Almost 40 years ago in a meditation and leadership training I had a deep experience of my soul fully resting down into my body, vibrant and alive.
It was a peak experience I will never forget, and it has inspired my inner growth and spiritual path ever since.
One of the characteristics of that experience was that I was able to sense and feel — pain and exquisite joy — throughout my entire system. I realized as the body memory of the experience faded in the months that followed, that I wanted to pursue how to return to that state of being and cultivate it on a daily basis.
What I am about to share with you is the highlights of that journey, in hopes that you, too, can taste the edges of it, or perhaps even dive more deeply as I describe the attributes of the Soul Embodiment Process and how it can inform your system.
From the age of 17, I have studied many different systems of meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong and spiritual practices. I was raised on the front pew of a Baptist church. My father was the minister and he inspired me deeply along with the music and community I grew up in. I have studied shamanic traditions and metaphysics. I have traveled and studied in many bodywork circles.
Nothing, however, compared to what I experienced that afternoon in 1980. It imprinted deeply in my system in such a way that I could not leave it behind.
Here is what I have gleaned across the years of seeking inner wisdom in my daily growth and practices.
The Fully Present Soul
We are innately meant to live from within our bodies. When our soul is fully present within, there is easy access to present moment wisdom, creativity, vitality, and joy. It is as though every cell of who we are has intelligence that informs us – consciously and unconsciously – about living optimally at the soul level.
Soul Embodiment is playing with the entire symphony of the body, mind and spirit, not simply one or two instruments that we were raised on. In most cases we may not even be aware that we are playing with such a limited range. The expression, “We don’t know what we don’t know” fits here.
This means that any spiritual practice that leads us further from the present moment of sensation is one to be questioned, not followed. I gently left behind all the systems that taught me to ignore my inner wisdom, or to watch my body from a safe distance.
I will never forget one of my early meditation practices in which I found myself disembodied and looking down on myself from the vantage point of the ceiling in the room where I was sitting in lotus position, saying my mantra over and over. Somehow in that moment, I knew that was the wrong direction to be headed in, even though it would be years before I had that peak full body-soul experience.
What Keeps Us Out of Present Time
Our modern Western culture also conspires to have us disengage from our bodily experiences – from the way that we judge everything around us and live disengaged and in our heads, to the speed of technology, to the stress of daily life that drives us to make our deadlines – all of this contributes to our losing the present moment of sensation.
Our religious traditions (including the one I was raised in) teach us that the body is not to be trusted. It is a trap and will lead you astray, so it needs to be controlled, ignored, or whipped into shape. The idea of slowing down and listening to the wisdom of our very cells is so foreign to most of us. And, I must admit, on my busy days when deadlines loom, it is so tempting to push through and get it done, even if it is at the expense of my rest, my health, or my over all well-being.
Traumas — be they large or small — also contribute to a frozenness that keeps us out of the present moment and in nearly constant hyper-vigilance to make sure that we are indeed safe, when something in our past experience has proven otherwise.
The Soul Embodiment Process
1. Breathing. Breathe as easily and deeply as you can on a regular basis. Yoga is helpful for teaching you this. It certainly headed me back in the right direction when I was 17 years old and had just had a life-sucking traumatic experience. The rhythmic, codified breaths of Hatha Yoga gently brought me back to breathing in a healthy manner as well as feeling my body again.
2. Movement. Dancing, walking, running, swimming, or anything that gets us moving is going in the right direction. I found the work of Emilie Conrad and Susan Harper with Continuum Movement was one of my primary paths for learning what I could feel in my inner landscape. There were ecstatic moments there for me as I broke through rules I had made for myself about connection and movement and what I was allowed to feel.
3. Sound. Make joyful sounds that bring you pleasure. Singing, humming, and vibration of all kinds is a life enhancer. It changes our brain chemistry, our sense of safety and definitely our level of embodiment. Again, Continuum taught me so much in this realm that I include in many of them in my trainings today.
4. Awareness. Being willing to feel all your internal signals. This is challenging when there is unpleasantness or discomfort. And yet, we know that the pain and the joy live in the same neighborhood in our body.
If I am unwilling to hold and have compassion for my own discomfort and pain, I also will most likely miss out on my joy and tenderness. Vulnerability has been recently identified as a central part of living in a whole-hearted manner.
Once again, if we push away our vulnerability, it limits our ability to live fully from our whole heart. This in turn, limits our joy.
5. Curiosity. This attribute helps me stay out of judgment – and judgment always separates me from my present moment experience. Curiosity, on the other hand, opens my awareness to what else is possible.
I cultivate my curiosity whenever something arises that I am recoiling from. Sometimes I need to pull back, but often it is simply old conditioning that I can do without, allowing me to step more fully into the present moment with openness and curiosity.
6. Trust. The attribute of trust has recently been linked to optimism and greater satisfaction as well as effectiveness in life. When I trust my inner guidance system and relax into what it tells me, more possibilities open up.
When I am fearful or anxious (the opposite of trust) doors all around me slam shut and I have a very narrow lens on my future. It is far more powerful to step into experiencing the attribute of trust.
To What You Can, Today
Take a moment now and think about what you could do in your life to remove barriers, the limiting beliefs or the expectations that hold you back from your full life experience.
Take a look at the attributes above and commit to whatever you can do today to deepen your experience of your present moment consciousness.
We are all on a continuous journey of growth and development on a soul level. The deeper we live into what we came here to do, the easier and fuller life becomes. And, enjoy!
About the Author:
Suzanne Scurlock, CMT, CST-D, is the author of Reclaiming Your Body and Full Body Presence. Her Healing From the Core curriculum (healingfromthecore.com) creates a complete, body-centered guide to awareness, healing and joy. She teaches around the world and lives in Reston, Virginia. Her articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “7 Ways to Have More Fun & Feel More Joy” and “You’ve Heard of Presence — But What Does that Really Feel Like in Your Body?” (both, massagemag.com) and “Female Power: Connect with Your Inner Wisdom to Do What You Came Here For” for the June print issue of MASSAGE Magazine.