What is the Somatic Consent Engagement System ?
Somatic Consent is a multidimensional personal and spiritual development sysytem inspired by the Wheel of Consent, the Polyvagal Theory and other dynamics of embodiment.
This system enables people to experience embodiment of trust, safety and connection based on the neurophysiological function of the somatic nervous system combined with the values of the Wheel of Consent, as developed by Betty Martin.
This work is based on the fact that every human being has had the preverbal experience of being touched against their will and learnt that the action is more important than how they feel about it. We have all learnt at an early age to adapt ourselves to like what we don't like by trying to change how we feel about it rather than changing what is happening.
The intention of Somatic Consent Education is to help realign the nervous system with cognitive behaviour and emotional competency through somatic embodiment and empowerment to engage with the world around us is a autonomous ways of agency.
Through practicing within the engagement zones we can explore different scenarios of consensual relating between two people based on clear communication of permission and agreements. To enable empowered communication and safety in intimate physical connection, the key questions that we ask are: “who is doing?” and “who is it for?” This creates the following scenarios:
- When you are “doing”, the action is either for yourself or for the other person. When you are doing something that you desire, you need permission and you need to respect the limits of the other person. When you are doing something to fulfill the other person’s desire, you need a clear request from them and you need to take care of your own limits.
- When someone is “doing” something to or for you, it is either in response to your desire and request and within their limits, or they are doing it to follow their own desire and you gave permission within your limits.
In all scenarios, the action is either for your benefit or for the other person’s benefit. We cannot simultaneously follow our desire and put our desire aside.
When we engage with another person, it is consent that creates the safety needed for the somatic nervous system to work effectively and for sensations to be experienced fully. Our sensory nerves receive the inflow of information from the senses and relay it to the brain, producing the experience of sensation, pleasure and connection, while motor nerves send information to muscles and generate movement of the body. When we align cognitive understanding of consent with neurological embodiment, there is more space for personal and spiritual development.
Somatic Consent Map
Engagement zone Map
Interpersonal Apex Map
Shadows: what are you doing if you can ask for what you want.
Permission - Can I..? / YOU can
Your Action / Their Action it's either for you or for them.
Agreement - Can YOU...? / I can
Shadows: what are we doing when we cant say NO
Based on this, I created the six levels of personal and spiritual development in a pyramid method
Level 6 sky – transpersonal, spiritual, non-dual (above)
Level 5 apex – interpersonal, love, care, intimacy, play, connection
Level 4 agreement - Can You...? / I Can
Level 3 permission - Can I...? / You Can
Level 2 foundation - self-care, boundaries and limits
Level 1 basement - survival, shadows, the unconscious (below)
Engagement System Map
The six levels form a multidimensional map in a pyramid structure, beginning at the basement where shadow dynamics and survival strategies reside, rising up through self-care, several levels of empowerment and the engagement zones to the apex where love and care is offered unconditionally as a gift to and from the world around us, then merging into spiritual and interpersonal oneness beyond any concepts of duality.
Watch and download the PDF here with clickable links to the explainer videos