Being in our bodies may be a foreign concept to some of us.
Most people normally reside in and function from their heads, and they mindlessly follow every thought that flits into their minds. Needless to say, their subtler body signals may go completely unnoticed.
On the other hand, being in the body means moving awareness into and regularly connecting with the physical being.
Why does this matter?
Our ”bodies” are more than just muscle and bone structure; they're also comprised of emotional, energetic, and spiritual layers. Being embodied allows us to access these different levels of wisdom knowledge and to not rely solely on mentally derived information.
This doesn’t mean neglecting or repressing our thoughts. Equal access to both rational thoughts and the body’s intuition is important; this is living in a balanced way. The mind and body powerfully influence each other: if our shoulders are tense, then our minds will be in tight and vice versa. When we are sad our bodies feel heavy and listless, when we are anxious the body feels jittery and tense, when we are happy the body feels light and buoyant.
The body communicates through sensations, intuition or gut feelings, and grosser physical signals like hunger, thirst, or fatigue. We all heed hunger and thirst pangs, but we struggle with listening to our need for rest and self-care. For countless reasons like guilt, busyness, ambition, and childhood conditioning, we overwork and deny the body the rest it is demanding. Another example of not listening to our bodies is overtraining or pushing our bodies beyond their abilities. At the other extreme, people exhaust and weaken their bodies by starving themselves through hardcore dieting.
The issue with not listening to our bodies is that we are only living from one aspect of our being, so we are living limited lives. The disconnect between body and mind is one of the ways we lose connection to the present; we become mindless, and our capacity to function as a whole being decreases.
Consequently this lack of embodiment may cause us to feel untethered and adrift in a sea of endless thoughts, worries, anger, and fears. We may struggle to actualize and manifest our dreams or wishes precisely because we don’t feel anchored.
In fact, being in the body is a form of meditation.
The body, with its vast network of intuitive wisdom, has much to offer for living a balanced life. Moving awareness out of the head and into the core of the body (center of gravity) provides a powerful shift in perspective, actively grounds the body, and stabilizes and centers the mind in the body.
The benefits of anchoring in your body are that you will be more relaxed, be able to access the body’s wisdom, feel a greater sense of peace, feel more energized, and you will be more aware of what’s happening in and around you. You will know, without the overlay of the mind’s narration and judgment, how your body feels, how depleted or energized you are, how you are breathing.
Breath is the anchor to the body and the present moment. Remaining aware of body and breath will connect you to your emotions, and will make you less reactive and more peaceful.
Techniques for Connecting to your Body
Visualize that the base of your spine extends like a cord all the way deep into the earth. Feel yourself taking root and becoming centered and grounded. Visualize all your tension - mental, physical, and emotional - exiting through this cord into the earth. See it being transformed into healing energy. And now in the opposite direction feel the earth’s stabilizing, centering, and anchoring energy flowing up through the cord and into your body. You may feel a tingling, pulsing, warming, or cooling sensation. Relax deeply for a few minutes as your mind and body become still and centered.
Another way to check in with your body’s intuition is to put your hand on your heart/chest when you are anxious or distressed. This simple action will release feel-good hormones and chemicals, and will regulate emotions. It's is also an act of self-compassion.
Use your senses to connect you to your physical body and environment. Notice shapes, colors, sizes, textures and tastes. Feel the sensations of tingling, aching, warmth, and the rise and fall of your breath to connect to your energetic body.
With your awareness in your body, pay attention to the sensation, thoughts, and feelings that arise in you. Without judgement or trying to change anything, create a space for them to just be. Simply notice and be welcoming of all that arises.
May these simple but effective practices help you find peace and wisdom.