The Embodiment Project 

The Embodiment Project 

Empathy vs. Compassion

 

Photography by Jana Pinchbeck

 

 

In a world as wounded as ours it is essential to begin exploring the energies that promote understanding and love if we are to truly evolve into beings that can co-create and collaborate beyond the limited frame of the ego. 

 

Two words come to mind in particular --- compassion and empathy.  

 

But which comes first? 

 

 When I looked up these words on wikipedia I found that the etymology of compassion - (The etymology of "compassion" is Latin, meaning "co-suffering." More virtuous than simple empathy, compassion commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering.)

 

 Whereas empathy- (is the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another sentient or fictional being. One may need to have a certain amount of empathy before being able to experience compassion.)

 

 I think that it's correct that one must be able to experience empathy before compassion. One must be able to directly experience the emotions of the other and at the same time experience the same or similar emotions in one's self. It's no wonder human suffering is so difficult to always connect with. It means that our empathetic muscles will be challenged. It may even be necessary to empathize with ourselves in knowing our own limits to experience the suffering of someone else. 

 

It's essential to have empathy before compassion primarily because then your "help" is also coming from your own self awareness and direct experience with the emotions. You have felt it and can offer support, love, and perhaps guidance from the direct experience with the emotions.  Instead of just trying to *change* the person before you've really experienced the depth and structure of their pain. 

 

 It is not easy on the system to handle such powerful emotions---but it does help you to tap into the valuable resource of emotions that are mirrored from the other unto you. Empathy becomes a subtle bridge not only to experiencing the other's pain but to also understanding our own. You get to experience the matrix of pain reflected through exchanging in empathy. This type of knowledge is unique and rare, and can sometimes ONLY come from this type of connection. 

 

 Try this: When gazing into someone's eyes feel their eyes as a kind of "bucket" to the essence. Explore how through the eyes you can travel 'down' the soul to root of their essence. On your path you'll probably feel emotional energy inside of you. Breathe into it. Love it. Open your heart to it. Allow yourself to relax and soften around your own pain and also theirs until you reach the bottom. This is where the 'honey' lives. The nectar of being in rapport with your fellow human, faults and all. This is where we can begin the journey into compassion--- and where our fellow human being may be more open to receiving help and assistance to healing and where that *help* will also help you to experience the generosity of compassion to heal your own wounds.

 

LINK to me reading an excerpt from The Empathetic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin one of my favorite books of the year that explores the evolution of empathy throughout our human history. 

 

Ushering Creative Babies into the world

Creativity is synonymous with sexual energy. Creativity is the ability to manifest into form something that only exists in your imagination. Sexual energy also has within it the "potential" to create and sometimes it does in the form of a baby. 
We are always in a potential process of creation. Many people are often shamed around their creative energy, sexual energy, or both. 
I used to spend so many years neglecting these "little ones" as I focussed on other more *important* things. These 'babies' never went away though. They stayed hidden in the incubator of my mind. But they needed conscious parents in order to reach their potential. Those parental figures existed somewhere inside of me, and also outside of me in the form of creative collaborations, and connection. 
They need play dates, nourishing food for thought, and inspiration to truly be seen. When I recognize the "child is hungry" or "the child wants to play" or the "child needs attention" the magic sometimes pours out. 

For too long I was one of those perfectionist and protective parents that wanted my creative baby to be 'perfect' before would ever give them love or let them be seen. I was protecting them from rejection of the world. I thought I was doing the right thing but now I realize I was only stifling their growth and mine as well. Rejection is inevitable and also a part of being artistic. But they are stronger then we think. They have minds of their own. They are there to 'teach us', just as much as we are the ones in charge. Our creative energy will eventually also play a part in helping us to mature and grow into the adult we are meant to become. 

So many of these infants inside. When they remain stuck for too long I can feel them crying, hurting, wanting to be seen. The only one that can take them by the hand into the world that they long to be a part of is us. They need that safety to cross the street into the threshold of their possibility. 

Children and creative energy are very similar in that they need safe containers, boundaries, and consistency in order to communicate and blossom. I have begun to find those containers in the form of a poem, a post, or tinkering with song and image. 

These children have begun to laugh more. I can feel their connection to the world outside. I love to see them happy playing in the light of being seen.
 

Some are still hidden. Some are autistic, special needs. Some exist between me and another. And when I can make that conscious bridge into co-parenting the creative child grows like nothing else. Those babies seem to be the most developed. The most challenging, but also the most rewarding to foster. These are the ones that push me to be a better person and to walk the walk. They have voice and are unafraid to express when they are not being given enough of a challenge. They are 'above average' in every respect but also come with the challenge of making the relationship work between me and another. 


Like a child tugging at you with "What's the nature of love?" Their creative nuance is captured in the current of questioning, and of craving your love. 



It makes me think of that quote "It takes a village to raise a child" and I think this is also true in respect to our creative energy.
 
That's why I've created the Embodied Art Project group on Facebook. It is a space to safely midwife those creative juices into form. 

It takes a village to connect to parts of the child that you can miss when you are a single parent struggling to survive on only what you know, and what you have been taught. 

I want to birth my creativity in this kind of collective family. I want to know what it means to be the best parent possible. I want to see these 'babies' growing up into forms of creativity. We are in the age of the internet where the resources to support these creative forms have never been greater. 

There are literally 'apps for everything' and anything to do with raising your creative juice. Whether it's sending a picture that expresses something on your mind. Or creating a small song that holds the feeling of your day. Or a poem expressed in a text while waiting on line. The power of these 'children' inside your creative mind are often the glue of connection.

Be discerning with who you would want to parent with. Grow these relationships through the consistency it takes to truly parent well. Make the 'child' between you the priority. Which means-- make the time to play, to listen, and to ask what does this unique 'child' need? Give space for new ways of seeing into their creative potential and raising your family of creative calling.

 

Embodiment---A new paradigm of learning

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination .... “I admit that thoughts influence the body.” —Albert Einstein

 

Our body is inherently a work of art. It is the picasso within us that animates the living structure to be exactly who we are. We cannot escape the fact that it is engineered for passion. It is built to take us to the places we want to go, and to touch life most intimately.

 

But it is also a thinking animal. And sometimes our thinking interferes with our ability to fully integrate the information through the living cellular structure of the body. We get wrapped up in an email, or we are fixated on the next thing we have to do, or we forget to make eye contact because we just can't stay focussed. These are the points of contact when we miss the attention to stay centered in our somatic expression of self. 

 

It's easy to be led astray. There is distraction at every turn, and we are consistently being bombarded with more and more distractions. 

 

Eyes on the prize is what we are told. But what truly is the prize but your own sexual longing and experience of self? These two seemingly diametrically opposed forces catalyze you to stay disjointed. This is the essence of shame. Of denying who we are. 

 

Our ability to see into ourselves through the lens of embodiment is about integrating the mind and body through the vehicle of expression.  We need to become like Einsteins of the living imagination of body. We must catalyze our intellect to move into our connection to the passionate impulses inherent in the primal brain. 

 

But for this to happen we must develop safety and structures that allow us to sink into these pre-verbal spaces. We must meet the animal--- and at the same time stay congruent in the mind. We must explore the urges within us while maintaining integrity with the physical. 

 

Integrating the mind/body connection through conscious dialogue is part of what the Embodiment Project is all about. We want to begin the conversation of integrating these three fabulous parts. The body--the mind---the creative energy flowing through your body. 

 

 

In this clip Anita Teresa, creator of The Embodied Femme Salon, and myself explore a new structure around creating an Embodied Salon experience that helps to integrate us into the fullest expression of who we are. 

 

 LINK: To attend this special event and get more details.

 
 

 

Creating art that's from the Heart

If you don't ever embark on the journey of making and creating your own art, it will be created for you. But know that the art that you consume will be a pail and paltry version of the power that truly exists within your own heart.

The heart---one of the mysteries of creation itself. It is the first and primal source of life in all humans. Before you were a body you were a heart. 

Beating and longing for the ends of life. Blood circulates through the body, and is a reminder of that beating source. 

To me the heart holds the spark of life. It is the essence of love itself manifested into a powerful organ viscerally pumping that spark through the energy of the body.

When we lose connection to the heart, and only feel it as an automatic engineered response to keeping us alive we have lost connection with that spark of life. 

We have bought into the idea that sparks are only flying "outside" of ourselves. 

But, in order to connect to that spark we must pierce through the sheaths and shielding around the heart. The wounds, the trauma, the disease of disconnect. 

Art offers us the means of expressing the ends of the hearts journey which I believe is infinite, and intimately connected to that very spark that gives us life. 

It could be as simple as writing a haiku, or drawing a picture of how you are feeling, or dancing the energy of raw emotion. 

When you express through various forms of art you are getting to experience the potential of life to expand beyond the body into the world around you. 

Over-consumption of art that is not sourced from your own internal spark will often draw you into the opposite direction. Into contraction, into being something you are not, into the belief that you are smaller than you truly are. 

I am not saying to not buy art. You should absolutely buy and explore all forms of art. But just don't let it *buy* you. 

Opening and accessing the brain of the heart is the key to all forms of powerful manifestation. When we break through the shield around the heart--- the magnetic potential activates within us, the desire to express and catalyze that creative energy through making love as and we can both see and experience the power of manifestation energy. 

When you make art you are "making love" with yourself. You are in the ecstasy of creation. You are in the mind of the heart, and are powerfully moved by it as source. 

There is so much 'we don't know' about this mysterious heart. So much to learn. 

I like to think of it as a matrix of unexplored potential pumping life through my vessels, and out as the expression of art around me. It's not that much different from the power of the web and the internet to manifest the various forms of art that are bubbling all around us. We are slowly being seduced, I believe into the algorithm of our own hearts. 

And to be truly seduced you must surrender. You must give into that flow that is pumping *to know* it's endless manifestations. It's myriad of forms through the software of heart........

We will upgrade the norm.

 

The Spiderman "CRUNCH"

 

 

 

 

Get SPIDERman’s abs

What would it be like to have the strength to jump from building to building with nothing but a 'web' of endurance and dexterity'?

 

It must have crossed your mind at some point either reading a comic as a child or watching a movie like “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.” What if only you had that extra ‘SOMETHING’ that your favorite superhero has? So, why aren’t you waking up to YOUR superpowers?

 

It's simple... we don’t get to challenge ourselves  in the same ways as that of our superhero avatar selves. Namely you aren’t getting an opportunity to feel your most powerful gift...your center.

 

I'm referring to the ‘moveable feeling center’ or your kinetic response to the physical reality. Just like our good friend Spiderman you will be tested, challenged and brought to the edge of your physical capabilities. How well are you conditioning your central response to life?


WHY a crunch could  just  ‘crunch’ you in?

As much as I love a good “sit up” it’s not an exercise I reccomend doing 400 reps of. Instead think about giving your center something it can write home about, like the tails of our epic hero Spiderman.

A crunch offers us less challenge to feel ourselves in relation to space becuase it limits us to a horizontal relationship to gravity, in which the torso is simply being challenged to lift up and and towards the pelvis. If we only train this relationship we are missing out on a huge component.

That of flexibility and interraction to the upper and lower extremities while maintaining balance, control, and efficiency to perform the exercise well.  Ideally, this would be done with the pelvis in a ‘neutral’ relationship to the ground meaning the spine is held at it’s very longest position with the tailbone linking the downward pull, and the cervicals and skull expressing length in the opposite direction.

As basic as that sounds it’s, well...not so easy.

Our stabalizing muscles act act as the supportive bridge between your upper and lower body. They allow you to balance spine in all possible directions while maintaining the alignment of your upper and lower body.
For this balancing act to occur your hip flexors, and deep abdominal stabalizers are ‘must have’ muscles in order for this fantasitical feat to occur. These muscles act as the supportive bridge between your upper and lower body. In addition your back muscles need to eccentrically lengthen in partnership with the core in order to maintain the length of the spine.


The BALL and the BAND allow your ‘feeling center’ to awaken.
Having the ball allows you to find these magic muscles through a profound feedback response that your body is forced use when challenged to balance on the spherical shape of the ball. Not only does it become a balancing tool but it also helps you to ‘unstick’ the muscles the muscles of the spine that may also be locking you in.

In this case the ball will help allow you to ‘feel’ these deeper layers allowing you unstick the overworking external layers, and  like spiderman give you the rebounding action to do just about anything.

The band in this exercise allows you to feel the link to your center in the form of a flexible and 'gradual' resistance. Which basically means that the resistance varies depending on your relationship to the center of gravity, much like Spiderman as he scales the walls and flies through burning buildings he has to know exactly where his center of gravity is.

This of course comes natural to a superhero like Spiderman. Try this exercise out and let me know what you do to train your body like a superhero?  You might not be able to jump tall buildings and scale walls after trying out this next exercise. But it will definitely help get you in the mood, and the ambience of Superhero strength.

Spiderman Crunch

Setup: Use a light to medium resistance band and wrap it around the back of the pelvis and make a cross and then hook the feet into handles. Position a silver or gold Yamuna ball in the middle back area just below the scapula. Support the head with the fingers interlocked around the back of the skull.

Basic chest lift (Basic Level)
Begin with the chest lifted and the elbows in line with the face.

  • Inhale- lengthen the spine and feel the breath in the back ribs
  • Exhale- pull the spine into the ball  while maintaining the sacral and tail area towards the floor.
  • Inhale- Extend the back over the ball
Images/cueing that helps: When lifting up the chest have the image of bringing the skull towards the ceiling as opposed to towards the legs.  

Step 1: Begin with Ball below scapula level on spine.
When extending the back over the ball try to feel the ‘root’ muscles grounding the sacrum. Use the feedback of the feet into the bands to awaken the deep psoas muscles. You should feel a deep stretch from your root all the way into your sternum and front ribs.

 

Chest lift with rotation

Setup:
The same as chest lift

Once chest is lifted add the lift of the left leg as you rotate the ribs towards the leg maintaining the balance of the sacrum to the floor.  

  • Exhale- as you move into the rotation
  • Inhale- as you extend the back over the ball

**The lifted leg should have the shin parallel to the ground with the knee directly over the pelvis. Make sure that the ankle does not pull in towards the midline. It should stay directly in front of the knee.

 

 

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