When you think about your life, what has been your guiding compass? Maybe it has changed over time, or evolved in some way. Our bodies can be this guiding compass, serving our highest good.
Our bodies are tools or vehicles providing us tangible or visual form to a feeling, a quality, or a state of being. How does this come about? Well, first know that the body is not the servant to the brain, as some believe. Through the practice of embodiment, and getting out of our head, we attend to sensations. From this calm, quiet space, we can gain new knowledge.
Let’s try a simple exercise: As you continue to read the next paragraph, maintain awareness of your posture. Be in your body fully, as you make any physical adjustments, scratch an itch, or shift your weight.
Yes, the body can produce new knowledge if we are patient and make room for it – areas of experience in which we were previously unaware can come forward. Embodiment is a non-verbal human trait. It is the present time felt experience of awareness in a moment as it is happening (Tantia, 2011). Embodied knowledge precedes cognitive awareness. Some have said that our autonomic nervous system is the system of the lived experience. By practicing the skills of embodiment, we may discover that some sensations do not have names or commonly used descriptive elements. That’s okay! One client I worked with earlier this week, used the term “Crinkly” to described his inner experience which was a combination of sensation with visual form located in a specific area of his body. Staying deeply in his body and experiencing what was manifesting in that moment provided him with information beyond what his thoughts, beliefs and judgments could offer. This bodily information system helped him make a decision about something he needed to do; The decision being an informed one from both his intelligence and his inner awareness.
Goldstein (1993) noted, “Practicing mindfulness of the body is one of the easiest ways to stay present in daily life…Our body is quite obvious as an object of attention, not subtle like thoughts and emotions. We can stay aware of the body easily, but only if we remember to do so” (p. 139). Are you still aware of your posture, in this moment?
With practice, we can experience embodiment while going about our day. If you are new to this, I invite you to put your electronic device down and close your eyes if that is comfortable for you. Take a few conscious abdominal breaths. Notice various sensations. Any areas of tension or numbness in the body? This is a beginning step which can expand embodied awareness with time dedicated to practicing.
Remember, the body is always there. Consider it a trusted guide, a lifelong friend, a forbearer of self-knowledge.
May we continue to blossom along with the coming spring season,
Goldstein, J. (1993). Insight meditation: The practice of freedom. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
Tantia, J. F. (2011). Viva Las Vagus!: The innervation of embodied clinical intuition. The USA Body Psychotherapy Journal, 10(1), 29-37.