Elements of Embodiment, Part 6: Experiments in Conscious Movement

Person in hoodie and pants dancing against a concrete backdop

So far, we’ve explored paying attention to our body sensations, learning to recognize emotions in our bodies, holding our bodies and ourselves with compassion and curiosity, and finding pleasure in simple touch. In this post, I’ll talk about how to experiment with conscious movement, and how that can help you come home to your body.

There are a lot of ways you can experiment with conscious movement. If you are already geared toward athletic activities, such as running, hiking, biking, etc., you might start there. But instead of doing whatever is habitual, work to really notice what’s happening in your body as you are moving. Notice how your body is feeling as you do that activity. Notice what you find pleasant, what you find unpleasant, and what’s neutral. Notice when emotions arise – what do you do with them? How do you experience them?

If you’re not inclined toward athletic activities, or you just want to try something different, there are a lot of different ways to work with conscious movement. Walking meditation, which is a core part of many Buddhist mindfulness practices is one great way to work with moving your body with mindfulness.

There are other kinds of conscious movement modalities. I’ve been a practitioner of a type of movement called Authentic Movement. It’s a practice where you move your body as it wants to move, in the presence of a compassionate witness. You are present with your body, whatever is coming up for you in that moment, and what your body does with it. It is surprising what can arise when you are moving your body in this way. Contact Improvisation is another modality of conscious movement.

Of course, Yoga is another way to consciously experiment with movement – it has embedded in it components of mindfulness.

It’s important to find a relationship with any of these modalities, where you are working toward conscious experience of your body moving, in addition to any specific other goal you might have in mind (fitness, flexibility, etc.)

Learning to be present with our bodies as we are moving, and learning to embrace with compassion whatever arises during movement is another part of the path toward embodiment – toward finding a home in our bodies.

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