Like many of you, I’m beginning this new year with a word. This word is a dristi for me, a centering place for my energy and a reminder of who I’m becoming as I unfurl new aspects of myself.
It’s e m b o d y.
As in, live into. Know by be-ing. Feel, rather than think. Emanate from the depths of myself.
This word surprised me. I set out to discover one in all the ways I know best. I sat down with tea and music and a roaring fire. I cracked open a brand new journal. I meditated.
So I gave up on finding it, and went about my business. That’s when the word landed with a thud in my heart.
I wrote about it in the post below, which went live on Roots of She earlier this week. I’d love to hear YOUR words for 2013 in the comments below.
Happy new year, dear ones.
Feeling My Way – The Full Embrace of Embodiment
My word for 2013 is embody. Actually there are a cluster of words that surround this chosen one : shine, courage, emanate, radiate, trust, know, love, be.
And along with the words, there’s a felt sense that accompanies embody. I can best describe it as that pause after a deep exhale, the kind that empties your belly top to bottom.
Embodying something means knowing it in your bones. Feeling it in your cells. Living it from your center.
It’s dancing your life, rather than making a speech about it.
The Many Gifts of Introspection
Don’t get me wrong : I love words. I consider myself an artisan conversationalist whose gift is to invite fellow seekers to excavate what’s in their hearts and bring it out for discussion. This is what I do on the bus, in line at the bank, with my best friends, in my coaching practice.
And along with my appreciation for the language of inner journeying, I spend most of my time in my head. Many of us do – especially those of us who inhabit female bodies that have been treated with varying degrees of love and trust.
I’m part of the musing, thinking, analyzing tribe. Are you, too? I have filled bookshelves with journals; got my first one at age 8 and the latest one yesterday (Orange moleskine. Yum). When I’m heartsick the first place I go is to the page, where I suss out what I’m feeling as I puzzle out the words that give it shape.
There’s a beauty in the practice of deep thinking. I’m grateful for my ability to name, to reason and to invite emotion to flow through my thoughts. I am awed by what I learn about myself in the process of “processing”. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
Concept vs. direct experience
I also see where language limits my experience of knowing.
(It’s ironic that I’m writing about this, isn’t it?)
When I go looking, I can find corners of myself that are murky and hard to access. Areas I’m unfamiliar with. Parts that are still cocooned, growing themselves in private and not yet ready for the world
My first instinct is to name these areas, to befriend them or at least offer them a landing place within my psyche. And some of them are unnamable, unformed, clumps of pain that don’t play nice with the other parts of me. They aren’t meant to be dealt with through words : when I ascribe them titles like hurt, or frustration, or unknowing, or anger, or shame I feel a hollow relief that only lasts a few moments.
This is where thinking/processing/understanding fails, and where direct experience – embodiment – is the only way to be with what is.
Trusting What I Find
There are reasons, I think, for my willingness to shut down embodiment.
Primarily it’s about trust. The body is an exquisite instrument, and unbelievably generous with its wisdom. It provides us with clues and information again and again, whether we say Yes to it or not. My body has delivered me lessons on survival (when I was starving myself as a teenager), shame (when my weight see-sawed in my twenties), flexibility and grace (through the gift of dance), superhuman strength (in birthing my babies at home) and, mercifully, self-love (in finally making peace with my physical form as a woman).
As Martha Graham wisely preaches, The body says what words cannot. When we absorb the teachings our bodies offer, we experience ourselves fully. We emanate the beauty that is uniquely ours. We show up.
Clarity + Courage
I’m cultivating embodiment right now in a way I haven’t been able before. It means giving up some of what I have finessed so long and so well – my facility with words and my knack for focusing only on the parts I can figure out. And it means being open to hearing the body’s wisdom, even if it’s hard to accept.
Embodiment is only possible when we are willing to seep into all the parts of ourselves, leaving nothing behind. I recognize this willingness here and now.
I’m in a fresh new place in my life, bright with pain. My marriage is ending, and I’m walking an unfamiliar path. The thinking me wants to put plans in place, journal through the dark bits, work out answers to open questions. But I see the limits of this approach, and am pulled by a deeper sense of how to navigate the terrain – to feel into it. To allow animal wails to work their way out of my womb, to follow my gut through movements on the dance floor, to stand in the wind and rain, feeling for clues.
Amazingly, what I notice most is the sense of clarity in my heart. It’s a clarity not related to specifics or thoughts or analyses … it’s the clarity of having closed out a chapter that was keeping me from fully inhabiting myself. With the certainty of divorce, I’m no longer feeling like a fraud. The incongruity that was crippling me is now gone, and in its place is calm knowing.
From here, I know what to do. I listen to my wise body for clues, and I follow the breadcrumbs. I practice courage, which doesn’t mean I’m a fear-slayer but rather an open-hearted and vulnerable explorer. I lean on my allies, seen and unseen. My feet are on the path. My breath is my guide.
My word is embody.
What’s coming alive for you in this new year? Are you longing for guidance and support as you step more powerfully into a fuller expression of who you are?
My virtual group coaching program called Unfurling – The Journey is now open for registration. Join one of two small groups for twice-monthly sessions that are heavy on cross-pollination and truth-telling. You’ll uncover what’s unfurling in you right now, and you’ll integrate your learning in powerful, life-changing ways. Learn more and register here.