Author’s note: This is a piece I wrote a couple of years ago as I was developing a workshop called Radical Embodiment. I came across it again recently and thought of it again today, as I watched the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and felt my body respond: releasing years of fear and rage and impotence, embracing a sense of safety, hope, possibility. The body keeps the score, right? Today I felt the win, throughout my body, right down to my cells. And it felt great. Totally radical.
Radical Embodiment. The first time I heard the term, it raised the hair on my arms. It means different things in different contexts. In the world of artificial intelligence, it’s about the challenges of imbuing cyborgs with an innate sense of themselves, a “natural” embodiment in an unnatural body.
In the diverse worlds of somatic-centered practitioners — from bodyworkers to dancers, contemporary shamans to Jungian analysts — it can have a multiplicity of specialized meanings.
I draw on many of these perspectives but I also bring my own. My training as a historian, especially in the medical humanities, and my work as a writer and storyteller are part of it. But I came to Radical Embodiment primarily through the intelligence and intuition born of my own embodied experience, my crash-burn-and-return from chronic illness, the slow disjointed process that took me on a deep dive into the dark night of the soul. This is what I brought back from that journey.
Radical Embodiment is a philosophy, a practice, a paradigm shift in our approach to our bodies. It asks us to move beyond conventional ways of thinking about our bodies – away from hating-judging them, or even loving and strengthening them – and instead to open ourselves to a deep experiencing of our bodies and our relationship to the physical and energetic world… to move into listening to and knowing ourselves in deeply and radically somatic, sensory, and intuitive ways.
Radical Embodiment draws on an eclectic mix of influences from Jungian archetypes to deep ecology, from energy medicine to spiritual activism. It invites us to listen and connect to our bodies, our earth, our ground, and helps us to unlock and access that inner wisdom, our intuition, the wellspring of our creativity and our life force.
Radical Embodiment is a recognition of the deeply interconnected nature of the world, the vast energetic web woven of the life force in all beings.
Radical Embodiment is a form of spiritual activism, an ethos of deep attention, compassion, and stewardship that begins in our our bodies and extends into the world.
Radical Embodiment is a commitment: to healing ourselves, each other, this planet we all call home.
Radical Embodiment is a way back from the edge of the broken crazy world into an inner space of trust and healing: back into our (human-animal) bodies and into the magic, the joy, the wonder of being alive, right here, right now.