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An Embodied Christmas

I am drawn time and time again to psychotherapy tools that bring me back to my body. I love working with clients through the lens of the nervous system, understanding the powerful vagus nerve and the way it supports our wellbeing, learning what it is to be a body, not just a mass of muscle and fluid carrying our brains around.

Mostly, in Western culture especially, we live dis-embodied, we value thinking and intellect, we ignore (at best) our bodies in the pursuit of ‘success.’ Often we punish our bodies and think they need to be brought into submission.

I’m part of the launch team for Dr Hillary McBride’s newest book Practices for Embodied Living. Experiencing the Wisdom of Your Body. It’s out on January 16th and it’s beautiful. I’ll be sharing more on Instagram and here on the blog over the next few weeks.

But I’ve been thinking about incarnation, as one does in the lead up to Christmas with a church background. I don’t go to church anymore, but I have always found the concept of incarnation compelling and powerful, intimate. It simply means, a spirit embodying the flesh. It’s defined as ‘the appearance of spirit in bodily form.’ In Christianity, incarnation is a doctrine, referring to Jesus as the incarnation of God. Christmas is this very thing, celebrated. The God who came near to us, in human flesh.

So our bodies, are what spirit looks like, moves like. A translation of the Greek language describes spirit as breath. I find all these analogies, descriptors and metaphors rich and lovely. It’s familiar language to me.

I wonder if this familiarity is what draws me to embodied ways of healing, of sitting with my body and noticing where I experience emotion. Working with my body and breath to contain and shift the breadth of my emotions, allowing them all to be present, not fearing them or numbing them. We can’t selectively numb, when we dampen pain, we also dampen joy.

Hillary writes in Practices for Embodied Living, ‘Embodiment – which is connected, feeling and healing – gives us agency, comfort and connection, the experience and expression of desire and attuned self-care, and it helps us experience our bodies as subjects instead of objects.’

She goes on to write, ‘Remember a time you felt alive, loved or connected. If you can, hold it in your mind and remember what if felt like in your body. Notice what happens now in your body as you remember that.’ Our bodies are our sanctuaries, they tell the story of who we are and who we come from, what we’ve been through. We are the appearance of spirit in bodily form.

That is what and who we are, spirit in flesh, breath in bodies, full of life and energy. What would change if you could connect with your body in this way, working with it not against it? What if it was the key to your healing and your joy?

Embodied approaches to counselling & psychotherapy are powerful ways to come home to yourself. I’d love to work with you in this way. You can connect with me here.

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