Riding the Elevator with Dr. Peter Levine

Posted by: Angela Herzog on June 3, 2015 2:06 pm

There he was, the man I’ve studied from for the past five years. I have poured over his books and practiced his skills, and there he was, Dr. Peter Levine, the creator of Somatic Experiencing.
My heart was beating fast as I assessed the situation:

My colleague, myself — Levine and his wife.
Contained within four walls of a tiny elevator.
Levine — a foot across from me.

My thoughts colliding with each other, picking up momentum with each collision.elevator-787381_640

It’s Levine
Here’s my chance
It’s Levine
I can make contact
It’s Levine
Say something Angela

Nothing came out, but a sheepish grin as I stole a glance.

Yet, that glance was enough. My whole body came in contact with his calm, steady presence. There was a feeling of safety in his presence. His grounded, compassionate energy invited my body to slow down.

I let out a deep breath and my body began to settle, my thoughts more spaced out.

As I was enjoying this calmness, I heard a deep voice and looked up. Levine was talking to me! He was asking where I am from. I managed to spit out Canada as he reached his floor and wished us well.

As I reached my floor, reflecting on this experience, I realized I came in contact with the essence of Somatic Experiencing.

Trauma creates internal chaos.

A trauma survivor can experience this chaos in many ways, including rapid thoughts, hypervigilence, high agitation or numb to it all. This chaos zaps the body’s energy, leaving little energy to connect with others. In turn, the survivor tends to become isolated within their chaotic bubble.

Somatic Experiencing provides a safe container to hold this chaotic bubble so it can slowly deflate.

The practitioner stays present to their own balanced rhythm of their body – creating a resonance field of steadiness, safety and compassion. This field gently invite’s the other into mirroring this balance.

As a trauma survivor slowly touches into the possibility of a new experience, their body can start returning to its natural rhythm. They can step out of isolation and into a safe bonding experience with another.

Chaos turns to organization
Activation turns to balance
Fear turns to safety
All encompassed within the presence of another.

Levine offered this gift of presence to me within the elevator that day.

It is my hope that I continue on my journey of trusting my own natural rhythm so I can offer my presence to others.



Angela Herzog MA, CCC is a trauma specialist that just finished her Advanced 1 Studies of Somatic Experiencing in Brazil (more on the Brazilian experience in a later blog).

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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