This is What I Mean by Embodiment

Yesterday on a bike ride I noticed I wasn’t passing a slower cyclist.

I was late for an appointment and had already rushed past several cyclists, but for some reason I wasn’t passing this one.

I looked ahead. In front of me was an older white male.

He looked kind enough, doing his thing, enjoying the bright sunny day as much as I was.

But instead of easily passing him, like I had done the others. I kept my place.

There was a “hesitation” and a “hold back”.

This was my body’s natural impulse to the environment around me.

I noticed it fairly quickly, and easily passed him afterward, but I was reminded that my embodied impulse is to stay behind.

Here’s the thing

Who cares about this showing up on the bike path. Really it’s no big deal there.

But what about in the boardroom? Or in our communities, political realms and institutions?

What happens when “hesitation” and “hold back” show up there?

Without awareness, patterns like “hesitation” and “hold back” can leave good ideas unsaid, and good leadership not put forth.

Now of course there’s a whole piece to this.

We need to examine the structures that keep this dynamic in place.

And the older gentleman could begin to notice the impact his presence has on others.

But the work I can do is to continue to empower myself.

To increase awareness of how outdated historical, cultural and childhood conditioning live in me and to cultivate the courage to embody something else.

And that process is always the same

  1. Notice what is. Pay attention to the subtle sensations, images, movements, feelings you have throughout the day. Your embodied impulses do not show up as thoughts.
  2. Cultivate curiosity and compassion for what shows up.
  3. Practice courage to shift into something else.

What to give it a try?

Spend a day noticing your embodiment around others.

You can notice:

  • Your eyes: pay attention to where your gaze naturally falls.
  • Your energy: do you constrict or expand yourself.
  • Your body: notice areas of tightness or openness.
  • Your breath: notice location, pace and fullness of breath.

Give it a try and see what happens!

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