Today we often are spending so much time in our heads. Our thoughts are racing as we have reached the peak of the information highway. Information in the form of “things” and “stuff” are at our reach from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. We barely have time to transition from brushing our teeth to walking the dog to getting yoga in to texting our parents back. Society is at a point that is not slowing down. Which leaves us living in our heads ALL THE TIME.
This brings me to the subject of this blog. Embodiment. To me “embodying” is a complex subject to write and talk about because writing and talking, or communication, comes from the brain and goes outward. But I think that the more people know about this concept the better they deal with whatever the day brings. That has certainly been my experience. So here is my attempt at explaining the importance of being in the body.
What is Embodiment?
First of all, what do I mean when I say “embodiment?” From a yoga stance, it is a FELT SENSATION when the mind and body make a connection. And the reason this is so complex for me to explain it to you is because, really, the practitioner is the best teacher in this case. You are the one who teaches yourself how to embody yourself.
Still confused? Think of it this way…have you ever listened to a song and got goosebumps? Have you ever been out dancing and completely got out of your mind and let your body do the thinking? This is embodiment. But we can go even deeper than that. Embodiment is feeling our emotions and how they make us feel physically. Have you ever been so in love that you get butterflies? This is you embodying a new felt emotion.
My goal is to help you understand how to embody your entire life starting with new habits.
On your path to embodiment the first stop is to build body awareness. This might sound super simple. “I have a body, and I am aware that I have it!” Duh! This is true but I like to takes things deeper than the surface. And literally, building body awareness goes a lot deeper than the surface. As stated earlier, we as a people constantly live in our heads. Partly because of ego and partly because of the bombardment of information thrown at us daily. The brain is trying super hard to compartmentalize information in our daily lives that we often forget about our bodies. When we do start to listen to the body it is usually because we get sick or tired. This isn’t your fault, this is just life today.
But I don’t want you waiting until you get sick to notice your body. It needs you now! It needs you now because it is my guess that stress is probably storing up in the system. And too much stress leads to…*insert depressing WebMD diagnosis*. So body awareness! But where to start?
My favorite and best place to start is at the bottom. With the feet. If you are new to this whole concept you might be thinking, “why the feet?” Well as it turns out, the feet are a starting point for many things. Because they connect us to the ground they have a grounding sensation to the earth element that connects you to your physical body. Did I lose you there? Think of it this way…have you ever been so stressed that someone told you to take a walk or go outside? Well I bet that if you listened to them and went for a walk you probably instantly felt better. The feet’s connection to the energy of earth is a natural stress reliever.
By building awareness in the feet you can work your way up to the rest of your body. Starting with the feet, if you’re reading this right now, take a second and notice what your feet are doing. What are they touching? Are they hot or cold? Are you walking, running, or sitting down? Now take a moment to witness yourself coming into the present moment. For an instant maybe you experienced all your other thoughts drift away. Here’s a fun tip: if you are ever in a stressful situation at work or home take a moment and think about your feet. Ask yourself what kind of shoes and socks you are wearing and allow yourself to drift away from stress for just a moment. Practice this over and over and even with other areas of the body. It might even be helpful to try on your children or loved one to see if its affective.
Body awareness is built over time with daily habits. Meditation can also be helpful. One of my favorite meditations is a Body Scan. This is a mediation of scanning every part of the body starting at the feet and working your way all the way to the crown of the head. As you scan your body and come to the arm (just using this as an example) maybe it is harder to notice or feel. Keep your awareness there and as you breath notice if any emotions come up. Maybe you start to feel frustration or blocking of energy. This is a good indicator that something (stored up stress?) might want to be released. Keep practicing! You are building body awareness and allowing stored up energy to move.
Building body awareness is making a connection with the mind and body. And in doing so you might feel challenged. But it is a way to feel all your muscles in order to get or stay strong. Think about professional athletes. They have tremendous body awareness. They have to! They have trained their minds to tell their muscles when to flex and extend and turn and all these amazing things. Body awareness is also knowing when your body has had enough to eat or when you need to take a break and get some rest. It is listening to your body from the inside.
Mindfulness and the Present Moment
My favorite part about Embodiment is coming into the present moment. When you aren’t thinking about what you should have done in the past or getting nervous about the future, the present moment can be very calm and comforting. When I feel embodied in something, it could be listening to music or meditation, or even when I write a blog, I am sitting in the present moment. Embodiment has a lot to do with doing things that you love.
Mindfulness is another way to find embodiment. This is very similar to building body awareness. It is the idea of sitting in the present moment. Now this can be tricky. Sitting with the present moment and asking your mind to be quiet can feel like running through hoops. Start with things that are around you. Maybe you look at colors or shapes in your room or notice textures around you. Very simple things to start. Then maybe you start to notice your breathing patterns. Notice if you are taking full deep breaths and if you aren’t try it out. Going deeper than that, you can start to think of your emotions and how you feel in the present moment. This will change from day to day and moment to moment. If you recognize an emotion, think about its opposite and where that emotion lives in your body. For example, if I feel happy I might notice a tingle around my heart or chest. Or if I feel flustered, my stomach might feel tight. This will be different depending on the practitioner and how long you practice. Developing mindfulness and knowing the present moment is like exercising your brain.
Here’s the thing: we have been conditioned to believe that we should work at the job that pays the most money even if we hate it. Or we need a bigger house to keep up with the neighbors. Not true! I firmly believe in finding what you love and wrapping your life around it. As long as it makes you happy and is well intentioned. I have been lucky being able to manifest a life where I can get these messages of truth and authenticity to the world. In that way I can embody my truth and know that I am walking my own path. And not only that…embodiment of doing what you love gives you energy and focus! When you live in the present moment, your body is not run down and it is not “forcing”. Forcing is a big one to think about. Are you constantly forcing your body to do something it does not want to do? Stop! Find what you love.
Embodiment is a physical incarnation of a feeling, idea, expression, or emotion. It is the point where our physical self is a representation of creativity, will power, determination, love, communication, wisdom, and the divine. I really like the definition that www.vocabulary.comgives. It say that embodiment is “something that gives concrete form to an abstract idea.” So the next time you are manifesting love onto someone close to you see if you can live fully in the presence of their hug or kiss. Love cannot be seen but it can be felt. And we can choose to embody it.