Last year ‘feminine embodiment’ had become a daily ritual for me. I had completed Jenna Ward‘s Feminine Embodiment Coaching Certification, I was already running workshops and I was ready to start seeing individual clients. I felt like I finally had all the tools to step out into the real world!
Feminine Embodiment is the practice of tuning into the body and noticing the tiny nuances that run beneath the surface of our usual day to day consciousness. Its like asking your body “how are you, really?” and noticing the answer that comes in the language of sensation.
There are many different names for this practice – somatic experiencing, absorption practice, focusing… and no doubt, many more.
Out of nowhere though, came panic attacks. They ‘hijacked’ my whole body and at first, it felt as though I was about to die. I spent three months in full body fear. From the previous year of cultivating an intimate relationship with my body, I was now deeply afraid of it. Afraid of what I would feel.
I found myself unable to do simple household tasks, unable to be at home alone and almost unable to drive. Most of all, I lost my direction, purpose and confidence. My brain felt like it had permanent fog. I felt tense all the time… waiting if another panic attack would arrive. There was only one thing I could do… I turned to creativity.
As an art therapist, you would think I was regularly being creative. I wasnt. I knew all the theory, but I didn’t do it because I now realise, I was worried my creations weren’t good enough. The ‘not good enough’ story is a common belief pattern in people who suffer anxiety.
But now I was in crisis – I began. And as I immersed myself in the creative process, the realisation was loud and clear – I noticed in my body immediately, how I felt instantly calm. It didn’t even matter, one tiny bit, whether what I created was good enough! I wasn’t trying to please anybody else. I was trying to feel better.
I played with different materials outside under a tree, sitting on the grass, I used the kitchen table, the living room floor, I even spread a towel over my bed and did art journaling before sleep, knowing it would calm me.
Its well researched now, how creativity calms the nervous system, slows the heart rate and changes the brain waves to those seen during meditation. Time in creativity is a no brainer for anxiety.
It really hit me, just how calming being creative was, when I was right in the midst of ongoing, full body, anxiety. The change was instant and profound.
Being creative is another form of embodiment. When you are being creative, you invite moments of stillness, where you can truly hear your body. You can safely feel and move through the sensations as you put marks on the paper. You notice an instant release of the tension… this is embodiment!
An added bonus of creativity is, you get visual feedback as well as bodily. The image or creation you make is a collection of symbols from within… much like dreams. You can discover a deeper meaning using your intuition – your deep bodily knowing – to receive insight and wisdom.
When you take these moments to be still, to get out of your head and to truly listen to your body’s wisdom, the anxiety and panic attacks start to fall away. As I did, you begin to feel calm more often, clearer in your thinking, a feeling of direction and purpose returns and you get your life back in control.
So on that note… I’m off to create!