(This text is an abstract of the working material of the Embodying Archetypes course. For more info on the course please visit: www.7session.de)
Movement is life. Life is movement. Our universe is always in motion and us by being part of it: We are always moving. To move we need bodies and bodies need to move. Through movement we get to know ourselves, others and our world.
If you are interested in expanded states of consciousness the subject of embodiment is key to being able to face the challenges of exploring new territories. Embodiment means body awareness. I’m convinced that conscious, diverse, flexible, healthy lives come from a conscious practice of diverse, flexible and healthy connection with our body.
The thing is that our modern culture favors our mind and intellect over any other perception tool we have. For most of us, emotions and bodily sensations have little importance compared to our thoughts. We live in a disembodied culture and this has a profound impact on the way we treat ourselves, on the way we relate to each other and the awareness of the impact our actions have in our environment.
Owning our Body
Although disregarded, movement, feelings and sensations are the first language that we use to get in touch with the world and with ourselves. We own a body, right? What does it mean to own a body? What are we supposed to do or learn with a body? How are we supposed to take care of it? Imagine you buy a car, but you don´t know how to drive; exploiting it to its maximum capacities. Is buying equal to owning? Or are there also some skills involved in owning a body? It´s my opinion that there are. There are some basic skills we all need to develop to properly own our body and live a conscious, embodied life.
As we all know, our body has the ability to heal itself from physical traumas and create a new balance — then why would it not have the ability to heal existential and emotional traumas? This document assumes it does, and it suggests that what we need to do to reclaim this power is rediscovering how to access these auto-healing mechanisms by listening, being aware and acting smart.
Specialization vs. Generalization
In spite of the limited amount of movement most of us (modern humans) do with our body in our everyday lives, our bodies have an immense capacity to move, heal, adapt and be flexible and creative. Adaptability is one feature that distinguishes humans from every other species. This ability to adapt to different contexts has a lot to do not only with our cognitive capacities, but also with how our body has evolved and supported our evolution process. Adaptability has to do with being generalists. This means being able to face any type of challenge and find our way around it.
Movers by Design
Humans are designed to be movers, but somehow this natural feature has been left aside by our culture which has prioritized our mental dimension. We have specialized in rational activities. If we compare the amount of hours our children are trained sitting down in math and language with the time they spend learning how to use their bodies we can understand better this process of dis-embodiment. In spite of all this training time, there is a popular saying that we use only 10% of our mental capacity. It’s my belief that in order to exploit all our remaining potential we need to reclaim our bodies and our emotions. I believe that the 90% we are lacking reside in those two domains. This paper aims to give some keys to enhance our awareness and abilities to own our bodies.
We are always training our body. But for what? If you don´t move you are training it for immobility. If you seat in front of a laptop for eight hours straight, you are training your body for immobility. Some of the questions to look at are how aware are we of our movement patterns? How aware are we of the impact our movement patterns have in our lives? How to create or strengthen a movement centered life and a conscious movement culture?
When talking about movement, this paper not only refers to physical movement. It talks also about inner movement. To achieve an integral perspective of ourselves we also need to look at feelings and bodily sensations. Our body is constantly being ignored although we find our greatest treasures in it. The instincts that preserve life, our rich emotional bodies and the vast ocean of our unconscious all reside in our body. The connections our body has to all these different levels of perception is intuitive, but it has been forgotten. I believe that what we need to do is reclaim our generalized perception of ourselves. To move means to heal. To consciously move that is. It’s about finding a balance between outside movement and inside awareness.
What is Movement?
When you feel the urge to move/do something, do you know where this urge is coming from? Are you aware of how this drive is translated into movements? What mechanisms need to be activated and where do these impulses come from?
Recently I attended a seminar that had to do with relationships, love and sexuality. As in most of the workshops I attend or offer, dance was a central part of the work. In one of the dance sessions I had a really intense experience. I realized how my heart was not only connected to the movement of my arm and hand, but how the movement of my body was being guided by my heart. This was not a thought, my mind was blank; it was an intense feeling. This realization was followed by a deep sense of awareness of my body and a feeling of gratitude for the possibility of movement. Afterwards, this kick started a reflection process about where movement is coming from and which impact its origin has in the experience and the outcome of the action.
Embodied but unaware
I realized that it doesn´t matter if we dance, do our asana practice, shake hands, brush our teeth, play sports, have sex, get out of bed, write, meditate or pee: We are embodied, but we are not always aware we are. Why is that?
When my brain started to dissect the experience and ask questions the first one that came into my mind was: what is movement? This is a huge question that can be answered from many different perspectives. There are biological, physiological and political movements. There are also military, musical and art movements. A movement can be a trend and it can be used to show progress or change in any situation. Movement is a concept that is used in many different ways and is not easy to define. I believe movement plays an important and versatile role in comprehending our reality. In our reality, if you think about it from a cosmic perspective, everything is in movement.
For the purpose of this paper I will focus on the movement of the body and how it is connected to the emotions and thoughts. In this context a useful definition for movement would be: a “change of place or posture” (http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Movement). This simple and deep definition is centered in our body and it involves action. Action can be seen as movement as well and also as the result of a movement or a series of movements. When talking about movement it is important to differentiate an action from a re-action. Although when we move, we move, there will be a difference in the outcomes when we consider the origin of each specific movement.
Let me give you a common example of reaction: I wake up and I feel a known sensation in a specific part of my body. While being still in-between worlds I react to this sensation and move my body commanding it to go to the bathroom and pee. I re-act to the bodily sensation, make a decision because of it and move my body towards the bathroom.
Now let’s differentiate it from an action with a different example. I’m arguing with my 8 year old son who hits me because of the anger he´s feeling. My first impulse (reaction) is to hit him back. But normally I manage to consciously stop this reaction. I breathe and realize the counterproductive effects of it. I then decide consciously to act. This can mean listen to him/ask him something else/share with him how I feel/hug him. Why do we react how we do? And why do different people react in different ways to the same experience?
“Acting and reacting” have to do with the ability to learn. When we are learning to do something we are usually fully present in the here and now. For example, when learning how to ride a bicycle we are present because we know that the minute we lose our presence we may fall. The interesting thing about our learning processes is that once our skills to ride improve, the actions and movements required to ride loose its quality of presence and move back into a different place of our consciousness. This multilevel quality of our consciousness is a really important feature that allows us to multitask.
Once we learn how to ride, we ca do it while chewing gum, talking, etc. This means that once a skill is learned it becomes transparent and moves into the back side of our consciousness. If this mechanism of transparency didn´t exist, we would need to focus all of our attention in the action of riding and the movements required to do it just as we did when we learned it for the first time. Once we learn an action becomes a habit. Once an action becomes a habit, our awareness of it decreases. Most of the time when we are reacting we are not fully conscious in the present moment. Instead we are letting old learned habits/patterns take control of ourselves and move us.
The reality is that most of us are usually reacting possessed by habits which work in a subconscious level, preventing us from being here now. This can easily turn into toxic patterns and/or addictions. We all know how strongly rooted our habits can be.
In almost everything we do, there is a mixture between reaction and acting, the only thing that differentiates them is how aware we are of our reactive habits and how aware we are of our power to step back and look at them –and then to consciously decide if and how we want to act.
Here is where owning our body, developing the skills to be embodied come in handy. Our body brings us into the present moment and if we are aware in it, we will be able to recognize the feelings, sensations, thoughts that are inhabiting us and then consciously decide to follow them or not. For that it is important to realize that movement can originate either in our minds, our heart (emotions) or our body.
The skills to acknowledge the origin, decide how to act and knowing how to use our body to grow and evolve are the main topics of the Embodying Archetypes course that I am teaching.
About the author:
Juan Pablo is a life coach, Biodanza teacher, real life yogi and entrepreneur. He is currently living in Berlin where he delivers trainings, workshops, and sessions related to movement and human consciousness. For more info on his work please visit: 7sessions.de
For more info about the Embodying Archetypes course: