What is embodiment? We came across this mindfulness concept through the wise and magical holistic aesthetician, Sadie Adams, founder of celeb-adored Take Care Mind + Body studio here in L.A.
Embodiment meditation is a practice to learn the language of the body and to allow the body to inform and contain our presence and sense of self. Embodiment deepens capacity for presence, receptivity, and compassionate exchange with all of reality.
The practice of embodiment is about becoming more deeply present for direct experience. All of the feelings that influence our thinking and physical actions are stored in our bodies, as is our karma. As such, our bodies contain an innate intelligence that is often out of reach to our conscious mind.
According to Sadie, “We tend to pay more attention to the information in our heads than the information in our bodies. Embodiment meditation is a practice to learn the language of the body and to translate that information to a language our brains better understand. This awareness supports an integration of the body and mind.”
Embodiment is not about thinking, it’s a process wherein the body becomes more aware of itself. This supports presence, emboldens intuition and amplifies our consciousness. It’s a way of perceiving that is beyond sensing. The practice helps us to tap into all the information coded into our physiology.Though it may be a crossover into the more spiritual side of wellness, embodiment’s impact is very physical, visceral and real.
Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen defines Embodiment in her latest book Basic Neurocellular Patterns as “a direct experience with no intermediary steps or translations. There is no guide. There is no witness. There is the fully known consciousness of the experienced moment initiated from the cells themselves. In this instance, the brain is the last to know. There is complete knowing and peaceful comprehension. Out of this embodiment process emerges feeling, thinking, witnessing and understanding. The source of this process is love.”
Curious to dive deep, we asked Sadie to share some insights on her own practice and experience as a facilitator. Discover the depth of mindfulness embodiment mediation can offer, and how to start integrating this practice into your daily life…
What is Embodiment?
To help break down the concept, Sadie directed us to Liam McAuliffe, a healer and meditation expert with a masters in psychology. This is his explanation of embodiment:
In embodiment meditation, we apply meditative focus to specific physiological sensations, locations, and processes in our bodies. This allows us to cultivate and refine an interface between our cognitive and physiological awarenesses that’s more comprehensive than if we were to exclusively focus on the breath or recite mantras as is done in traditional practices.
Mindfulness breath practice is aimed at understanding the nature of the mind and reducing our emotional reactivity to our thoughts. The goal of mantra practice is to interrupt our habitual thought patterns while activating subtle energy centers. Though both can produce powerful physical sensations, the difference between the embodiment and these meditative practices is in the way embodiment meditation relocates the area of meditative focus from the processes of the mind to the interface between our minds and bodies.
How Does Embodiment Enhance Mindfulness?
Embodiment helps us tap into the nuanced sensory experience of living in our bodies. It helps us distinguish the difference between our defenses and the true, unadulterated essence of our identity.
We have patterns and preferences, and everything enhances our personality and sense of self — modern society encourages identification with these qualities and influences. Identifying with sensory experience and personality can diminish the connection we have to our intuition and higher sense of self. What happens if we step outside of the roles – and traumas – that we identify with, while still allowing them to be part of our development?
Embodiment is a path to presence. Creating space to explore how we exist in the world and in our bodies, can help us dis-identify with outside influences and tap more deeply into authenticity and what is arising in the current moment.
How Can It Help Us Process Trauma?
People can get attached to coping mechanisms, and this attachment can inhibit access to the root of the suffering. Presence and neutrality in a supportive situation can provoke the physical body to actually begin processing trauma without needing to talk about it.
Embodiment allows us to sit in meditation where we’re actually allowing some of that emotional intensity to process out of the nervous system — literally move through the synaptic space, arrive at our conscious awareness and, when faced without the defense of fear, eventually fall away. The body starts to become more present, and the influence of trauma is revealed without threat so the ability to approach it with presence and compassion is available.
Mindfulness is a learning to sit comfortably with oneself as sensations rise and fall away. Our capacity for presence and stillness can be limited by trauma and unprocessed emotions. The body might learn to only feel certain sensations. Embodiment can increase our capacity to be sensitive and also grounded, so as to not get lost in the sensitivity to stimuli or past experiences.
How Can Embodiment Ease Stress + Anxiety?Many times stress and anxiety comes from a lack of presence, or the influence of unprocessed thoughts, feelings and emotions, and from the possibility of loss. So many people are stressed out about being safe when in true reality, we can’t really be ‘safe’ according the egos definition of safety. When we become grounded then we’re able to leverage the higher intellect and consciousness into the body system – it can come through and actually override some of the fear-based principles that tend to be running the show.
What It Feels Like To Be ‘Embodied’It feels like a knowing, with a lack of needing. It is the consciousness of the moment experienced from the part of self that doesn’t need to be validated in order to be real and affective.
The energetic quality of embodiment is calm and comprehensive. It feels peaceful, even when one feels vulnerable or out of control. There’s not a right or wrong way to do it.
Embodiment has transformed and continues to influence the way I work, communicate, move and learn. It certainly enhances my ability to integrate information and experiences. Becoming more present and grounded changed the way that I relate to myself, to loved ones, to gravity and space – to the environment.
Living from my intellect wasn’t right/wrong, better or worse, I simply found much more available to me effortlessly through the process of embodiment. It seems no matter how deeply one knows themselves that there is evermore to perceive and explore.
Just like meditation, anyone can choose to become more embodied, but to learn more about embodiment
meditation, find Sadie and her studio practice.