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How Embodiment can make you feel more alive (and 5 ways to do it)

How Embodiment can make you feel more alive (and 5 ways to do it)

“Embodiment is living within, being present within the internal space of the body.” ~Judith Blackstone

As a child, I used to dance every time I heard a pop song. You can see me performing dance moves and exuding joy and energy in photos. I lost the ability to dance at one point.

If I had to guess, it would be that I stopped dancing after becoming self-conscious. I stopped being just me; I suddenly became conscious of having a body.

It was then that I began a complicated and long-lasting relationship with my body. Friends and family ridiculed me as a teenager for being tall and gangly. As a young man struggling with my queer identity, I objectified my body; I felt ashamed of how ‘it’ strayed so far from the perceived masculine ideal. My lungs collapsed one day, adding insult to injury.

Two years later, I was back and forth between hospitals while doctors attempted to repair my leaky lungs. My body was a source of immense emotional and physical pain as I had to undergo multiple painful surgeries.

Other challenges were encountered in life. I learned that being in this world’s body is painful. To find peace, I needed to be free from pain. My mind needed to be free from all bodily experience in order to achieve peace.

You are looking for a way out

I was already tired of life in my early twenties. I felt alienated and sought refuge in my inner universe of ideas and concepts, where I could indulge myself in fantasy and philosophy through the reading. Most of the time, I was just a head in front of a screen, browsing the internet—there was little sense of having a body.

I tried many things to reduce my fear and pain. I used to avoid social interactions in order not to feel shame. I was terrified of difficult emotions. As a highly sensitive person shame was one of my most powerful emotions. It would cause me to become paralysed.

Later, I started a spiritual quest and was drawn to teachings that promised a way out of suffering. I began to meditate and felt a sense of calm. Although I believed it was a sign I was making progress, it was actually becoming more apathetic. I was having difficulty connecting with other people and life.

Recognizing authenticity and living again

Living inside my head, I became an observer of life—like an armchair anthropologist. While I did participate in some of the things society expected me to, I was always able to observe from afar.

As embodied consciousness, we all enter this world. Our body is how we experience ourselves. It also allows us to interact with our environment. We experience the world’s colors, melodies, temperatures, pulsations, and textures. Our bodies are where we experience joy, sadness and anger as well as fear, anxiety, fear, comfort, love, and fear. This smorgasbord if sensations allows us to discover and bring out our unique expression in the world.

A life with little sensation and feeling is like living in one dimension. The work I did to get back to my body was the hardest part of my recovery.

It can be difficult to find our inner strength in a world that tries to suppress and erase our authentic expression.  We can rediscover our sense of belonging by reclaiming the body.

Five ways to bring your body home

There are many methods that can help us feel more alive, and to get our bodies back into balance. If you’ve experienced deep trauma, please find a trained somatic practitioner who can work with you. Here, I’ll just share a few simple things you can try doing more of to become a little more embodied. Listen to your body to determine if these activities are right for you.

1. Deepen your breathing.

To become more fully embodied, you must have good breathing.

I learned from a bodyworker that I wasn’t breathing fully most of the time. My Zen practice taught me to breathe into my belly, but now, I wasn’t breathing into my chest much.

Breathe in deeply to breathe in more air. Air rises to your chest like water rises to a jug. Breathing out, air escapes from the chest as well as the belly.

2. Touch the earth.

My painting teacher recently offered to teach me how I could garden. There’s something very healing about touching the soil with my hands. Touching the earth helps us to connect with our larger bodies, helping us to recognize our small bodies.

Many of us spend our time sitting at a computer these days, which includes me. So I think it’s important to find activities where we can touch the earth. I remember the first time I walked on a beach with my bare feet, I thought to myself: “Wow! I can really feel my legs and feet… I feel so alive.”

3. Enjoy quality food and nourishment

One of the healers who I worked with told me that our diet has huge effects on our psychosomatic system. I’m not a specialist in this area, but from my experience, switching to a healthier diet was a game changer.

It’s not just what we eat, but how we eat, too. I express gratitude for what I eat, and I enjoy the sensations of my tongue.

4. Feel free to move.

Through practice, I’m becoming more aware of how I inhabit my body based on the way I respond to my environment. I may stand tall to win respect or walk faster to keep up the pace. Having more freedom in our daily lives can allow us to feel more connected to nature.

5. Art is art.

Many of the times I felt most alive were those when I was expressing myself through my art.

We engage our whole being through artmaking, whether it’s painting, sculpting or playing an instrument. It is not just an intellectual exercise. We allow our body to express itself through artmaking. It touches the beauty that lies within.

It is an amazing process of self-discovery to learn how to be more fully embodied. There never was any separation between mind and body—they are one. By reclaiming the space in my body, and reestablishing myself inside the temple of my soul, I’m learning to dance with life again.

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Thomas Lai

Tom Lai is the founder and CEO of Lifted Being. Through spiritual life coaching, mindfulness, and embodiment practices, he helps sensitive people who feel lost and empty engage in meaningful work that feeds their soul. As a certified Realization Process Embodiment teacher, he teaches embodiment meditation practices to help people experience greater presence and wholeness. Visit his website at www.liftedbeing.ca.

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Tiny Buddha’s first article, How Embodiment can Make You Feel More Alive (and 5 Methods to Do it), appeared first on Tiny Buddha.

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