Adventures in euphoria and embodiment
If you’ve follow me on Twitter, you might have seen some vague tweets about embodiment recently. People seem to be interested when I mention it, and it’s been an unexpected source of good feelings, so I thought I’d talk a bit more about what I’ve been doing.
We all have bodies, and our bodies send us signals. Are we hungry? Thirsty? Tired? In pain? And so on. The quality and strength of those signals can vary, as can our ability to notice them. Some days you spot your hunger a mile off; other days it’ll take ages before you realise being hungry is why you’re so cranky.
If you ask friends or family, they’d tell you that I’m not great at reading these signals. I’d skip meals, stay up late, forget to drink when I was sitting in direct sunlight, and so on. It wasn’t deliberate ignorance – I just struggled to listen to what my body was telling me.
This came up in some recent conversations with friends about embodiment. They have better embodiment practices than me, and that makes it easier for them to notice these signals. Talking to them persuaded me that embodiment would be a useful skill to try to improve – until recently, I hadn’t realised what I was missing.
Alongside this, I’ve been continuing to explore my feelings about gender – experimenting with appearance, presentation, body shape, and so on. Here’s a funny thing I’ve noticed: when I do things that make my brain think “girl”, it gets easier to listen to my body. Without trying, I become more aware of when I’m hungry, tired, and thirsty.
What does that look like in practice?
Often it’s when I see myself in a mirror – my flat has lots of reflective surfaces, and I’ll catch glimpses of myself as I walk past. Depending on how I look, my brain reads “boy” or “girl”. The latter puts a spring in my step, and everything gets a little easier.
And bodies aren’t just about appearance. We don’t just see our bodies, we live in them. We move in them. We feel the physical space they occupy. Some of the new physical sensations I’ve been feeling give me a huge burst of euphoria, and make the other signals from my body stronger.
This was all pretty unexpected. I knew thinking about gender might affect my sense of self, but I hadn’t considered how it might affect my relationship with my body. (In hindsight it seems obvious, but it speaks to how little I’d thought about bodily awareness in the past.)
This is a common trans experience – there’s a sense of “rightness” that’s missing for a long time, and when you find it you suddenly feel more connected with and aware of your body. (Some people call the gap gender dysphoria. I’m not sure that term quite feels right to me, but there are definitely echoes of it.)
So while isolation isn’t fun, I’ve spent a lot of time indoors playing with these feelings. I do something that I know will induce gender euphoria, and my bodily awareness improves as a result. I feel more connected with my body, and my day just gets a little easier.
It’s nice, and comfy, and I would quite like these feelings to stick around.
There’s still more I want to do and try, especially around active listening rather than passive observation. There’s also the open question of medical transition, hovering out there on the distant horizon. This is a work-in-progress, not a fait accompli.
I’m sharing this story because until recently, I didn’t realise I was missing anything. Now I know: embodiment is great. Being aware of my body is great. Feeling like I’m the right shape is great. I’m so happy I get to feel this way, and I want other people to feel this way too!
If embodiment is something you’ve never considered, maybe give it some thought? It’s a skill you can practice and refine and feel good about. What works for me may not work for you, especially if gender isn’t an issue, but there are definitely things you can try.
I hope this overview of my thoughts around embodiment was interesting – and maybe even persuaded you to try your experiments!
If you want to chat about any of this stuff, hit me up on Twitter.