What Does It Mean to Be “In Your Body”


People talk all the time about being “in your body,” but it is rarely defined or explained.  After all, where else would you be, besides in your body?  People do sometimes have out-of-body experiences in which they are hovering on the ceiling looking down at themselves, or flying through the universe, but most of the time when people talk about not being “in your body,” they mean something much less dramatic than this.

Most of the time when people speak about being “in your body,” they are referring to a state of union between body and consciousness that allows our consciousness to be able to express itself freely through our bodies, and also allows our bodies to communicate subtle sensory information to our consciousness.  These two aspects of being in our bodies are related, but depending on whether our emphasis within this union is more on action or more on perception, the results may be very different.

Action-oriented and expressive aspects of being in our bodies ( accessed through sports, dance, etc) are somewhat helpful and somewhat of interest in Whole Heart Connection work, but they are not emphasized nearly so much as the aspect of being in our bodies that involves allowing our bodies to communicate subtle sensory information to our consciousness.  The “bad news” about this is that all your athletic prowess may not get you anywhere with Whole Heart Connection; the good news is that you can be a hopeless klutz and still be very successfully perceptive through being more fully in your body.

Our body speaks to us all the time. For instance it tells us when we are hungry, or when we are tired.  If we are not fully in our body, though, we may not notice these signals until they get very loud and obvious.  The more we are in our body, the more our body can whisper to us, instead of having to shout.  When we are fully in our body, our bodies can whisper to us about many more things than just hunger or tiredness.  baby-in-moms-arms-for-siteOur bodies become increasingly able to inform us about other needs, feelings, inspirations and intuitions from within us. We also become increasingly able to hear what our bodies are sensing around us, in our environment, much as animals and children often seem to have a “sixth sense” about what is going on around them. When we know how to listen to the whispers of our body, our bodies can be a means by which we tune in to a very subtle level of perception that is natural to all of us.

What keeps us from being fully in our bodies?
Why aren’t we in them all the time?

There may be many reasons.  One is the simple habit of distraction by our involvement in the outside world. Being too busy to notice how we feel, rather than just what we’re doing right now, contributes to not being in our bodies.  Am I a human being, or a human doing?

Sometimes we very clearly do not want to notice what we are feeling; what’s going on inside of us may be traumatic, painful, or just inconvenient and uncomfortable.  It may be taboo, i.e. not what we think we ought to be feeling.  It may just be puzzling, and make us feel different from others, and so we would rather not deal with it.

The hyperstimulus of technology may be unwittingly drawing us out of our bodies. No one sitting curled up on the couch reading a book looks as vacant and sucked out-of-body as a person sitting and reading something on their computer! It is not impossible – at all – to learn to stay in your body on the computer, but it does take practice, and awareness, and diligence with double-checking whether you’ve gotten sucked in again. The good news is that if you can stay in your body while on your computer, you will be developing a very strong practice! (See On the Computer / Part One and Part Two.)

introvert-extrovert-for-siteWhen we are not in our bodies, we tend to manifest this in two different ways.  One is to “escape” into projection. Our consciousness moves outward from our bodies, and hovers around in front of us, like an exo-receptionist, meeting and greeting everyone “out there.”  We may have the idea that this will keep us safe in some way, but more often what it leads to is distance, misunderstandings, and loneliness.

Another way to leave our bodies is dissociation, or inhibition, which can be described as a very small crunched-up uncomfortable feeling.  Sometimes it feels like wishing we didn’t even exist. Sometimes the crunched-upness is so strong that it feels more like numbness, or a blank sense of immobilization.

When we are in a state of inhibition, our sense of immobilization can range from being just a little bit awkward and behind the beat, to total paralysis. It certainly does not allow us to be particularly perceptive, because its primary mode is deliberately trying not to know what’s going on inside of ourselves, usually because we feel (whether we know it our not) that we are “wrong” in some way.  Common voices of inhibition are: “I’m going to do it wrong. I can’t tell whether or not I’m doing it wrong. Something is wrong with me.”

The medicine for this is love—but sometimes it’s hard for us to let it in. I have quite a few self-practiced techniques for getting “over the hump” when I’m stuck in inhibition and not letting the love in. How do you recognize places of inhibition in yourself, and how do you gently bring them back to the Love? Take some time to reflect and journal about this. This is such an important topic – nothing you come up with is too small. We all need these gifts, and you never know when just a little nudge towards opening to the Love could make a huge difference.

Being in our bodies may initially feel a lot more vulnerable than dissociating and projecting, and so it is worth taking extra time to keep on double-checking whether in fact you are in greater danger, moment by moment, by inhabiting your own body.  Most people find that being in touch with themselves, and in fact inviting others on a “me-first basis” (through modeling) to make themselves at home in their bodies while interacting, makes us more insightful, and able to communicate much more clearly.  In the long run, being in our bodies leads to a much greater and more reliable sense of safety and connection in our relationships.

Thea Elijah, Whole Heart Connection

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Photo credits: g.francis / jaimekop / Jerry Cooke