Updated: Aug 20
Female Meditator in lotus position in the sky with tree roots anchoring into rocks
What is Dissociation?
When I began my healing journey nearly a decade ago, I had no clue how ungrounded and dissociated I was. I used to think dissociation was a disorder for people who were not capable of functioning in daily life. But as I began to do embodied presences over time and engage in healing sessions with Ben (BenOofana.com) I began to better understand my relationship with my physicality. We can be getting a degree in school, holding a job, be in relationship with someone and still not be fully inhabiting our bodies. Dissociation can arise from various sources, such as trauma, stress, or anxiety, and can have a significant impact on our well-being and personal development. It can keep us from fully experiencing life on all levels which leaves us with that spacey, unfulfilled emptiness that something is missing, that we aren't connecting to the people around us, to our jobs or ourselves in the way that feels rich, deep and relational. Even certain meditation and mindful practices can actually exacerbate our disconnection so it's super important to do the right kind of daily practice in order stay to grounded in our bodies.
Why We Dissociate
Dissociation is a complex psychological phenomenon that has a broad range in the way it can manifest from mild detachment to more severe disengagement from reality. It often serves as a defense mechanism, allowing us to cope with overwhelming emotions or traumatic experiences. However, when dissociation becomes a habitual response, it can impede personal growth, hinder emotional processing, and diminish our capacity for authentic connection.
Unprocessed emotional content remains in the physical body as a constricted charge. So the childhood trauma, the abusive relationship, the narcissistic boss are intense experiences that produce intense feelings. Without fully digesting them, they remain stuck. The less we want to engage in the, hurt, pain, sadness, guilt, shame, disgust those situations produce, the more distance we put between our feelings and our consciousness awareness until we separate so much we forget how to feel anything--even the good, happy, positive feelings (then in steps depression and anxiety) When we create habits of not connecting to our feelings out of fear of the pain it opens the door for dissociation.
Practices to Ground and Embody Ourselves
By exploring the transformative practices of grounding and embodied presence practices, we can establish our connection to the present, our bodies and our feelings reclaiming a sense of authentic connection with ourselves, other people and our environment.
Grounding is a powerful technique that anchors us to the present moment. It involves redirecting our attention to our physical sensations, our immediate environment, and the sensations of touch, sight, sound, and smell. One of the most effective techniques I have found is utilizing nature to provide a stabilizing environment for us to connect with. Nature is bigger than us, it can hold all of our dissociation in a way nothing else quite can. Earth itself resonates at a healing frequency, so it makes it that much easier for you to connect. Laying with your back on the ground or against a large tree, become aware of the physical experience of that connection, the weight, texture and flavor.
Embodied Presence Practices
Embodied presence practices are a deeper relational dive into our felt sense experience and into our emotional depths. These practices encourage self-awareness, self-compassion, and a greater understanding of our emotions and bodily sensations. Here are some powerful practices to explore:
Mindful Movement: Engaging in activities like yoga, walking meditation, exercise or dance can facilitate a profound sense of embodiment. By paying attention to body sensation, we cultivate a state of heightened presence and release tension or stagnant energy.
Microhits: Take a moment multiples times a day and check in with your body sensation. Are your shoulders scrunched from stress? Is your back hurting? Are you thirsty? Are you craving something? Like any good relationship, a lot of check ins make for good connection.
Body Scan Meditation: This practice involves systematically scanning and exploring the sensations in each part of the body, from head to toe. Observing without judgment, enhances our somatic awareness and cultivate a compassionate connection with our physical being.
Sensory Grounding: This technique involves focusing on the texture of an object, savoring the taste of food (Love this one!) or listening attentively to sounds or music. Engaging with our senses mindfully brings us back to our immediate experience and restores a sense of embodiment.
Breath Awareness: The beauty of breath is that it's always available. By focusing on the rhythmic inhaling and exhaling, the temperature, the depth of our inhales, we can anchor ourselves in the here and now, fostering a greater sense of calm and clarity.
Once you become adept at checking in with your physical body you can take any of the above practices and go deeper into them by connecting how you feel emotionally to each one of them and locating where that emotion is emanating from inside your body. How does the softness of the grass make you feel? Where is the feeling located in your body? What emotion does the downward dog evoke? Where is the physical location of that emotion? If you body scan and feel a knot in your stomach is it insecurity your holding? You love that piece of music but what feelings does it evoke and where is that love? Does breathing deeply feel scarey? Microhit your emotional body throughout the day: Is the pain in your ass really the anger at your boss?
Integration and Growth
Grounding and embodied presence practices offer you an opportunity to bridge the gap between dissociation and live a more integrated, sensorially rich and satisfying life. It is imperative to incorporate these practices DAILY and include the emotional check component when you are ready so you can develop resilience, emotional intelligence, and a stronger connection to yourself, others and your environment. As we become more present, we create a fertile ground for continued personal growth and transformation.
In a world that often pulls us away from ourselves, mastering the art of embodying all your bodies is crucial for personal development and well-being. By employing these practices, you can aid in liberating yourself from the clutches of dissociation, rediscover your true essence, and thrive in the present moment. Embark on your transformative journey today by beginning the practices and connecting with me for support.
Need assistance with learning embodied presence practices? Eileen is an alternative healer who has completed multiple vision quests enabling her to be a clear and effective conduit for your personal growth. She has worked with embodied presence practices for nearly a decade and is a certified Unified Mindfulness Coach. Contact Eileen@relaxandexpand.com