Unlocking Joy Through Embodiment
Why the mind/body connection is your most powerful tool for an aligned, joyful life
Unlike the name suggests, embodiment is more about the mind and spirit than it is the physical body.
Embodiment + The Holistic Self
Embodiment is a term thrown around rather loosely in the wellness space these days. It’s one of those words that has a really clear meaning - to be in your body - but somehow remains abstract. We are always embodied, yet we often don’t feel that way. How is it possible to be disconnected from your body and physically embodied at the same time?
To understand this paradox, we have to first understand there is more to us than our physical bodies. The Holistic Self refers to the paradigm that each person is composed of a body, mind and spirit. These three distinct parts of us must be "on", present, and working together in order to be embodied.
The Dangers of Disembodiment
So, what happens when you're disembodied? If embodiment is the body, mind, and spirit existing peacefully in the present, disembodiment is the mind and/or spirit being removed from the body. This happens when the mind starts to detach from the body through anxiety about the future or ruminating about the past. If we get swept up in our thoughts, we are no longer with our bodies, and are therefore, disembodied.
We can see how disembodiment would foster discontent, and vice versa. Disembodiment starts with mental resistance. For example, imagine being late while stuck in traffic. The mind starts its anxious thoughts: it imagines you being the last person to arrive to the meeting, explaining yourself, maybe even rehearsing the apology.
Boom! You're already disembodied.
Luckily, there is a shockingly simple antidote: through becoming aware of the present moment, we can connect to our spirit and bring the mind back to the body.
Connecting to Spirit to Anchor the Mind
The mind and the spirit are two distinct energies within us. The mind is our inner monologue, the voice that judges, criticizes, dreams, remembers, et cetera. It is also the ego. Though the ego gets a bad rep, our ego is not inherently bad. It keeps us safe. However, the ego is not objective. It operates based on conditioning, preconceived notions that may be false, and our completely subjective view of the world.
The spirit, on the other hand, is the observer; that is, that part of us that can observe the mind. Think about it like this: you are aware that you are thinking. Your mind isn't aware of itself. That second entity within you that has the ability to observe, that can see your mind at work, is your spirit. When you connect to your spirit in moments of difficulty, you begin to see the mind for what it is. You start to see - hmm, that's a very limited view on this situation! Or, I may be overreacting here. In connecting to your spirit, you gain greater awareness of the workings of your mind, and gain the power to bring the mind out of its future or past thinking and back to your body.
For example, if, in the traffic scenario, you pause and consciously connect to your spirit, you can become aware that the mind, in its anxious state, is making things worse than they need to be. Your spirit will help you remember that there is nothing you can do to change this situation, everyone is late sometimes, and it's certainly not something so bad that it should ruin your day. With this simple pause, you connect to your spirit, disarm anxious thoughts, and bring your mind back into the present moment. You shift from disembodied to embodied.
The Snowball Effect of Disembodiment
If, however, you don't experience that moment of awareness, your mind will do anxiety cartwheels all day long. You start your day disembodied and may never return. This is how you can go a whole day and not remember what happened - you were disembodied. Your mind was literally somewhere else. Since you weren't aware of it, you weren't connected to your spirit either.
Disembodiment has the potential to metastasize if we move through our days without awareness of where the mind and spirit are, or never take a moment to pause and check in. If we are disembodied for prolonged periods, we may not recognize our intuition, or start to feel lost and confused about our lives. The more time the mind spends in the past or the future, the less connected we are to our spirits, and the less joy we can experience in the present - because we are not "present" for it.
The Bottom Line
If we are to experience any real joy, we must truly be embodied. And, the only way to be fully in your body is to first connect to your spirit, then use that connection to cultivate awareness of where the mind is. It isn't always easy, that's for damn sure. But the more we practice connecting with the inner observer, our spirit, the more we can empower ourselves to find peace, even in the most challenging of circumstances.
Next time, I'll share some of my favorite self-care practices for cultivating presence and love in difficult circumstances. Hope to see you then!
Dana Augustine is a yogi, mindfulness practitioner, and psychology junkie. She supports folx in resetting their relationship with alcohol through her work as a sobriety mentor and advocate. You can find her on insta @danadoesntdrink.