Recently, I ran a Masterclass on Embodiment, and during the class, I shared a few different embodiment exercises, so I thought I’d share two of them with you here. Embodiment is such an important practice for self love and inner-healing.
You can find the Embodiment Meditation and the Embodiment Exercise below, but first, I ask that you read through this blog post, so that you can learn about and understand what Embodiment is, and why it’s beneficial for healing the body.
What is Embodiment?
Embodiment is a conscious practice that helps us to drop out of our busy minds and connect with our physical body to become more aware of our needs. I like to think of it as a path to presence.
Creating space to explore how we exist in this world and in our bodies can allow us to stop identifying with external influences, so that we can fully tap into the present moment and our authenticity.
As humans, we have become so disconnected from ourselves and the ancient wisdom of our bodies and our intuition. The majority of our society no longer understand the cues and messages that their body is communicating with them.
We have so many distractions, especially since smart phones and social media came into existence. Embodiment is about disconnecting from those distractions regularly and reconnecting with the body, so that we can listen to its sensations, and be able to fully tune in to where we are out of balance within.
An embodiment practice is a method of using the unique sensations of our body as a tool to develop awareness, stay present, self-regulate, feel whole, find balance, feel connected, know ourself, love ourself and be empowered.
Babies are a really good example of practicing embodiment. They don’t have any distractions. They listen to the cues of their body and then communicate their needs based on those cues.
Yet as we grow older, we completely lose this connection. We are not taught about the importance of having a deep connection to oneself when we’re younger, unless of course, we had very conscious parents. If you didn’t have conscious parents, you probably never had your parents ask you, “What are you sensing in your body right now?”. Instead most of us were conditioned to behave in certain ways:
- Be a good girl
- Do what you’re told
- Put the needs others ahead of your own
- Shrink yourself to make others feel comfortable
- Don’t trust your intuition
- Be less this or that or everything
For many of us, these rules and conditions didn’t feel right within our body, so rather than being authentic, our bodies learned to adjust and adapt to our conditions.
Most people ignore their gut feelings, go against their body’s signals, and then feel agitated and out of balance because they’re not listening to those gut feelings.
Embodiment brings us away from this conditioning and helps us to tap into the sensory experience of living in our bodies. It allows the body to communicate when something, or someone is good for us or not good for us – like when the intuition responds in different ways with different people – that sensation that your body receives when you get an intuitive uneasy feeling about someone but you can’t quite put your finger on why – a lot of people have lost that connection or just completely ignore it.
When we disconnect from our body, or ignore the body’s cues, we lose the connection to all of the information that is available to us from within the body. All of the fear that we experience, insecurities and self doubts are often because we have disconnected from ourselves and because of that, we no longer trust our ourselves or our intuition.
What Does Embodiment Feel Like?
Picture being embodied as you being your authentic self.
Who are you?
Who are you away from the masks and titles that you wear to fit into society? Take away your job title, your titles of mom, wife, sister, daughter… whatever titles you proudly wear as a badge of honour. Strip away all of that and you’ll find the person that you are when no one else is around and you have no distractions. Who is that person? Who is your soul?
Embodiment feels like that inner-knowing. It is the consciousness within you that doesn’t need to be validated in order for you to be real.
Learning to be embodied by doing embodiment practices daily has really helped me to improve my health, make positive shifts in my business where I wasn’t aligned with my purpose, and it has really improved the way that I choose to communicate with and move my body. For a long time, I was operating from my wounds. I was ignoring my inner voice and was living to please everyone else but me. The stress from ignoring my inner needs caused some major health symptoms for me – yet for quite awhile, I completely ignored those symptoms and pretended that they weren’t there because I was resisting having to stand up for myself. I was not living in alignment and my body was screaming at me to pay attention, but I was so busy and so focused on making others happy that I didn’t even recognize what my body was communicating to me, until it got to a point where my body physically stopped me from being able to continue going.
The energetic quality of embodiment should feel very calm and resilient. It allows you to be present and grounded. If you’re not feeling these, you’re not embodied.
How Does Embodiment Help the Body?
As we tune into the body and its sensations and become more present and conscious, we become more aware of the way we are thinking, acting and moving. We begin to clearly see how all of these actions and reactions might are causing so much unnecessary pain for us or are just simply not serving us well at all.
Embodiment involves listening to sensations of the body without judgment or analysis, allowing us an opportunity to discover easier, healthier or more comfortable alternatives to our current circumstances.
Pay attention to the sensations in your body after you eat a particular food.
- How does your body feel after eating it?
- Did it provide you with energy, or do you feel tired and lethargic?
- Does your body feel light or heavy?
- Is your stomach bloated or content?
Most people eat and then immediately busy themselves after eating so they completely miss the signs and signals from the body of a food that might not be ideal for their particular body – or if they do feel them, like bloating for example, they aren’t making the connection.
Paying attention to the sensations in your body while doing something that you know you shouldn’t.
For this example, let’s look at stealing something:
- Do you feel anxiety in your body? If so, what do those feelings feel like physically? What does anxiety FEEL like?
- Is your heart beating faster?
- Are you sweating?
- Can you feel any physical tension in the body as you run away?
Your body physically communicates with you when you’re doing something that you shouldn’t. When we live with good intentions, our body doesn’t have to go through these sensations and we can be much healthier because of it.
Going back to what I said above, we can use these same physical feelings to judge the situations we are in and people that we are with. We can usually feel it in our physical body when we are with someone that isn’t good for us. You get that warning sign where you think, “I don’t know what it was about that person, but there was just something about him or her that didn’t feel right”.
We can use embodiment to tune into the body and listen its sensations to help guide us and make better choices in our lives. When we do this, we can feel a lot happier and more content with our choices and actions.
How Can Embodiment Help Us with Emotions and Trauma?
What we ignore emotionally will surface physically.
It has been proven that unprocessed emotions and trauma are stored in the physical body and when repressed for long periods of time, will surface as chronic pain or chronic health issues and symptoms.
I highly recommend these books:
- When the Body Says No by Gabor Mate
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- The Great Pain Deception by Steven Ray Ozanich
All of these books are written by skilled professionals who have connected their own or their patients physical ailments, diseases and illnesses with emotional trauma and/or repression. Pain where there was no injury, skin breakouts like acne and dermatitis, and even chronic disease like Multiple Sclerosis. These doctors have been able to prove this connection, yet the medical industry criticizes these doctors because they don’t support the profit that the pharmaceutical industry is hungry for.
When it comes to emotions and trauma, the body might also learn to only experience certain sensations, and repress some sensation in order to protect you from further pain. Embodiment can increase our capacity to be more sensitive and grounded, so that we can heal ourselves from our past experiences in a safe and gentle way.
People in our society get attached to coping mechanisms – like alcohol, pharmaceuticals, or even just scrolling through social media to avoid their feelings. These attachments and coping mechanisms inhibit access to the root cause of our suffering.
Choosing to be present and creating a safe space for yourself can actually provoke the physical body to begin processing trauma without necessarily needing to talk about it. We are energetic beings – our emotions are literally energy in motion moving through the body. Unprocessed emotions or energy will sit in the body until the body feels safe enough to bring them to surface, and then once that happens, it’s essential that we physically move them out of the body. This is why daily movement is so important. We need to move our emotions that no longer serve us out of the body or they will cause health issues. Anytime we have any sort of sensation in the body, we need to immediately focus on that and begin the inquiry to find out where those symptoms are coming from and why.
Embodiment practices, like meditation, allow us to sit still and allow some of that emotional intensity to process out of the nervous system. When we can do this, and create conscious awareness without the defence of fear, the trauma or intense emotions will eventually fall away. The body starts to become more present, and the influence of trauma can be released without threat, and instead honour it with presence and compassion.
Stress and anxiety usually are the result of a lack of presence or not being aligned with your values, integrity and authenticity. When we spend too much time in our heads worrying about the past or the future, this creates dis-ease in the body. When we become embodied and grounded, we’re able to focus on the present moment and do practices that allow our body and nervous system to feel safe so we’re not living in the past and the future.
Forms of Embodiment
How we breathe gives us a good indication of the state of the body and nervous system. If we are continuously breathing into the chest, our body, without us even being consciously aware of it, is in fight or flight mode. When in this state:
- digestive and liver enzymes production decrease, resulting in digestive issues and detoxification issues,
- the lymphatic system becomes compromised,
- blood pressure rises,
- heart rate increases,
- the immune system weakens, and
- the body literally starts to breakdown
When we breathe into the belly, or the diaphragm, we stimulate the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is our “rest and digest” or “heal and regenerate” part of the nervous system. When we can activate the parasympathetic nervous system regularly, we become more content and reslient to the external world around us.
Learning to breath intentionally can be great for embodiment, as well as active breathwork sessions for becoming very conscious and mindful of releasing processing stuck emotions.
Meditations, like the one below are a great way to sit still, in silence and really tune into the sensations of the body.
There are so many different forms of movement so when we talk about movement in terms of embodiment, we’re not talking about a weight training workout at the gym. They’re great too, but they have their own time and place.
Embodiment movement involves conscious intuitive movement. It is a flowing intuitive type dance or tribal dance that connects you to areas within your body that are holding onto something (energy), and giving that area permission to release. This is also really great for our feminine energy.
To learn how to do this, see the “Embodiment Practice #2” below.
By sound, I don’t mean music. I’m talking about the sounds that we make ourselves. Sound is as important as movement and breath. Intentional sounds like singing and humming, which activate our vagus nerve (connected to our parasympathetic nervous system). Sighing, moans, groans and yawns which all move energy out of the body and provide the body with renewed energy and oxygen.
Remember that we are energetic beings. When our energy is flowing well, we feel happy and content, but when it’s not flowing well, we become imbalanced, stressed and symptomatic.
In my breathwork sessions, I often have everyone make a few noises (sighs and belly laughs) throughout the session to help with this release.
While all of the other suggestions here encourage us to connect with ourselves, the connection to another human begins, who willingly give us they undivided attention is just as important. As humans, we need to be acknowledged, accepted and felt by others – people who make you feel important and loved. I’m talking both physical (hugs and intimacy) and emotional (nurtured and heard) connection here.
This is one of the may reasons that I created Her Soul Intention Membership Community. Women heal best in tribes. Our ancestors all used to get into groups just like we are together now to heal together, support each other and help one another grow emotionally and spiritually.
There are other forms of embodiment other than these, but these are a good starting place!
Embodiment Practice One: Guided Embodiment Mediation
This is a Guided Embodiment Meditation that I created to help you drop out of your busy mind and reconnect with your body.
Embodiment Practice Two: Intuitive Movement
The second embodiment practice is intuitive movement.
What is Intuitive Movement?
It involves closing your eyes and moving your body in a way that feels good, without focusing on what you look like. It’s all about movement that feels good, not forced.
The best way to do it is to put on your favourite song or playlist (I created this playlist), close your eyes, and move your body to the music in a way that feels good to you. In this style dance, we do not care what we look like. The purpose of this dance is not to be beautiful or choreographed. The purpose is to intuitively flow and connect to your body. As you move, feel into your body. Where are you stiff, tight or holding tension? Bring your awareness to those areas, move in ways to try to release these sensations, and then give your body permission to release them!
Turn the music and have fun!
I hope that you enjoyed this blog post, learned something new about embodiment, and will use these two practices daily to reconnect with your body.