What we need to know
Being embodied is more than just noticing how good a body can feel.
It is a way of being in active, reciprocal relationship. Reciprocal relationship with ourselves, with others, and with the world around us. A reciprocal relationship is one of mutual support and mutual change. We support and are supported. We change and are changed.
This means as we shift the way we are in the body and the way we move in our bodies, we are also responsible for shifting the ways we move in the world. It means we are responsible to create social change not for the glitz or the glory, and not because it feels good (because it doesn’t always feel good), but because we are in a world that needs us.
Embodiment means next to nothing if it’s only about how good we feel.
And what do these words “embodied” or “embodiment” even mean, really? We have bodies. We’re embodied by default.
Embodiment is a practice of returning to the comfort and support of these physical bodies that is our birthright.
A practice of embodiment must go beyond the physical sensations of being in a body and nurture an understanding of the world we inhabit, the world we participate in creating.
A practice of embodiment must be an exploration of the inner world, but it must include an exploration and deep understanding of the outer world.
It is a practice of remembering:
We are never separate from the world.
The thing about being embodied is if it were simple, if I could say to you, “just be in your body” and with a burst of glitter and sparkles now you were comfortable in your body — that would be great, but we wouldn’t be where we are now: on the precipice if not already tumulting over the edge of catastrophic change created by human greed and control. Because here is something we cannot forget: capitalism, colonialism, fascism, and all systems of social control require isolation and fear. They require we are isolated from and in fear of the natural world and from others, and so we bulldoze and pave and manipulate and control. And this grows out of and feeds into an essential isolation with our own bodies, with the literal breathing blood and bones of us.
If all we needed to do to undo white supremacy and all other oppressive systems is “just be in our body” I think we would have figured this out by now.
This isolation and fear runs deep. The belief in hierarchy and binaries and the resulting behaviors of control and manipulation run deep. Unlearning these belief structures requires unlearning survival tactics that run through generations. It’s not as simple as just taking a few deep breaths, although taking a few deep breaths is a way to start. But beyond that beginning, what is required is learning the greater context of where we are — of how this culture has grown up around fear and control. Once we learn the greater context of domination and isolation, then we can recognize how that is mirrored and perpetuated in our all of our relationships.
Once we understand the greater cultural complexity of the world as it is, then we can take individual responsibility for ourselves as we are, and who we wish to become.
The root of that individual responsibility can be found in the pit of the belly and the marrow of the bones. It’s in the way the earth is holding us. It’s in the deep space at the bottom of the breath. This is where I find the support and space needed to take responsibility for my life.