What does it mean to be embodied?
Simply put, embodiment is a way of being where we are in tune with our bodily sensations. For example, when we experience a stressful trigger, we drop down and feel exactly where this stress is being held in our body—it might be tightness in our belly, restriction in our throat, shallow breathing or increased heart rate, most likely it is a combination of a few of these. Being aware of these sensations allows us to immediately counter their effect. When we pay attention to the stressful state of our body, we naturally shift it by slowing down, deepening our breath and sitting or standing taller. These actions may seem insignificant, but they are proven to be potent stress relief tools, triggering a relaxation state in our nervous system.
Unfortunately, embodiment is not something our society, nor our employers, typically value. We live in a mind-centered world and are expected to utilize our intellect as our primary tool in decision making. Taking a moment to note how these decisions feel in our gut is not part of the common workplace agenda. We are encouraged to ignore how our body feels with work deadlines that demand eating lunch at our desk, staying indoors all day long and remaining glued to a screen most of the day.
Despite this norm, each of us has the power to move through our day connected to how we feel. We can listen to our bodies and respond mindfully to what we need. After a long stint at the computer, you may feel tired and head straight for an afternoon coffee. After checking in more closely, you find that what you really need is a glass of water, a few stretches at your desk and a quick walk outside for some fresh air.
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Emily Olson, E-RYT, PTA is a health educator, yoga therapist & teacher and Physical Therapist Assistant. In 2016, she opened Ripple Wellness with her husband, Jeff. A multi-disciplinary natural health clinic, Ripple offers acupuncture, massage, naturopathic medicine, nutrition and yoga with a unique commitment to community outreach and education. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @ripplewellness