Darren Gibbs is the only fully certified Clinical Somatic Educator (C.C.S.E.) in Wales and one of only a handful in the UK. Drawn initially to St Davids with his partner Sam over fifteen years ago, he wanted the spaciousness, the beauty and the surfing!
Darren had been a yoga teacher for many years but over time began to see that many of his students were looking for an end result, a goal that didn’t necessarily resolve their issues.
“For many the priority was achieving more, greater flexibility, strength, sense of calm etc. without questioning why those things were being limited – I wanted to understand what our movements – or lack of – taught us about ourselves and the way we live our lives. I realised that there was so much more”
Darren explored the work of Moshe Feldenkrais who had been a student of F.M. Alexander. Alexander himself had been an actor who realised that the cause of his laryngitis was postural. Feldenkrais carried on the work of his teacher believing that by heightening our awareness of our movement, breathing and posture, we could come to a realisation of our full human potential.
This idea was the spur for Darren to look more deeply. His exploration took him to the work of Dr. Thomas Hanna, a philosophy professor who had himself discovered the work of Feldenkrais in the nineteen seventies and who ultimately developed his theory and practice of Somatic Education.
“I wanted to explore the possibility of people reaching their fullest potential, to live lives that are as full and free as possible.”
To that end, he began his training with Martha Peterson of Essential Somatics.
“ Clinical Somatics is an education system, not a therapy. It gives you a mirror to see the blind spots. We are all a work in progress, everyone is different. Because of our life experiences we develop tension patterns in response to physical, emotional and mental stress, injury and repetition – when habituated these tensions go unnoticed until something gives us pain, seemingly “out of the blue”. Because we’ve not noticed the tensions accrue the discomfort becomes and remains a mystery. Clinical Somatics removes the mystery and provides a practical and tangible way back to full and easeful movement using safe and gentle self guided techniques ”
Darren says that people often don’t know why they have a problem that is causing them discomfort. When they are shown simple but effective strategies for understanding and resolving the issues they are often astonished at how quick and effective the process is.
What sort of issues do people come to see you about?
“A whole range, pretty much everything! Anything from low-level backache to screaming sciatica, poor energy and sleep levels through to depression and anxiety, or a frozen shoulder and neck stiffness and pain. Preparation and recovery from operations and sporting injury is also a common reason why people get in touch as well as people wanting to deepen their yoga or other movement practice.
A lot of people also work with me in a preventative way – they don’t currently have any issues and are keen to keep it that way! They want to optimise their lives. For example I often work with athletes who are keen to enhance their performance and remain injury free.
Many will have tried everything and maybe got some short-term relief, but it’s usually about someone doing something to them – they feel great for a few days or sometimes weeks but then the discomfort gradually creeps back, often as bad as it was previously. The pain is often a red herring – it’s not that the pain isn’t real or doesn’t hurt but it is not always where the problem is – it’s often a response to something and not the cause. Until the reason is addressed then nothing can truly resolve in the long-term. This is where Somatic Education differs – it provides a method for the self-directed resolution of the problem at its root.”
“We all want to get rid of pain”, Darren continues, “But real change can take time. If the pain disappears through painkillers we stop learning from it and we don’t find the cause and we continue to move and live in the ways that created the problem in the first place. The pain will come back because it’s unresolved and the problem continues.”
That’s why Darren asks people to sign up for 3 or 4 sessions initially. Time is needed to build up an understanding and for Darren to get a picture of how each client responds. It’s a process of reminding the nervous system how to reset and also to make changes to lifestyle. To this end each client takes home a series of simple movements to work on daily between sessions.
Each session presents new information for the nervous system and people need time to integrate those movements for optimal results.”
Darren receives many referrals from other practitioners who are not getting the desired results for their clients with their own therapies.
“The biggest successes are when people start to see the world differently. When they make the changes that allow the old movement patterns that have made them ill, or are giving them pain, start to dissolve, and new patterns begin to form. There is no distinction between emotional or physical pain. It is all about our quality of life, it’s not just about movement – it’s about how we move through life. We undergo a sort of sensory motor amnesia. We have become habituated to our own patterns of tension – they begin to feel normal, or are completely unaware of them, and that prevents us from living our lives to the fullest extent.”
Darren offers individual sessions at his clinic in Haverfordwest, and group workshops and retreats in various locations both in Pembrokeshire and across the UK.
“It only needs a simple change to transform your life. You can always learn something new, once you know you have options – then you can take them! A lot of discomfort and pain is self-generated, (we just don’t realise or know how we’re doing it) – and so is the answer ! So why not choose greater ease, less strain and a more self-directed life?”
Darren works from his clinic in Haverfordwest and has a monthly class on the first Friday of each month in Dinas Cross, a weekly class in St Davids on Thursday evenings, and regular workshops.
For information on clinical sessions, workshops and classes contact Darren as below:.
Phone: 07812 152594
“After attending the clinical sessions I’ve experienced great improvement in my shoulder. It is no longer tensing up, and the tension I carried in my neck & shoulders is improving further with the exercises and movements you taught me – thank you!’.
“I have a history of Back and neck pain on the right side and had been to countless treatments with chiropractors and osteopaths, but the problem always returned , sometimes even just 2-3 days after the treatment .. so costly and so frustrating .The work with Darren has totally changed my life ,as I am now mostly pain-free ,and the problems on the right side are gone , even when I forget to do the exercises I am still so much better .. my body was reeducated and I freed myself of the damaging tension patterns .. considering I am often lazy and not even doing the exercises at home as much as I should do it is amazing how much better I am .. And when my body goes out of balance into an old pattern, I have the tools / exercises Darren taught me specifically , to address my problems and go back into balance. The theory behind the Somatics work is fascinating and makes total sense to me . it has restored my confidence in my body wanting and being able to be in balance.
I highly recommend the work with Darren”
“After years of unsuccessful visits to the medical establishment my excruciatingly painful heel problem has completely and permanently resolved. Now I can walk for miles with no pain at all and am so grateful that you’ve brought Somatics to Pembrokeshire.”
“Osteopaths, chiropracters, physios, MRI and CT scans….after 10 years struggling with lower back issues, I’d all but given up. Within my first hour with Darren, he reassured me that I’d be fine and he was right. A few weeks of somatics and I was skipping around again like a new-born lamb – well, not quite, but at least I can put my socks on without grunting and straining now.”
“Having hurt my shoulder, with no obvious cause, exploring movement in sessions with you has really helped me get active again. Somatics makes so much sense, not just for my healing process, but in everyday life.”