Embodied (E)motions

JenMarie Landig
9 min readApr 23, 2021
Self-portrait, 2021.

The image of my face, hazy yet mouth in sharp focus, came to me while I was meditating. When I opened my mouth, out flew a flock of black birds. The birds took flight, even as my heart was sinking. I drove into the Sonoran desert, hoping a change in scenery would unburden my heavy heart. The limitless horizon revealed, however, that my heart is as wide-open and expansive as the desert sky, encompassing a spectrum of emotions. My heart is spacious not in spite of the heaviness, but inclusive of it.

The birds and the desert sky represented my throat and heart, my fear and sadness. I understood these messages, but I was not confident that I knew how to embrace the emotions or push the sliding door in my throat open and voice them. And even before the sadness, there was the disassociation and the numbness. How do I face any deep feeling at all?

It is curious to me that one of my top values is motion, and yet when I defined that value years ago, I did not connect it to my emotions, despite the one letter difference between the two words. Motion to me, back then, meant pursuing. Goals, dreams, adventure. It could also be the pursuit of physically moving my body — such as in dance — but there was always a goal, a destination.

As the news of COVID-19 hit, and we were ordered to shelter-in-place, one of the first questions I asked myself was: how do I stay in alignment with my value of motion when I am essentially confined to one living room? How much motion could there possibly be in 250 square feet?

I attempted to keep moving in my little square: yoga, Pilates, flamenco dancing. Yet, as the pandemic dragged on and on and on…I began to reach the limits of my typical routine. One fateful Sunday, I took a Zoom Afro Flow Yoga (AFY) class for the first time. Within minutes of the class’ start, tears were streaming down my face uncontrollably. The combination of yoga, dance, intuitive movement, and the practice of letting go and calling in, all with live music, touched, and unlocked, something deep within.

I thought this was an isolated incident, but I was about to discover that the floodgates were open. A week after the AFY class, I purchased tune up therapy balls. Through focused movement routines, the high grip rubber balls massage deeply into high tension areas. Enduring tight hips for as long as…