Embodiment refers to the experience of living in, perceiving and experiencing the world from within our bodies.
We live in our bodies, through our bodies, because of our bodies. The body is not just a mind and brain borrowing a flesh and bone suit for the duration of our precious lives. Our understanding of the world, the meaning we attribute to things and our sense of self all come through being a body.
We are embodied beings.
What does it mean to be embodied?
To be embodied is to give a physical or tangible, visible form to something felt, even an idea or quality, like our spirit or a skill. Saying someone is embodied is to say there is a noticeable characteristic there, like a baby being the embodiment of vulnerability or someone is the embodiment of positivity.
Even from within the womb, our bodies are essential to our learning, growth and relationship with others. Throughout our lives in our bodies, the movements and expression of our body communicates much more clearly and truthfully than our words do.
The body directly experiences the world and it is enmeshed in through the senses. It abounds with an understanding we too often ignore, yet the body is more informed than our cognitive brain.
Our bodies experience sensation and awareness all the time, which informs the brain to make meaning in unceasing streams of data. This is far from passive.
Understanding comes from the information sourced from our being in a body. The body influences the mind a great deal; the mind being a part of us that is not, in fact, stuck behind our eyes where we ‘feel’ our thoughts arise. We know intuitively, from feeling, that the mind, soul and body are not separated at all — they never were.
How Being Embodied Impacts Our Lives
Embodiment is understood as the process through which the outside physical and social world becomes embedded in our biology — that is, how daily interactions with our social and physical environments ‘get under our skin’ to affect our physical, psychological and emotional well-being by altering how our body functions.
When we push pleasure to the side, we become disconnected from a fundamental aspect of self.
When we are disembodied, detached and removed from our sensate consciousness (our perceiving something through our senses), we are cut off from our deepest knowing; that deep, intuitive or soul knowing. Being not present in our body cuts us off from our sensual pleasures — as experienced through the 5 senses — and from our relationships with the natural world. Our insight and intuitive understanding of other bodies is dulled. As is our desire.
We are made for pleasure; all kinds of pleasure. From the effect of the soft touch of the breeze on our cheeks to the urge of pleasure from a good belly laugh, to the seemingly infinite pleasures of peak orgasms, our body is wired so that we need pleasure and we seek it. The endogenous brain chemistry — such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin — associated with different pleasure states is vital to our brain and nervous system.
Why We Need to Be Embodied
We need to be embodied to be able to fully explore the relationship between our physical selves and our energy, our pleasure and being able to thrive as ourselves. Being embodied is a psychologically healthy, key element of identity and to be able to thrive in oneself — to have a fullness of self. However, our modern life keeps us from being in our bodies in so many ways, pulling us away from experiencing life being a body.
At our core as modern humans, we long to regain the intimacy with our bodily experience. As humans, we have been conditioned with this concept of the brain and its thoughts as being of primary, or even of sole, importance. We privilege our thoughts and minds, finding an imagined split between body and mind, and position the body as inferior. This has been the dominant way for the past centuries and has damaged our sense and expression of our self, our health, our capacity for self-love, our connection with others and our sheer potential for pleasure in our body and mind.
How does trauma impact our embodiment?
Traumatic experiences, habituated belief patterns, conditionings of our society, the patriarchy, religion, emotional blocks and other inner-wounds we gather in our life experiences show up in our body. Often, in order to cope, we compartmentalise or reject these sensations to the point that parts of us become numb.
For many of us today, disconnecting from our bodies might feel like the only option available to us — a way of feeling safe. We stop moving, we stop looking after ourselves, we stop trying new things, we stop touching ourselves in all of the ways, we fall into habits and we numb ourselves with default activities, sedentary habits, external entraining, repetition, addictions, porn, and so on.
We hardly feel at all because we are afraid we might.
How to Become Embodied
Embodiment practices are the key towards becoming embodied, making the unfelt felt and the unconscious conscious. They bring you back to wholeness, gently, with love and acceptance.
While trauma can make us fall into habits and bad practices, we can do the very opposite by feeling into our body sensations and going within to reveal their unique intelligence. We can inquire into what is true for the wounded parts of ourselves, and perhaps, find other supportive parts or to just bear witness to their story.
In this way, we connect, honour, accept and even transmute these inner wounds as they arise in our body-mind. We find pathways back to the fullness of self.
Embodiment practices are a major focus in my own coaching process, and for good reason.
What are embodiment practices?
An embodiment practice is a method of using the unique sensations of our body as a tool to develop deep awareness, find connection to the energy of our body, the earth and others around us. This helps us to stay present, to self-regulate, feel whole and belonging, find balance, to know, accept and love ourselves, and to be empowered.
Embodiment practices, or other more spontaneous ways of returning to the body and its sensations are the gateway to expanding our pleasure potential. They help us find out what is your personal experience and what is your own answer to ‘what is embodiment’.
The pleasure that can result from listening and paying attention to our bodies in all their fleshy, juicy, radiant, nerve-filling reality. It’s a practice of slowing down in pleasure — all kinds of pleasure — and tuning right into the present moment as it is, allowing whatever to manifest.
That pleasure is extraordinary! It starts with sensual pleasures (pleasures through the senses), which lead to fully-embodied sexual pleasures of a kind we always knew were possible, but didn’t know how.
You can learn more about embodiment by subscribing to my newsletter, or how to utilise embodiment to experience true pleasure and self in my intimacy coaching services.