Embodiment as a Radical Act

Brené Brown talks about authenticity as a practice; it is not something we’re either born with or not, rather, it is something that we either practice or don’t.  For those that do practice authenticity, it’s hard work.  Anything worth doing, worth practicing, usually is.  Embodiment is the same – it’s a practice.  And just like authenticity, it’s not only hard work, but it can be deeply vulnerable and risky.

I believe that choosing to practice embodiment is a radical act—one that goes hand-in-hand with authenticity.   Authenticity is about being true to yourself; embodiment is about being fully present in your body and bringing your fullest presence into being.  I believe embodiment is the foundation for authenticity.  That level of presence and awareness is radical because it is directly counter to what we are taught at home, in our education system, in the media….

In the western world, and in most spiritual traditions, we are taught to ignore, suppress, or transcend our body.  We are taught that it is sinful, shameful, an object, a machine, or a burden we must carry.  Rarely are we taught that our bodies are wise guides.  Many of us can remember being told as children that it was not okay to cry or to get angry , that we weren’t really hungry (it’s not lunchtime); that we could wait for the bathroom (class isn’t over yet); or that our intuition was just our imagination (i.e., wrong); or that something didn’t really hurt (even though it did).  As adults, we are taught to override our body messages with coffee, diet schemes, 80 hour work weeks, and a myriad of messages designed to take us away from the sensations and wisdom of our bodies. 

This was powerfully illustrated to me earlier this year in a marketing seminar I attended. The woman leading it made a provocative statement that horrified me because it resonated with such truth:  “Inside every one of us is a still, small, place that is absolutely perfect and needs nothing to be complete.  That place doesn’t buy things.”   It is the other parts of ourselves – the parts that are disconnected and disembodied−that spend money on the countless things we are told will make us feel better; . products that will save us from our emptiness.  To choose embodiment is to threaten the very foundation of our multi-trillion dollar corporate consumer culture. 

When we embody our truth, we are centred in it; we are unshakable.  We stand our ground, enact our values, speak and move with integrity.  We INhabit our body rather than just travel in it, using it as a transportation device for the ‘monkey mind’ in our head.  Although it is hard work learning how to come back home into our bodies (so many unfamiliar, and sometimes uncomfortable, feelings and sensations), the rewards are well worth it.  We have far greater access to our intuition and to our full emotional range.  We also have far greater resilience because when we can fully be IN our bodies, with what is, we are more agile and able to move with whatever arises. 

When we choose to practice embodiment, we are choosing to engage ourselves with life, to bring all we’ve got to our relationships, our work, our community, and our creations.  We are choosing to lead from our wisdom within, rather than being led by the stories and conditioning of the external world.  And that level of leadership is truly a radical act.

  • Where do you show up with (embody) radical authenticity in your life?
  • Where would you like to step in more fully?
  • What’s one thing you would like to practice this week?