If you asked me what I do for a living, I may say I offer somatic processes and movement practices for developing embodied presence: a vague answer that means nothing to most people.
So what is embodied presence and what is it good for? Here’s some elaboration. I know, I know, the industry marketing gurus say I’m supposed to tell you what’s in it for you first. Read on, it’s coming right up.
Embodied presence is a state in which I’m aware of my senses, sensations, emotions, and thoughts, resulting in a sense of full-bodied, passionate, bewildered inhabiting of this now moment. More precisely, not a state at all, but a living event, an active reiterating process of turning attention to the mysterious life of the body and the energy of aliveness at my core, the breath of life continuously breathing me into being, the Presence that looks out of my eyes when I’m here.
Contrary to popular disbelief, everything we experience in our lives is a bodily experience. I can argue otherwise, or I can surrender to the simple facts of aliveness right now – by attuning to my proprioceptive sense, concerning the location and movement of my body in space; by listening to the murmurs and whispers coming from my muscles, tendons, and joints; by luxuriating in the slow meandering process of tracking how sensations appear, move, develop and dissolve – in response, or in connection to any thought, image, memory, emotion I’m in touch with at the moment; and by noticing how I am held in the great context of the living world as this breathing, feeling, thinking body.
Since the living body in its broadest sense includes the mind, the spirit, and the soul, to live the life of the body fully is to be mindful, spiritual, and soulful. Some say if we are deficient in these aspects of our being, it is because we are not fully in or with our bodies.
What about the deep spiritual teaching that says I am not my body? I think it is vastly misunderstood and widely used to serve a spiritual bypass. In my experience, deep contact with my somatic being will transport me pretty quickly into an (embodied) interchange with the planetary, cosmic, transpersonal reality and deliver me into a self which is – true that – vaster than what’s contained inside my skin, and yet intimately, inextricably connected with this my unique incarnation, this one, particular, personal expression of this immense force called, for lack of a better word, Life.
Alexander Lowen once said, The life of an individual is the life of his body. I say, think again, Rene Descartes!