How Living “Bodyfully” Can Make You More Intelligent
The modern world comes with a lot of comforts and technological advances. Yet, for many of us, they have also come with a cost – being distanced or even cut off from the most advanced and intelligent technology we have: that of our own bodies. The separation of mind and body in many cultures has led to a societal precedence of the intellectual mind and its cognitive power, and this is to the detriment of embodied wisdom. Many people believe we can think our way out of a problem, and that math, science, and rationality are more important than emotion, intuition, and our physical reality. Yet all of these things are equally important to our wellbeing, success, and life satisfaction – because the mind and body are not mutually exclusive, and neither are mental and physical health. “Bodyfulness” is a concept proposed by somatic counselor Christine Caldwell, in order to help us tune back into the intelligence of our bodies for the sake of our health, happiness, and collective success.
The concept of mindfulness goes some way to explain bodyfulness. Mindfulness, as a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, is about directing the conscious mind towards our thoughts, so that we can acknowledge that they are, simply, thoughts. Embodiment directs this awareness to what is going on in the body – tuning into each of the five senses, for example, or noticing your energetic state, or feelings of pleasure or discomfort. To live bodyfully is to remain awake to this embodied experience by acknowledging and responding to what is going on within us at any given moment as we move through the world. Bodyfulness is about deeply occupying and attending to our bodies in the present, in order to enhance our lived experience.
Reclaiming our somatic intelligence
Many of us ignore our body’s needs. It’s what we have been taught to do. We are often encouraged to suppress our emotions and desires, and “push through” pain – which is actually the body’s way of telling us that something isn’t right. We are also often shamed into believing that our bodies and their perfectly natural impulses and processes – such as sexual desire or menstruation – are “wrong” or “bad”. Compounding this for many people is unresolved trauma and nervous system dysregulation that can lead to dissociation from the body – which leaves us feeling safer existing in the mind than in the body, with some even turning to medications and addictions to stay numb. As a society, we have tended towards looking more and more outside ourselves for answers and cures to our ailments, while ignoring the voice that is an expert on the way our unique, individual body feels: our own. It’s no wonder that rates of disease and mental illness are on the rise.
Embracing body wisdom
If you have ever felt stuck for answers, only to later find them “pinging” at you while you’re out running or in the shower, you might have an idea of what body wisdom means. If you have ever been lost in the moment while dancing, feeling truly alive just by moving how your body instinctively wants to move – or if you have grown in somebody’s womb without them having to “do” a single thing to develop you (that’s all of us!), you might be able to understand how clever our bodies truly are. Research into mindfulness, mind-body therapies, and embodied practices has found it has myriad benefits to not just well-being, but that it can also give us improved memory, focus, and communication skills. It can also make it easier for us to achieve a flow state. Incorporating all these aspects, bodyfulness goes further to help us detach from such a rigid identity around what we look like and what we can do. Our bodies change day to day, and minute to minute, and being more closely in tune with our physicality can help us understand, in a deeply embodied way, that change is welcome.
How to come home to your body
Tuning back into your body might not come easily at first, but there are many practices that can assist the process. For some people, yoga helps in getting to know the body better, especially through slower practices such as yin or restorative yoga. Dancing and singing have been integral to the communal human experience for millennia, but these are also incredibly joyful practices to do alone. Breathing practices and body scan meditations can help as well, as can any movement being done just for the sake of movement. Or, vitally for everyone, it might just be the sweet surrender of rest that can bring you home. Remember to forget judgment and just be present with what is. There are no “wrong” or “right” bodies. The more joy and pleasure we experience within our custom-designed vessel, the more we can understand that. And accepting ourselves as the uniquely beautiful, deliciously sensual beings we are may just be the cleverest thing we can do as humans.
All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals that influenced this article: Mindfulness & Bodyfulness: A New Paradigm; The Role of Nonduality in the Relationship Between Flow States and Wellbeing; Seeing How To Serve: Leveraging Somatic Intelligence to Lead and Engage.
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