I recently came across the concept of embodiment while scrolling on that quintessential self-care resource known as Instagram (please note the sarcasm—I am trying to break said scrolling habit). But excessive social media consumption aside, this term has resonated in my bones. Embodiment evokes a sense of deep awareness, connection, appreciation, and trust for the body. It feels intuitive and emotionally safe, like the start of a close friendship. It also feels sensory and tactile, like the experience of being unconditionally at home in my own skin. Since this initial Instagram encounter, I have wanted to learn all I can about what it means to practice the art of embodiment in eating disorder recovery.
What Is the Art of Embodiment in Eating Disorder Recovery?
To begin my exploration into the art of embodiment, I have gone in search of a basic definition to work from. As a professional writer and passionate lover of words, that feels like an obvious starting point. My favorite definition comes from embodiment coach Philip Shepherd in his book on the subject, Radical Wholeness. This is how Shepherd summarizes what it means to enter a state of true personal embodiment:
“[Embodiment is] about fully inhabiting the intelligence of the body and attuning to the world through it. It’s about listening to the world through the body.”1
I think of this as an interwoven co-existence, where there is no separation between the body I live in and the human being I am. Despite all the years I spent dissociating from it, the physical self is just as much a part of my holistic identity as the mental, emotional, and spiritual selves that I pay more attention to. I cannot sever ties with this body because I am this body. We are unified together with the same mission to pursue: We both want healing, wholeness, love, acceptance, growth, and vitality.
The sheer force of will this body has summoned to keep us both alive is nothing short of miraculous. The inner wisdom it contains to know exactly what we need is proof of its trustworthiness. When I tune into what this body is communicating, I have all the information right at my disposal to make healthy, balanced choices. In other words, the art of embodiment strengthens and nurtures my eating disorder recovery.
How I Practice the Art of Embodiment in Eating Disorder Recovery
I am still new to the art of embodiment, but as I challenge myself to press further into it, this whole learning process feels beautifully restorative. Embodiment teaches me how to repair the fractured, combative relationship that I forced on my own body for most of our shared history. As a team, we are softening those once razor-sharp edges to create a much kinder, gentler, more harmonious connection. So here are just a few of the actionable ways I have begun to practice the art of embodiment in eating disorder recovery:
- I nourish my body with a colorful, nutritious, indulgent variety of all our favorite foods.
- I rest my body if it asks for a slower pace, and I exercise if it needs to be in motion.
- I protect my body with intentional boundaries to conserve its energy and sustain its peace.
- I listen to my body when it reveals a tender place inside of us that requires healing.
- I tell my body it is wise, capable, strong, valuable, and beautiful—a true marvel of nature.
- I thank my body for the care it gives me, and I choose to reciprocate that loving care.
- I accept my body in this moment for how it looks and all it does, with no plan to change it.
I would also love to know: Is the art of embodiment a cornerstone of your eating disorder recovery? If so, what does this mean to you? How do you commit to a life of embodiment in your own healing process? Please share in the comment section.
- Shepherd, P. (2018, November 27). What Is Embodiment Anyway? The Embodied Present Process. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from https://embodiedpresent.com/what-is-embodiment-anyway/