It can sometimes feel challenging to be in your body when emotions that are difficult to hold such as anger, grief, shame or even ecstasy are present. We may find ourselves lost in our thoughts OR we may experience feelings of dissociation, a foggy feeling or a sense of “checking out”; or maybe you dissociate inward and close off the outer world, retreating into your own thoughts. Many of us have been conditioned to do this when uncomfortable feelings are present because these feelings were not safe to exhibit in childhood. Maybe we were yelled at or punished when we cried or expressed emotion; perhaps our parents exhibited extreme anger and we had to suppress our own.
If you are in a white body, there’s another ancestral layer to consider. Our culture, in the US, is one built upon white bodied, colonizer supremacy and this dissociation is something that is passed down through the generations. Even those who have not directly experienced abuse do this. Ressma Menakem writes,
“Throughout the United States’s history as a nation, white bodies have colonized, oppressed, brutalized, and murdered Black and Native ones. But well before the United States began, powerful white bodies colonized, oppressed, brutalized, and murdered other, less powerful white ones. The carnage perpetrated on Blacks and Native Americans in the New World began, on the same soil, as an adaptation of longstanding white-on-white practices. This brutalization created trauma that has yet to be healed among white bodies today...In some cases, when a white body simply experiences discomfort, its lizard brain may interpret this as a lack of safety and react with violence.”
Being embodied isn’t something you “do”. It’s not a goal or a state of bliss. Rather it’s our ability to be in our bodies, without dissociating, through all of our experiences- the good, the bad and the painfully ugly. It’s hard to do this at first for all the reasons mentioned above, but with curiosity and practice we can begin to let ourselves feel and fully experience ALL that life hands us.
Want to learn how to make it easier? I'm guiding a 6 week long, small group immersion to gain these skills in March. You can find out more here.