Knowledge is only rumour until it lives in our muscle.
I reference this insightful quote from the Asaro tribe of Papua New Guinea often in my work. As a facilitator of communication, I like how it speaks to the place of the body in a development process.
There’s a growing awareness and engagement with the idea of embodiment. I recently attended a symposium on this topic and am engaged in an online conference about it. Although it is one of those terms that can mean different things to different people, and it raises many questions.
Embodiment… Is there a mind/body split? Are we not always embodied? Is the mind located in the brain or the body? Or both? How does the body think? Whose body do we reference? How do we listen with and to the body? How do we make meaning from this experience of embodiment? If we move differently can we change our experience of life? Where does embodiment fit with knowledge? Phew, a lot to consider!
In my work, I have regularly experienced the body as an under-utilised resource, whether with individuals or in groups. So I am on a mission to integrate it more into how we communicate.
I understand embodiment as the act of moving our body within communication and not just relying on discussion and talking for cognition. By engaging and moving our bodies we have an opportunity to alternate how we connect and communicate and when we do allow for body-based movement, some surprising windows into knowledge can be illuminated.
I have seen group dynamics shift significantly when the body is invited into the conversation – by embodying an idea, concept or feeling state and letting this speak to us rather than only sitting around discussing the idea. The challenge often is the process of making meaning of the embodied experience, as we are required to learn a new language and listen in a new way – it is another intelligence. Listen not to only to thoughts but to feelings, senses, impulse, energy. I can understand why the body has been referenced as, unruly, because what it unearths can certainly be surprising.
By moving away from the cerebral communication process and into an embodied process we can immediately shed a layer of social masking. The body and movement can often access and express our unconscious and this can be revealing, vulnerable and uncomfortable.
But this same discomfort when directed toward generating knowledge, insight or connection can be a strength. We can loosen our attachment to the rational and the logical, to what we think should happen and follow the impulsive, the emotional, the playful.
This process inevitably moves us toward making the unconscious more conscious, we move toward being more awake to the fullness of our experience, to our nature, each other and to our sensual world around us.
Embodiment – listening to our whole being – allows us to move toward coherence – mind, heart and body. The next question is how can we consciously give permission to ourselves and others to listen and hear this deeper aspect of communication.