The phrase being in your body, or being “embodied” is often used but what does it actually mean and how can it help in your life?
Well, in a nutshell it means having attention or interest in your body experiences. The only reason we even talk about “being in your body” is that for most of us most of the time, we are involved in the activities of our mind. We are thinking about stuff. It is only when we trip over (as I did last week when I was running and got too involved in my thoughts to notice a tree root on the path) that we notice the body again. Then I was pretty interested in the sensations in my knee and hip and the emotions in my chest.
As discussed in an earlier blog, mindfulness is an active process of returning our attention from the mind to the body. Of course, if you even sit for a minute and bring the attention to the body you will notice how quickly mental activity arises, and how dominant it can be.
There are other ways of “being in your body”, or bringing the attention back to the body; any kind of physical activity is pretty effective. In sport and exercise we need to take notice of the body and work closely with it. And many people love exercise for this reason. However, when you stop running, or finish your game of squash most likely mental activity becomes dominant again.
For this reason, many people explore other practices which actively work to bring attention from the mind to the body. For example, I study yoga in Devon with Bill Wood, and my friend Brad Richecoeur teaches Qi Gong.
But whats the point of being in your body? Why not try it for yourself right now, as you sit at your computer reading this. Simply feel where your body contacts the chair you are sitting on. Notice your breathing also. You don,t need to do anything else. Try this for 30 seconds.
Whats it like? Well my experience is that there is less thinking and I notice more feeling. This for me is what is so touching about being in the body. You feel whats going on. Its not necessarily easy to rest there, but the more your give it attention, the more you are able to listen to what it has to say.
I my coaching process, I ask clients to work with what is happening in their bodies, to help them connect to feelings and insights they might not be consciously aware of. This also relates to blocks and difficulties which are are also experienced in different parts of the body. By being supported to connect to the physical experience of a “problem” we can can relate to it in a new way which opens up a wisdom which is beyond our mind.
In my next post, I will give some suggestions about how to apply this to your life.