• 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,  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…

  • being human,  embodiment,  writing

    Optimistic Energy

    Optimistic energy attracts all good things because it believes those things are already on their way. In fact they are. Optimistic energy is a felt sensation in the body as much as it is a mindset (maybe more). Optimistic energy is expansive and contagious. Optimistic energy comes directly from spirit. Optimistic energy must stay present to itself in order to attract more optimistic energy. Optimistic energy sees the good in all. Even the ugly. Optimistic energy is a byproduct of love. Optimistic energy is the opposite of fear. . . . Fear is unbelief. Fear is a belief in lack. Fear is lack, not-enoughness, ego, limitation, reaction, a lack of love. Fear stops us from being our best selves, living our best lives. Fear has a felt sense too. It is different for everyone but there is always constriction in fear. . . . Please reread each section above, perhaps starting with fear then finishing with optimistic energy. Feel the words and the vibration in your body. Reread optimistic energy as many times as you need to and then go in peace, in optimistic energy throughout your day. Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

  • being human,  embodiment,  writing

    An Invitation

    I find myself in a place I know well—a place of seeking less, a place of letting go, a place of learning to simplify. It’s a place I know well because I return to it regularly, mostly because I forget along the way. Life, it seems to me, is a series of forgetting and remembering—even some of our core qualities, the essence of who we are and who we want to be in the world. In my life I’ve had major periods of growth as well as stretches of lifeless living—periods of time where I’ve been completely disconnected from who I am and where I’m going. Life changes all the time but while some of the change is initiated from within, from a knowing place, other times it is unconscious. I’m pretty sure I’m in a period of being fully (mostly) connected to life and spirit which, perhaps, explains why I KNOW where I want to go without knowing with my brain. It is in my body—in my bones and in my breath. And the place I want to go isn’t a place at all; it’s a state of being; it’s an attunement to the aliveness that is already here. But first: Letting go. Surrendering.…