Working with Emotions: Embodied Presence

When our natural and authentic aspects are not recognized as children, these aspects become disconnected (Van der Hart, 2006). We begin to develop an apparently normal part that understands reality and reason for emotions but does not feel them directly. These emotions are generally projected into the world. The disconnected aspects or emotional parts hold the intense emotions of the past and are not open to current perception of the world. They are focused on defending from feeling the ‘endless’ emotional anguish.

The apparently normal part is always worried about the emotional parts that contain the energy of anger and rage. As we develop a relationship with the emotional parts and the apparently normal part we begin to embody multiple parts into one embodied presence. This process shows us how we open these emotional parts and bring them into integration in the body (Stanley, 2012).

When our mind is elsewhere—thinking about the past or the future—while our body moves along in the present, our motions are jerky and disconnected. Mindfulness practice opens the doorway to experience both body and mind in the same time, or the same moment. This meeting can only occur when both are present right this very moment. This integrated state of being—embodied presence—is both stable and stead as well as open and vulnerable. We are fully present physically, emotionally and mentally all together at once (Ferguson, 2010).

Working with emotions is the key to integration. This process allow us to develop an unconditional sense of wellbeing, a deep sense of joy in being alive as mind, body and emotions come together into one embodied presence.


Ferguson, G. (2010). Natural Wakefulness. Boston: Shambhala

Stanley, S. (2012). Complex Trauma and Dissociated Self-State. [PowerPoint slides]. Lecture series presented at Sleeping Dog Farm, Victoria, BC

Van der Hart O., Nijenhuis, E., & Steele, K. (2006). The haunted self: Structural dissociation and the treatment of chronic traumatization. New York: Norton.