Embodiment. What does that even mean?
Embodiment is an interesting topic as it means so much to me. In theory it’s a simple phenomena - what is the level of presence I am feeling in my body?
Yet that simple question has so many layers and elements to it.
… presence… in my body…
What does that even mean?
What I do know is that practicing embodiment has had significant shifts in so many areas of my life. It has improved my well-being at a physical, emotional and mental level. I feel calmer, healthier and happier. It has also significantly impacted my relationships. I have incredible friends who I feel very close to… and my romantic and sex life… well, yeah, that too.
I want to talk about what embodiment means to me, and some of the places it can lead to, but first I’d like to invite you to explore with me for a moment so you actually get an experiential sense of what I’ll be talking about.
You might already be experienced with embodiment practice, and the little exercise to follow might seem basic to you. Go ahead and indulge me and play along anyway. There are many layers of depth to this.
If you have never done anything like this before, though, it might feel a little strange, or not much at all, to start with. Don’t worry, this is normal.
Pay attention to the “you” that is reading these words right now. See if you can feel this sense of self that is able to focus attention on your eyes that see these curves and lines on the screen. Notice this awareness interpreting these letters into words and these sentences into concepts.
This is your awareness.
Let’s bring that awareness into your body.
Feel your face. Feel your jaw. Is it tight? Maybe open it up wide for a moment and give it a good stretch. If you are in a space where you feel comfortable to maybe let out a deep sigh, or a moan or even a growl or roar. It can be quiet. It can even be sub-vocal (make the feeling of the sound without letting any sound out).
Feel your neck. Your shoulders. Your arms. Your chest and back. Maybe roll your neck around a little, roll your shoulders, stretch your arms up into the air and then feel the blood flowing as tightness is released.
Notice how it all of these parts of your body feel. Is there any tightness? Soreness? Does it feel good, or not so good?
Don’t worry just now about how it feels. Just notice what you feel.
And if you don’t feel much at all. Then just feel that. Counter-intuitively, not-feeling (numbness) is actually a feeling and being with the numbness is what will open up your body to feel more.
Now feel your hips. If you are sitting down, feel your butt on your chair, if you are standing feel your hips resting under your torso. Are they tight? Maybe rock your pelvis backwards and forwards a few times, and then bring your knees together and apart a few times.
Feel your legs. Feel your feet. Especially your feet, feel your feet on the ground.
... This simple little practice of putting awareness inside of the body is the entry point of embodiment, and as simple as it may seem - it’s a total game changer.
Awareness in the body leads to presence which is the foundation of a lot of other capacities.
Presence is essential for generating receptive listening, expressing self powerfully, the ability to stay upright inside of an emotional trigger, decisive action on knowing what to do, intuition, empathy, expanded pleasure, and so much more.
Embodiment -> Presence -> A whole spectrum of essential capacities for being a powerful, joyful, functional human
As to the deeper layers of embodiment… well how much of our body is available to feel? Our nervous system inundates every part of our body, so theoretically it is possible to feel every part of our bodies, and there is so much information that comes from our body.
Can you feel your brain and spinal column? What about the muscles around your trunk constantly, actively engaged in the fight against gravity? Can you feel your heart beating? Your liver? Your stomach? How aware are you of your breath and the depth to which you exhale and inhale? Can you feel your sex organs?
Feel your body, and then go talk to someone while maintaining that awareness in your body.
Notice if anything changes.
Embodiment… a practice for a lifetime.