There is a deep yearning in our nature, to return home to the truth of who we are. We yearn to lose the external pomp and circumstance, the pretense we hide behind; and meet the deeper, inner reservoir of our souls. The vessel of our body holds a secret passageway back to ourselves. But these trails are unmarked with the usual road signs we tend to follow. There comes a crossroad, for each of us, a place where we choose between remaining as and reacting from who we “think” we are or as we have always been, and trekking into territory uncharted by conscious understanding. The path of embodiment, being in and of our body, helps us find new avenues into understanding ourselves in truthful and un-before-seen ways. Its first step takes an unshakable courage and tenacity of breathing consciously and asking our bodies for the truth of how we feel and what we are experiencing.
- Feel your feet on the ground.
- Breathe in and out 10 times. With each in-breath, focus on a body part, starting towards the top of your head and progressively moving downwards. Try and breathe into 5 above and 5 below your navel.
- Once you do this, notice your body and see what it is telling you.
- Instead of interpreting what you notice (Oh, so that means….), just let it be there and stay aware of your breathing as much as you can.
If you do this several times a day, you have begun your path to embodiment. To embody ourselves means that we are consciously aware of our physical form and understand that everything we experience is registered in our flesh. Embodiment naturally leads towards valuing our body as a resource. This journey begins with the daily regimen of mindful breathing. As we move into deeper contact with our body, continuing to ask it for guidance and understanding many times a day, our body will start to communicate with us in amazing ways. For instance, I was with a group of friends last night and was feeling resentful and guarded most of the night. Instead of following my thinking (I cannot really trust these people, no one here cares about me, etc.), I just kept following my breath and noticing my body. This morning I awoke free of this resentment, and also discovered some early part of my psyche that was triggered in a familiar way the night before. In meditation and subsequent inquiry, I simply let the fleshy and accepting tissue of my body hold space for this young and tentative part of myself. Soon I noticed that how the open receptivity of my flesh provided an intimacy with this unresolved part of myself so it softened and relaxed my consciousness. My day then progressed with a soft focus where I felt empowered and moved through my work with a grace that made it feel effortless.
Embodiment allows us to create a safe environment for the unresolved experiences from our history to relax and unwind themselves naturally. This in turn starts a process where we slowly soften the veneer we so often hide behind, the layer of defenses we think we need and habitually (and often unconsciously) mobilize in everyday life when we feel reactive, conflicted, threatened, or simply left out. The natural holding of our body can provide a container for inquiry into what’s up in the moment, allowing us to recognize how we are feeling and attune to ourselves with an acceptance of what is. Our mental processing is always trying to problem solve when we feel triggered, so this approach may at first feel counter-intuitive. Try it for several weeks and this embodied approach will lead you through these back roads and help you come to find your deeper presence. This is the greatest gift of Belly Intelligence.