“The quality of one’s life is directly related to the quality of the questions one asks oneself.” That famous quote by Tony Robins illustrates the importance of asking ourselves great questions. Our ability to have an exceptional quality of life all hinges on our self inquiry process. In this episode, our hosts Ani Anderson and Brian Trzaskos discuss the world of somatic inquiry. Together, they explore the essence of asking great questions. This episode explores how our bodies offer us a door to explore endless possibilities. Ani and Brian talk about the four important steps in somatic coaching: becoming aware, decoding, modifying, and reframing. Discover how these steps can help you find solutions and gain confidence. Somatic inquiry is not only for stress and anxiety, it’s for everyone! No matter who you are and what you do… somatic inquiry can help you reach your goals. Tune in now and learn what somatic inquiry can do for you!
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Somatic Inquiry: Asking The Right Questions Towards A Deeper Growth Experience
We’re on episode fourteen. We’re talking about what somatic inquiry is. What is that? I was asking my body. I like to ask myself good questions because I know that the quality of my life is determined by the quality of the questions that I ask.
I like to ask myself, “Self, what a somatic inquiry.” Asking questions is fun and powerful. It’s the whole idea of inquiring.
When I was a kid, they used to do the inquiring minds want to know. I don’t remember what that was exactly. I said that in front of our teenagers, and they didn’t know what I was talking about. I fell flat. Inquiring is interesting. Asking questions is fun. It’s the base component of what coaching is all about. Coaching is all about asking great questions.
We do that in the first lesson in the SBMC program. We talk about what coaching is, and we talk about how it’s asking great questions. One of the reasons I love being a somatic coach is because you can ask awesome questions and questions that, unless somebody’s had somatic coaching before, they could have coaching for years and never get some of the questions that a somatic coach is going to ask him.
Somatic coaching is filled with somatic inquiry because coaching is about asking questions. Inquiring is about asking questions. Inquiring means that there’s something we want to know more about. We inquire into it. With the whole idea of somatic inquiry, we’re inquiring about the body or having the body be a part of that inquiry. I like to think about somatic inquiry, being we’re asking the body for information, which is an interesting way to think about that. Can we talk about questions for a moment first?
It’s funny we answered the question already. What is somatic inquiry? It’s asking the body questions. Let’s talk more about it.
We’re asking the body questions. That’s what a somatic coach does. It’s all wound together there, but there’s something about asking questions alone. Whether you’re asking a question about the body or anything else, I know the power of a persistent question, Ani, in my memory banks. We talked about a persistent question.
Is it one that keeps coming up?
As soon as you ask a question, we are programmed to answer the question.
I do think that’s so fascinating. We’re programmed to answer questions.
Scientists call this a reflex of what they call instinctive elaboration.
I’ve never heard that.
As soon as I ask you a question, like, where are my car keys?
I think they’re hanging on the hook in the mudroom.
I think about the power of a question. We talked about this several Christmases ago. I could not find my car keys. It was not at Christmas. It was in early November.
It must have been after Thanksgiving.
I’m asking everywhere, “Where are my car keys?” I was on this instinctive elaborative pursuit of, like, “Where are my car keys?” I’m asking everyone in the house, “Where are my car keys? Have you seen the car keys?” I’m asking about the car keys. I would let go. It was driving me crazy because I couldn’t get the answer to the question. When we ask a question, and we don’t get the answer to it or resolve it, our mind keeps doing it.
What is that called?
Instinctive elaboration. We’ll focus on the answer or try to get the answer to the question.When we ask a question and we don't get the answer to it or resolve it, our mind keeps doing it. It’s called instinctive elaboration. Click To Tweet
I see that with my clients all the time.
The big reveal about my car keys several years ago.
They were in the Christmas stocking. He must have been 7 or 6 at that time. He had found the car keys, and I don’t know why he decided to put them in your stocking. The funniest part of the story is that he forgot about it as soon as they went into the stocking. Christmas day comes, and you reach into your stocking. I never forget the look on his face.
That’s where I put those in there after I’ve been asking for several months. I was instinctive and elaborating all over the place. It was driving me to get the answer to that question. As soon as we ask a question, it’s like all other nervous system functions stop. We answer that question, which is interesting when we start talking about somatic inquiry because it’s what we see with our clients and our students.
We have a four-step process of change that we go through at Somatic Coaching Academy. Become aware of, decode, modify, and reframe someone’s sensory experience so that they can create the results in their life that they want. That’s part of that coaching process. The first step is to become aware of it. People can come in with top-of-mind problems, like, “We’re not going to make our sales goals this month. I freaked out about that. I’m having a lot of stress. I’m having a terrible and difficult time with my primary partner. As soon as you ask them a question and reference it to their body, they focus on that area.
I answered a question for myself, Brian. As I was listening to you talk about this, our students told us all the time that this work is the missing piece. They say it over and over. We’ll say to them, “What do you mean, a missing piece of what? Tell me more because we’d love to know.” It’s always a little bit different answer around that.
Listening to you talk about this and reflecting on it myself makes sense because we’re programmed to answer questions. We’re always asking questions. We’re always answering questions from our intellect. We’re going to feel like there’s a missing piece because the intellect is only a fraction of our overall intelligence. It makes perfect sense. Thank you. I have finally resolved that question for myself about why our students say it’s the missing piece.
I’m curious. You’ve resolved the question. How does that feel in your body?
It feels good. It feels like a settling. I feel settled. I feel like my energy’s going down towards the chair and settled up.
That’s cool because one of the things that happens when you’re asked a question is it activates a part of your brain called the striatum. There’s a part of the that’s connected there called the nucleus accumbens. This is the primary reward and pleasure center of your brain.
I feel rewarded now.
Isn’t that interesting? You end up with some combination of serotonin and dopamine. When you’re asked the question, it activates those reward centers where it’s like, “I got to get the answer.” Once you know when the answer comes, it’s going to feel good.
I love that you said serotonin because part of what I feel is that the answer is resolved. It is like this settling is prolonged. It doesn’t feel like a dopamine hit, although it sounds like there’s some dopamine in there. It feels like I feel satiated in that serotonin thing.
In real lifetime, we saw the neurological and neurohormonal effects of being asked and answering a question.
The questions that we ask do frame the quality of our lives. I don’t remember you calling it instinctive elaboration. We do that all the time. Different individuals persevere about questions to certain degrees based on how they think, but everybody perseveres on questions. I have found for myself that when I ask the body, I do get more resolution because we’re getting to that. There are multiple layers of how we armor ourselves. People say limiting beliefs all the time. I want to get through my limiting beliefs, but it’s not beliefs. It’s limiting beliefs but also limiting emotions, and there’s also body armor that goes into our limitations.
When we ask the body, we can access not just the intellectual “belief” but the whole pattern, the emotions that are part of a belief, and the muscular armoring that comes along with all of that. We do get to access our complete intelligence to be able to answer a question and get down to the core root of what’s going on, not the superficial levels of what’s
It’s a fascinating process to go through, asking these great questions of the body. When we’re asking these questions, we’re asking the questions directly to the subconscious mind. You’ve talked about this in other places, Ani, that our subconscious tells our conscious mind how to think about things. If our subconscious does not want to change something, it’s going to tell our conscious mind not to change it. It’s going to tell our conscious mind to deflect or defend.
When we ask intellectually or behaviorally-based questions, our intellect can get creative about how to deflect or defend those questions. When you ask the subconscious mind directly the question, it can no longer use the conscious mind to defend the program. It’s almost like the spotlight goes right on the subconscious caught. The subconscious gets frozen in the headlights but is programmed to answer the question. It can’t answer the question either in a lot of ways.
The whole idea around somatic inquiry is that we’re having a direct dialogue with the subconscious. It goes back to the parts of the brain that we had talked about. These reward centers are parts of the subconscious processing centers of the brain. When we ask body-oriented questions, we’re also activating parts of the brain, like the insula, which is a primary routing center for sensory and metabolic information that’s coming from the body. It activates the default mode network. We have other parts of the posterior central gyrus come on. It’s activating parts of the medial prefrontal cortex.
Asking those good questions starts to link together subconscious and conscious brain functions in some ways. We’re asking the body those questions directly. We can become aware of something new. The next step is decode. As we take someone through a sensation-based motivation coaching process, we ask questions to help someone become aware, as you did a moment ago. We also ask questions to help someone decode what they spend cooking in their subconscious and what’s been limiting beliefs, stopping them from moving forward to do it with a question that lowers the level of resistance to engagement with the process.
The decode does ask, like, “Where did this come from? Where did it start? Why is this happening?” Brian, I heard somebody say, “We don’t need to talk about that.” I would agree from a coaching perspective that we don’t need to, and it’s not appropriate for us to dig into it. However, I have seen client after client not being able to identify why it’s happening and where it started, and the mind keeps going back to it.
We don’t feel exactly how we want to feel when we slip into a state. I have found that it’s the complete way to serve my clients to do the decode because when we can identify and we do it succinctly, it came from there and started here. It feels like there’s that resolution, and they can move on in a sustainable way. Would you agree with that?
As you’re talking, I want to go off on this big sidebar. We do a lot of work with natural laws, and hopefully, we’ll do an episode on natural law things. One of the things that we teach in our somatic coach training program is natural law inquiry. Asking questions that specifically align with the way that the universe and nature operate.
When we ask those questions in particular, they create natural and organic answers. One of the laws of nature is the law of completion. As humans, we are wired to complete things. What you’re saying is the decode is important, at least what I understand what you’re saying. Let me know if this jives or not. What I hear is that the purpose of the decode is to fulfill that law of completion. If we don’t have an understanding of what happened in some way, we won’t have an answer to it. It’s in a shadow. It’s in a misunderstood place. We can’t move on.
Why? The person will come back and ask. It goes along with the reward center thing you mentioned earlier. We do the become aware of, we do the decode, and we move into modify.
We’re still asking questions when we get to the modify. This is important.
Modify has a lot to do with choice, which is awesome because, in the way that we’ve been taught as humans, we’ve been taught a lot of times that we have a choice, but there’s a right choice. Back to the natural laws, the natural laws tell us that there’s no actual inherent right or wrong. That would mean there is not inherently a right or wrong choice, but as we grow up, we’re taught that there is a right or wrong choice. There is a right way to behave. There is a right thing to say or not to say. There is a right way to feel or not to feel. We’re taught all of these right or wrong things.
My favorite thing about the modify stage is that, in our program, we empower whatever choice somebody makes. One of the big things we do is when you choose yes or this direction, that’s great, but you can also empower your no choice, and it’s as beneficial. Choice is something that a lot of us need to relearn.When you choose yes or this direction, that's great, but you also can empower your no choice and it's just as beneficial. Click To Tweet
Going back to the brain for a second, when we ask a question, we activate these reward centers, but when we tell somebody what to do, we activate more of these alarm centers. When we’re doing coaching processes, especially somatic coaching, that’s why this whole idea of somatic inquiry is important.
As we’re asking people’s questions and guiding them to their own answers that are living in their body, and we teach people to have that conversation, how do you converse with the body? What’s the language that the body speaks? That’s a lot of what we’re doing when we do the somatic inquiry work. As we ask questions and go through, it activates different parts of our brain and our body so that there’s less resistance to the process.
Is there anything else you want to say about modify?
No, I’m good with modify.
After modify, we move to reframe, which is about creating a new reality. Questions in terms of that that you want to talk about.
One of the primary questions in creating a new reality is, what reality do you want to create? A lot of people, in my experience, like two things. Maybe three things, but one thing is they’ve never been allowed to ask that question for themselves. Number two, they ask that question before they’ve done the other three steps. They’re trying to skip over all of the stuff that’s already in place in order to create something new.
You’re creating from a muck pile thing.
That doesn’t work.
It is why people then don’t get results. People always ask us, “How do I meet my goals? How do I do the thing that I want to do?” One of the things is going through the actual process step by step if you’re trying to create right off the bat, but you haven’t gone through the other steps.
It’s like jumping to the end of the book. I’ll read the summary at the end and try to figure it out. There’s all this stuff in the middle that you missed then. The other thing is what you said, Anil. The third thing for me is that when we do somatic inquiry, at the end of the process and the reframe process, after going through all of it, you start from a clean slate in a lot of ways.
We have people aligned with soul’s agenda in our program. It’s their true nature or values of who they are. It’s their authenticity. I put a lot of different words around how you can conceptualize it. A lot of people say, “Align.” Align with what? Your higher purpose and those kinds of things. After getting through those other steps, we help people align with their authenticity, the truth of who they are, and their higher potential to move forward from there.
What can you do somatic inquiry for? You can do somatic inquiry for stress relief and anxiety. Athletes can do somatic inquiry.
You can do it for chronic pain, mental health issues, and stress. You can do it for about anything.
What I love doing now is the whole idea of somatic inquiry and the neuroscience around it. I love those kinds of things.
You brought up some interesting brain science in this episode that I thought was cool.
With the whole idea of this inquiring questioning in and through the body, there are a lot of reasons why we got into this whole thing, to begin with. Think back to when we were both doing bodywork with people, doing massage therapy, and stuff would come up for people, and we didn’t know how to deal with it as things came to the surface of people’s experiences. What I found very comforting was understanding that I didn’t need to know the answer. I had to know what questions to ask.
One of the things I love about somatic inquiry is I’m not the expert. The person’s body is the expert, and they get to discover incredibly powerful self-empowerment that does not come unless you ask the body’s questions. I don’t think we talk about it enough. The body is the intermediary between the intellect and the emotions because they live in the body. The body, because the body and the spiritual nature plays out through our physicality. It’s the intermediary of all of our intelligence.
You could also say spiritual nature/energy system. That’s another tangible part of our human experience. A lot of the body becomes the focus point of who we are as humans because it feels real anyway. I can see it. You’re right, Ani. It becomes the intermediary for our human experience. To respect the intelligence of our bodies is huge.A lot of times, the body becomes the focus point of who we are as humans because it's here. It's real, or it feels real, anyway. Click To Tweet
It’s our complete human intelligence. For you, like Brian did with me, you can ask yourself, “Where in my body did I feel something? What does it feel like when you’re pondering any question?” I encourage you to do it now because something is going to come up. You’re going to ask yourself some questions about how you can improve upon this or that, or you’re going to feel tension, or you’re going to wish you could change something. Take a pause and ask yourself, “Where in my body do I feel this issue? What does it feel like?” You have started on the road to somatic inquiry.
In case you’re wondering, because I know people are going to want to know this. The somatic inquiry is that we do some of it in other programs, but you dive in and learn how to do all of that stuff in the SBMC, Sensation-Based Motivation Coaching program. That’s where you learn to become a somatic coach. The somatic coach from the Somatic Coaching Academy is somebody who can tap into the intelligence of the body and have that wonderful conversation. You get some aspects of it in other parts of the program, but if you want to do the whole thing, that’s what you’re looking to do.
Ani, what you reminded me of is the whole idea of completion. I’ve met and worked with people in the past who do somatic inquiry. They’re good at helping you become aware of something in your body. There’s a lot of power to that. At the same time, once you become aware of something, and if you’re not trained to help someone do something with that and bring them to completion with it, it often feels like you’ve been left hanging as a client. A part of the somatic coach training program is to become aware of decode, modify, and reframe. Going all the way through the process is where it becomes powerful.
That’s one of the reasons why I love somatic coaching so much. I love somatic therapy, but I feel like somatic coaching is an evolution from somatic therapy because the things that go on in our lives and the things that happen to us are all helping us get to even more potential. That’s what coaches do. That resolution you’re talking about happens when you do somatic coaching because coaches are looking at what you want to achieve. Who do you want to be? What do you want to have? What do you want to do? We’re looking into the future.
One of the amazing ways to get a resolution as we’re going through the process from the past stuff is to look ahead. Coaching can help you do that. Try that somatic inquiry out for yourself, and let us know how it goes. Give us a comment below. Email us at Info@SomaticCoachingAcademy.com. We’d love to hear from you. Let us know how your somatic inquiry went. We’ll see you next time.