. I was like, “I have to do this now. This isn’t going to go away unless I answer the call.” There’s a little saying that sometimes the Universe whispers at you until it has to hit you with a 2X4. I’m like, “I’m one that’s been hit by a 2X4 a couple of times because I didn’t listen to the whispers of the Universe.”
You don’t know how until you get hit by a few 2X4s. It’s a major personal growth moment, too, to start to work back from the 2X4 into the nuances.
The hot tip from this show is on your growth journey. When the Universe calls giving you whispers, pick up the phone. Take action. The ways and the means to support you will show up after your decision, not before. That’s the way that the universe works.When the universe calls you, pick up the phone and take action. Click To Tweet
You are going to be able to understand so much more about your spiritual nature, your emotions, your mind, and your body when you do that. I hate to be cheesy, but I can’t help it. If you have been thinking about calling us, pick up the phone. Give us a call and talk to our team because we will be able to help you discern whether or not the Somatic Coaching Academy is the right next step for you. Give us a call and we will see you next time. Thanks so much for joining us. If you like this episode, make sure to subscribe and leave us a review. We appreciate you being a part of this wonderful community. We will see you next time.