A guest blog series by Wellcelium Teacher, Max Pearl, founder of TransResilience.

I’m starting a multi-part series on embodiment. You can read here a little basic information about what I think conscious embodiment means. I want to dive into what the journey of embodiment can look like for trans and gender-expansive folks, and how you might embark on your own.

Of course, every trans and gender-expansive person has their own story and process about their bodies.

Although many of us experience dysphoria and a sense of wishing our bodies were different, that is not everyone’s experience. If you are someone who feels at ease and peace with how your body is at this moment, that is a cause for celebration.

Many of us, however, have the experience of dissatisfaction, or often even hatred, for our bodies. We have spent years wanting a different body. And further, sexuality has often, for many of us, felt vulnerable and challenging. Sometimes we’ve felt completely cut off from our sexuality, or felt unsatisfied because of dysphoria. We haven’t been able to really inhabit a place of freedom with our sexuality.

And the path from that place, to a place of ease and joy in our bodies and in erotic expression feels almost impossible to imagine. I’m going to spend the next few blog posts outlining concepts, tools and processes that might help you get there. It does require of you a willingness to be gentle with yourself, go slowly, and have curiosity about yourself and this process.

Releasing yourself from self-judgement is one of the most important steps in the process.

Learning to Pay Attention to Body Sensations

I spent a long time ignoring my body. I ignored my body because I didn’t like my body – it didn’t feel like it was “me” – and especially after puberty, I lived entirely in my head. When I absolutely had to pay attention to my body, because I was sick or injured, I resented my body, and resented that I had to pay attention to it, and resented the unpleasant sensations of sickness or injury.

The slow process of learning to be willing to be a compassionate observer of my body, and notice the sensations of my body, opened up a new world to me: the world of pleasure. If we are ignoring our body’s sensations, of course, we suppress the unpleasant, which can be useful, but we also suppress the pleasant – and there is so much pleasant possible.

I have been introduced to a practice called “Waking the hands,” which I have come to really love as a practice. It’s amazing how much we can learn from mindful attention to body sensations – in this case, it’s just sensations of the hands.

The most important element of learning to pay attention to your body sensations is self-compassion – because not all body sensations are pleasant. There is pain, dysphoria, stiffness, itchiness… all forms of unpleasant sensation in our bodies. As we can approach those sensations with self-compassion, we open ourselves up to the experience of a wide variety of body sensations – and this opens the door to the embodied experiences of pleasure and joy.

Max Pearl, Wellcelium Teacher

Max Pearl has a Ph.D in Neuroscience from Case Western Reserve University, and a Certificate of Theological Studies from Pacific School of Religion, in Berkeley. Max has been teaching contemplative practices since 2005.

Website: transresilience.com

If you identify as Trans or Gender-Expansive and long to inhabit your body without judgement, click here to listen to our exclusive interview with Max Pearl and learn more about his embodiment teachings.

Dive into the interview with Max