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 less vague than the definition cited above. Embodiment simply must be experienced to understand it, and even then it is elusive.
The ‘peeling the onion’ metaphor describes the process of embodiment well. As we practice, layers of ourselves are revealed over time. We get glimpses of our true selves, not the self we’ve imagined for ourselves. It shows us our blind spots, tendencies and our essence as humans.
My practice and the way I work with people is to help them gain contact with their bodies, and it’s not just about having an awareness of the body, instead it is learning to inhabit the body. Just like yoga it’s a practice.
And also like yoga, the practice changes us over time. For me, I’ve noticed deeper shifts away from conditioned thinking toward a direct perception of people and situations. It’s made me more present, loving and open.
I used to practice mindfulness and I still think it’s useful but embodiment gives mindfulness an entirely new dimension. I feel so blessed to share this dimension and perspective with others. I call myself an embodiment educator but I’m really just a guide, leading you back to yourself, at a level you probably didn’t know existed. Want to learn more? Email me at heather (at) the studio sage (all together) dot com. I’m available for private sessions via zoom and phone, and check out the embodiment studio page here for more information and links to additional resources.