All disembodiment is physical. It’s a hard thing to plunge your awareness into at first. There are so many thoughts. And half my body is panicked, half numb. Half asteroid headed for some ancient planet about to destroy it – half iceberg. A developing inner observer notes:
” I am not here, I am not fully here, I am sitting with you, and talking with you, and my mind is making up the next sentence. I am afraid of you. There is nothing to be afraid of, but the back of my neck and my shoulders say otherwise. So I don’t listen to them, or you, as I am planning the next sentence, the next move, thinking about my to do-list, the cute guy at the supermarket who winked at me – is he the one, not you? Is life with supermarket guy more secure, more predictable, more….are his parents nice? Will his mom knit me a scarf this winter if I went back and gave him my number…? Or maybe I’ll just go work on my book. I have a headache. Will you excuse me? Are you still talking? What’s wrong with your eyes? Don’t you see me? I need to go for a walk. Or work on my book. How did I get here. What have I done? Where is my suitcase?”
If you feel a general state of disembodiment is hard to be with, you are right. There are so many thoughts and they all feel so real. To start embodying this moment to moment experience, the developing inner observer eventually has to trust that what has seemed real and conscioused as tangible perhaps is not, and another reality, far more palpable, primordial and true, is present to be lived.
Being embodied, or bodyful, as the new term coined by Christine Caldwell suggests, is a moment-to-moment experience – where consciousness, and where you are conscious from – meet. You are aware of your experience, in the moment, and can perceive the flow of energy and information with an intimacy between interior and exterior. You are safe to know what the body knows. You can rest in that ever changing knowing. You can be in the wilderness of the body, and not get lost. You know whichever path you are on in the wilderness, is your own, and you are your own trusted guide. You can live in a benevolent, generous, kind and loving universe inside, no matter your shape, your size, your cultural or spiritual belonging. You are here and you are ok.
Unless it’s not safe to know what the body knows. There is a deep truth in being embodied, a security beyond what this world can provide, and yet, many of us are habituated to live outside that knowing, in an ego-created universe of our own, reigned by monsters new and ancient, feeding on each other, driving us mad with desire and despair, longing and grief, and temporary reprieve from them when what we addictively grasp at becomes ours for a nanosecond, before it combusts in the hands of yet another monster.
I wish living from the body was easy – like flipping an on switch that someone forgot to turn on.
But see, you can’t just sit on your cushion, or move mindfully, or start to notice your interiority from the same place that saved you from knowing. In times past, the knowledge of the body was dangerous, physically or psychologically annihilating, so we chose to not know. And the same one who chose to not know can’t choose to know. To survive and live, we have produced the movie of our lives not from the actor’s point of view, but from the producer’s point of view.
So we produce, and direct, and contort to what we once deemed safe, and we suppress the pain of knowing that we don’t know what our body, our natural, organic, primordial one, wants us to know.
Ultimately, to become embodied, bodyful, present, aware, and live from the actors’ point of view, we must let everything be, as is, without editing, choosing, controlling or predicting, and that’s a terrifying proposition.
So we eat. And all is good for a nanosecond.
These short bursts of eating when not hungry, overeating, trying to gauge a final sense of “enough-ness” that never comes, are just feeble attempts at embodiment. Like a toddler, we are learning quite clumsily how to walk back into our bodies. And we fall. And we get up. And we try again. The thoughts come, and we try to walk into our bodies, one bite at a time, hoping we can get rescued from its mechanical monsters. And it helps.
What if you looked at your episodes of eating as a clumsy attempt at embodiment? What if you had no other tools and that was all that was left? Would you give up trying?
Here’s my invitation to you: to embrace your attempts. And to find that being embodied and wanting to know what the body knows is a noble pursuit. And to give yourself more tools to get there. As terrifying of a proposition as becoming bodyful is to the one who’s mind has the uncanny habit of producing monsters for protection, it’s a possibility for everybody and for every body. I’ve done it, others can, and so can you.
The next time you plunge into the terrifying awareness that you are not fully here, remember, others do that too. Others get lost in thought, too. And you can gently come back on the wings of your developing inner observer – to your breath, to your ground, to your heartbeat. And be aware from that place, make a bed for the monsters, and sing them a lullaby.