Living In Your Body:
An Exploration into Embodied Mindfulness
Stuck in your head?
We live in a society that places a high value on what we think and how much we accomplish. Logic is seen as superior to emotions, rationality is rewarded over vulnerability, and following one’s heart is best left for the artists and those without responsibilities.
Yet, there may come a time when we realize that something is missing. It may be a sense of internal emptiness, where life feels gray and our routines seem pointless. It might be a feeling of disconnection from others, or confusion because someone you love complains that you aren’t present or that you don’t really care about them. Or maybe it’s just the constant echo of those haunting questions: Is this really all there is? Is something deeper possible?
There is a growing movement around the practice of mindfulness – a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly witnessing and accepting one’s thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. While mindfulness practices are extremely valuable in fostering self-awareness, self-acceptance, and an increased sense of inner peace, the practices are often undertaken with a limited understanding of the significance of bodily sensations.
In a mindfulness practice, it is far too easy for us to focus our attention on our thoughts. This is totally understandable. After all, we live in a thought based society. It’s how we were taught to understand ourselves and the world. We relegate our self-image to our conscious thoughts, while we treat our bodies like a meat-machine that’s only purpose is to carry the brain around. In doing so, we deprioritize our bodily sensation as insignificant, pushing those experiences aside. We focus on our thinking, and in doing so, unknowingly disconnect from a deeper part of ourselves.
What we lose is embodiment. This is the quality of mindfulness that emphasizes the importance of bodily sensations as the gateway to deeper experience, connection to self, and the ability to connect to others. It is the ability to get out of our heads and our interpretive thinking, and allow ourselves to focus on the present moment, on that felt sense of what we are experiencing. This ability is called direct experience.
What’s important about direct experience?
Life is an experience. Wherever we are and whatever we do, we are constantly experiencing something. As an infant, prior to our ability to think, I am, our consciousness only exists in direct experience. As a child, when we engage with the world, we are constantly learning from direct experience. For example, no one has learned to ride a bike by thinking about biking.
This experiential learning continues throughout our lives and forms what are called implicit memories and internal working models. These non-cognitive memories and internal working models shape our perceptions of ourselves, the world, and our place in it. From these lenses we create our interpretive experiences.
Therefore, how we “think about things” is based on how we “experienced” life. If we are loved, we experience love, and then think “I am loved.” If we are neglected, punished, or shamed, we experience that, and then we think “I am bad. I am worthless. I am unloved.” Or we think, “You are cruel. You don’t care about me. You don’t love me.”
Thus, the most potent way to know yourself, to connect to others, and to heal and grow is through the intentional mindfulness of bodily sensations… by becoming more embodied.
Connection to Others
Embodied mindfulness is also a key factor in our ability to connect with others. For in order for there to be a true we, there has to be two (or more) separate I’s. Connection creates intimacy. Intimacy is the sharing of the self and the receiving of the other (without getting lost in either). Deep intimacy thus requires 1) a deep connection with the self, 2) a willingness to be vulnerable, 3) a tolerance of the other’s experience and emotions, 4) the ability to maintain compassionate mindfulness for what is, and 5) the ability to reflect back on how we are impacting each other in the present moment.
In this seven-week workshop, you will be guided through the fundamental skills of mindfulness and embodiment.
In week one, we will explore the seven categories of experience and practice the ability to cross back and forth between categories. We will learn to get out of our heads, out of our self-narrated stories, and into the present moment of embodied experience. We will discover a whole new depth to the question, “How are you?”
In week two, we will explore the fundamental skills of how to somatically (bodily) find the three optimal internal states for practicing mindfulness: grounded, centered, and open hearted. We will also explore the skill of staying centered versus clinging to or avoiding experience.
In week three, we will explore how our physical form is a reflection of our mental and emotional states. You will learn how to utilize this knowledge to be better able to track “how” you are. Then you will learn how to use those skills to improve your ability to manage your knee-jerk reactions and choose preferred ways of being and interacting with others.
In week four, we will learn three techniques for connecting to the heart in order to decrease stress, increase emotional understanding and compassion, and improve on your ability to shift from reactivity to responsiveness.
In week five, we will introduce the first interpersonal skill – working with boundaries.
In week six, we will explore power and vulnerability. We will also play with archetypes as an additional tool for gaining personal insight and inspiration.
In week seven, we will practice the skills of mindfulness, embodiment, and intimacy as a group interaction.
This somatic workshop utilizes individual guided practice, dyad and group exercises to explore practices of mindfulness and embodiment in a fun and cooperative way. It is an in-person workshop. It is limited to eight group members so that individual attention can be given as needed.
Additionally, while the workshop is a great adjunct to psychotherapy, the structure of the group is designed towards experiential learning, not group therapy.
I hope to see you there!
If you have any questions about the workshop don’t hesitate to contact me.
Are you interested in this workshop but the dates are unannounced?
Cost: Supporter Tuition – TBA
(Have a little extra? Give a little extra to support someone else.)
Regular Tuition – TBA
Receiver Tuition – TBA
Please contact me to inquire about scheduling dates.
(Contact me if you have any questions or need any further information about this workshop, as well.)