Somatic Release

‘There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.’
– Laurell K.Hamilton

The death of my mother was the beginning of many deaths and rebirths . Penelope’s timely intervention at that difficult time of transition was life changing.I initially thought CST would help with the grieving process, then I realized that so much more was shifting. Penelope has a deeply intuitive, gentle approach, and her strength in holding one’s vulnerabilities in this process of going deep into the body and psyche is quite phenomenal. Her insight and practical wisdom from lived experience offers guidance to deal with what comes up. The treatment journey opened me up to hearing, seeing, feeling and finding my way again. I am deeply grateful.” – Jane Appleby

Regardless of one’s belief around whether we come into being at the moment we are conceived in the blueprint, from the moment of our conception, or from the moment we emerge from the womb, as soon as we begin our journey in human form we begin our becoming. This becoming begins an accumulation of layer upon layer of what and who we are not and often it can take decades before we find the map of what purpose we were born to so as to pilgrim back to that place of who we inherently are.

Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.

Pema Chödrön

Part of this pilgrimage involves the stripping away of physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and psychological conditions that have been set up by history, injury and lifestyle–such as stress, traumas and toxicity–and that have become imprinted in the body’s connective tissues (fascia, ligaments, muscles and bones), including the head. It’s not about whether you are struggling or whether you have a wound, a childhood trauma, a disease or an injury, but what struggle, wound, trauma or injury you have. And then it’s about what you choose to do with it.

Struggle can be used as a tool to justify one’s actions or one’s suffering and prevent one from fulfilling one’s dreams and desires and successes because it has become too painful to let go of the pain, and the samsara it locks us into. Often it’s just easier to be in the struggle than to step up and show up so it’s important to not get too attached to the strapping and then fail to acknowledge that the wound is no longer there. Letting go of the identity of injury can be empowering and can create the space for taking on the responsibility of stepping fully into one’s essential self. Treating your struggle or your wound as your Everest or Kilimanjaro can provide the telos to pull you on the very path you need to traverse towards your recovery and integration; it can be your elixir or your golden thread that highlights your unique gifts. We are not here to be perfect, we are here to heal. And the first part of any healing process is to recognise the wound as a symbol of healing rather than as an obstacle in its way. A wound is not a life sentence.

The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.

Judith Lewis Herman

Adjacent to the Hippocampus is a small almond-shaped structure in the centre of the brain called the Amygdala. The Hippocampus is associated with memory formation and the Amygdala is responsible for the processing and storage of emotional memory. We carry our lives with us in our bodies and our minds. Accumulations of life stresses–physical injuries, emotional and psychological stresses, birth traumas, and toxicity–can become imprinted in the brain and in the tissues of the body, acting like a videotape that is replayed whenever stimulated. When healthy responses are overridden with complex trauma or injuries the brain learns to compensate and adapts to less healthy responses that the psyche teaches it through its new response patterns based on dysfunction and dysregulation. An amygdala hijack refers to a personal, emotional response that is immediate, overwhelming, and out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat.

“The treatments I have had with Penelope have been the most relaxing I have ever had. It felt to me like Penelope was a conduit to cosmic bliss. She didn’t get in the way. She was the connection to an amazing flow of energy which soothed and nurtured my nerves. Penelope helped me remember how amazing our bodies! Thank you Penelope!” – Caryn Eigner

Whilst I support the benefits of talk therapy, I am an advocate for somatic release that can discharge mild to moderate trauma directly from the cellular structure of the body without the risk of re-traumatising through an attachment to a particular narrative around said trauma. Somatic tools can calm the central nervous system (CNS) so that it doesn’t keep jumping into the driving seat and guiding your whole life.

When your brain is in a constant stress mode, there is a cascade effect through the body which, through conditioning has been taught to keep still, hold things in, be pragmatic, don’t get emotional, and stoically continue as before. Beyond any memories of actual events, traumas or illnesses, this behaviour sends the message to the brain that this is normal and prevents the brain from resetting. The Amygdala is now primed for an incongruous response and the body is in a state of fight or flight … trapped in an unconscious pattern ready to play out inappropriately and perfectly placed for disorders such as anxiety, depression and addiction.

The psoas muscle (in the impression above in red) is the only muscle that attaches the spine to the legs and, as such, is critically important in the physical body’s instinctual nature to kick (fight) or run (flight). But part of the sympathetic nervous system response to threat is also to freeze and this also has a direct effect on the psoas muscle as it traps the stress right in the centre of the body. The more tension that gets stored in the psoas, the more physical pain emotional blockages, mental fatigue and breathing issues become apparent. Because of the huge impact this muscle has on all the chakra bodies, it has become known at the seat of the soul and because of its deep-seated position in the body, the only way to release it is through specific modalities. One of these modalities is to adopt what is in our inherent nature to do and what we can also relearn from the animal kingdom: shaking.

Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.

Peter A. Levine

Shaking is the natural way to release tension and return the body to homeostasis. It is a primal impulse to a stressful situation and the research done on animals has shown that they will die unless they shiver and shake after being chased by a predator or hit by a vehicle. This discharges the trauma from their bodies and can be one of the best tools we can adopt to release stress immediately and/or free the body and mind from the imprinted patterns that have built up over time.

The best massage I have ever received:
I had the good fortune to catch Penelope just a few days before leaving Cape Town. I had 2 sessions and this was my first ever experiencing a cranialsacral massage. I went in open minded and welcoming to the energy and wow — it ease SENSATIONAL. The energy that came through my feet specifically … the 1.5 hrs passed by and my body felt completely relaxed and just held.. Penelope is wonderful, not only with her hands/energy but also to speak with about life obstacles… wonderful soul. Hope to be back in Cape Town again so I can experience more. Thank you.”
– Stefania

When anything breaks, heat is generated. This is the premise of illness, change, breakdowns and breakthroughs. When anything breaks, trembling is generated. This is the premise of shaking medicine. The pulling apart of opposites creates the tension required for a third possibility to arise. Within all dualities lies the breaking apart as a pathway to find wholeness.

There is a conditioned response to the somatic (mostly unwitting and unchecked) resistance to the felt sense of whatever is happening in the moment and, as with any form of conditioning, it can be reprogrammed with access to an equal measure of considered and conscious resourcing. Through a combination of trauma release exercises, yoga, meditation, chanting and light touch therapy, we can together co-create a safe holding space that gives your system permission to let go. This isn’t about fixing anything; it’s about finding a new set point from which you can operate more effectively without feeling under threat.

Health may feel comfortable but healing does not. In healing, energies may shift and course through your being in ways that make you feel unfamiliar in your own body. Allow it all to happen–the pains, sweats, shakes are there as messengers to remind you that you have the courage to heal. Within all of us is the freedom to rise to a higher state of being. Don’t push it away or attach to anything… its change is inevitable. As above, so below. Everything holds its opposite.

When the subconscious mind heals, it allows the nervous system to relax and when the nervous system is relaxed there are less erratic signals and when there are less erratic signals, the endocrine system doesn’t need to be in a state of fight or flight. Therefore less cortisol and adrenaline; less inflammation and disease. We work from the inside out. This new set point brings you into a better resourced state of being that isn’t necessary free from anything yet now equipped to hold the process with love, patience and presence.

Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.


Let yourself be found.