Why Be “Embodied?”
Unless you live with chronic pain, chances are you take your body for granted. This is for good reason. To constantly reflect on having a body would be a phenomenal waste of energy. Yet, to not think of it all, potentially sets us up for disaster. That’s why you want making time for mindful embodied practices is important. Awareness of being a human in a body is very a good thing.
Being “embodied” means:
feeling at home in your body
feeling connected to your body
welcoming sensations in your body
knowing the needs, fears and wants of the body
Mind, Body and Soul
If we want to realize our fullest potential, we must engage the body. We cannot think ourselves whole. We must physically experience it by releasing blocked energy with present moment awareness.
This is not an easy task. If it were we’d all be floating around on clouds of enlightenment, blissed out on our fullness of being. It’s work and hard work at that but we do it because our lives are on the line. In a converse chain of events, the moment we begin to sharpen our wits we begin to dull our senses. The marginalization of the body has such a long history that we barely notice the denial of our somatic selves.
As we grow increasingly dependent on technology, we are forced to override messages from our body. Here in the states, kids and adults spend six hours a day sitting still in front of a screen. Six hours!!! That makes my butt sore thinking about it.
When we are disembodied in this way, we live removed from the power and wisdom that comes from the body. Energy stagnates. Joints get sore and muscles turn slack from lack of use. The best to free ourselves from this trap is to engage our body and mind.
In my field, there are two terms are used to describe how information is processed: bottom-up and top-down. In bottom-up processing, the body is used to heal the mind. In top-down processing, verbal and cognitive pathways are used to promote behavioral change. Ideally, this bottom-up/top-down feedback loop works as a single unit. We feel scared recalling an incident, but when we look around we see that we are safe. The one balances the other.
That’s because sensation always seeks a response, action or reaction. If this need is met, symptoms subside. If they are ignored or suppressed, they scream their head off until they can’t no more. This is how we get ourselves into dissociative, disembodied states and how addiction, mental illness and other major life issues wreak havoc on our lives. If unattended, what begins as coping mechanism to survive often turns into constricted way of being.
Contemplative practices help us break this cycle of suffering. When we (re)connect our physical, emotional and mental selves, we set the stage for whole-bodied healing.