Embodiment: the constant practice of being in THIS human body. I remember one dance class in college where my teacher told us he was captivated by the word and the experience of “this.” Just… this. This moment, this feeling, this hand, this belly, this breath, this blood pulsing. We have so much to learn from this.
Yet how often is it the case that we are not here, but there. Not in this but that (that mess up, that memory, that question, that ugh stupid thing I said). Rather than the quick captivation of this feeling, this sensation, this discovery, we are so often somewhere else.
So how to practice ‘this’? For me, it is through dance. I MUST move this body to remember her, to feel her, to honor her, to discover her. I must move her to know her. Because otherwise, it seems, I’m just thinking about her, which is very, very, different from the experience OF her.
So I dance. I let the music carry me, move me, dance me. I drop in to my feet, my toes, my breath and I allow. I open. Sometimes I want to move a lot– jumping, swinging, lurching, crouching. Other times I luxuriate in slow stretching, barely moving, noticing the deepening of my breath, the coming home to myself. I feel what I feel, both the emotions inhabiting this body and the physical sensations themselves. Often I am surprised– “oh… ah… didn’t realize that shoulder was so sore… oooh, I can really feel that hip… hmmm, that feels gooood.” Many times I feel utter relief– ahh, it is so fantastic to just move into that spot, to breathe there. Many, many feelings arise– anger, loneliness, sadness, black grief, comfort, joy, bliss. I let them be. I feel them. Movement is my altar of allowing, of permitting, of witnessing myself, of remembering my deep wisdom, of tapping into what I already know.
Dance / conscious movement has brought me to the place of believing that this body, this human experience is the way to most truly and totally know God. The brain is an important part of this body, certainly. But equally important? This beating heart, this pulsing blood, this surging gut knowing, this tingling shooting through my legs, this longing everywhere. Equally important this knowing of beauty, the beauty of this body, as it is. Our human bodies are so incredibly beautiful. Not only has God called this “good” but, I believe, this is where God resides. There is no where else! God resides in this flesh, in this emotive knowing, in this sinew and muscle and bone. To me, that is the Incarnation– God become human, so that humans might know we are of God. We spend a lot of time looking for God elsewhere– in the ‘heavens’, in books, in a clear meditating mind. What about in this blood, this bone, this flesh, this heartbeat?
It’s one of the reasons I’m so crazy about Jesus. Ha! I know that’s weird– so evangelical of me 😉 But it’s true. I’ve studied Christian theology, anthropology and spirituality and this is what I’ve discovered: the following of Jesus at its core is about embodiment. God became human to teach us how to inhabit this body, this human experience, to the fullest. Jesus is not about flying away to “some blue perfection” but of presence, without judgment or fear, to this human life. This body, this breath, this blood is the path to salvation, which by the way is about wholeness. It’s not meant to be an escapism, but a full inhabitation. How we’ve gotten so far from that– in Christianity especially it seems– is a far longer inquiry.
For now, I find God here, now. My practice is to keep diving in– to this body, to this moment, to this emotion, to this experience. I trust this. Thank you, Incarnate One, for this beautiful body and all the wisdom She holds.