The Three Anatomies of Embodied Experience

The Three Anatomies of Embodied Experience
Emilie Conrad, the inspirational founder of Continuum described three distinctions of embodied experience: the primordial, the cultural, and the cosmic. Continuum Teacher and Osteopath Bonnie Gintis explores these portals of identity through Emilie’s concept of The Three Anatomies.

Ocgtober, 2018

Emilie Conrad, the inspirational founder of Continuum described in her work three distinctions of embodied experience: the biologic/primordial, the personal/cultural, and the cosmic.  These distinctions were not intended to separate experience but to highlight our ability to seamlessly move and shift attention between domains with awareness.

She invited us to inquire about how much of our lives are trapped in our attachment to a view through a cultural or personal lens. We each have a unique life experience based on our particular circumstances dictated by our families of origin, our culture, and our physical and emotional individuality.

While it may occasionally be effective to view and experience the world through the lens of each of us as individuals, it is crucial to remember that we are much more than our biography. She enhanced our embodied experience of our “self” to include what she called the primordial or biologic anatomy. This domain is the natural world of the living human body and this basic fundamental field is common to all humans and is shared to some extent by all living beings. This is the instinctual and inborn world of biologic function, and the primordial basis of growth, development, healing, adaptability, and change.

The cosmic is by definition the “something greater” that holds all other fields. The cosmic is not a belief system. The cosmic is not an opinion. The cosmic is not a religion or a specific spiritual path. We exist in a universe where the parts are in relationship with the whole, and the whole is unimaginably vast. The cosmic spans the known, the unknown, and the unknowable.

Cultivating an awareness of these distinctions of embodied experience is a profound and powerful aspect of Continuum practice. This broad awareness allows us to “fly under the radar” of our usual limitations and defenses or to “sneak in the back door,” as Emilie used to say, and have an unexpected experience of the vast potential of expression of creative living. If movement is what we are, not what we do, then we must continue to be curious and ask, “where and how can the expression of movement in my life be enriched – in the personal, in the biologic, in the cosmic?”

She called it “Three Anatomies” because people tend to overly use their sense of their physical anatomical body as a reference point for their identity. Perhaps there are more than three anatomies. It’s the question that is more important than the number of anatomical domains we can count. These three are just models of our experience, not the actual territory. If all people could broaden their awareness to consciously include all three anatomies, and choose which one, if any, needed to be tended, then we would exist in a state of infinite possibility that she called being “a broadband virtuoso.”