“You don’t go places with your mind unless you have a good place to go with your body.”Stephen Porges
Knowing ‘good places to go’ with your body is one of the most powerful ways to support yourself in your academic writing. This means learning to inhabit your body in ways that increase how safe and possible it feels to write.
Of course, sometimes it’s not best to carry on writing; you’re on the wrong track or you just need a break. But there are also times when you wish to carry on writing, yet it’s difficult to find your way in. This video is a practical and experiential workshop you can do anytime you are faced with this question of how to carry on with your writing.
Connecting embodiment with doing writing
The video below is a recording of the workshop I gave at The Embodiment Conference in October 2020.
I’ll lead you through four patterns of movement that are different ways in which you can inhabit your body. We will be using the classic embodiment model of the Four Elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air as a guide.
These movements patterns are intuitive; our bodies already know them. Yet they each have very different qualities, so we can work through their differences. Do these qualities feel familiar? Unfamiliar? Something longed for? Which bodily way of being holds the greatest possibilities for your writing in this moment?
Exploration via movement brings awareness. With that awareness, you can choose which of the Elements to inhabit as you sit down to write. See how that Element helps carry you into your writing, and what it unlocks and makes possible.
Guide to the video
00:00: Context and introduction to an embodied approach to writing.
13:31: Intention setting: what is something you want for your text, or for you as a writer, in this moment?
19:48: The main exercise: guided movement through the four elements, exploring what each provides for your writing.
37:12: A writing experiment: choose one element to embody while writing (here this runs for 8 minutes but you can set your own timer, for example, for 15 or 25 minutes).
52:15: Tips for expanding these embodied practices.
Note that we literally get our bodies moving in this workshop, which may at first seem strange in relation to writing. The movements are non-athletic and can be modified – for example, you can do them seated rather than standing.
Tips for doing the workshop on your own
The guided movement in this workshop connects writing with embodied ways of being. The effects of this are felt in real time. Every time you follow your body into an exploration of the forms of the Four Elements, it will heighten your awareness of how you are feeling and where the energy for writing may come from (which is sometimes surprising). This in turn will open up choices for how to approach your writing.
If you want to dive right into the practice without the preamble, I recommend that you spend a few minutes journaling about what you want for your writing and then start the video where the movement practice begins, at 19:48. The full practice, including an 8-minute segment of writing, is about 25 minutes long.
Most people get something out of this the first time they do it. As with any such practice, it’s also true that repeated practice yields more sustained benefits.
My use of the Four Elements model is based on the teachings of Mark Walsh in the Embodiment Facilitator Course from which I graduated in 2019. Mark has several videos and podcasts about the Four Elements in coaching and facilitation; I particularly recommend his Four Elements meditation.
My way of inhabiting and teaching the Four Elements is also influenced by the work of Marcela Widrig, particularly by the short practices in her email course 30 Days of Embodiment: A Daily Adventure into Body Magic, of March 2020.