What it is and why you need to practice it
Embodiment seems to be the new buzzword. And yet, whenever I tell people I am an Embodiment Coach, more often than not, I get blank looks back. Ah, so you are a personal trainer? No, not really. Ah, so you help people to…feel more? Yes, that’s more like it.
What the heck is Embodiment? And how do you coach people in it? And why would you care?
This article will hopefully answer some of these questions.
I think, that maybe embodiment seems to be so elusive because it’s too simple and therefore easy to miss. Yes, exactly the way you miss the forest for all the trees. Well done.
Embodiment simply means to be at home in oneself.
It also means to feel connected.
It means to feel and be aware of one’s feelings.
It means to have a choice about how you want to feel and where to direct your energy.
Above all, embodiment means practice.
But nothing better than a contrast to bring home a point.
When do we feel not embodied or disconnected?
Sitting in front of a computer for hours and forgetting to eat and pee. Walking down the street with your head in the phone not aware of anything around you. Doing things that are hurting you without noticing or caring (yes, that includes all kinds of addictions). Being stressed and short of breath. Being completely caught up in the stories and drama in your head. Feeling overwhelmed. Feeling lonely and separate. Feeling anxious. Feeling restless and unable to enjoy stillness. Indulging in negative thoughts and self-talk. Projecting your anger and hate out onto others. Being judgmental. Being cynical. Being unable to share intimacy with others. Not believing in the goodness of life.
The list can go on. But I think the point is made. Most of everything that we struggle with individually and as a species has to do with being ‘disembodied’, being disconnected from the soft animal of our body. Feeling separate where separation is not.
What does every human on this planet have in common?
We all have a body. It is our very common ground. It is what makes us literally one. Beyond religions, beliefs, concepts, and theories, the body speaks the same language everywhere.
It needs to eat, sleep, fuck and shit.
I know, that doesn’t sound so romantic. But I’m saying it this way for a purpose. The purpose is, of course, to bring us down to earth. Everyone needs to shit. No matter how special and different we think we are. No matter how evolved and spiritual we think we are, we all have to die and let go of the body, too.
The body is also our greatest ally in these times of mass-confusion, digital consumerism, and isolation. Simple in its needs it doesn’t lie (when you care to listen deeply enough). It operates beyond the grey zone of the mind trying to grasp and to under-stand. But it is not as simple as just doing whatever the fuck one feels like. (I really needed to express my anger and therefore I hit her!)
It’s like learning to play the guitar. Everyone can make a sound, yet that doesn’t mean that the sound will be of any value to the whole (unless farting is also). It takes much more practice to become fluent and go deeper in the language of the body. And to use it for beauty and the higher good.
Here are some skills you will need to master if you want to stop being dis-embodied and plug into the matrix of connection instead.
Centering as a skill for self-regulation
Find your center. Become present. Go into the eye of the storm. Be grounded.
This is a life skill that should be taught to us at school. It’s what keeps us sane when everything around us starts going crazy. And we know that it does, often. To keep your cool in the midst of chaos is a sign of strength, self-possession, and maturity. It’s the safe haven inside of us that helps us to see clearly. It’s where true confidence comes from. And it’s the opposite of hysterical and collapsing.
Think of the guy on stage that feels so attractive and magnetic! People feel that way when they are connected to their core, their center. They are present.
You can practice it every moment of every day. While driving. While talking to someone. While sitting in front of the computer. It’s not to learn something complicated, it’s to become conscious of what is around and within you always.
Feel your feet, relax your belly and breathe. Allow your attention to drop down from the head to your centre, three finger widths down from your belly button. Relax. Breathe. Open. Till you feel yourself in stillness. From here notice what naturally wants to arise. Be curious.
Track your experience
Ever wake up the wrong side of the bed and all of a sudden nothing is right anymore? You walk through the day and everything rubs you the wrong way, almost like everyone seems to be out to get you?
I’m sure this scenario happened to all of us in some version or another. My experience is that those days happen when I’m out of my center. When I fail to ‘track’ where I am at, I give away my choice of how I want to respond to life and things go out of control.
So this is what I do. It’s simple but not to be underestimated.
First of all, I notice, something is off. I’m not feeling at ease. So I take a moment to center myself and that can be just as simple as taking a deep breath, letting out a sigh of relief and turning my attention to my body. I allow myself to stop and check-in with myself.
How am I feeling? I sit with that inquiry without forcing an answer. There are surface emotions and deeper themes that are running constantly through us. So rather than thinking, I know exactly what’s moving through, I give myself space to be surprised.
On the surface, I may feel annoyed and impatient. And when I stay with that I might discover that I feel worried. I might feel worried not to get what I want. And that makes me push harder, hence the impatience and frustration.
The next thing I ask myself is what do I want and need? I might want to write a good article before the deadline is over. But I might need to remember that it’s all good, that I am loved no matter what. I might need to feel supported and I might need to be able to share my feelings with someone.
In my experience, just acknowledging my feelings and needs is enough to help me change state and redirect me to a more effective way of being. That way what would potentially have turned into a bad day has the chance to reveal its golden nugget of insight and deeper understanding.
Movement is key
Change your mind is easy to say, but how the hell do you do it? Change your posture, breathe deeply, relax your shoulders is much easier to do. And it will change your mind.
As you are learning to track and center yourself you will learn that your body reflects your state. If you are feeling frustrated and impatient, you are doing those feelings in your body. The question is how? Maybe there is tension in the shoulders, maybe tightness in the jaw, maybe a shallow breath.
If you want to use the intelligence of your body to connect back in with yourself and others, you will have to practice your freedom to move. Differently. And this goes beyond simple exercise and sport. Which is great, but it won’t necessarily touch and change your feeling state.
If I feel stuck in a rut, i.e. I’m carrying a feeling with me that I don’t like, I literally stand up and shake it off, the way a dog would shake off water. I make sounds and big, unexpected movements. Movements that break up my pattern of feeling. The movement naturally increases and deepens my breath. Already it’s changing my brain chemistry and giving me a new perspective on my situation.
A quick note on resistance
The more you are practiced in one way of being including the posture, movement, feeling and thinking the harder it is to do something different. Doing something different and new takes us into the territory of the unknown and therefore makes us vulnerable. It’s natural not to want to go there. Therefore make it easier for yourself by choosing ways of movement that are fun for you.
For me, it’s dancing. Ecstatic dance is a great way to allow the animal of my body to shake itself free from all conditioning and expand its range of feeling and perceiving. It might be something else for you but it’s important you find it, as it will continue to be your daily red pill, taking you out of the suffocating conditioning of your mind.
There is no one definition of embodiment. Everyone has access to it through their direct experience. It’s not what you read about it. It’s what you feel when you are connected. And I’m sure as hell you know what that feels like, otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this.
We all have this blueprint of joy, ease and connection encoded somewhere deep in our bones. It’s not that I know better than you. It’s maybe just that I’ve reached my pain limit earlier and now I can point out what it is that hurts. You know I’m right because you feel it hurting too. So it’s time to attend to the pain. And we can only do that together because what we are facing is not an individual ‘problem’. It’s systemic. But that’s for another article.
The above list is just a very simple start. There is much more to be shared and I will continue to do so here. If you want to stay connected, great. Be part of my tribe!
Kasia Patzelt is an artist and works also as an Embodiment Coach, helping individuals to let go of trauma and co-create an authentic human reality. She lives with her cat Miss Smokey in Ibiza, Spain, where she also organizes one-on-one retreats.