Embodied Thinking Reflection

Jumping in the AirFor me, the way I see embodied thinking is that it’s a combination of using our physical and emotional senses to bring abstract concepts to something more concrete. The physical aspect of embodied thinking is also known as kinesthetic thinking, and the emotional part is known as empathising. In my previous post, I created a graphical depiction of the way I use embodied thinking. This method didn’t fully capture the kinesthetic thinking on my part (ie: it didn’t show me walking), but with the thought bubble, I was able to show how I use empathising in my writings. I chose to do digital art as my creative modality because digital art is something I’ve dabbled with in years (and because I didn’t have the right tools and skills to do other mediums . . . )

When it comes to creating fanworks, embodied thinking is a great tool to use. It’s a tool everyone should at least understand the basics of and use when they need to be creative. For an example, if I were to write a fanfic about a character having a knee injury that last a lifetime, I can think about the time when I injured my own knee, think about that moment of extreme pain and the lingering pain long after the incident, and then translate those physical and emotional pain in an artistic way. Another example can be writing about a character who hoards food in their house despite being well off. This is something my mother does, and she does it because she grew up in a poverty-stricken environment. To her, food is a precious commodity, and because she remembers those times of being hungry due to lack of food, she stocks up now. I look at our full pantry, and I imagine the extreme hunger she must have gone through as a child, and thus she didn’t want me and my dad to feel the same way, so she stocks up.

Embodied thinking isn’t limited to just fanfic writers, though. Artists can use this tool to figure out body positions and facial expressions in their art. If they want to capture an expression full of love, they can try to emulate that by looking in a mirror or by studying other people’s expression. Or maybe just study the body language of people, too, which is another aspect they can try and draw or paint — traditionally or digitally — in their work. Even in music, we can bring embodied thinking to create songs that will fit the mood. When we’re happy, how does our body move, as opposed to when we’re feeling sad, anger, and exhaustion? If a story showcases some kind of a major breakthrough, would the music be depressing or energetic?

As a species, humans are physical like other animals (we move, we eat, we sleep, we feel pain . . . ), but we’re also capable of being emotional — emotions we can put into words. Embodied thinking is just something that allows us to both, and when we bring that tool to expand on our creativity, we then add feelings and depths to what we’re trying to create.

Embodied Thinking Graphical Depiction


This graphic was made with PowerPoint and PhotoShop 7. The original art is by a dear friend, H. This picture shows how I think and empathise when I write fanfics. A lot of my embodied thinking occurs when I am on my computer, but when I am walking, I also enter what I call the “daydream mode”. It’s like when I am at my computer, I am consciously aware of what I want to think and imagine about. But when I am walking, I am unconsciously daydreaming of random scenarios that I can explore while absorbing the environment and the happenings around me. My thinking’s more orderly in front of a computer, but less orderly and more surreal-like when I am walking.

The above shows a cartoon version of me sitting on top of a pile of books I like. It shows me multi-tasking, and the state I am in while I am in front of a computer. I write fanfics when I am at my computer, and depending on what I am writing, I start thinking about concepts like the ones I’ve listed in the thought bubble. Things like how would I feel if I were . . . what would this be like if . . . we don’t have magic in our world, but what if magic existed . . .

I am empathising the characters in the story, and all of these also occur when I am walking, though more in a fragmented way since I get distracted by my surroundings. Yet, I discover that when I am walking, some of my best ideas come to me then. Something about being in auto-pilot mode seem to trigger the part of my brain that comes up with all the good ideas. Whether I’m at the computer or whether I’m walking, embodied thinking helps me be a better writer and a better person.