John Nepo writes:
“This is the story of Ted Shawn, and it is compelling for us to realize that studying God did not heal him. Embodying God did. The fact of Ted Shawn’s miracle shows us that Dance, in all its forms, is Theology lived. This leads us all to the inescapable of act of living out what is kept in, of daring to breathe in muscle and bone what we know and feel and believe – again and again.”A Book of Awakening (Red Wheel/Weiser, 2020, p. 13)
Studying did not heal Shawn, embodying did. Shawn was suffering from polio at the time he felt a call to dance instead of continuing his studies in Divinity. Ted Shawn went on to become a groundbreaker in American modern dance.
Embody means, to “be an expression of or give a tangible or visible form to (an idea, quality, or feeling).” (Oxford Languages, Google search).
Ted Shawn, for example, not only embodied dance, but his entire life embodied his personal passion to make dance an acceptable art form for male dancers.
It’s easy to see how someone who has an all-consuming passion can embody it to the point that their entire life is an illustration of their inner motivation (e.g., athletes, politicians, artists, scientists). They know what it is that they’re passionate about. But what if you don’t really know? Like me? Like you, maybe?
Amanda Blake at embright.org offers a really neat centering practice that helps you do just that. Her Stress to Serenity Guide and 7-Day Centering Challenge really helped me zero in on what I want to embody.
Centering helps you become aware of what you’re feeling in your body (the different sensations like temperature, pressure, movement, and mood), and then relating it to your physical dimensions of length (dignity), width (connection and community), depth (time), and and love (meaning). Blake then takes it a step further to help you be able to center while you’re going about your day.
The embodiment statement I came up with when I did the challenge was as follows:
“I am committed to embodying, inspiring and cocreating learning and development for personal and professional well-being.”
To repeat Mark Nepo’s words quoted at the start of this post:
“This leads us all to the inescapable of act of living out what is kept in, of daring to breathe in muscle and bone what we know and feel and believe – again and again.”
I leave you to ponder these questions: What is it you want to embody this coming year of 2023? What do you intend to live out? What is it you know, feel, and believe? Whether or not we set a conscious intention or make a conscious decision, our lives speak.
Some time when the river is ice ask me
Mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
What I have done is my life. Others
Have come in their slow way into
My thought, and some have tried to help
Or to hurt: ask me what difference
Their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
At the silent river and wait. We know
The current is there, hidden; and there
Are comings and goings from miles away
That hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.
(William Stafford, ‘Ask Me’, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, Parker J. Palmer, John Wiley & Sons, 2000, p. 1)
Thank you for reading my post. If my words resonated with you, please Comment, Like or Share. Until next time, keep learning! – Claire :o)