“Embodiment is living within, being present within the internal space of the body. It’s something quite different from being aware of the body”Judith Blackstone
As I integrate Somatic Experiencing Therapy into my practice, I find myself wondering what it would feel like to live a more fully embodied existence. There are glimpses, while doing yoga, dancing, gardening, hiking through a forest, creating… whenever I am completely immersed in an experience. I feel most embodied by the ocean, toes in the sand, wind in my hair, as the surf rises to meet me. I feel more alive when mind and body are connected. In touch with my emotions and physical sensations. Able to tap into and trust my intuition. Life flows, and there is a sense of timelessness. I have more energy and passion for living. Embodiment is being in the body, and we all have our own ways of getting there.
On busy days I feel like I spend far too much time “in my head”, thinking and planning. Not exactly “disembodied”, but definitely living at more of a distance from my physical experience than I would like. Working for hours sitting in front of a computer screen, taking my body for granted until it starts talking to me, often in the form of exhaustion, muscle tension or eye strain, or feeling restless and irritable, at odds with myself. Does this sound familiar to you?
A simple practice I have discovered to quickly shift from thinking to experiencing is to bring in an element or a combination of elements of earth, wind, fire or water. Here are some suggestions for finding moments of embodiment in the day-to-day busyness of life through exploration of these four elements:
Earth: If you are feeling scattered or unfocused, take a moment to ground into the earth element. Simply feel the contact of your feet on the floor. Allow yourself to sink more deeply into the pull of gravity. Look around the space you are in and set your gaze on a plant or a flower, or a picture of a forest or a mountain. Touch something solid or hold a smooth stone in the palm of your hand. Wrap yourself in something soft and heavy, maybe even a weighted blanket.
Wind: If you are feeling stuck and stagnant, bring in the element of air. The simplest way to do this is to take a deep breath. Notice the inner tumbling of your thoughts and worries, and detach from their grip by looking at the sky, turning on a fan, or opening a window to let the breeze in. Take a moment to stretch and yawn and move your body in a way that feels good. Connect with a song or a poem.
Fire: If your energy is flagging, access the element of fire. Turn towards the sun or a source of heat and light in the space you are in. Light a candle and gaze at the flickering flame. Warm your palms with the heat of your breath, by rubbing them together, or wrapping them around a steaming cup. Bring that warmth to wherever your body feels stiff or cold, or simply place your hand over your heart and connect with its rhythm. Think of hugging someone you love and imagine their warmth and energy enfolding you.
Water: If you are taking on the stress and emotions of your environment, connect to the soothing, releasing element of water. Take a sip of liquid. Slow down for a moment. Close your eyes and feel your feelings. Imagine yourself floating in your favourite body of water, or dancing in the rain. Bring some humidity into the air around you. Wash your hands. Take a moment to moisturize your skin or your lips.
Have an embodied day!