A practice that I have recently been doubling down on is something that I like to call embodiment.
To me, that means living in the body. Maintaining awareness of your physical feelings.
Try it right now. Close your eyes and feel yourself. You can scan through your body. Feel your face, your chest, your belly breathing, your hands, arms, shoulders, back, legs, feet. You can feel your whole body at the same time too.
This is the essence of Vipassana meditation. Body scans. Top to bottom, scan through each part of your body and FEEL what’s going on there. You can also practice maintaining whole body awareness. Instead of focusing on one specific part, you can feel your whole body all at once.
It’s a practice that I’ve had for many years now. It’s created a beautiful connection with my feelings, along with a whole bunch of other articles such as pain brings us to the present moment, awareness is painful, and energetic empathy as well.
Lately though I’ve been trying to apply this in every area of my life. Trying to remain anchored to the body and how I feel throughout the day in a variety of different situations.
It originally started on my phone calls. I started to practice what I now call “embodied listening”. As people would talk to me, I would, more or less, listen with my body. I started to remain anchored into my body while people talked to me.
Its been very powerful. I feel that I have a whole new level of energetic empathy. I can feel emotional tangents. Single words that carry larger intentions with them. I can really understand the emotion and energy that someone brings to the table.
It’s helped to create incredible connections on the phone with people. It’s a deeply enriching and fulfilling process to energetically connect with someone on that level.
More importantly though, this technique has helped me understand how people’s words and emotions take a toll on ME. How there are physical sensations that correlate to what they are telling me and how it makes me feel.
This has helped me to create a healthy sense of emotional connection, but also equally a sense of emotional detachment. I don’t get swept up into the energy of the other person. I remain grounded in my own energy. I’m less emotionally reactive. I can both simultaneously feel their energy but remain grounded in my own.
It’s often easy to get swept up into the energy of the person we are speaking with. If they are excited, it gets me excited. If they are depressed, it can get me depressed. If they are talking a million miles an hour, it’s easy for me to feel that and get wrapped up into it and try to meet their speed.
It made me realise that I was absorbing the energy of everyone I spoke to throughout the day. Matching their energy and experiencing their emotions and taking along some of the baggage that comes with that.
Embodied listening has helped me to maintain awareness of what I am feeling and processing instead of being blind to it, which I believe helps me to now process it more effectively. I don’t get swept up and thus maintain my own energy while still feeling the energy of the other person and what they want to convey.
I use this as an example because I also realize that these feelings and energy are something we’re constantly processing and feeling throughout the day. That it’s very easy to be a floating head, to lose the connection to the body, and in doing that not be fully aware and present to everything that you are actually feeling.
Here’s another example – you can try embodied reading right now as you read this article. How do you physically feel? Are there certain parts of your body that are tight, painful? Feeling relaxed or tense? Can you feel you’re heartbeat? Anchor into those feelings.
Another example I’ve been using is embodied walking. Try to maintain awareness of your physical sensations as you walk somewhere. Your feet connecting with the floor. The stretch in your hips. The position of your shoulders. Get into the body as you walk. Listen to the body, converse with it.
We can also stay in the body in the more mundane activities like eating, driving, reading, listening to music, cleaning, cooking, you name it! It adds a whole new layer to life! An awareness you never previously perceived. A door that opens that can never be shut once again.
I like to look at it like Vipassana in action all day long. Maintaining a constant anchor to the physical body. Staying in the body and out of the head.
And that’s the best part about embodiment – Staying in the body gets you out of the head. You leave the normal realm of thinking and enter into the world of feeling. It’s a great way to stop an overactive mind.
It’s why exercise is so effective at calming down the mind. You get into the body. When you lift weights, stretch, run, play a sport, you get into your body and out of your mind. This helps us to create some space for ourselves mentally.
Neuroscientifically this is called “transient hypofrontality” – the temporary down regulation of the part of your brain that controls the inner dialogue and sense of time. You could also call it “embodied cognition” – think of it as your movements occupying the mind instead of traditional “thoughts”.
This means that staying in the body calms down the inner voice. Knocks it offline. Your “thoughts” become feelings instead. You stay anchored into the feelings.
Embodiment is important because teaches us about feelings and emotions we probably weren’t perceiving. It creates an awareness, an ability to be more mindful of how we feel and the emotions we carry around with us throughout the day.
Try it for yourself. After you close this article and go back to the day, try to maintain an awareness of your physical body and feelings as you move throughout the day. See how many times you forget and how many times you need to re-anchor yourself. See if there’s any feelings or emotions that pop up you never felt before!
And most importantly, have fun 🙂 Feel yourself without an x-pill a la Jay’Z 😉