Here at Mama Embodied, we’re all about approaching pregnancy, birth, and parenting with mindfulness and embodiment. At this point, most people are aware of mindfulness, but not everyone is familiar with embodiment. So what exactly is an embodied mama?
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Let’s start by laying down a working definition of embodiment.
Most simply, embodiment means being deeply connected to the sensations of your body and aware of the present moment.
Embodiment philosophy says that a mind-body connection exists, and our cognition is affected by our experiences in the physical world. While the brain guides our interactions with the world, those interactions are mediated by the body.
In practice, those who promote embodiment believe that our bodies have important wisdom to share with us and that if we learn how to listen to it, that wisdom can help us make the best decisions for ourselves and our lives – whether they’re big or small.
Think about it – Have you ever ignored a “gut feeling” in response to a request from someone else and said “yes” to a commitment that you ended up regretting? There are countless possible reasons your brain didn’t encourage you to turn down that request in the moment (stress, desire to please, just thought about the pros and not the cons). But your body knew how you felt and was telling you, “Don’t do it!”
When you strengthen your mind-body connection and you’re able to pay attention to and honor those physical reactions, you can make better decisions for yourself – whether it’s knowing if you want to say yes or no to a commitment, discerning what would help you feel better during a distressing moment, or understanding (and possibly removing) a trigger.
What I think is equally as important is how strengthening our mind-body connection in turn strengthens our connections to other people. When we’re disconnected from ourselves, we’re often either really reactive or just shut down, and both of those things can harm our relationships and be confusing to the people we love.
When we’re tapping into the wisdom of our bodies, we can start to recognize when we’re going to react in those ways and make changes. We can also communicate with the people who love us about the ways they can support us because we now understand what those are.
I don’t have to tell you how important it is to connect with our children and our partners. And that’s why I value embodiment so much.
An embodied mama is a connected mama, one who is in tune with herself, first. That old saying is true – You can’t pour from an empty cup.
An embodied mama is learning about her nervous system and what triggers might put her into fight or flight. She’s attuned to how to bring herself into rest and digest after a difficult moment.
She knows that, even when she doesn’t have a lot of time, there are practices at her fingertips that she can use to bring herself back to equilibrium. Breathe. Movement. Awareness.
An Embodied Mama Reacts Differently
When we’re connected with ourselves and can read the signals our bodies give us, we can avoid reactions that might hurt our kiddos – impatience, annoyance, yelling – and model a gentler way to express our feelings.
And an embodied mama knows that she doesn’t have to be perfect. Sometimes, she will lose her temper or say something she regrets. But she’ll be aware of those feelings, sit with them, and seek restoration with her family.
Embodiment and embodied parenting are a journey, and they’re not a straight path. But embodiment is a road we walk with ourselves so that we can know ourselves deeply, connect with others, and live our very best lives.
What about embodiment appeals to you? Tell me in the comments!
Learn More About Embodiment
If you’re curious about embodiment, these resources are an amazing way to start learning more:
This book by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is the authority on how trauma affects the body and brain. Using recent scientific studies, Dr. van der Kolk explores how treatments like meditation and yoga can be used to heal the effects of trauma and help survivors regain pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust.
The Body Keeps the Score is also an amazing resource on the nervous system and how yoga and mindfulness can impact it.