What is Embodiment and Why Does it Matter?

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Embodiment will mean different things to different people, based on their own experiences of being in a body. Which means we all get to explore what embodiment means for ourselves, honouring our own direct experience of this.

One perspective is that embodiment means inhabiting the body we are in with awareness & presence.

We’re all in bodies, but how connected we feel to our bodies can vary. This impacts how we express through our physicality, how we move, what energy we radiate, how we hold ourselves, how we do or don’t connect with our feelings, other bodies and the space around us.

Bringing an awareness to the whole body has an enlivening effect. This is particularly interesting to watch within a creative context – when we see a performer on stage who we are drawn to because of their ‘stage presence’ – we could say we are drawn to how they are in their being and body.

To bring awareness to the body means cultivating listening to it, nurturing a loving relationship to the body and, through the senses, we can also attune to the subtle energetics of the body, its unseen layers & also a sense of ourselves as so much more than only a body: we sense ourselves as both part of nature and all of life.

Why Practice Embodiment?

Embodiment practices are important as mainstream culture has, over time, grown to value mind over body, logic over instinct & felt sense. This can create a disconnect from the body’s needs and feelings and result in us ‘living from our heads’. The senses are a gateway to presence, it is through sensing what is present that we are in the moment – we are here, with awareness, not lost in thoughts of past or future. This takes practice – especially in a world that is rich in distractions!

We might go one step further and explore how Patriarchal systems are, arguably, rooted in a conditioned distrust and fear of that which is intangible & uncontrollable: the unseen aspects of existence, of being human & of the inexplicable.

We can internalise this conditioning, and so an unconscious dominance and control plays out inside us.

This might result in: suppression of feelings, instincts, sexual energies, creativity & other ’non-logical’ aspects of the soma-psyche. When suppression occurs, these natural aspects of being then ’squirt out sideways’ in distorted behaviours and damaging patterns.

What are the benefits of cultivating greater embodied awareness?

Embodiment practices can help us feel safe in our bodies and more able to express our boundaries and respect others’. This then enriches our relating with others – whether that is in the rehearsal room, in conversation with a colleague or in intimacy with a partner.

Through embodied practices we can learn how to regulate our nervous system (so we can be responsive vs habitually reactive) and expand our capacity to be with, to compassionately presence, uncomfortable feelings. Being with the unknown and the uncomfortable is part of life and also part of the creative process, being fully embodied, awake and aware supports our ability to thrive in life and in art.

Presence is key. We can cultivate this in any movement practice, but often ones where we learn to slow down and sensitise to the body and breath are most useful to begin with. We might do that in a yoga class, somatic movement session, dancing or a meditative practice that invites bringing greater awareness to what we sense through touch.

A maturation comes with the embodiment journey that supports personal & collective integrative wellbeing.

Embodiment is a relaxation into our naturalness as existence. Through presence, we can enjoy being in the body, explore greater expression and move in life and art in more spontaneous, intuitive ways. When we are present, aware and more comfortable in our own skin, we are better able to be receptive and to sensitively connect with others. As humans and as artists, cultivating embodied awareness offers a pathway to flourishing.

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