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SOMA - an experiment in anarchism

SOMA is a series of workshops using body games to create a group dynamic, inspired by principles of self-organisation and solidarity. Working in groups is one of the biggest challenges in our competitive and individualistic society. How could we live in a more collaborative way? This workshop aims to introduce the SOMA process to create a group dynamic which will lead to organising and producing a sharing talk later.

When Roberto Freire created ‘SOMA - an anarchist therapy’ in Brazil more than thirty years ago, he was looking for therapeutic methodologies that could help people emotionally who were fighting against the military dictatorship. Drawing on anti-psychiatry’s focus on communication, the research of Wilhelm Reich about body and emotions, and the Brazilian art form of Capoeira Angola, SOMA uses drama games, sound and movement exercises to help salvage spontaneity, playfulness, communication, creativity, and awareness of anarchist organization where no one is boss.

Changing therapy into experiment, we have turned the SOMA (which means 'totality of being' in Greek) approach away from an emphasis on neurosis (we have something wrong) towards the gaining of skills (we can learn something new). In this sense, this experience seeks to inspire skills to build horizontal relationships, skills that can transform the way we perceive the world, re-building the body, its dwelling and livelihood. SOMA games are proposals to play in a group - sharing experiences of collaboration, trust and responsibility.

This process creates an environment in which the consensus decision making process starts in each participant's body, mind, emotions and feelings. SOMA approach breaks with the traditional rational way to develop skills, where the mind is split from the body, the individual removed from its surroundings.

SOMA is inspired by anarchism and psychology, two wide fields of subjects separated by a sea of ideas. Linking these, we dare to create a utopic bridge between them, and the possibility of fighting against domination with more than words and rationality. The politics of everyday life begins with our private matters; when our feelings and emotions come together with our beliefs and ideology, we raise awareness and bring out the physical reality of our bodies educated in the capitalist culture of fear and security. Play is a way to rediscover the body, just as collaboration helps to rediscover relationships.

The proposal today is to invite people to experience a SOMA practice and, from that, to participate in a sharing talk where body perceptions will be very important to contextualize its theory and history.

To know more:

Reading: SOMA Therapy pdf