In the Body-centered Expressive Art Therapy work I use with clients, I often refer to the Mental, Emotional and Physical Bodies. I then share with them that these three bodies are upheld by the Spiritual Body. This corroborates with the Ayurvedic and Vedic Science understandings as well, and this explanation is often used in many of the Indigenous healing arts and energetic healing realms as well.
Within our Westerncentric culture, however, the Mental Body is king and we are asked to rely on its function predominantly. Unfortunately, many of us have other defaults that help us function in a more life-supporting way, but we may not get to use them as often as the Mental Body. We may have even learned to suppress the others as a way to cope with life and "manage" our existence. These different "default" settings within us are a reminder that we each learn differently and express ourselves differently as a result.
It's important to create a relationship with all three bodies in our daily lives so that we can become more aware of what is "ruling" us, what predominates within our behaviors, and where we might need to create more conscious awareness. For example, many people have little to no connection with their emotional bodies and often confuse the messages coming from the emotional body with what the mental body is saying. This can result in not getting our basic emotional needs met.
In order for us to get our needs met (either by ourselves or others) we must be aware of what our needs are to begin with! Having a conscious relationship, a habit, of checking in with our three bodies or "three levels of awareness" as they are referred to in the Tamalpa Life Art Process (TLAP) is step number one. When we have a more conscious connection to our inner realms, we can then take more effective actions and create a more nourishing and supportive life for ourselves. Often this will come from a realization of "what isn't working" and then changes can start from there.
Our emotional, mental and physical bodies have much to tell us and many insights to offer us about what is and isn't working in our lives. Take this quiz to see what your "default" mode is and then let me help you take the next step towards deepening your awareness with them.
5 – Always True
4 – Frequently True
3 – Sometimes True
2 – Rarely True
1 - Never True
____I thrive on using my body whether its walking, running, riding my bike or doing yoga.
____My body insists on three healthy, well balanced meals per day + at least one snack.
____Drinking ample water is as necessary as breath for me.
____Caffeine and alcohol are best in low doses or not at all.
____I can feel smoke and drugs instantly.
____Massage and other such treatments are my go-to self care treatment.
____Somatic presence is vital for my well being.
____I am present to all my physical sensations.
____I can not hold bodily functions and must take care of my physical needs immediately.
____Sleeping is a nonnegotiable tool for my total functioning.
____Using my body daily is a primary focus of mine.
____Making time for friends who matter and make me feel connected and happy is vital to me.
____I give myself permission to not be perfect and I remind my self to do the same for others.
____Accepting my feelings, including sadness, anger, frustration, and shame are my primary concern.
____When I'm feeling down, functioning is almost impossible.
____Taking weekends away, vacations or even mini bouts of seclusion are the only way I can stay sane.
____I seek or desire support from a friend when I am struggling.
____I am apt to tell others what I truly feel and need, but I am often fearful of the outcome.
____Emotional impulses get me motivated to take action- for better or worse.
____People describe me as "passionate".
____Moods are part of my personality.
____Life is highly dependent on "how I am feeling."
____Learning new things keeps me going.
____When I'm mentally stimulated, I feel a sense of thriving.
____I prefer to read as a relaxation tool.
____My preferred creative outlet is writing.
____I make lists- for everything!
____Doing work or tasks I find mentally challenging is exhilarating.
____I thrive on active conversation, debate, facts and statistics.
____The most important thing to me is how much I "know."
____Others see me as a thinker, always learning and growing.
____I'd rather "feel" less and be clearer about what I think.
____I think emotions can be overcome by a rational mind.
____Spending time in nature is as vital to me as breath.
____I attend religious services or meetings at least once a week.
____Meditation is my primary self care tool and it takes care of all my other issues.
____Physical movement helps me "feel connected" to something greater than me.
____Gratitude often is all I need to "feel better".
____Reflecting time and making meaning of my experiences keeps me sane each day.
____I can let go of my worries and fears, because I trust god/universe/source to take care of it for me.
____My main practice is being in the moment- savoring and reflecting upon my experiences in the "now".
____I often feel as though it's not up to me to take action, that only something "beyond" me will take care of it for me.
____Most of my life I've felt "different" from others and not aligned with the "worldly" ways of this life.
____Material pursuits feel pointless and unnecessary most of the time.
Tally your numbers and notice what category has the highest number for you. What is the second strongest category for you?
Category #1: Physical Body
Category #2: Emotional Body
Category #3: Mental Body
Category #4: Spiritual Body
Your highest numbers will reflect your "default" mode. These modes may change from day to day, week to week, year to year and so on. Ideally, we are creating an ongoing dialogue with these four bodies that helps us maintain a sense of balance and thriving.
To connect with the "three levels of awareness" more consciously and start your practice of being aware of your needs more directly, check out my article on doing a Three Level Check-In, for easy step-by-step instructions.
Still need help? Confused by all these bodies and your default mode? Connect with me to find out more about my work and scheduling a session. Or join me for one of my workshops and get embodied and grow in your creativity! See workshops.
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