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Becoming Embodied

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Living in Your Body

Are you one of those rare humans who consciously reside within their bodies? Or are you more like the majority of folks—disembodied?

In my previous article, “Coming Home to Your Body,” I discussed how to begin the process of returning to your body. The first step involves bringing mindful awareness to your beliefs, biases, and preoccupations with your body image. Along with this mindful awareness, it’s important to cultivate compassion for your body and for the psychological pain caused by any “negative body talk.”

I also suggested that you intentionally practice feeling gratitude and appreciation for the wonder of life made possible by the miraculous gift of your body. Continue these practices daily to rewire old disembodied thinking patterns.

Tune in to Your Body

Now, it is time to intentionally come home to your body. What does that mean? It essentially means that you bring regular awareness to your body’s sensations, energy levels, moods, and needs. You may think you are already doing this, but think again. Most of us readily notice our bodies if we are experiencing aches, pains, or any discomfort. But we seldom pay attention in the absence of physical distress.

Guess what? It’s equally important to tune in to your body in good times and bad. Ideally you will maintain body awareness most of the time. How can you do this? Take regular time-outs throughout your day and do the following:

  • Stop whatever you’re doing.
  • Sit or stand in stillness.
  • Check in with your body’s breathing.

Are you breathing deeply into your lungs, engaging your abdomen? Or is your breathing shallow? You may even discover on occasion that you’ve been holding your breath for several seconds at a time. If so, take a few deep, restorative breaths and try to remain more closely attuned to your breath.

Next, expand your awareness to the rest of your body:

  • How does your body feel overall?
  • What is your energy level? (For example, energetic, fatigued, anxious, lethargic, weak, or just right?)
  • What specific sensations are arising and passing through your body moment by moment?

It can be helpful to name bodily sensations as you notice them. Examples would be throbbing, tingling, tickling, stabbing, coolness, warmth, moisture, numbness, pulsating, rippling, pressure, piercing, and shooting.

Now notice your reactions to the various sensations:

  • Do you find a particular sensation pleasant? Unpleasant? Neutral?
  • How are you responding to each sensation?

If a sensation is unpleasant, do you resist it and try to push it away? Or are you able to allow its presence in your body? Are you noticing or ignoring neutral sensations? How are you responding to pleasant sensations?

Lastly, open your awareness to your body’s signals. Can you sense what your body needs right now? As you pay more regular attention to physical sensations, you’ll begin to intuit what would best serve your body at any given time. Perhaps you need a nap or healthy food or movement or rest or something else entirely.

The Benefits of Being in Your Body

Your body is the sole vehicle you have with which to experience life. As you tune in to it and become increasingly embodied, you’ll experience these benefits:

  • Increased relaxation, peace, and ease in the physical realm
  • Greater appreciation of your body and motivation to take good care of it
  • Improved ability to focus and be present in this moment – the only moment you have
  • Improved intuition concerning your physical, emotional, and mental needs
  • Greater insight and wisdom

The body awareness tips discussed in this article lay a good foundation for living in a more embodied fashion, but the practice can be taken much deeper. To further explore mindful embodiment, look for mindfulness classes in your area that emphasize body awareness, such as a Basics of Mindfulness class. As you strengthen your intimate familiarity with your own body, your capacity for self-awareness and growth will deepen exponentially.

May you be IN your body.

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