How to Be More Embodied

By Leo Babauta

Most of us live in about 8% of our body most of the time – the head. Even though we have a lot of body beneath the head, we forget about that most of the day.

We’re on our screens, doing work, consuming content, messaging. We’re distracted, worried, ruminating. We’re overthinking, building up a case against someone, or watching video after video.

There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s a very human thing. But what would it be like to live more fully in our bodies? We might call this, “Embodied Living.”

To live embodied means to:

Things that help with being more embodied include meditation, yoga, breathwork, movement, awe walks, coaching, martial arts, and more.

But it can be hard to move from being in our heads most of the time … to being more embodied throughout the day. Let’s talk about how to do that.

The Embodied Pause

It’s always a good idea to start small. Let’s start with the Embodied Pause:

  1. Multiple times throughout the day … pause.
  2. Take in some breaths. Notice how the breath feels. Let yourself savor each in-breath, and let tension out with each out-breath.
  3. Stretch. Stretch your neck (gently), your shoulders, your jaw. Maybe the rest of your body too if you like. Let yourself release tension in these areas, and remember that you have a body.
  4. Ask yourself what you need. Do you need to move around? Take a break? Drink some water? Have some tea? Talk to a friend? This is a way of honoring your body’s needs.

It’s fairly simple and doesn’t have to take long. Notice if you’re resisting this – it’s common to want to skip past this because it feels too basic, or it interrupts whatever you were doing on a screen.

Practice this for a week. I promise it will have you feeling more embodied. It’s a great start!

Embodied Practices

Once you’ve practiced that pause for a week, you can choose one embodied practice at a time and add it in as an Embodied Pause. The more you practice, the more you’ll have the facility for this.

There are an infinite number of ways to practice, but here are some that I love:

I encourage you to find your own embodiment practices as well. But give these a shot!

How to Learn

I highly encourage you to pick one practice and focus on that for a few days, before adding another. You can learn multiple practices at once, but it’s hard to remember too many. If you choose one new one at a time, you’ll be able to set up reminders for it, give it your full attention, bring curiosity to practicing it.

Don’t worry about doing anything right. This is an exploration, a place of discovery, not having to do it right. If you forget to practice, or “do it wrong,” can you explore what that’s like? When you find yourself trying to do it right, can you free yourself to bring curiosity and play to the practice?

Reflecting on the practice helps. Journal about it, blog about it, talk to someone and share what you’re learning. This doubles the learning – you do the practice, then you reflect.

Let it be play. Let it be fun! Let it be a joyful exploration of being alive.