We invite you to take a few seconds to visualize a moment…
It's around 6:30 in the evening
There is a light breeze
And distant sounds of cars passing by
The setting sun and the clouds display a masterpiece in the sky
Providing a wonderful treat for the eyes
As the day eases into the night
One of the things people commonly say about Tucson is that it has breathtaking sunsets. Reading that passage may have felt familiar for many, even for those living outside of Tucson. There is something magical about the way colors and clouds blend altogether at that time of the day.
Often, wondrous moments like these are easy to remember. Or rather, easy to feel - even through recollection. Perhaps the reason for this is that we have a visceral experience of simply being in our bodies, in that moment, in that environment. Our bodies recall how it feels to witness the beauty of nature. How refreshing it feels to the skin when a breeze rolls in, especially after a hot Arizona day. And how these sensations relax our shoulders and slow down and deepen our breathing.
We may not realize it at the time, but moments like these are examples of an embodied experience. Embodiment is a felt sense of being in our bodies. It means that our bodies are not just passive containers for our minds, but are actively involved in shaping our experiences and perceptions. And with this mind-body connection, we can strengthen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
We may liken embodiment to being present or being in a state of mindfulness as they both invite us to focus on the present. But while mindfulness focuses on slowing down to become more aware and in tune with our surroundings, embodiment focuses specifically on drawing awareness to our physical responses to our environment, thoughts, and emotions.
Embodied experiences can include physical sensations such as touch, taste, smell, and sound, as well as emotional and cognitive states such as joy, sadness, or excitement. They can be as simple as enjoying the warmth of the sun on our skin or feeling the energy that comes from listening to an up-tempo song.
However, while our days may be filled with opportunities for embodiment, there are times when we may experience a disconnect between the mind and the body. For instance, we may contract our muscles to put on a smile even though we are feeling the opposite of what we are projecting. We may push ourselves to exercise even though we are still recovering from an injury. Or we may be too busy thinking about work that we barely taste our lunch. Traumatic events may also cause us to disconnect or disassociate with physical sensations.
At Equinimity, we support people in finding their way back home to themselves, through nature, somatic practices of trauma healing, creative expression, and experientials. From Deep Listening to Mindful Grooming, we invite people to nurture their connection with themselves and the world around them, and to experience the here and now. We also have our four-legged partners supporting us and our community in this work. Horses are known for their gentleness, sensitivity, and their ability to mirror people's emotional states and physical posture. They provide such valuable feedback on people's inner experiences and help them to become more aware of their bodies and emotions.
As being with horses may not always be an option for everyone, there are practices that we can incorporate in our daily lives as a way to check in with ourselves and deepen our embodiment.
1. Daily rituals
Begin with small sensory experiences that you already practice on a daily basis such as putting on lotion or clothes, or doing a hand massage. Take your time and move slowly. As you do this, notice how it feels to the skin or to the muscles.
2. Listening beyond hearing
As mentioned in our last newsletter, listening with awareness can help us reconnect with our bodies. Begin by noticing how your favorite song or an upbeat song affects you physically. Do you feel energy in your arms, making you want to move? Does it give you goosebumps in your skin?
3. The “five things activity”
The “five things activity” is when you take notice of five things you can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. Perhaps after dinner time, practice noticing if you can still faintly taste or smell the meal you just had. Notice how a glass with a cold drink feels to the touch, or how the background music relaxes or energizes your body.
By being present in our bodies and paying attention to physical sensations, it can become easier to recognize our emotional states and regulate our nervous system. In other words, embodiment helps us tune in to our body’s infinite wisdom, experience ourselves, and simply just be.
Would you like to practice embodiment by participating in Equinimity’s offerings? View our upcoming offerings here.