Growing up a female in a masculine powered world of the 60’s, I can tell you it has taken me a long while to find the ways of being alive and present in my life that really work for me. At 69, I can say it has taken experimentation with many mind/body tools to really find my own embodied presence. I can now tell you that these are my authentic feminine gifts that have been with me from my birth, but took me 60 years to finally allow them center stage: receptivity, kindness, interconnectedness, intuition, creativity, forgiveness and gratitude.
I had to learn to stop listening to the masculine parts of me like The Driver, The Fixer, The Problem-Solver, The Doer, and start being quiet enough to feel and ultimately listen to the feminine traits I truly needed to allow to have a voice in my life. I was way out of balance, exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed, until I started trusting my body and letting it lead me more. This was my “embodiment revolution” and it was all about being in nature and loving it. When I was in nature, I let go of all thinking and allowed my senses to guide me.
The circuitous path that I took to find what I call my own embodiment practices is below. These traits have solidified how I now move in the world; ie, how I decide what to do, how I decide who I hang out with, how I rest, how I connect, how I love. I don’t have all the answers, but I hope that by sharing some of my process you can find your own and trust it like I have learned to do.
Embodiment practices for Deep Diving are all about learning how to have a deeper relationship with your inner self.
As we discussed last month, Deep Diving is Stage 3 on the Midlife Voyage and requires lots of practice using these tools before we can begin our inner healing.
Step 1) Move into your body.
Get your body moving in a physical way. Run, hike, play outdoors in nature, dance, do yoga, zumba, aerobics, biking, swimming, etc. Find what you like and do it deeply. Push past your comfort zone. Try to engage your body fully so you sweat and deeply meet yourself on a muscular and cellular level. Allow your sensations to permeate you totally. Invite smell, touch, hearing, seeing, feeling… Ask: What’s it like to be my body?
Step 2) Be like a tree! Get out in nature and look at nature’s way of finding resilience, healing and deep-rootedness. Have you ever gotten really friendly with a tree? By this I mean, hanging out with a tree and being curious, open-hearted, and receptive to what the tree is showing you about being alive? Trees are huge teachers of resilience. When you look at a healthy tree, you see the deep-rootedness and flexibility that trees have to be able to be adaptive to all the many seasonal shifts and weather challenges of the living world with which they are deeply interconnected. You also see how deeply connected to everything around them, how they sense what needs to happen next through their deep-roots, their connection to what’s alive seeking inward and outward. The root system is soft and pliable, sensitive and attuned to finding nutrients and ultimately integration within the whole tree.
Trees are symbols of receptivity and flexibility, two major feminine traits that teach us how to integrate and heal. When I see these trees, I see more clarity about what tools we need to deeply process, integrate and heal from major traumas and pain. And, I see clues about how we might adapt for the future.
Trees also teach us about transitions and change. Like life itself, trees show us the chaotic cycles and spirals of life and how to weather them. Not unlike our own bodies as women, trees work with the chaotic patterns of the life force and stay with the mess until an underlying order reveals itself. They don’t try to think their way out of whatever might bring challenges—they simply ride the waves through it. Trees teach us all about impermanence and all about what our bodies know, just like the trees—stay in the process and bring flexibility and receptivity and it will reveal itself in time.
Step 3) Reflect back the compassion, forgiveness and gratitude that trees give us — first to ourselves, then outwardly. Do you feel the love coming from trees? Embody the compassion and live it outside and in.
Can we trust our bodies like these trees trust their deeply rooted balance? “Balance comes from not remaining with the same but from being flexible in the midst of constant change.” Deborah Eden Tull, author of Relational Mindfulness, speaks of this and adds an important key to learning to be flexible and adaptable—SELF COMPASSION. She says the ability to ride the waves of life with your body connected and balanced with your mind requires that you bring compassion into yourself. “Learning to adapt comes from a deep open-heartedness with ourselves.”