How often do you take the time to feel what it’s like to be in your body? Not just the feelings of aches and pains you might experience, but the feelings of how your breath moves through your body, the expansion of your belly or lungs when you inhale, the way your body moves when you do?
So often we are rushing around, eating fast and moving fast, and trying to not feel the parts of our bodies that we don’t like, whether it’s the jiggle in our thighs or arms, or a belly that we feel sits too low over the waistband. But when we disconnect from being in our bodies, we disconnect from really experiencing the feeling of living and we lose the ability to tune in and listen to what our bodies need. Being disembodied leads us to doing things ‘to’ our bodies – we numb it with powerful substances like caffeine and alcohol, we resist it, we talk down to it, we resent it, and we attack it – rather than observing, sensing and experiencing the feelings of living life in the bodies we’ve been blessed with.
Think about what it might mean for you to embrace embodiment. For me it started with slow movement, like walking. Walking forces the body to slow down, and I feel each step, the swing of my arms as I move, the deepening breaths, the pounding through my legs each time I step forward. Feeling the breeze across my bare arms and face brings me much more joy than the intensity of an inside gym workout, and allows me to observe the movements I love and the movements I’m not so comfortable with. Once we can be in a place of observation, we get curious about why any discomfort arises, and explore how to accept and love each part of ourselves.
Try some of the simple strategies below to get into your body:
Set aside 5 or 10 minutes and and sit or lay down comfortably. Take a scan of your body, thinking about each part of your body, starting with your toes, your feet, your ankles, your calves, your thighs, and moving over your torso front and back, your arms and then each part of your face. Focus on what each part feels like, and what senses you experience.
Take a piece of paper and write down all things that bring you joy in your body – including people, places, movements, thoughts and anything else. Read back this list to yourself and think about the ways that you can incorporate more of them into your life.
Try a different form of exercise or movement than you usually do, maybe try a dance or yoga class, it might be a slower walk outside, or a bike ride, or going swimming. Focus on the way each movement feels, and what other feelings or emotions this brings up for you.
Experience interpersonal touch – get a massage or a shampoo and haircut, or try a partnered yoga class or dance class. Interpersonal touch releases oxytocin in the body, a hormone that helps reduce stress in the body.
How else do you experience embodiment?