All About Embodiment
And a recipe and a video! This one is packed.
photo by Light and Found Photography.
Thank you to all of you who wrote to me and commented on the last newsletter. It was so lovely to hear from you. Who knew death was such a popular subject! Please keep sharing your thoughts and ideas. I live for it! This week I have for you a short exploration of what embodiment is. And then how embodiment translates into cooking. Then a video of my embodied cooking class: holiday cookie edition. Please join the patreon (cooking club!) I would love to have more of you commenting and engaging to make it a community where we can grow together. We also have a recipe for Winter Vegetable Peanut Sauce Nachos, a link to my mini-retreat on January 28th, and finally a note on growth as I reflect on Good Enough coming out 1 year ago.
What the Heck is embodiment?
Embodiment is the practice of creating awareness of your whole body as the instrument that you are moving through the world within. It is the awareness that your way of seeing and experiencing the world is through the lens of all your senses, including your mind and its ability to make stories out of all that sensory experience. Those senses explore outward to all that is around us, but also inward into all the subtle spaces of the body. And it is the balancing and awareness of all of these experiences that make up our being.
Embodiment is the joy of being you. Truly knowing your entire self and being so you can honor all of who you are and build the life you truly want.
Why does Embodiment matter?
When we are overly focused on the experience of our mind and intellect, and do not say, notice that our stomach is growling with hunger, we may become irritable and extremely hungry before we realize we need to eat.
When we live only up in our intellect and brain we can feel irritation and confusion with all the communication our body is sending us. Why am I feeling so overwhelmed right now on this crowded subway car? Why am I snapping at my child when they are just trying to connect with me? These messages of emotion and sensation are always there telling us something we need to know. Maybe you are more scared in a crowd now since the Covid-19 pandemic, so take it easy on yourself. Maybe you are snapping at your child because you didn’t get a break all day and now you have to attend to their needs without yours being fulfilled. This all makes sense and belongs, but when we don’t learn to recognize or value these messages they become irritation and noise, bothering us and getting lodged in our body as pain and tension and making it harder and harder for us to focus on what is happening now.
This is tragic because the messages are all for us. They are for us in our specific body to be able to navigate life in the way that best serves us.
If you want to understand more about how we store our life in the body, The Body Keeps the Score is an amazing book that explains with research and examples.
But also, we know this intuitively! How many of you have a sore neck and shoulders that are so tense they are almost calcified? This is from the daily way we hold ourselves, not noticing we can soften and relax those parts with our breath. Of course for parts like the shoulders and neck it may be very painful to relax at first because of all that is held there. And it is hard to have faith that over time as you bring awareness and allow the messages to come through these dense areas of the body, that they will stop hurting. But over time and with consistent embodiment practice, your experience with all parts of your body will change and become light and open and peaceful, even playful.
When we are embodied, the body becomes a place of refuge and peace. When we are aware of and listening to our body it brings understanding and peace to our every movement and breath. The body becomes a place where you can find the answers, not by pushing and forcing, but by listening and trusting.
How does Embodiment translate into Cooking?
Cooking is a primal experience. Eating is a primal experience. When we cook we are working to satisfy the needs of the body. And the body is the best guide for how to do that.
Our modern ways of living do not honor the wisdom of the body and we all need to find practices to bring our awareness back to the body so we do not lose contact with it. Embodied cooking is a practice to connect and learn from the body every day in the most simple, primal way.
For example, when we taste something for salt and our body immediately responds with “more salt” and then we listen to our tongues and respond with the addition of more salt, we are building a trusting relationship with our bodies. It’s that simple!
When we breathe in deeply the aroma of the pepper we are chopping and notice that it brings us pleasure we are honoring and strengthening our bodies natural ability to bring pleasure to the simplest daily experiences. These moments also bring the opportunity to release the stress and tension we may have been holding onto.
It is also much more natural and easy to learn a new skill when we practice embodiment. Our whole being is an instrument for learning and evolving, but when we only learn with our intellect it can be more of a strain than when we use our entire system. We have likely all had the experience of straining to follow steps, worried about what will come next and stressing about the results. But when we are embodied, we are breathing and noticing what we are doing and so the body will remember it with a kind of sense memory you can recall and build on the next time you step into the kitchen.
When we are embodied we are actively becoming confident and capable as we build a trusting relationship with ourselves. This is what embodied cooking teaches. It is nothing short of life changing.
Now, take a look at this Embodied cooking class from around the holidays and see if you can connect to the embodiment practice that is weaved throughout the process of making cookies!
Double Chocolate Orange Cookies the Embodied Way
Join us next week we are going to play with omelettes!
Winter Vegetable Peanut Nachos
Serves 3 to 4
TL;DR: Sauté the cabbage and cauliflower in coconut oil until soft, then add garlic and jalapeño and pinto beans. Mix together peanut sauce and mix 3/4 of it with the vegetables. Serve over tortilla chips with a drizzle of peanut sauce and scallions to serve.
1 Tbsp coconut or other cooking oil
1 small cabbage or napa cabbage, chopped
small head of cauliflower, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped
1 can pinto beans, 15 oz
salt, to taste
scallions (for serving, optional)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 Tbsp sriracha
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 cup water
In a pan on on medium heat melt the coconut oil. Sauté half the cabbage and all the cauliflower for about 5 minutes, or until it is starting to get tender. Add the garlic and jalapeño and let it cook, stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is tender. Salt to taste.
While the cabbage and cauliflower cook, whisk together the peanut sauce and set aside.
When the vegetables are tender, stir in the rest of the cabbage; it will wilt with the residual heat but maintain some of its crispiness and color, which is nice. Add 3/4 of the peanut sauce into the pan and use tongs to mix it all in like dressing a salad.
To serve, spread tortilla chips on a plate and top generously with the vegetables. Drizzle with the leftover peanut sauce and a sprinkling of scallions.
In-Person Mini Retreats!
I am hosting an in-person mini yoga/meditation and embodied cooking retreat on Saturday, January 28th at my home in Park Slope, Brooklyn. For anyone local to the tri-state area, please consider joining, or telling a friend, I cannot wait to meet you! There is nothing like breathing and releasing and connecting in person. Please click the link for more info, and make sure you reserve a spot if interested, as space is limited.
Reflecting on Good Enough 1 year along
The other day this page fell out of an old notebook as I was cleaning up. It was from a few years ago when I was planning pages for Good Enough. Which is now a real book in the world. A book that has been out for 1 year.
Sometimes it feels like you are making no progress in life. I feel this way all the time. Like I am just a monkey throwing darts. Lost and fumbling. But when you commit to an idea and simply do a bit at a time, as you can; magic happens. It’s that simple.