Re-Imagining Being a Body

What does “being a body” look like? It doesn’t actually look like anything! It feels like — actually it is — being alive, and everything that comes with that.

Pause for a second and exhale completely. Now take your hand and place it around the contours of your cheek.

Having a body might look, or even feel like you just put your hand on your cheek. It might include feeling the temperature of the skin of the face. Maybe it includes sensing the texture of the cheek’s skin, too. Maybe it even includes the skin of the cheek feeling the temperature of the hand. And maybe it includes feeling the tightness or tenderness of the hand through the cheek, feeling the in-tension in the hand.

Being a body feels like all that, and still more. Let’s keep going…

As your hand and cheek connect, bring your attention to your low belly, the lower part of the abdomen. Sense how the low belly responds to this touch. Sense everything available to you in this moment. Let any images, memories, insights, thoughts arise. No matter what those might be (including thoughts like “This is ridiculous”), this is what being a body feels like — what being a body is. All of our experience as we live it.

The next time you feel uncomfortable, pause… And feel it.

Do you need to do something immediately to stay safe? Do it!

If you are safe, then sense where this discomfort is in your body, and what comes with it. You might notice a tendency to reject or shut down some of this information, but if you are still safe and not causing harm, you can follow where this path leads, using it to guide you to the deepest source of the discomfort. (I am continually surprised by how often I need to dive deeper, like probing beneath layers. From this deep and intimate space of awareness, I often discover ways to respond constructively and creatively.) Sometimes this just takes a moment, like taking a break from the computer and stretching, or identifying what needs to be said to someone, or it could take longer, like forgiving oneself for a perceived failing, or any number of other things.

When we are our bodies, we have access to this deep awareness that helps us know who we are and how we are, and from this place arises a deeply embodied wisdom that can help us navigate our world as whole-ly, sanely, and optimally as possible.

Resmaa Menakem urges people to pay attention to how they feel when they walk by someone. Have you ever walked by someone and felt a sense of fear in your body? A tightness in your heart? A shortness of breath? What caused that fear? Was it how the person looked? How they were dressed? The color of their skin?

Paying attention to how our bodies react to certain circumstances can teach us a lot about our core beliefs. It is very easy to say one thing, but actually feel something completely different. Fear is not wrong, it just is. Developing awareness of this, and other, feelings can guide you to reflect on what core beliefs, deep knowing, or insights are guiding these feelings. In noticing the them, we open up the door for further exploration and understanding.

Can you imagine a feeling of complete safety and connectedness? What does that feel like? Are there certain environments where that feeling is most possible? For me, my parent’s home gives me that sense of trust, safety and security. Where nobody is judging or evaluating me. Can you imagine that feeling of trust, safety and security while walking through your community? The closest city? What about when you were in school growing up? Or, in a foreign country.

What kind of changes are needed so it feels safe to be a body? And what kinds of conversations are needed to create that kind of living together?

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Lead Author: Ann Moradian (first 7 paragraphs)

Ann is a movement artist, educator, writer and advocate for what she refers to as systemic health, including human, social and environmental ecologies. Originally a dancer and choreographer, she performed with Anna Sokolow’s Players’ Project (among others), founded Perspectives In Motion in 1988, and ShinGaia Yoga in 2018. With over 40 years of experience in dance, yoga, the martial and energy arts, her current work is focused on healing the mind-body/nature-humankind split, and supporting and instigating healthy transformation at the deepest levels.

Ann is presenting Human Ecologies & Systemic Health, 11h CET, Friday, October 16th as part of The Embodiment Conference (free registration here). For information on upcoming classes, coaching and retreats, please see ShinGaia Yoga.

Anchor Author Daniel Rudolph

Dan has been living and working in different countries for the past decade. He is dedicated to re-imagining education and enabling opportunities for experiential learning and connection. One of his current passions is learning and spreading juggling.

Dan will be co-facilitating Re-Imagining Our Future, an online course offered by the Charter For Compassion’s Education Institute, starting October 26, 2020.



Can you imaging a more harmonious future?

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