Embodiment of a complex experience such as love or power can be understood as having an enduring relationship to that experience in the physical body. Having an ownership of an experience or energy such as power is seen as involving four inter-related abilities.
- The ability to expand the body to expand the experience as much as possible or to support the experience in one part of the body by expanding another.
- The ability to tolerate the experience such as grief in the body. This requires the ability to understand and work through innate resistance to all unpleasant experiences and psychological resistance to the specific experience such as grief.
- The ability to understand or make sense of the experience. What is the experience? Is it hunger or longing? What context does the experience belong to? Longing for a partner or for God? Is it the longing for a partner in the present or a longing for the mother in childhood? What does the experience mean in the larger scheme of things? These functions usually fall under the umbrella of cognitive work.
- The ability to act or behave appropriately in relation to the experience. For example, power cannot be owned in the long run if it is not expressed or acted on. However, if power is expressed or acted on inappropriately, the feedback from the outside would sooner or later inhibit it in the individual. These functions usually fall under umbrella of behavioral work.
Integral Somatic Psychology emphasizes the first two aspects of embodiment work in the training, expanding the body to expand and support an experience and building a capacity to tolerate it, aspects that are only minimally attended to in most therapeutic and spiritual approaches. That these two overlooked aspects of embodiment significantly improve outcomes in cognitive and behavioral work, the two other aspects of embodiment work, is clearly supported by scientific research presented below.