Coming home: a strategy for re-inhabiting the body

One of my core beliefs is that the body and the mind are completely intertwined. We cannot live fully, cannot fully express our creativity and passion, if we live up in our heads all the time. My mission in life, I’ve come to realize, is to help people get back down in their bodies and rediscover the magic of embodied living.

So it helps when I myself am embodied. Funny thing about that…

I’ve been really quiet on the blog lately. There’s been so much stress and worry and house-buying and stress and epiphanies and mental whirls…I’ve been almost entirely up in my head. I basically stopped moving apart from outside time with Xander.

I completely stopped stretching. I started sitting at LOT more, and not in healthy ways. And I started noticing last week that when I get up in the mornings or get up from the sofa, my calves are starting to hurt because they’re so tight. Again. And my back has started hurting. Again. And now I have a nagging issue in one hip. Again.

This is what happens to me when I stop moving expressively, stop taking care of my body, and start living up in my head. I know because it feels all too familiar (although it used to be worse because I used to wear shoes with heels, so my legs were even tighter).

I’m glad I finally noticed what was going on. Because now I can take steps to cut it the heck out. And I can share the process with you.

Here’s my plan (some of it I’ve already implemented, some of it I plan to, and most of it I’ve done in the past and just got away from when things got tough…which is, of course, when it’s most needed):

1. Ditch the chairs.

I’ve done a lot of reading this year about how sitting and chairs are horrible for our bodies. And I know that I feel really tight and awful after a long night of working in a chair or on the sofa. So I’m replacing them. I have two options: Standing up, like I am now (added bonus, I can stretch out my super-tight calves and do all kinds of other fun stretches while I work), or sitting on the floor (here are some awesome suggestions for this).

2. Stretch stretch stretch

I already mentioned the calf stretch. I’m also going to add a hamstring stretch, a psoas stretch, and an abdominal release or a spinal twist. Oh, and eventually I want to be able to squat.

3. Get grounded

For someone as air-sign-y as I am, not to mention someone who KNOWS that grounding helps me 99% of the time, I sure spend a lot of my time with my feet several inches above the ground. Clearly, spending significantly more time standing will give me more opportunities to ground myself, but I still wanted to give it its own item on the list because it’s just that important. Here are a couple of techniques I’d like to incorporate into my week.

4. Breathe consciously

At the worst of this busy period, I found myself getting actual dizzy spells from not-breathing. Seriously. That’s not good, people. I want to move through my day with an awareness of how I’m breathing. I also want to explore different breath-centred meditations (if you have any favourites, I’d love to see them). And I would LOVE to get back into yoga…that always helps me breathe.

5. Be gentle

An embodied life, to me, is a life focused on sensations in the body, accessing the body’s wisdom instead of ruling it with the mind. That means moving when you want to move, eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full, paying attention to the body’s requests for rest and nourishing activities like stretching or baths. It means playing and exploring and feeling things out. It means feeling emotions and expressing things physically.

To me, it’s a life full of more textures, tastes, smells, sights, and sounds than my thinking mind can comprehend. That’s what the body experiences. That’s how I want to live.

(Expect to hear more about this!)

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