(Dis)Embodiment: The Science and Philosophy Behind Modern Anxiety

Updated: May 18, 2020

This article below is taken from my published piece from CAREFULL MAGAZINE, an amazing non-for-profit online magazine aiming to help those struggling with mental health this lockdown- all the while raising money for Mind charity. Please check it out here and donate if you can! There is a load of great content and there will be more releases in the future!


Covid-19 is shining the light on another, pre-existing pandemic: that of our mental health. We have been given a mandatory break from our modern, stressful lives, and most of the social remedies we use to manage them. Such space is initially welcomed, but we may quickly find old wounds rising as we sit in reflection with ourselves and the anxieties felt by an entire planet.


This article will discuss the roots of modern anxiety, showing how easily it can be exacerbated during lockdown. It will then outline recent developments in the realm of Neuroscience which is proving what the ancient Yogis knew all along: that our bodies and minds are deeply interconnected, and how spending just 30 minutes a week practicing a form of embodied practice such as yoga or meditation, can help us re-connect to our whole selves, significantly reducing levels of anxiety. We finish with two quick and easy breathing exercises so you can feel great effects in minutes.


Disembodiment, Modernity and Depression

Modern society has conditioned us to become disconnected and disembodied.

Since the 17th Century philosopher, Descartes famously said, “I think therefore I am,” we in the West have understood body and mind being separate and distinct from each other.


This philosophy has shaped the way we view and value our minds at the expense of our bodies. Reason, rationality and intellect became the seat of human intelligence, while the human body became a material substance to be objectified and understood through this reason.


“Experts” became the authority over how we understand and experience our own bodies: a one-size-fits-all approach to the human form, devoid of subjective experience, can be found in the fields of medicine, science, anatomy and, of course, popular culture.


Over time, the objectification and disconnection we have experienced from our bodies has left us stuck in our heads.


We may generally be more educated and have more “knowledge” of the world, but levels of suicide, depression and anxiety have never been higher. On a broader level, whether we judge ourselves and our bodies for the way they look, feel health anxious of a body we do not understand, or just don’t feel good in our own skin, it is all comes from the same root: the foundations of modern knowledge where the mind rules over the body.


Whether we judge ourselves and our bodies for the way they look, feel health anxious of a body we do not understand, or just don’t feel good in our own skin, it is all comes from the same root: the foundations of modern knowledge where the mind rules over the body.


The innate connection between body, mind and our most whole self became severed, leaving us in a state of collective disconnection and disembodiment.


But we are beginning to wake up.

The promise of Modernity: that we can find freedom and happiness through our intellect alone, has been shattered. The world is still unequal, and our minds have become lost in their own inner struggles. With the global Covid-19 pandemic this is becoming more evident than ever.

The promises of human progress upheld by Modernity and The Enlightenment have failed us

More recently science and research has been uncovering what the ancient Yogis knew all along: that the “mind” and “body” are deeply connected.


In addition, the unparalleled benefits of practices which seek to cultivate a deeper connection to our whole selves through the bodymind connection- dubbed embodiment practices- are being proven.


Embodiment practices are methods which use the unique sensations in our body as a tool to develop awareness and self-knowledge. Now neuroscientists are becoming interested in how practicing embodiment can help manage and reduce anxiety.