Recently, I participated in a dynamic presentation, “Body, Brain and Behavior,” with Amanda Blake, founder, Embright (www.embright.org), author, Your Body Is Your Brain, at a meeting of the ICF San Francisco Bay Area Coaches. Being there in the warm camaraderie of my coaching colleagues, I was also coming back to my somatic therapy roots where body sensing and knowing takes center stage as the lens from which to view our professional and personal development.
I was particularly interested in something Amanda said: “Embodied leadership requires accessing the primal power of body energy.” With her, we practiced body posture and stances conveying the emotional state of uncertainty and low self-esteem. We then stepped into postures reflecting a memory of a time when we felt very confident about something we had done.
As you can imagine, the way we felt and looked to each other when we felt confident was so much more open and present to the situation at hand, more comfortable in our minds and bodies, and more connected energetically to cues from others.
In my work what I’ve noticed is that if you want to be your own leader in transforming the way you work, relate, and create in the world, it’s vital to be able to check in and feel your body’s cues. The way you’re holding yourself in your body matters, as well as what you sense about your energy level whenever you’re at critical choice points. Which choice makes you feel alive and fulfilled? Which choice makes you feel low energy and not interested? As the leader of your own life, what is your intuitive sense as to which direction to step into now?
I’m wondering if the excerpt below from my new ebook, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, from the chapter, “Using the Wisdom-Energy of Your Body,” sounds familiar to you:
I remember distinctly a photo a colleague took of me while I was hard at work in our non-profit office many years ago. Now, after my training in somatics (body awareness), I can clearly see my head and neck pressing forward, the tightness of the muscles around my eyes and neck, and the rigidity of my back. I can feel the strain of working like that, my body leaning tensely forward over my desk, locked into itself. I can sense again the tightness of my shallow breathing as I strained all my awareness into the work at hand. No wonder I used to get so many tension headaches back then!
Over many years of giving stress-management classes, I’ve seen that type of body posture often in professionals from non-profits, tech corporations, schools, and businesses. The message so clearly embodied is: “Work is hard and demanding. It takes all my energy and leaves none for breathing and feeling. I will myself to focus only on my work and not my well-being, unless maybe there’s time for that later (and there probably won’t be).”
Recognize yourself? When did you last stop to check in with yourself at work or at other times during your day, inhale and exhale slowly and deeply, and actually feel the sensations in your body? For it is in this way that your body speaks to you, through sensations-- warmth, cold, tension, openness, flexibility, depletion.
This is how you can learn to access the energy and aliveness you need to find fulfillment in what you do and how you are in the world. Otherwise, though your career choices, for example, may look good on your resume, they may feel unsatisfying and disconnected from a sense of purpose and vitality in your life.
For me, it took a change of profession (into my own businesses of somatic therapy and coaching), plus yoga, Qi Gong, and meditation, to learn that I could stay present with both my work and conscious opening in my body. In fact, when I stay pliable and open by breathing and moving with awareness during working hours, I notice that my mind focuses more easily, my interactions with people flow, and I feel better, physically and emotionally, at the end of the day.
It is my deepest wish that what I offer in these emailings to you and in my book may be of support to you in making the heart-centered personal and professional changes you most desire now. If I can offer further assistance, please let me know.