Have you ever felt unsafe or not at home in your own body?
I have. I know my team have.
The first time we meet our clients it is so common to hear how “disconnected from”, or “distrustful of”, their bodies and heart they are.
In this moment of listening, we are so keenly aware that there has been some form of either conscious or unconscious trauma that has caused a rift in their naturally present mind-heart-body connection.
What is trauma? Trauma is a multi-layered individualised phenomenon dependant upon age, perspective, innate sensitivity, unique life experiences and what type of support is, or was, available.
A fundamental aspect of trauma is if some overwhelming form of wound, shock or injurious experience occurred, our brain naturally develops an unconscious memory and conviction that our life was threatened, and is still at risk any time another circumstance arises that reminds our brain of that initial trauma. This ongoing activation is part of our survival system, our innate “flight or fight” or stress response that literally alters our biological and psychological realities. It can be activated by external (from other people and the world in which we live) or internal (emotions, thoughts, our inner world) and is designed to keep on us edge, alert, hyper-responsive - it is a survival mechanism. The threat or fear-based part of our brain is also more activated, which changes our perception of the world, and of ourselves. We also disconnect from ourselves, from our soul, heart, breath and body, trying to escape from the uncertainty of trauma/pain/shame/grief feelings. So in this disconnection we stay stuck in our minds - either being a victim of the past, or a slave to the future, denying or repressing emotions that we feel trauma about, our brain trying to predict what could happen next based on past experiences in order to protect our ‘survival’... this is why deep, lasting happiness seems so elusive! This all leads to us feeling so inadequate, so fundamentally flawed, so distrustful, and so our relationship with ourselves (and others, and our world) becomes compromised. We feel far removed from radical self-love, and we desperately try to eliminate uncertainty by controlling everything, and are making pretty much all our decisions based out of fear, scarcity, lack and neediness. So exhausting! And also so confronting and challenging to finally recognise, and take ownership of. What do we know? That the actual fabric and construct of our human lives is actually uncertain. So many moving pieces! Yet have you ever thought about how most people live their lives constantly worrying about a future, or many futures, that haven’t happened yet, and most likely never will - and at the same time trying to figure out ALL the steps to avoid anything ‘bad' or traumatic from happening?’ I used to be that person. A futile exercise, considering uncertainty is about what’s going to potentially happen in the future. There are NO guarantees.
The only guarantee is this moment, right now, in your body, not projecting in your mind. So.. if you’re completely absorbed in the present, then your survival system won’t be so switched on, you’ll be less reactive and more creative. You’ll be IN your body, not in your mind!
I, for one, am absolutely not interested in feeling anxious or fearful in my own skin - even of myself! I choose to be grounded, centered, accepting, aware, settled, no matter what life brings. Sure, sometimes it still takes me a minute. Or an hour. Or a day. But I am choosing - I have a choice because I am aware! This is the power of embodiment. Embodiment is empowering!
To be in your body is to find ways of being aware of your survival mode patterns, your brain habits, to be accepting of your internal feeling experiences, and thus more accepting of yourselfs. It is about healing from this disconnect between mind, body, heart and soul by literally learning to live in, and with, your body once more, just as we were when we were born. Being “embodied” signifies:
feeling at home, belonging and safe in your body
feeling connected to your body and its signals, enabling healthy expression and response to needs, desires, fears and wants
an increased ability to be in your body in the present moment and to feel all of its sensations (aware of shifting thoughts, feelings, energy, and sensations)
an increased ability to identify inner needs and self-soothe when feeling escalated or agitated, providing the space, the blanket of comfort and love and acceptance and reassurance for that inner child that is IN YOU, that needs you when you are triggered. And we all can get triggered!
connection to and acceptance of all parts of your body and of yourself - there is no part left unloved or untouched. I have had to do A LOT of work around this.
connection to your sense of self; your heart, your soul, your expression
Here are a few ideas for beginning to implement these and be on your way to “becoming more embodied” in a safe, accepting, compassionate, nonjudgmental, and joyous capacity. Know that it is a JOURNEY, not a destination!
Gratitude for Your Body - there is a great quote by Robert Holden “the real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become”.
Breathing: So often you’ll hear the suggestion to take deep breaths, and it’s the best advice you will actually ever receive. Your breath, ie how inhale and exhale, is speaking volumes to your internal world. Some breathing patterns are better for calming, some for energising, some keep you looped in a stress hormone response. Experiment with different breathing patterns to see what happens!
What do you feel when you focus your attention inside yourself? Can you name and track sensatiuons in your body? Begin to notice what’s happening without trying to change anything. Spend a day tracking the messages from your body and your emotions - simply use one side of a notebook to track any emotions you feel throughout the entire day (anger, apathy, excitement, grief, joy etc). On the other, track physical sensations you feel (jaw tightness, muscle fatigue, heart racing, heaviness in stomach, trembling etc). Notice common connections.
Dance, dance, dance! It is funny, actually, as the process of coming home, back into your body can be a bit of a dance… and it feels much easier if no-one is watching! Dance awakens all the sensory and emotional pathways in your body. It is a release, and awakening, and with unedited movement it is full authentic expression. You have the body to weave into a new frequency, a new vibration, a new awareness, into wholeness, all the while learning to more fully trust the process of perpetual transformation.Turn on a song that you love, one that really gets into your soul, your joints, your body. And let yourself go!
Practice every day, in some way, so that embodiment becomes as familiar as the mind patterns you are trying to shift.
In my own journey I discovered a plethora of shame, guilt, embarrassment and negative self talk come to the surface… confronting and uncomfortable, but a sure sign it is ready to be acknowledged, loved, integrated and released. Vulnerable experiences, as hard as they may feel, are simply inviting us to look at what needs more healing and care andcompassion.
Embodiment is a journey of stages, of revealing and unfolding, and old ego/mind habits may notice that you are struggling and try to pull you back into the comfort zone of the known. I fully acknowledge that recovery from old habits and beliefs is HARD and that lapses are normal! This is why SUPPORT, mentorship, guidance is just so potent.
Do you wish you had more guidance with compassion-focused activity such as deep breathing, skin and body care, heart connection, calling on your soul tribe, or encouragement for mindful walks and connecting with Mother Gaia?
We are here for you. We offer incredible in-person and/or online support. Reach out to us and share where you are at. We love you. We love your body. We love the light your body holds for this earth.
Let’s DANCE!! xx
EXTRA INFO :
Don Miguel is the author of The Four Agreements, a renowned book offering insight into “the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering”.
He states: “The first step toward personal freedom is awareness. We need to be aware that we are not free in order to be free. We need to be aware of what the problem is in order to solve the problem.” He outlines Four Agreements which can help us find more peace in our lives, even though we may be judging our lives as “messy and imperfect”. There is no such thing, BTW ;)
These Four Agreements are all about living your life authentically, honestly, and mindfully.
1st Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word
“When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.”
2nd Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally
“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”
3rd Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions
“The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don’t understand, ask. Have the courage to ask questions until you are as clear as you can be.”
4th Agreement: Always Do Your Best
Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.”
Steps to Self Compassion
Tara Brach does some great work in this area - check out her RAIN meditation on Youtube. Here is a quick mediation adapted from HeartMath that teaches us how to practice compassion for ourselves and for others:
Recognise and acknowledge what you are feeling, and the sensations in your body.
Focus in your heart area, place your hands on your heart and notice the energy of your heart field.
Breathe deeply and fully into your body.
Using your intention, choose to breathe in love for about a minute.
Nextchoose to breathe self-compassion through your heart and chest area and then throughout your entire body for a few minutes.
Find a still, quiet place inside where you can feel this compassion. If negative thoughts or feelings about yourself arise in the mind, gently return your focus to the heart area.
Radiate love and compassion out from your heart to any issues you are addressing – perceived failure, a feeling of inadequacy, insecurity or self-pity – with an honest understanding of what you are going through. Continue to do this for a few minutes, longer if needed, all the while creating within a heart-filled environment of compassion.
Be in your breath