The Dance with Embodiment

I want to share a bit of my personal dance with embodiment. This dance has been ongoing since I was little, but I have recently become more aware of what has been happening under the surface. As a child, I spent much of my time playing outside. I loved being in nature, picking wildflowers, and playing in the nearby creek. As I got older and went to school, studying became very important to me, especially in high school. Although I did play sports, I found myself spending long hours reading and doing homework outside of school. I began to see my intellect as the primary path to acquire knowledge, so I focused my time and energy on developing it. Eventually, this became dissatisfying... I had a sense that there was more to experience, I just wasn't sure how to access the depths of life.

This process of coming home, back into my body, has been a bit of a dance. There is a touch in, for a moment, and then a bounce back out. I have learned to become aware of the unfolding emotions, sensations, and experience of the body, which allows me to drop into the present moment. One of the most important moments of embodiment for me came in a craniosacral session a few years ago. I was, for the first time in my conscious memory, able to hold my thoughts, my sensations, and my emotions in the same realm. No longer did my thoughts have a louder voice, or hold a more important message than the softer, subtler whispers of my heart, belly and pelvis. As I have paid more attention to the movements of my heart, the intuition of my belly and the wisdom and power of my pelvis, I have become more stable. I am able to sense my center with much more clarity. No longer am I at the whim of the nearest judgement, whether mine or someone else's. I can access a sense of knowing that comes from deep within my body, not simply from a fact that I read in a book. This has encouraged me to stand more solidly on the Earth, to fill out my energy and to hold my own space with courage.

I have had some fear and hesitancy in this dance with embodiment. What if I find something hidden that is scary? What if there are stories I have forgotten about that resurface? These are valid questions and often come up in my work with clients as well. They are simply a normal part of the dance. I have found that what I thought was scary, may not actually have the power that my mind projected onto it. Much like the shadows cast on a wall with a flashlight. When I look at the actual thing that makes the giant shadow, I see that it is simply a small stuffed animal, not the monster it appears to be.

Being able to be in my body in a comfortable way has been a deep desire of mine for years. I am not interested in feeling anxious in my own skin. I want to be grounded, settled, no matter what life brings. This is the power of embodiment.

There is a friendship, a trust, that is developed with the body so that it becomes an ally rather than an enemy. Discomfort and even disease can become a doorway into a deeper relationship to our core. I have come to understand that we are culturally starved to be in our bodies. There is deep relief and freedom in becoming comfortable in the body we inhabit, no matter what its state. 

So what is embodiment anyway? Embodiment is the practice of bringing awareness to the sensations in the body. It is about receiving information from the body that informs our actions, decisions, and so on. Embodiment is about being and responding accordingly.

Embodiment is a foreign concept (and sensation) to many adults. Children seem to have an intuitive sense for it, but as we grow up, we learn to fit into a culture obsessed with thinking. There is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking, rational thought, solving problems, etc, but we have become top-heavy. And with this emphasis on the head and brain, worry and anxiety are compounded.

"My belief is in the blood and flesh as being wiser than the intellect. The body-unconscious is where life bubbles up in us. It is how we know that we are alive to the depths of our souls and in touch somewhere with the vivid reaches of the cosmos."
-D.H. Lawrence