Today there is much mention of embodiment in movement practices. What really is embodiment? Is it having a good center of gravity, balance and core connection? Is it a capacity to sense and feel internally what is happening? Along with these, I think of embodiment as fluid adaptability. When we are embodied, we can adapt to change, not by rote or by some preordained response, but via immediacy, responsiveness and receptivity. Embodiment is to respond to the here and now while at the same time being connected to a timeless source. Embodiment involves breaking the spell of the separate self. All embodiment is a move away from stasis, paralysis and fixed assumptions. In the body, this suggests staying fluid and flexible. In a larger sense, within the body politic, embodiment involves a capacity to make change in environmental policy, race relations, the rights of women, systems of law and order, and the distribution of wealth.
In embodiment practices, when we are fluid we break the habit body and the habit mind. When we are embodied in the dynamics of flow, we build a readiness to change, a readiness to evolve. Fluid dynamics suggest mobility, ingenuity, mutation and responsiveness. I am sure you have heard the expression “you can’t step in the same river twice”. Fluid presence is a readiness to be on the cusp of continual change. Going back to old ways of being is not a possibility. In this way when we practice, we not only alter the history of our body, but participate in altering the history of the world.
Embodiment is the expression of potential. In the body, potential within a joint, a muscle, an organ, or individual cell requires hydration. Like tidal water flowing in and out of an ocean tide pool, fluid dynamics require compressive/decompressive movements that help pump fluid in and out of the body’s tissues. Fluid dynamics alter the viscosity of lymph, blood and synovial fluid and in turn effect the way that fluids seep into all the cracks and crevices of the body. Bathing the muscles, joints and organs in blood flow is a way to stay healthy and supple.
The realization of potential within the fabric of a community, requires similar hydration. In the same way that blood seeps into connective tissue, we need to infuse neighborhoods with better health care, housing, education and child support. We need to irrigate prana into social networks so that the dynamics of flow touch the lives of people everywhere.
In truth, there is no solidity. Like the Tao, all things are in flux. Day to day, we practice “fluxing”, and like a river, we bend by redirecting our internal energies. This requires not only somatic flow on the mat. Today, issues such as racial injustice, the pandemic and global warming necessitate we make change off the mat. We need to adapt to a world on fire by collectively embodying social justice, kind heartedness, equal rights and non-discrimination. In this way, embodiment is to not only to stay supple inside, but to realize our great human potential as compassionate and conscientious beings.