The ultimate heart of the life experience is the “ultimate union of humanity and divinity in the body” (Ferrer, 2006, p. 44).
What does it mean to be a fully embodied spirit?
Stepping into fully embodied presence?
To embody something is be a tangible expression of a thought, a belief, a quality, a or feeling. It’s to transmute the abstract, intangible quality in living and breathing flesh right in front of you that you can touch, feel, relate to.
“That person is the embodiment of kindness.”
Everything about that person – what they say, how they say it, what they do, how they do it – is an expression of kindness. It’s not merely just saying kind words or doing a kind act, that actual core essence of being is kindness.
Where do you start to practice and understand this …?
Come home to the body.
I’m a boxer and have been for over the last two years, and I attribute significant spiritual growth to my conscious embodied practice of boxing. When I box, I become even more aware of the way I move; how I hold myself; the emotions and sensations that ebb and flow in the duration of a short three-minute round gives me lifetimes of awareness.
When I experienced an intense, tragic loss last year, that same week I was in the ring with my coach. I choose to consciously work through the initial waves of grief. Being in the ring allowed me to oscillate in and out of my body to feel the raw emotions of sadness and rage, and then consciously surrendering to the larger mystical dimension. How? When I started to feel the intense sadness and tears bubbling up to the surface, I paused, walked away, allowed myself to feel, and breath through the emotions. I was able to transform from an arrested, contracted state toward connection and integration.
Ferrer (2006) described embodied spirituality as “the mystery of incarnation never alluded to the “entrance” of Spirit into the body, but rather to its ‘becoming’ flesh,” and “our bodies as a transmutation of Spirit into fleshy form” (p. 44). The body is the spirit made flesh; in other words, each individual on this planet is an embodiment of spirit. This is the process I described above to the integration of the human experience and divine connection, and the body unites the human and divine together.
Embodiment is a term that lacks a cohesive definition within the fields of somatics, psychology and spirituality because some research addresses the body as object to be reduced to changes in movement, heath, position, blood pressure (Clark, 2008; Csordas, 1994, 1990; Gibbs, 2005). I do agree, that becoming familiar with one’s bodily sensations is a perfect starting point for those not familiar with how to orient oneself with his or her own body.
When we practice connecting with our bodily sensations, we begin to be able to identify them by type of sensation and location in the body. Once that connection is established, then, one can consciously connect with the deeper unconscious layers of memories, emotions, and energetic currents to work with these materials. Once spiritually connected to their body one can orient their experience consciously.
Understanding the body objectively, is a perfect entry point, and with time one can shift into the deeper lived experience of the lived experience, embracing all the subtleties and nuances. Bodily sensations is only one dimension of embodied spirituality, but rather a portal revealing the first step one can take in the direction of embodiment. The objectification of the body lacks the phenomenological lived experience within the body. Once a person develops the ability to feel the sensations of the physical body, this is this is the initial awareness of the coarser dense physical material. With refinement, the person will be able to connect to the subtle energetic dimensions of self.
The body is the meeting place where the spirit and physical world integrate, and how the spirit transmutes into physical form.
Clark, A. (2008). Supersizing the mind: Embodiment, action, and cognitive extension. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Csordas, T. J. (1990). Embodiment as a Paradigm for Anthropology. Ethos, 18(1), 5-47.
Csordas, T. J. (1994). Embodiment and experience: The existential ground of culture and self (Vol. 2). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Ferrer, J. N. (2008). What does it mean to live a fully embodied spiritual life? International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 28, 1-30.
Gibbs Jr, R. W. (2005). Embodiment and cognitive science. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.