• being human,  embodiment,  learning

    What Is Embodiment?

    From the dictionary––em·bod·i·ment / əmˈbädēmənt (noun) : a tangible or visible form of an idea, quality, or feeling. “she seemed to be a living embodiment of vitality” … But what does that actually mean? The definition, to me, feels vague, and perhaps will change as more people experience the feeling of being embodied. It is truly not a concept that can be grasped with the mind. It must be experienced. I first became interested in the concept of embodiment when I stumbled upon an advanced yoga teacher training called EmbodiYoga. I enrolled and got a taste for about a year through that lens. The discipline incorporates yoga, somatics, embryology and body-mind centering. It’s an amazing practice that, in many ways, looks nothing like the yoga I taught or the yoga I’ve experienced in the studios I’ve visited. Since my time studying EmbodiYoga, I’ve been introduced to other non-yoga versions of embodiment that I now practice regularly. Embodiment, in it’s simplest definition, is living from a felt-sense of the body. It is direct experience. It includes all parts of the body (the brain too — we are whole, not our ‘parts’) and it seeks to know via the body itself. Writing this feels only a little…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning

    The Living School

    Today, I believe, is a turning point, a pivot toward that which I’ve been called to for a while now. God has been leading me, all along actually, but specifically for the last year, as I’ve had ears to hear and a heart ready to follow. I’ve had much more quietude in which to pray, listen and discern, though I’m still learning the fullness of what that means. I’m also better at not having to know everything, to follow my senses toward what feels right. I became familiar with the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) a few years ago and have immersed myself in study and practice ever since, from books to podcasts to videos to scholarly papers, I’ve been obsessed with learning more about contemplation, the lives of the saints and Christian mysticism. I’ve also been reading about and deepening my understanding of nonduality for over two decades, as it’s a primary concept of yoga philosophy and embodiment. All of my years as a yoga teacher and deep study feels like it is converging into a cohesive story. I have no idea where it will all take me. It feels auspicious and beautiful to live in the mystery. Last July, I began talking…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning

    The Realization Process

    I have been practicing somatic meditation throughout the last few years, though not as regularly as I’d like. Recently, however, I started a regular practice, specifically using Realization Process techniques. As a long time ‘dabbler’ in meditation, bottom-up approaches work far better for me than top-down and I actually feel like I’m making progress. I have been noticing small shifts not only in the practice but throughout my days. At first I wrote, ‘it’s not easy and takes effort’ but a more accurate statement is that ‘it takes effort only insomuch as I give time to it and get out of my own way.’ Today I thought I’d share a scholarly paper on the Realization Process developed by Judith Blackstone. It’s a bit heady but I’ve been studying yoga, meditation and other such topics for a few decades now. The following are excerpts and a link to the paper which briefly describes nondual reality and the process that helps us realize our part in it. “Although nondual realization itself is entirely effortless, entirely without any sort of contrivance, we need to do the focused practice of subtle inward attunement in order to let go from deep within ourselves. But then we are able to really…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning

    Making the World More Embodied

    When is the last time you felt your feet on the floor? Your butt on the seat? The tension in your shoulders? The spaciousness of your head? The quality of your heart? Embodiment, in it’s simplest form, points to these things––a felt sensation of the body. But it’s so much more. I have been immersed in yoga studies for over twenty years now and while I still read yoga texts, I’ve moved much more deeply into the topic of embodiment, a very real outcome of yoga if practiced this way. (Sadly though, some yoga moves us away from our bodies, even into a place of objectifying our bodies instead of owning them, feeling them. I personally am not interested in this yoga.) Embodiment at it’s core is about inhabiting the body and about celebrating the journey of living in a body. There is a lot of research and practice on the subject and it is growing in popularity, but at it’s core, for me, embodiment is about moving from my head/thinking/ego and dropping awareness into felt experience, into the body. I am an every day learner and the things I read, study and listen to are varied. While I’m moving more toward physical books, I…

  • being human,  embodiment,  writing

    Embodied Writing

    How often are you in your head, and can you, instead, reside in your heart or gut, or even your feet? Embodiment, in its simplest sense, is being present and ‘in’ the sensations of the body on a moment-by-moment basis. Another simple definition I recently heard is “living life informed through the sense-experience of the body.” Most of us, unfortunately, are foreign to this idea and we are in our heads quite a lot. We are thinkers and doers and overachievers (me included), but learning to drop into the body actually provides us with more information, more choice, a fuller life, and gives the brain a much needed break. Often we are participating in life but not fully participating. Have you driven somewhere and realized that when you got to your destination, you couldn’t recall the drive? Or been in conversation but didn’t hear what the other person said? Were you thinking about what you’d say next? What about being somewhere and simply wishing you were someplace else? All of these situations point to a disembodied state. Head is primary. Body is someplace else entirely. Practicing mindfulness is one solution; practicing embodiment gives depth and richness to mindfulness. Depression and anxiety are head-space ailments. Though they…

  • being human,  writing

    What You Think of Me is None of My Business

    I woke up this morning with a sense of dread, a feeling I am not unfamiliar with. The ‘dread’ was (is) worry . . . about what others think of me, specifically over the book I just published. It’s a normal human emotion, I think. It’s also worth dismantling. Publishing a book has been on my bucket list for at least the last decade, maybe two, and when I took a course last year on the publishing process, I decided to publish poetry that I wrote during a volatile time. I wrote these poems and called them ‘Love Letters for the Soul’ because that is exactly what they were to me, love letters for MY soul. . . . In them you’ll read about a scared, unsure, deeply sad yet hopeful little girl talking herself out of every bad thing, every negative emotion, every destructive self talk she found herself immersed in. She needed it. She participated in grief counseling, had her akashic record read, worked with a jungian therapist, practiced yoga, meditation and embodiment, drank a little too much, and finally looked deep inside, fully felt the pain and turned to writing to help her heal. . . . Once I published I decided…

  • being human,  reading,  writing

    January Books Read

    As I wrote in a previous post, I have a goal of reading 108 books and/or literary essays this year. Besides the ongoing books I’m reading throughout the year (which were listed in that post), here is a list of books and essays read in January 2021: Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Pray, Decide and Don’t Worry: Bobby & Jackie Angel with Mike Schmitz In the School of the Holy Spirit: Jacques Philippe Praying the Rosary Like Never Before: Edward Sri We Should All Be Feminists: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Stitches: Anne Lamott Intimations: Zadie Smith The Naked Now: Richard Rohr Turn My Mourning Into Dancing: Henri Nouwen Liturgy of the Ordinary: Tish Harrison Warren A Healing Space: Matt Licata Seven Brief Lessons on Physics: Carlo Rovelli On Likability: Lacy M. Johnson Obituary for Dead Languages: Heather Altfeld If you are interested in adding any of the books to your home library, please comment and we’ll connect offline. Every book I read and own is up for grabs, FREE, as part of my service to the world. Some of the books are audio which aren’t part of it, and the essays (the last two in this post) are part…

  • being human,  embodiment,  writing

    The Whispers of My Soul

    Little by little, we are led toward our final destination, and yet words fail. ‘Final destination’ is not a reality for earth. To coin a phrase I recently heard and like a lot, we are ‘always on the way.’ This phrase, for me, means continued growth, an uncovering of my true nature, that of love. The problem here on the earth-plane is that of forgetting, at least that’s been my experience. I have been a writer for the entirety of my adult life and most of my childhood, if I’m being honest. I’ve made my living writing for others, but as I started my yoga journey, I deeply felt the need to write for myself. I started a (different) blog back then and wrote thousands of words for myself and others. These were words from my heart, passion for new things I was learning and a way to connect with those like-minded. Since that time, I’ve had a few other iterations of this blog and I believe this one is here to stay. The topic is pretty broad—humanity—but the subject often comes from that which I’m experiencing on any given day. Today I am feeling both joy and terror, a mix of emotions I am…

  • being human,  embodiment,  reading,  writing

    2021 Reading Goal

    Yesterday I wrote about my goals for 2021 and one of my biggest ones is to read more books. Specifically, my goal is to read 108 books. I have set this goal for myself every year—reading more, not 108–this is the most ever. With my intention to lessen social media (and a pretty good follow through so far), I am making excellent progress. Everyday reading is becoming a habit. I have read ten books in full so far and I have five that I’ll be reading throughout 2021. Each month I plan to list the books I’ve read. Below are the year-long books on my shelf: The Book of Awakening: Mark Nepo Do Something Beautiful for God: thoughts from Mother Teresa Radiance Sutras: Lorin Roche The Cloud of Unknowing: Unknown A Calendar of Wisdom: Leo Tolstoy I will list the other ten (and any others I read by January 31st) at the end of the month. So far, these are all books I own, either in print or digitally. I just sold a huge box of books to the Paperback Exchange in Lancaster and I plan to start buying second hand or borrowing from the library. I have five other boxes in my basement I…

  • being human,  embodiment,  reading,  writing

    Goals for a New Year

    For many years now I have set personal and professional goals at the beginning of each year. I did so again this year but they look much different from years’ past. I have ALWAYS had something to prove, the result of a not-enoughness mindset. Thankfully much of my life’s inner work has been about seeing/understanding not-enoughness, the insideous ways it shows itself, and dismantling its ugly manifestations. I never would have had the courage to publish Love Letters for the Soul without doing so. I don’t have to be the best at anything. I only have to be myself. So while I still think it’s important to set goals and work toward them, my stance has softened. To me, life has shifted from acheiving goals at some far-off date to paying greater attention to how I’m living today. My goals for this year are much more internal than external (well, except for a few … ) They may shift over time and that’s okay. As of today, here is my short list: Everyday presence, being fully connected to life, embodying it Everyday movement Spending time outside most days, even when it’s colder than I’d like Respecting and living within the seasons—of the year and my…