“Embodiment is the awareness of the cells themselves. It is a direct experience. There are not intermediary steps or translations. There is no guide. There is no witness. There is the fully known consciousness of the experienced moment initiated from the cells themselves… The source of this process is love.”
– Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen
Embodiment is the fulfillment of yoga – union. The clear line of division between subject and object blurs, and we experience both as made up of the same essential stuff. In the yoga tradition, this stuff is called Satchitananda. Sat = being, truth, infinite and eternal existence. Chit = consciousness that is force, what it wills becomes, infinite and eternal all-embracing awareness. Ananda = delight of being, absolute and unobstructed comfort, infinite and eternal fulfillment. These three are One in their wholeness and undivided, indivisible. They are three aspects, faces, qualities of the One that is All. Being, Will, Experience. This is the universe’s fundamental fabric.
Yoga is a state as well as a process. When we “practice” yoga, we actively and intentionally engage in the process of moving toward the state of yoga. By practicing yoga, we align ourselves with the yoga of Nature, the Earth’s yoga. Our embodiment is the Earth’s embodiment, and through us Her innate intelligence is set free to play and learn and transform the stuff of Her body. She touches Herself through our hands and loves Herself through our hearts and knows Herself through our minds. And when we directly experience the underlying unity of all that is, when we touch Satchitananda and are plunged beyond ideas into an integral and unarguable knowing of our interbeing with all that is, was, and ever will be, the Earth too awakens and knows and loves and touches the fabric that manifests as Universe.
But embodiment doesn’t seem natural most of the time. As much as we might look to children or animals or plant life and sense an innate capacity for embodiment, something seems to interfere along the way, separating us from the direct experience of unity. Different philosophies throughout human history have attributed the experience of separation and alienation to various causes — original sin, inherent flaws in the makeup of the mind, etc. And it’s easy to infer from these perspectives that something went wrong. We messed up, God messed up, some third party interfered, or maybe even this whole show has no purpose at all, we’re just spinning for no reason in a dead and stupid universe that compulsively vomited us into existence.
But what if everything is both purposeful and exactly as it should be? What is we are living in the midst of an ongoing process of growth from primal ignorance, in which Satchitananda’s self-awareness was intentionally involuted and encased in seemingly dead, inert matter, and through which it is emerging, gradually but progressively and inexorably, toward full self expression within form? What if we are not just “living in the midst of” this process, but we ARE the process, and our own individual and collective embodiment is a collaboration in the manifestation and fulfillment of a 14 billion year adventure?
Then embodiment is not just an individual and self-serving effort, but a profoundly purposeful and holy task. And since Satchitananda is essentially One and undivided, seemingly solid and inert matter is also carried forward toward and awakening and self-awareness. The rocks and dirt and dry bones that we experience as dead and dumb, of course including the most material structures inside our bodies, are waking up and discovering themselves as God. And so in a glorious and sacred feedback loop, as we awaken our cells with the touch of our consciousness, they too respond, touch us back, and awaken us. The source of this process truly is love, for love is yoga, and yoga is love.
This post was originally published on the Embodyoga Blog.