Well, on a theoretical (abstract and boring) level, it means that our life is taking place in and through our human body. But embodiment is juicy. So let’s get personal about it.
As I sit in my chair, about 30 minutes after finishing dinner, having an inner dialogue with myself about why I am still craving something sweet, I ask myself: what would it mean to be embodied in this moment?
It would mean to turn towards my bodily experience in order to: a) listen for information and guidance, and b) (and perhaps more importantly in my opinion) to actually FEEL what’s happening right now, and allow myself the pleasure of taking part in my own life.
So, in this moment, what do I do? I close my eyes and feel into my stomach. There are some bubbly percolations happening. Ha, it’s kind of funny to feel and watch. There is also a feeling of weight, the feeling of matter filling my organs, and tiredness in my muscles. It feels like my body is ready to be still and process.
A quote I read earlier springs to mind.
“The more we are able to be rooted in our bodies and see ourselves as the embodiment of the Divine Feminine, the more clearly we are able to hear the voice of this cosmic force as she calls to us.” (Teri Degler)
If I am the embodiment of the divine feminine, in this moment, how is she calling to me? How is she showing up? What does she feel like? What do I feel like?
All of the sudden my feelings have intensely more meaning. The noises from my belly are imbued with an authority, as well as a loving, fiercely mothering tone. I pay attention and deeply respect her. Gone is the sense of shame for my uncontrollable longing for chocolate. It is replaced by a sense of admiration, of worship almost, for the wise expressions of my gut. The same gut that informs me fervently of when to say no, when to make a tough decision, what is safe, what is right, and what is absolutely under no circumstances going to work for me, as much as I might want it to.
I can now feel that the desire to eat more is not actually coming from my physical body. It’s coming from my emotional body, and my mind is trying to figure out what to do with that. I am feeling tired, frustrated with a particular relationship, and nervous about how I’m going to find the satisfaction and fulfillment that I crave at the end of my day. So my mind jumps in to “help”: “Chocolate! Something sweet! That will help!” says my mind to my emotions. “I bet there is something else in the fridge/cabinet that you are looking for!” and so, if I listen to that voice, I wander around the kitchen looking for something to soothe, pacify, fulfill..
But if I am embodied, and contemplating my precious body as a manifestation of the Divine Feminine no less, I absolutely do not go to the fridge. Not because there is some cognitive, rational, theoretical reason why it would be wrong; but because my body doesn’t take me there. Surveying anything in the kitchen feels distracting. Distracting from what’s actually alive within me. Distracting from the present moment, from what wants to come through me, right now. Distracting from the fire that I am starting to feel bubbling up within me, that I’ve been scared to feel all day.
I sit down. I am definitely NOT HUNGRY. Not for food, at least.
I’m pissed. She’s pissed.
“What makes you think you’re more important than me?? Just because you have KIDS??” I start to scream (in my head.) “You’re NOT more important! I AM IMPORTANT!! Why aren’t I more important to you?!?!?”
Oh…Ohh. Shit. So that’s how I feel.
My face feels hot. I can feel my heart beating in my chest, and my breathing is a little intensified, kind of like when I’m turned on. Actually, I am turned on. My eyes feel penetrating, like I could burn a hole in something with my gaze. I need to straighten my legs. My body wants to shake, to move. But I am rooted to this spot, to this keyboard. The impulse is to write, not to move. The creative impulse is focused in this moment. This is what it feels like to discern from an embodied place: to breathe into my belly, to follow the sensation of heat to its source in my pelvis, and to allow that voice to decide. For me, it’s a very particular voice; I call her Kali. When she speaks, my body vibrates. And so I listen, because, well, I can’t NOT listen. And because it’s a source of truth that is way bigger, louder, more powerful, and frankly scarier than my mind cares to argue with.
When I re-member my body as an embodiment of the divine, I re-orient my attention towards truth. I am imbued with the courage to withstand emotional discomfort and actually desire the full expression of “inconvenient” emotions…which leads me to find outlets for expression and to move through whatever is stuck.
Right now, as I write, I can feel myself getting caught up in the semantics, in the transitions between paragraphs, wanting to incorporate my insights from the Tantric perspective.*** (see below.) But my body is OVER THAT SHIT. It wants (I WANT) to keep writing, to keep sharing my experience in this very moment. As my fingers start to move faster over the keys, I’m enjoying the clicking noise and the satisfying stick-stick-stick noise that the mac keyboard makes. It’s giving me great pleasure to pour my energy into communicating my moment-by-moment experience, to give in to what my body wants so badly to do, rather than to try and follow my cognitive-academic-mind that wants to create a pretty paragraph structure with an academic-ly rigorous flow of ideas. But here I go again, trusting my body. Maybe no one will ever read this. WHO CARES??? Says my body. This FEELS GOOD. THIS FEELS REALLY GOOD. And that’s so much more satisfying than….well, anything else.
This is what it means to be embodied. To give in to the urges, needs, and desires of the body, even when they are inconvenient or unconventional. If I am embodied, I respect the power, potency, and perfection of all my body’s whisperings and screams.
(It feels important to mention that while I don’t believe being embodied requires prioritizing pleasure, I do think that feelings of satisfaction naturally result from paying more constant attention to the urgings of the sensual body. David Abram called it “the promiscuous creativity of the senses.” Yum. )
So now I’ve written. And I’ve felt really good. I’ve felt my frustration, screamed it through the keys. I’ve allowed emotion to move through me. I’ve followed my impulses, and honored my truths. I’ve said “FUCK IT” to the masculine, academicly-inclined voice in my head that wants to make sure I “do it right” or that I look good, and publicly spoken my truth. I feel entirely more satisfied than any piece of chocolate or other sweet or savory indulgence could have possibly done. I feel my blood flowing through my body after a heated session of heart palpitations, raw emotions, and expressed anger. My mind feels more peaceful after giving in to the impulse to create. I feel rested and rejuvenated, having let my body remain mostly still while allowing the creative impulse to flood through my veins and out my fingertips. I feel less constricted because I stopped trying to fit my thoughts into a paradigm, stopped trying to make myself sound good, and just let the words come out. I feel blissfully exhausted after what feels like a good romp in the sheets, which is funny because I’ve literally barely moved. Being embodied doesn’t always mean you’re exploding with movement….it just means you’re living from within your body. Living from the inside out. Dwelling within.
When you dwell within, the experience is intense, intimate, and amplified. And when you’re living from the inside out, the simple bringing forward of that which is inner, is, in itself, a revelatory release, orgasmic, and sometimes explosive….hence the satisfied exhaustion that rivals good sex. And, if we’re talking about the Divine Feminine, we’re talking about the experience of being (as Sera Beak so deliciously describes it): ecstatic, dynamic, evolutionary, full, sensual, erotic, passionate, messy, explosive, energetic, emotional, imperfect, fiery, and enlivening.
So, this is the Divine Feminine, embodied. Feeling into the messiness that is our inner world. Letting Her speak through us, as us, in the form of stomach bubblings, raging inner dialogue, heavy breathing, a pounding heart, a shaking body, or fervent keyboard clicking.
To do this, we have to press pause. We have to stop the continuous and habitual linear movement that accumulates speed throughout our day. We don’t have to halt everything; we just have to stop for long enough to withdraw our senses into the vital and animated caverns of our body, and listen. We follow the sensations of the body, and let them speak, in movement, in words, in silence, in tears, or in whatever language translates for you. And we trust our body to guide us in the right direction.
And, it might be asked: WHY? ….well, how bout just for starters, because it feels like having really good sex?? 😉
And now it’s time for bed. Satisfied. Good night, La Luna Llena. May our dreams nourish and inspire.
***From a Tantric perspective, this creative impulse is called Icca, or divine will. It’s the source of all creation and manifestation, and is a fundamental principle or facet of the nature of the universe. It is the impetus behind movement, the ever-present potential for movement, for action and creation. It exists within every particle of spirit and matter. It’s not personal, and should not be conflated with personal willpower; although when our personal will is aligned with divine will, you can imagine how incredible our power to manifest becomes. I digress….I always get distracted talking about Tantra. The point is, there is an infinite source of auspicious, creative power that we tap into when we attune to the origin of the impulse for movement: when we listen to our body.