What Is Embodiment And How Can It Help Us In Healing Trauma? - Humantold

What Is Embodiment And How Can It Help Us In Healing Trauma?

Andrea Brunetti, LMHC May 30, 2023

Embodiment is the practice of connecting with your body and your sensations and emotions. It is an ongoing process of self-discovery and involved regularly checking in with yourself to see how your body responds to certain places, people, memories, scents, and events. It can also be understood as the mind-body[-soul] connection.

It can be hard to practice embodiment. Often, we struggle to focus on the present moment and our bodily sensations because we have to attend to the demands of daily life. We may find it easier to disconnect and ignore our body sensations altogether as a way of protecting ourselves while we work on autopilot to maintain productivity.

The problem is, the more we ignore, neglect, minimize, and deny our emotions, the louder our bodies become until we acknowledge them. This can manifest as chronic pain, headaches, digestive issues, lack of energy, difficulty sleeping, low mood, and irritability. Since vulnerable feelings are inevitable at one point or another, mindful body-awareness involves learning to accept, rather than just tolerate, the presence of your own challenging emotions. By accepting them, you can recognize that emotions and sensations are temporary, much like waves on the ocean. Painful emotions can also serve as teachers, coming to teach us valuable lessons. We listen, learn, let go, and heal as we allow them to visit and depart.

What are embodied practices?

Embodied practices are those that invite you to connect with your body and your sensations. They also allow you to release stuck emotions and create space for the new. This leads to a state of presence, which enhances your well-being and allows you to connect with others more authentically.

Some practices that allow you to connect with your body and practice a state of presence and self-acceptance are:

  1. Yoga

Practicing yoga allows you to focus on your breath as you hold different asanas (postures). It is a practice that invites you to notice sensations in your body as you move to the rhythm of your breath.

  1. Dance and movement

Moving your body through dance is a powerful way to connect with your physical experience. As you dance, you become more aware of your breath, muscles, and sensations, allowing you to fully engage in the present moment.

  1. Meditation

Meditation involves focusing your attention on your breath and thoughts while observing physical sensations in your body. By practicing meditation regularly, you can cultivate a deeper mind-body connection.

  1. Visualization

Visualization is a practice that involves imagining a peaceful or calming environment. By focusing on the imagery, you can relax your mind and body and become more aware of physical sensations.

  1. Progressive muscle relaxation

This practice involves tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups to release physical tension and promote relaxation. This can be particularly helpful for individuals who experience physical symptoms of stress or anxiety.

  1. Massage

Because it involved touch massage can help individuals become more aware of their body and physical sensations. Touch can also promote relaxation and a sense of safety, which can be particularly helpful for individuals who have experienced trauma or have difficulty connecting with their body.

  1. Taking a walk

Walking is a simple yet effective way to connect with your body and surroundings. When walking with intention, individuals can pay attention to the sensations of their feet on the ground, the movement of their legs and arms, and the rhythm of their breath. This can create a sense of presence and help to release tension in the body.

  1. Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises help to slow down the mind and create a sense of calm and relaxation, which can aid in connecting with the body

Our bodies are an essential part of our existence, yet they are often objectified and minimized, causing us to feel disconnected from them. Trauma and religious ideologies can also influence how we think about our bodies. If we’ve experienced harm, we might not feel safe in our physical selves. Embodiment reminds us that our minds and bodies are connected and offers ways to help us reconnect with our bodies and feel safe in them once again.

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