Embodiment

a viceroy butterfly is emerging from its chysalis through an open zipper. A metaphor for embodiment

My body and I have had a rough go of it. This is not an uncommon experience for trans people. First, trans people have a higher risk of sexual trauma. Second, our bodies are the locations of both internal and external conflict. We deal with dysphoria, and not liking parts or most of our bodies, and we deal with transphobia targeted to our bodies. All of this means that we might have tendencies to have a lot of negative self-talk about our bodies, and may also have ways of dissociating, because our bodies feel unsafe. Embodiment might feel impossible.

How do we come to terms with this? How do we learn to fully inhabit these wonderful bodies we’ve been given? That can even sound difficult – wonderful bodies?

It takes practice, and a willingness to notice our experiences, and fully accept them, and love ourselves even as we have them.

One big change for me came when I was willing to accept my dysphoria. Of course, that has also been an ongoing process – I have to come work at that acceptance over and over again. Noticing our experiences, noticing our self-talk, and greeting those without judgement, even if they are negative, is a necessary step.

Another really useful avenue to help us fully inhabit our bodies is to find an embodiment modality that fits you. It could be yoga, a martial art, a sport, or an outdoor activity. For me, Authentic Movement was a modality that really worked for me, as does getting out into nature. It’s important when we are doing these activities to be willing to notice what’s happening in our bodies – even if what’s happening isn’t pleasant, and to greet those feelings with compassion.

It’s a practice, and like all practices, it takes time to master. But it can have wonderful results.

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