...physically, the body appears to heal itself far better if we have a good quality of "somatic presence"...
The more I have applied embodiment skills both for myself and with clients, the more I have realised that being fully embodied is something that most of us strive for, rather than something that is achieved.
Indeed, it is quite hard to define exactly what embodiment is. A list of elements that might be included in an ideal state of embodiment include :
If you are not familiar with the idea of embodiment, it might seem to be a strange thing to talk about. I think of embodiment skills as being part of the basic user manual that we should have been given when we were given a body in the first place. They are a core part of what is commonly called "personal development." Consider that your day-to-day and moment-to-moment experience of your body, your being and your self (your identity) is based on a series of sensory filters controlled by very primitive parts of the nervous system. For each individual, these filters are largely put in place by accident and circumstance, and they control how we experience the world - and particularly they control how we do not experience the world - i.e. what our primitive brain thinks we do not need to know. Since this is a background state of awareness, it is not possible to conceive of a different way to experience the world or our body or ourselves, because - we experience what we experience. So embodiment could be described as a means to expand our concept of who we are and what the world is, by switching on senses that we already have, but which, for one reason or another have become unused.
There are many advantages to this awakening of unused senses. Physically, the body appears to heal itself far better if we have a good quality of "somatic presence". For instance, almost all cases I have come across so far of incomplete or delayed healing of tissue or bone are related to a reduced level of somatic presence, and healing occurs vary rapidly once a better quality of embodied presence occurs. This is an easy skill to learn, and the effects on physical health are substantial. Mentally and emotionally, greater somatic presence tends to go hand in hand with greater emotional stability and.peace of mind (i.e. the thoughts are quiet and we only think when we need to rather than being plagued by an industrial level of uncontrollable thoughts). It becomes easier to know what we want because we can feel the "positive" emotions of appreciation and gratitude more easily. And increased somatic presence generally comes with an increase in health and wellbeing because there is a proper relationship between body and mind. So the mind is more aligned to the needs of the body, and the body is more responsive to the will. This process may be unfolded for just enough to help an injury to heal, or it may be followed further, into a profound expansion of our sense of self.
Ever since I started to practice CST in 1994, I have been aware that even a simple CST treatment will tend to help people to become more embodied. And over the past two decades I have gradually put together a set of skills which I have found are easy to teach and which can be taken away from the treatment room and practiced at home. So embodiment skills not only help with physical healing, but also can (if you wish) become a life skill that can have all kinds of further benefits in many different aspects of life.