As a kid I collected ceramic turtles. I know that is a random and weird fact but hear me out. Turtles take their home with them wherever they go but I always felt a little bit like a turtle without a shell. I mean this both physically and emotionally.
To deal with this feeling, somewhere along the way I discovered the self-soothing safety of leaving my body. On the path to leaving my body, I often make a pit-stop in my mind long enough to daydream. But even the mind eventually gets bored or reaches the end of the whatever storyline I'm fantasizing about. In my youth, I liked to create a character for my wanna-be-child-actor-self to play on a popular TV show. As an adult, my fantasy life is pretty boring and often includes replaying conversations where now I have much funnier and smarter things to say.
When even my mind betrays me, the last resort of safety is dissociation with my body. This can be brought on by an overwhelming to-do list, the experience of judgment, or parties where I feel like I don't belong. So I choose the floaty out of body feeling over the tight jaw, shortness of breath, and overheated skin sensations that my body experiences. When I feel out of place in the world at large, it feels like a natural next step to feel out of place in my body.
Embodiment used to be a word that I heard only used in mystical, religious, or hyperbolic contexts. It hadn't occurred to me the value of being in my body in every day, mundane life. That my body can be the way to access pleasure, connection, or peace.
A milestone on my journey of embracing being in my body came one night sitting in my car. My deep feelings often feel safe to be released in the car. Maybe I like the small space? The boundary of the car protects me from the outside world while telling my nervous system ok to let it all rip. A car has never told me I'm too sensitive or it that can't handle my emotions. It has always contained them just fine.
I was sitting there, looking up at the night sky. Listening to classical music streaming through the radio. A couple days before a friend of mine had chosen to end her life. The music vibrated through my chest. It was creating pleasure in my body.
I had the thought that my friend would never feel this vibration or see the stars. Both experiences the body was providing for me. And not only could she not have this moment, I would never have this moment again. Which I was actually ok with because let's be real, grief is painful. But I was feeling pleasure and pain at the same time. It was all mixed together, like the colors of a swirly Van Gogh painting.
There was no life-altering discovery or deep meaningful Instagram friendly quote that came next. It was the simply the feeling of being in my body and how extraordinary it all was.
The definition of home in the dictionary is "one's place of residence". I've started to experience this body as my home. A home that I take with me on this lifetime through different ages, sizes, sicknesses, relationships, jobs, and cities. But it is not just my shell or a shelter. It is where all of my feelings, thoughts, and sensations get to mix together, swirl around, and live.
What would it look like for you to embrace your body? To embrace all of the physical sensations, feelings, and thoughts that your senses of touch, hearing, smell, sight, and taste envoke? What can you do today to create pleasure in your body?
Interested in hearing more on this topic? Listen to Third Eye Candy Podcast hosted by Andrea Gabriel and me. In the episode entitled Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Spirits we go deeper into the topic of embodiment, as well as offer up a free guided meditation to ground you in your body. Click here to elevate and meditate now.