The majority of my current magical experimentation is on experiential embodiment, which is focused on entering into a conscious relationship with the body, as opposed to merely inhabiting it and treating it as an object. Yet what I’m finding with this work is that it’s not merely helping me continue to collaborate with my body as a living universe in its own right, but also connecting me more intimately with the environment and world I live in, as well as with the fellow living beings I share this space with.
I’m reading the Spell of the Sensuous and Processmind and both books explore how connecting with your body also opens you up to connect with your environment. What both authors recognize is that the choice to be sensually and experientially present with your body necessarily also opens you up to becoming present with the space you are interacting with in your everyday life. Embodiment teaches us not to take for granted the world we live in or the bodies we are fortunate enough to have access to.
The authors also remind us that we are in constant communication with the world around us, through our bodies. We are taking in environmental cues and behaviors that we may not even realize we have access to, all the time. By learning to consciously connect with your body, you’re also begin to learn how to connect with the environment and become aware of the way it shapes us.
In my experience, I find that people who take their bodies for granted also seem to take the environment for granted. This happens because we are taught to distance ourselves from our bodies, to treat the body as an object, and if you’re doing that with your own body, you’re more than likely also going to do it with the environment. The benefit of embodiment is that teaches us to stop taking our bodies for granted and as a result also opens us to being aware of the environment and the relationship we have with it.
Of course simply being aware of the environment isn’t enough, but until we can acknowledge that connection we won’t be able to change our relationship with the environment. So how do we begin doing that?
By opening ourselves to our sensual awareness of the environment and fully taking in each sight, sound, scent, taste, and feeling we encounter what we allow ourselves to do is actually be in the environment. Instead of selectively ignoring what’s around us, we take it all in and recognize that we are part of it. Then we start paying attention to our responses to the environment and that can also help us start to figure out what isn’t working in our relationship with the environment. And we do this not to change the environment, but instead to change how we interact with the environment. It’s a key distinction to make, because the point isn’t to try to objectify the environment or force it to conform to our will, but instead to collaboratively live with it in a harmonious relationship. When you recognize that you are part of the environment, not separate from it, and intimately experience it through your body you can no longer avoid being present with the choices that you make. That is one of the gifts of experiential embodiment, for we learn through the relationship we develop with our bodies to question what we are choosing to do and how it impacts our lives and the environment we are part of.
That’s not something which comes easy to many people, but if we choose to embrace our bodies, to become collaborators, then we can also do the same with the environment. As a result we may find that we adapt some of our lifestyle choices to be in alignment with the environment instead of trying to control it. We might, for example, make the choice to leave tiny offerings of honey or food out for ants, away from our homes instead of just trying to kill them with ant traps. In that way we honor their lives and create a purposeful relationship with our environment that respects the place of other living beings that help make our world what it is.