Becoming Spirit

How we can embody our infinite selves, even in chronic pain and illness

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Photo by Josh Marshall on Unsplash
Photo by Josh Marshall on Unsplash

When you are feeling restricted and defined by your body, is exactly when you need to move and expand into it the most: gently & compassionately.

Zoë K.M. Foster

Often when we think about embodiment, we think of identifying more fully with the body – of doing more with the body, and accepting it more as it is. But embodiment is so much more than this. Consciously inhabiting our physical self isn’t the whole story; true embodiment also moves beyond the body.

What Does “Expansion” Mean Anyway?

Embodying spirit is expansion over contraction. It is choosing to look for and create spaciousness at every possible moment. It is choosing not to believe in our perceived physical limitations, even when all material evidence points to the contrary.

In chronic illness, this paradox can drive us crazy and feel quite impossible: we want to be both free from the body and also liberated within it. The answer to this paradox, I have discovered and rediscovered, time and time again (and always, as if it’s brand new knowledge, somehow), is spirit.

When we identify with spirit, we are automatically free. But we must embody spirit to live in this physical world and put this human skin suit to good use.

Embodying spirit is expansion over contraction. It is choosing to look for and create spaciousness at every possible moment. It is choosing not to believe in our perceived physical limitations, even when all material evidence points to the contrary. It is recognising that positive emotions do not ‘bypass’ our struggles, unless we choose to suppress and deny them. Embodying spirit is understanding that we can have very real, challenging lives and also keep choosing to expand through our struggles – not despite them, but because of them. We can choose not to be defined by the backpack we’ve been given, and instead identify purely with the spirit within.

Contraction Means Danger

The pervading (and viscerally invasive) culture is to keep us stuck in our survival mechanisms of fear. From gossip magazines to government strictures, the majority of overt and covert stimuli are negatively biased.

When we are in contraction and limiting ourselves (mentally, emotionally, in the breath, the body and even spiritually), we are essentially telling our bodies that we are in danger. Permanently. And exhaustingly.

Instead, when we learn to ease into and fully honour our own expansion (and potential for expansiveness), we embrace our innate wholeness, health, wellbeing and abundance. There is simply no language for lack when we inhabit this space truly. 

The biggest factor in our yo-yoing between expansion and contraction is the world in which the pervading (and viscerally invasive) culture is to keep us stuck in our survival mechanisms of fear. From gossip magazines to government strictures, the majority of overt and covert stimuli are negatively biased.

We Get to Choose

I want to shout for my limitations and protect them, as they have protected me. But these periods grow shorter and diffuse more rapidly each time.

While we cannot control the external world and what it continues to promote and value, we do have the ability to influence it – and to choose our own energies. We can choose love. We can choose fun. We can choose adventure and silliness and wildness and nature and even challenging our hardwired trauma – intelligently, with compassion – to allow us to keep coming back to the embodiment and expansion of spirit.

Every time I come back to this opportunity, I want to rail against it like a stubborn teenager. I want to shout for my limitations and protect them, as they have protected me. But these periods grow shorter and diffuse more rapidly each time, and the resulting surrender to expansion is more relieving and more ecstatic each time. With every spiral, I’m building a bridge of faith between my conditioned physical beliefs and my deeply innate, spiritual wisdom.

It all comes back to faith and the embodiment of our most expansive, infinite selves. Within, and beyond the body. Honour this spirit, fully acknowledge it, and allow it to express and expand its way through you, inside-out. 

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