“If you do not bring forth the genius within you, it will destroy you. But if you do bring forth the genius within you, it will liberate you.”
~ Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel of Thomas
When I think about “embodiment,” I imagine a people who are fully inhabiting their bodies. Feeling life through all the senses. Strengthened by being in nature. Warm spring sun on the skin. Caring for the body so that it lives a long time. In touch with the outer sensory world, as well as being in touch with inner sensory experience. Able to sense what you are feeling and turn towards those feelings in any given moment.
When I think about “embodiment,” I imagine a people who are fully inhabiting their minds. Thinking about life in a way that allows them to make good, solid decisions. Discerning values. Tending to the waves of unhelpful stories you might be making up about someone else or yourself. Turning your mind toward what would be most useful in any given moment.
When I think about “embodiment,” I imagine a people who are fully inhabiting their hearts. Stretching for healthy connection with others. Spending time in self-care, resting, renewing. Working to be in community, and finding something to do together that is expansive and rich in any given moment.
When I think about “embodiment,” I imagine a people fully inhabiting their creativity. Bringing forth the genius that is within. Whether it is the genius of running a business, parenting with skill and care, writing music, or painting something beautiful. Not repressing the impulse to make the world more beautiful in any given moment. When I think about “embodiment,” I imagine a people who are fully inhabiting their soulful nature. Struggling to live into ideals. Becoming fearless. Non-conforming. Having deep regard for others. Embracing the shadow and the light — the wholeness of self in any given moment.
Columbine Church’s mission statement says that we transform ourselves and the wider world through living “lives of integrity, service, and love.” For me, the definition of integrity is close to my definition of embodiment — that we each embrace and “live who we are” most authentically in each moment. Otherwise, we will be living “outside” of ourselves, so to speak. And as Jesus said — living outside of ourselves will destroy us. And, probably others around us, too. We value integrity because I think we recognize it as our greatest source of empowerment.
Historically, in many religious traditions, body and spirit have been set apart from one another. The body has often has been characterized as a poorly organized mechanism, guided by base behaviors and attractions. While one’s spirit has been seen as superior, somehow operating above “earthly” care or needs.
But, what real humans have discovered is that a whole-human-being is one in which all of these pieces — body, mind, spirit, soul — are all one. Operating equally powerfully in one body. Not separated out. (I do imagine soul and spirit as drastically different, but that is another conversation.) A whole person then, might be one who has fully integrated the different parts of his or her being, so that one can function as a full being = embodied. A whole person is one who knows “the body is a sacred garment” for all that is “me.” I believe that this idea is more important now than ever. We are living in the world where some say that “The crisis is dire. The danger is real. The suffering is mounting. And yet, this is also a perfect moment to rise and redeem and resurrect.” This is a perfect time for each of us to live fully into our wholeness…our genius. Because it will take ALL of what-each-of-us-have to right the world. To continue to create when others destroy. To put forth sane logic and reason when others spout falsity. To unleash sacred rage instead of being consumed by our anger or possessed by our fear. To rise up in love, in the midst of hate. To ground ourselves in beauty so that we have the strength to boldly stand for justice. So, I say, “Let’s bring it, my friends!” I look forward to exploring with you this month.