When it comes to connecting to our bodies, there is an epidemic among women. We simply don’t trust ourselves to know what we need. All too often we hand our power over to experts, teachers, influencers, believing and trusting anyone but ourselves.
However there comes a time in your life when you realise you no longer need outside teachers or validation. You can be your own expert. Everything that you need to be in a healthy positive relationship with your own body is within you.
There is an old saying that the teacher appears when the student is ready. When you are ready your body will start to tell you exactly how it wants to move. The body becomes the guru.
For this to happen, a sense of embodiment must be established. Embodiment is a felt sense of the body. We are sensory beings, and we experience ourselves and the world through our body. All of the senses (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell) come through the body. When we are not fully present, either as a result of trauma or because we are rushing through life – we may just go through the motions. During these times of disconnection, it is possible to eat and not taste, to listen without hearing, to look without seeing, to touch without feeling and to breath without noticing smells.
When we live in our bodies without a sense of embodiment it greatly impacts our ability to be present, to have self- awareness, take care of our bodies and to maintain healthy boundaries. When we are disconnected, we cannot practice kindness and compassion to our body.
The degree to which we are embodied relies on Interoception – this is the ability to feel the sensations within the body and the emotions. A sense of knowing how you feel (self-awareness) and responding appropriately. Think for a moment about your own life; Do you slow down when you need to? Do you sleep when you are tired? Do you give rest and time for digestion? Do you listen to the signals like thirst, hunger or elimination or do you ignore them and hold things in. We are asking many things of our body on a daily basis but how often are we paying attention to the body, noticing sensations, signals, feelings and then responding in the way the body needs. Overtime if we bypass the signals, we damage the connection further and cause chronic health problems such as stress incontinence, weak bladder control, fatigue, disturbed sleep, digestion problems. The work of embodiment is taking us right back to basics to something we may have lost - taking baby steps to sensing and feeling our bodies. It is a chance to befriend the body and be in relationship with the vessel that carries us through life.
The body speaks to us through sensations. Our emotions manifest as physical sensations like butterflies our tummies, tension in our neck, a tight chest, shallow breath. Our sense of embodiment will determine whether we can recognise the sensations in the body, how well we listen and respond. When we have a strong sense of embodiment we understand what the body is communicating and feel grounded and centred. In this state, we can cultivate a strong sense of connection to our gut instinct and trust our intuition. All of this leads to better decision making, clear and healthy boundaries and balance in our lives. It shapes our potential to be a positive force for good in the world.
We can think of the body as a beautiful garden of parts that are connected together to form an amazing eco-system. Each part is playing a role to maintain balance and harmony in the entire eco-system. To take care of the body involves small right actions or small changes in our lifestyle. This does not have to be overwhelming, you can get help and support to develop your connection and relationship with your body. But in the first instance slowing down will help! Slowing down to notice your relationship with your body. Noticing how you mentally talk to your body? What language do you use? Do you hold your body in positive regard? Our relationship to our body may be inherited from our parents or ancestors and if we don’t break the cycle, we may unknowingly pass damaging patterns to our children.
A movement practice can be a starting point to connecting to your body. Mindful movement like dance, yoga, tai chi and Qi Gong can offer a structure for you to begin to relate your body in the present moment, encourage interoception and get to know yourself better. Once a foundation has been created you may be ready to let go of guided classes and trust in your intuitive movement. Letting go of the hand of a teacher, the rigid boundaries of lineages or traditions and trusting the wisdom of the body to guide you to move in a way that feels useful. This will arise when you feel safe and very embodied. It requires that the ego steps out of the way so that the intelligence of the body can lead the movements. When you surrender to inner wisdom the body moves you in a creative, playful dance. You are no longer wondering what the movement looks like, what it means or what it is doing to the muscles? All analysis is released.
This practice is a deeply personal and sensual dance with your body, not relying on experts or teachers instead trusting your inner guide. A chance to let go of inhibitions as you feel safe in the wisdom of source energy. The focus and awareness is on how the movement feels rather than how it looks (internal experience v’s external appearance). You are moving with conscious awareness and attention. Intuitive movement can be a very simple process leading to long lasting transformation. As the body moves, energy is circulated and there is a safe release. This process offers great spaciousness and freedom. Once you feel liberty in your body anything is possible. Infinite energy or source is expressing itself through you, intuitively healing and shifting consciousness through this sacred dance.
We each have this amazing subtle but profound potential; however we inhibit ourselves because of self-criticism, shame, guilt, lack of self-worth, embarrassment, fear and worry about what others will think. This is a chance to not take yourself too seriously. You can laugh at yourself and take pleasure in the movement. The movement will reach a climax and then it will end. There is no expectation or goal. The body will know when it has moved enough. Just let it be. All you need to begin is belief in the energy working through your body and trust in your Self.