Blog Mental Health Therapy Somatic Exercises Somatic Emotional Release for a Calmer Mind: How It Works

Somatic Emotional Release for a Calmer Mind: How It Works

Our bodies have ways of communicating distress that transcends mere words. You may experience tension headaches after prolonged periods of stress, a sudden tightness in your chest during moments of panic, or even persistent fatigue that is really a silent scream for rest.

While these symptoms can easily be dismissed as isolated physical discomforts, they are sometimes anchored deeply in unresolved emotional turmoil.

Curious about how this works and how it could potentially transform your approach to stress management? Here’s a deep dive into the mechanics and benefits of SER.

What Is a Somatic Emotional Release?

Somatic Emotional Release (SER) happens when the inner wisdom of your body is accessed and enables you to release deep-seated emotional trauma. This therapeutic approach uses gentle touch, guided imagery, and dialogue techniques to help individuals reconnect with their physical sensations, memories, and emotions that have been suppressed or stored in the body. 

SER recognizes the interconnectedness of our mind and body – how each part influences the other. It offers a holistic perspective on health and wellness, acknowledging that emotional well-being is just as important as physical well-being.

The premise of SER is that our bodies hold onto past trauma, whether it be from a single event or prolonged stress. This can lead to tension in the muscles, restrictions in movement, and other physical symptoms. By addressing the underlying emotional causes, SER can help release these tensions and promote healing on a deeper level. .

The origins of SER can be traced back to the work of Dr. John E. Upledger, an osteopathic physician who developed a unique approach called CranioSacral Therapy (CST) (2). CST involves gentle manipulation of the tissues surrounding the cranium, the pelvis, the knees, and feet to improve their functioning and release tension (3). SER is an extension of this therapy, focusing on emotional release through touch and dialogue.

Our blog on Somatic Healing Techniques goes further into the benefits and techniques used in CST and SER. But for now, let’s explore why this approach has gained popularity and how it could benefit you.

The Mind-Body Connection

The human body has an incredible ability to hold onto emotions – both positive and negative. Think of the last time you felt overwhelming joy – did your body not feel light, almost as if it was floating? Similarly, when you experience fear or trauma, your body may instinctively tighten up in response to protect itself.

See also
Somatic Awareness: What Your Body Can Teach You About Healing

This mind-body connection also means that our emotions can manifest physically (9). 

SER works on this mind-body connection by acknowledging the role of emotions in physical health. Through gentle touch and dialogue, it helps individuals explore and release suppressed emotions, leading to a sense of balance and well-being.

What Happens During Somatic Release Session?

There’s no one way to experience a somatic release- it can vary from person to person, depending on their individual needs and the techniques used by the therapist.

However, here are some common elements that may occur during a somatic emotional release massage:

A Brief Consultation

Your therapist will begin by asking about your medical history and any physical or emotional symptoms you may be experiencing. This information is crucial for the therapist to tailor the session to your specific needs.

Again, there are no hard rules as to what constitutes the consultation. You may be asked to fill out a form beforehand or have a quick conversation about your goals and expectations for the session.

The therapist may use the consultation as a way to establish rapport and create a safe space for you to share your emotions freely.

somatic emotional release  

Gentle Touch

Next, you’ll move to the table. The therapist will use gentle touch to locate areas of tension in the body. This may involve placing their hands on different parts of your body, such as the head, shoulders, or feet. The aim is to tune into your body’s natural rhythms and sense any restrictions or imbalances.

The therapist may also use subtle movements and manipulations to release this tension, allowing for a deeper connection with your body’s natural healing abilities.

Note – SER massage isn’t quite like a traditional massage, where the goal is to relax and unwind the muscles. Instead, it aims to gently nudge the body towards unwinding from emotional tension.

See also
5 Somatic Exercises for Men to Ease Tension and Improve Flexibility

At this stage, your therapist doesn’t have any goals. Your body is the guiding force, and the therapist is simply there to facilitate the process.

Something tells us you often forget to put all the everyday hustle and bustle on hold and simply concentrate on yourself. It’s time to straighten out your priorities! Take a moment to heal , process your emotions, ground yourself, release all the pent-up tension and recharge with the BetterMe: Meditation & Sleep app before getting back into the race of life!

Head Hold

The ‘head hold’ position is a common technique used in SER. It involves the therapist placing their hands under your head, helping to release any tension in the neck and jaw muscles.

The position is believed to be particularly effective in releasing suppressed emotions, as it allows for deep relaxation and a sense of safety and support.

Other parts of the body, such as the back, may also be held,  depending on where the therapist senses tension.


During the session, your therapist may guide you through a dialogue process. This can involve asking open-ended questions about your emotions, memories, and physical sensations. The aim is to help you connect with the underlying causes of your stress and release them through verbal expression.

Dialogue may also involve visualization exercises or speaking directly to a specific part of the body that is holding tension.

Your therapist may use additional techniques to help you feel more grounded and centered during the session. Resourcing is crucial in helping individuals feel safe and supported during the emotional release process.


Movement is an essential aspect of SER. Your therapist may encourage you to make small movements, such as stretching, rocking, or even dancing. The aim is to allow the body to express itself and release stored emotions through movement.

Note – All movements are voluntary and should be done within your comfort level. You are in control of the session and can communicate any discomfort or desire for a break at any time.

See also
The Benefits of Somatic Exercises: Elevate Your Physical and Mental Well-being 

Permission To Explore

As you experience somatic release, you may unearth deep-seated emotions that have been suppressed or forgotten. Your therapist will create a safe space for you to explore and express these emotions without any judgment or pressure.

They may also remind you that it is okay to feel these emotions and that the release process is entirely natural and beneficial.

Is Crying a Somatic Release?

Crying may be a sign of an emotional release during a somatic session. However, crying is not the only way emotions can be released.

An emotional trauma release massage may cause a wide range of reactions including:

  • Tears
  • Laughter
  • Yawning
  • Sighing
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Warmth spreading through the body
  • Feelings of lightness or weightlessness
  • Sudden drop in body temperature or chills
  • A sensation of energy moving or flowing within
  • Experiencing vivid memories or flashes of insight
  • A deep sense of peace or tranquility immediately following the release.

These are all natural responses and should not be suppressed. They indicate that the body is processing and releasing emotions that have been stored for too long.

There is no right or wrong way to experience an emotional release. Every individual will have a unique response, and the therapist will support you through whatever comes up.

Read more: Somatic Healing Techniques: A Holistic Approach to Physical and Emotional Recovery

How To Do Somatic Trauma Release?

It’s not advisable to attempt somatic release on your own, as it can be an intense and potentially overwhelming experience. It is best done with the guidance of a trained therapist who can create a safe space for you to explore and release emotions.

However, there are some practices you can incorporate into your daily routine to support somatic healing and emotional release:

Mindful Movement

Mindful movement means being present and aware of your body and its movements (4). Your workout routine can become a form of somatic release by focusing on the physical sensations and emotions that arise during exercise.

For example, a daily walk where you pay attention to your breath, surroundings, and physical sensations can be a powerful somatic experience.

See also
Somatic Release: Unlock the Power of Mind-Body Connection

In our blog on Somatic Healing Techniques, we go into more detail about different practices you can incorporate into your daily routine for somatic healing.

somatic emotional release  


Deep breathing is an effective way to calm the nervous system and alter your physiology (5) (6). When you feel overwhelmed or stressed, taking a few deep breaths can help you ground yourself and bring awareness back to your body.

You can also incorporate specific breathwork exercises into your daily routine, such as:

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing focuses on engaging the diaphragm during inhalation to ensure full oxygen exchange and to slow the heartbeat.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees slightly bent and your head on a pillow.
  2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage, allowing you to feel the movement of your diaphragm.
  3. Inhale slowly through your nose, feeling your stomach press into your hand.
  4. Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips.

4-7-8 Breathing

This technique involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds, which helps reduce anxiety and aids in sleep.

  1. Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
  2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a count of four.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  6. Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Box Breathing

Box breathing, also known as square breathing, is a simple yet effective technique for managing stress and improving concentration.

  1. Sit upright and slowly exhale, getting all the oxygen out of your lungs.
  2. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for another slow count of four.
  4. Exhale through your mouth for the same slow count of four, expelling the air from your lungs.
  5. Hold your breath again for a count of four before repeating the cycle.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This technique involves alternately breathing through one nostril at a time and is said to enhance cardiovascular function and to lower heart rate.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed.
  2. Place your left hand on your left knee.
  3. Use your right thumb to close your right nostril, and inhale slowly through your left nostril.
  4. Close your left nostril with your fingers, then exhale through the right nostril.
  5. Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale through the right nostril.
  6. Close the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril.
  7. Continue this pattern for 5 to 10 cycles, focusing on your breathing and the sensation of air passing through your nasal passages.
See also
The Introduction to Somatic Memory and Efficient Ways to Heal It

Running a never-ending rat race, shoving trauma further and further away, falling into self-harming thought patterns, living life that’s eclipsed by constant anxiety and fear – this is what an average person goes through every day. Not addressing it will only pull you deeper into a downward spiral. BetterMe: Meditation & Sleep app will help you gain a new perspective on life and help you regain that long-lost internal balance!

Guided Meditations

Another somatic release technique is guided meditation, where a trained therapist or voice guides you through a relaxation and visualization process. This can help you tap into your inner emotions and bring awareness to any stored tension or trauma in the body (1).

You can find various guided meditations online or work with a therapist to create personalized meditations tailored to your specific needs.

In a previous blog, Somatic Meditation, we discussed in detail how somatic meditation can aid in releasing stored emotions and promoting overall well-being.

somatic emotional release  


  • How To Do Emotional Release Therapy?

The best way to do emotional release therapy is under the guidance of a trained therapist who can create a safe space for you to explore and release emotions. However, there are some practices you can incorporate into your daily routine to support emotional release, such as mindful movement, breathwork, and guided meditations.

  • What Does Emotional Release Feel Like?

Emotional release feels different to everyone; some may experience a sense of relief and lightness, while others may feel intense emotions such as sadness or anger. There is no right or wrong way to feel during emotional release, and it’s essential to trust your body and the process.

  • What Is Somatic Release for PTSD?

Somatic release for PTSD involves using somatic techniques to help individuals release stored trauma and emotions in the body (7). This can include practices such as mindful movement, breathwork, and guided meditations.

  • Is Emotional Release Real?

Emotional release is a real and valid experience that many individuals have during therapy or through somatic practices. 

Although it’s not as widely studied or practiced like other forms of therapy, many individuals have reported significant benefits from incorporating emotional release through somatic therapy into their healing journey (10). It’s essential to find a therapist or practitioner who is trained in somatic release techniques for the best experience.

The Bottom Line

Somatic emotional release happens when you feel safe enough to let go of stored emotions and tension in your body. It can bring about lasting improvements in your physical health, mental well-being, and relationships. Incorporating practices like mindful movement, breathwork, and guided meditations into your daily routine can support somatic healing and emotional release. However, it is always recommended to work with a trained therapist for a safe and effective somatic release process.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Emotion Processing (2019,
  2. Craniosacral therapy: Uses and effectiveness (2017,
  3. Craniosacral Therapy | Taking Charge of Your Wellbeing (n.d.,
  4. Getting Started with Mindful Movement (n.d.,
  5. How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing (2018,
  6. Somatic experiencing – effectiveness and key factors of a body-oriented trauma therapy: a scoping literature review (2021,
  7. Somatic Experiencing for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Outcome Study (2017,
  8. The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults (2017,
  9. The mind-body connection: not just a theory anymore (2008,
  10. What is somatic therapy? (2023,
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