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? 

The Perfect Moment: Now.

PerfectionI have been ‘waiting’ all summer to find the right topic to ‘launch’ my blog with … as if there was a perfect day or a perfect topic to do so.  There isn’t… and there is. For me it’s today …. this moment….. when I allow the creative inspiration that has been burbling in me to flow over, instead of letting it be silenced by the voices of order and perfection. 

What category will this post live under?  Will it speak to you?  Will it provide value?  Will it inspire you to come back and visit me (and my site) again?  Those are all important questions … but they are not THE question, and they are not useful questions when they stand between me (or you) and inspiration.  Today I choose to listen first to the voice of inspiration, and trust that I will sort out the answers to those questions afterward.

It is my birthday. I awoke to a flurry of messages wishing me joy and celebration – and I chose to take it in, to be in the space of receiving – and that choice fueled my inspiration.  As I reflect on what it means to be present, to take in what is offered, to be with what is… I recognize this as the essence of what I bring to the world, what I want to offer to you: the idea, the possibility, the pathway to full aliveness…. to fully embodying all that our one juicy life has to offer us.  We have an opportunity, in every moment, to show up as leaders in our lives, to model for, and inspire in, others what is possible.   This is the essence of embodied leadership – being a stand for what we believe in – whatever ‘role’ we’re playing.  (CEO, friend, parent, community leader, entrepreneur…..)

I suppose this post has been building for weeks.  I lost a dear friend this summer, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about him, his life, our friendship and the meaning of life in general.  There is no force as powerful as loss to jolt some deep inquiry into what’s really important.   As I reflect on him, and his short but vibrant life, I recognize him as one of the most embodied leaders I’ve had the privilege to meet.  He was kind, compassionate, insightful, ridiculous, and often irreverent … fully present in whatever he was doing and with whomever he was with.   He inhabited his body – fully, playfully, joyfully – in his skin, listening and responding to its wisdom.  He inspired many and was known as a leader in several communities because he was trustworthy and authentic, because he challenged the status quo and believed with absolute certainty in the greatness of others.  He called us, through his own courage, to step forward into our lives.  And how can we not? 

I do not know how many days I will have on this earth, but I know that each one is an opportunity to choose how I want to live.  I want to live and love and lead as fully, vibrantly, powerfully, and as imperfectly as my friend Andrew did.  I choose to be a stand for an embodied life, and that is powerful leadership because choosing embodiment, in itself, is radical. (Radical Embodiment – another post coming your way soon!) 

I am an embodied leader.  I live in my body; I walk my values, I speak my truth, I love with my whole heart, and I inspire others to do the same.  I am often imperfect and sometimes I leave my body, I stifle my truth, I make poor decisions, and I protect my vulnerable heart lest it get hurt.  I am still an embodied leader.  Andrew has profoundly reminded me that both embodiment and leadership are not about perfection – they are about being fully, powerfully, imperfectly, human – and in doing so, creating the safe space for others to join us there.