I (along with a group of friends) been working with The Quaking of America: An Embodied Guide to Navigating Our Nation’s Upheaval and Racial Reckoning by Resmaa Menakem. The book teaches embodied anti-racism. Each chapter includes “body practices” designed to help readers re-inhabit their bodies and learn to metabolize their strong emotions and past (sometimes inherited) trauma.
Mr. Menakem’s body practices often include mindfulness practice. Sometimes, he names it: “mindful stretching,” or “mindful moving,” and sometimes it’s included in the instructions. In the past, I have called myself into my body by placing my attention on my breath. Now, I am including more bodily sensations – vibrations in my hands and feet, the places I hold tension in my shoulders, the feel of my shirt against my skin.
Bringing your attention to your body brings you into the here and now which is one of the purposes of mindfulness. Mindfulness also gathers you when you are scattered, enriches the vividness of your life as you become more aware, allows you to be a better listener, and increases your ability to respond skillfully (rather than react) to change.
Take a moment to remember you are embodied. Take three deep and gentle breaths, feeling your belly move in and out, your chest rise and fall, the air move past your nostrils. Be aware of your feet and whatever is covering them – socks, shoes, blanket… Notice the bones in your feet, the flesh surrounding them, the nerves giving you control, the skin protecting them. Wiggle your toes and flex your ankles to celebrate your feet!
You can work your way through your body in this manner.
As I write this, I am conscious of the limitations of language. There is no “you” completely separate from your body parts, no “you” to celebrate “them.” There is only one beautiful sentient being who is, right now, sitting, but may, at any moment, began to dance.
In your journal:
- be aware of your fingers flexing as you write or type a love letter to yourself.
- Do you want to be more mindful? Why?
- How do you think about and/or practice being embodied?