Up until I was around 20 years old, I disliked it when people talked about mindfulness. I did not understand what people ment, when they talked about ‘getting grounded’ or the ‘energy’ in your body. I did not understand the concept of embodiment.
All of that changed when I tried out a class of mindfulness yoga. We were lying with 6 of us in the soft, diffuse light coming through the white curtains of an old school building. Our tutor asked us to do a slow mental scan through our right side. Trying to feel every small sensation in there. Once we did this for about 5 minutes, she asked us to feel the difference between the right and the left side of our body. I remember feeling the distinct sensations of aliveness and energy in the right side of my body.
My curiosity was awakened.
Gradually I developed a deeper connection with sensations in my own body and realized that there is a world to explore there! I learned that all of these sensations are directly connected with our emotions.
As little children we are taught about emotions as if we will only have one emotion at a time. Am I angry, or maybe sad? Unfortunately, the truth is that our emotional state is not as simple as that. Instead, it is always a complex and unique blend of many sensations.
When I started to develop a deeper connection with my body, it allowed me to start making more sense of my emotions for the first time in my life. Instead of this frustrating process of trying to find out what is the right label for my emotion, I started to actually feel what there is to feel in my body. How wonderful! I could now make some connection with my emotions, however small, without putting so much effort in.
Not only do the head and body depend on each other in more ways than just the blood circulation, but there is also no clear-cut boundary between the two. For example, the nervous system in our belly and heart contains 100 milion nerves. I will refer to these minds in our gut and heart as the ‘bodymind‘.
When we are mentally open to what our bodymind is telling us, we are connected with the current moment. And when we are connected with the current moment, we are necessarily embodied.
The bodymind does not find itself ‘lost in thought’ and communicates hunger because it fears you might be hungry later on in the day. Instead, it communicates hunger because you are hungry in this moment.
It is especially in interaction with others that emotions, and thus embodiment, play a vital role. There is no way that we can interpret the emotions of others by consciously analyzing every aspect of their body language. Luckily we do not have to. We can simply notice our ‘gut feeling’. Everything we need to do is to trust our gut feeling, our antenna, and offer the other our support.
Being fully embodied, being deeply rooted in the sensations and energy of your body, you will be able to come home. This feeling you carry will spread to those around you as well. Have you ever noticed the power of a stranger looking you in the eyes while they carry a relaxed smile? You can become this stranger today. All you need to do is to become fully embodied.