What is Embodiment?

Are you embodied and what does that even mean?

What is Embodiment? In its simplest term embodiment is the expression of our bodies, it is the way we are. We interact with the world from our bodies and we can do this with or without awareness. If we do this without awareness it can be said that we are disembodied, that is not consciously residing in our bodies. Thus, embodiment is inside out, rather than outside in. It is when we take the time to be aware of ourselves and how we are thinking, feeling, perceiving, relating, acting in the present moment. A subjective felt sense of our body. Literally tuning in to our bodies and having a sense of how we are and what we may need in the present moment. (Please note: that people who have experienced extreme trauma may become disembodied in order to feel some sense of safety, it is a survival instinct and becoming embodied takes time and specific care, this is another topic).

In my practice as a Gestalt Psychotherapist helping people tune into their bodies in order to become embodied is a big part of the work. The reason for this is if we are disembodied we are not deeply aware or connected to our felt sense, of what we are experiencing in the present moment. If we wish to change our lives or ourselves we firstly need to become aware of what we do and how we do it. Once we are aware of what we are doing and how we are doing it, we can feel into whether the way we are serves us or not and choose to do things differently. Change naturally happens when we are aware and connected to ourselves, when we are embodied.

When we are not embodied that is disembodied we go through life feeling numb and unable to feel our full range and depth of emotions, this in turn will lead to you not being sure of what you really need or putting others before yourself. It is likely that you will live life at a fast pace trying to get what you think you need to feel secure, whilst completely disregarding your inner world. In essence you will try to fill the emptiness residing on the inside from the outside by turning to work, food, alcohol or other rewards or addictions. Lastly you will make the same mistakes over and over again and this is the pain of not being embodied.

Your body is the sole vehicle you have in which to experience life! It is therefore worthwhile tuning into it. You will find that as you tune in to your body you will become increasingly embodied, and over time you will experience the benefits of embodiment. That is you will feel more safe and connected to your body and therefore yourself; you will become more trusting and accepting of your experience and what is going on for you;  you will develop an increased ability to be in your body in the present moment and to feel all of its sensations (emotional and physical). This in turn will guide you in identifying inner needs and tending to them appropriately through expressing your needs, desires, fears and wants in a healthy way as they present themselves, rather than diminishing or minimising your needs and then resenting others for not knowing them. By attending to your body you will increase your health, your ability to self soothe and to regulate your emotions when feeling overwhelmed.