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Embodied Intelligence Isn’t Just for Robots

Scientists know it’s important to teach Embodied Intelligence to robots; yet, ironically, we are neglecting to train HUMANS in these very important life skills!“A relaxed aware body-mind is the conductor of creativity” – Mark Walsh

Did you know that scientists are trying to teach Embodied Intelligence to robots, Artificial Intelligence [AI] of the future? One project “aims to build a theoretical framework for embodied artificial intelligence that treats the brain, body, and environment as inseparable cognitive elements. This theory will guide the creation of artificial agents that adjust their neural networks (brains) to feedback from their bodies and surroundings.”

These scientists know that embodied intelligence is essential for being a positive force in today’s society; yet, it’s ironic that today’s educators are neglecting to train HUMANS in these very important life skills! But I see this as an opportunity for you to rise to the top of your profession, by honing your embodied intelligence. This will put you leaps and bounds ahead of the pack, so to speak.

How can embodied intelligence help you to succeed in life and business?

How often do you experience the disconnection between knowing what your best behavior is and not being able to make yourself act in harmony with it? It can be frustrating and demoralizing! You want to go exercise, but you roll over and go back to sleep. You want to eat more healthfully, but you reach for the bag of chips. You want to speak with confidence, but you slump and start mumbling. The key to removing this inner conflict and gaining greater harmony between your thoughts, emotions and actions is to develop a greater understanding of your shape somatically.

What do I mean by “your shape”?

Your shape is the totality of your experience: it’s the story you’ve collected over the years about yourself, about other people, and about the world. Making sense of your story, understanding where you come from, understanding what you believe, and how your emotions are showing up in your body, are all impacting whether or not you can step into the next phase of your life. Without this understanding, this embodied intelligence, you’ll go through life like a character from one of James Joyce’s stories – “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.”

What we learned in our first five to seven years of life makes certain behaviors more habitual than others. That’s when you formed your unique stress response. Maybe you learned that drawing inwardly kept you safe. Or you learned to get angry and scream to be heard. Or you learned to please others, so you didn’t face confrontation. These responses to triggers follow you throughout your life, unless you mindfully retrain your mind and body to handle them differently. Knowing isn’t enough. Real change comes when you reprogram your body/mind connection with new behaviors and become the best version of yourself.

Your new shape – your positive mindset, the stories you’re telling yourself, your demeanor, the way you hold yourself – will help you make more compassionate and wiser choices.

When you tap into your body’s wisdom, you “turn on” your emotional intelligence and find your true self. You can, therefore, create faster and more sustainable shifts in your behavior. Understanding how to heal the mind/body connection – the embodied – somatic – whole person is powerful! The first step toward greater emotional intelligence is to daily practice mindfulness, so you’re fully present in the moment and recognize how your emotions and thoughts are affecting your body – your posture – your energy.

After studying embodied leadership at the Strozzi Institute and practicing the Feldenkrais Method®, I understand better how to teach you to connect with and learn from your body to grow and enhance your leadership presence and skills.

When you change your body shape, you can change a deep-seated behavior, which significantly improves your leadership outcomes. Act like a winner, and you’ll be a winner. Act like a leader, and you’ll be a leader.

Since most of us have been taught to spend time in our heads, accessing the vast embodied intelligence in the entire nervous system has become a dormant skill. But you can revive it! If you’d like to learn more about shifting away from a reactionary response to a more intentional state, plan on joining us at our Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. We’re empowering women, like you, to live a vibrant life, elevate their presence, and make a difference in the world.

How to Become a Stronger Person: Tend to These 4 Personal Strengths

If you’re wondering how to become a stronger person, what personal strengths should you focus on? While many people equate being a strong person with having emotional and mental strength to cope with and excel, they’re missing key personal strengths that really help you become a stronger person.

“Go within every day and find the inner strength so that the world will not blow your candle out.” ―Katherine Dunham

Do you feel like you’re not strong enough? For many, they equate being a strong person with having emotional and mental strength to cope with and excel at anything encountered. But if you’re wondering how to become a stronger person, is focusing on mental and emotional strength the only personal strengths to work on?  What does it really mean to be a strong person and how do you become a stronger person?

Becoming a strong person means different things to different people. Be cautious…if your definition of how to be strong is flawed, you’ll end up with negative self-talk that you’re not “strong enough”.

Here are some common misconceptions of how to become a strong person:

Strong people never cry. In many cultures, men especially are taught that they can’t show this kind of vulnerability. But crying is a natural response for releasing great emotion. It takes strength to be okay with being vulnerable, no matter what other people think.

Strong people never back down. It takes wisdom to know when to stand up for yourself and your values and when to walk away. It takes strength to refuse to be manipulated or drawn into a pointless argument. Being the bigger person allows you to avoid mistaken pride, which can get in the way of disengaging from someone else’s issues. You aren’t required to take on their “stuff”. That’s on them.

Strong people never feel fear. Your brain protects you by making you feel fear. The first step to tapping into your personal strength is to identify if the fear is rational or irrational. As you mindfully experience it, you can process fear without judgment. In that way, you control your fears, rather than them controlling you.

Strong people never lose it. When life falls apart, it’s natural to have an overwhelming rush of emotions. Go ahead and complain, but at the end of the day, accept it for what it is and move on.

Strong people never have doubts. We all second-guess ourselves at time, because we can’t foresee the future. When you start down one path and it’s not the right fit, have the flexibility to shift and try something else. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t work out as expected. Calmly acknowledge your truth and know that no matter what happens, you’ll be okay.

 

Now that we have some of the misconceptions out of the way, let’s examine how to become a stronger person by focusing on these four personal strengths…

 

1. Physical Strength. Often overlooked, physical strength is at the core of your emotional and mental strength. If you know you’re not physically strong enough to do something, then your mental and emotional strength also decline rapidly.

Traditional psychotherapy and personal-development coaching focuses solely on thoughts and emotions, somatic coaching, on the other hand, incorporates your entire body. The body, mind, emotions and spirit influence each other constantly, even when you’re not aware of it.

If your core muscles are toned and you can easily center yourself, you’ll have an immense amount of strength. Somatic practices, like the Feldenkrais Method®, help you develop a deep awareness and connection between your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength.

 

2. Mental Strength. Just as your physical strength grows when you push and challenge yourself, so too, you can prepare your mind to handle hardships by challenging your mind with mental obstacles. Mental training techniques can help you create a better self-image and actually boost your fitness level, too.

 

3. Emotional Strength. An emotional response is complex energy released by an instantaneous interaction between feelings, thoughts, hormones, body sensations, and more. Because of unresolved experiences and training, we can develop emotional polarities that sap our strength, because they cause internal conflict. You can restore your inner harmony by practicing NLP Parts Integration.

 

4. Spiritual Strength. Spiritual strength springs from creating an inner peace that you can extend outwardly to the world. It involves having an intimate knowledge of self without judgment. Self-compassion fosters compassion toward others. Self-forgiveness generates forgiveness toward others, as does self-love, self-kindness, and self-generosity.

A practice of mindfulness is central to developing these four personal strengths. Self-awareness is a crucial element in your quest for becoming a stronger person. As Lalah Delia said,

“She remembered who she was and the game changed.”

Would you like to be able to deal with life’s challenges with more strength and grace? Feel free to contact me for an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you on this exciting journey.

Types of Exercise That Foster a Healthy Lifestyle and Greater Happiness

Types of Exercise That Foster a Healthy Lifestyle and Greater Happiness “In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these means, man can attain perfection.” ~Plato

Would you like to improve your thinking, memory, motivation, mental wellbeing, physical health and even reverse some diseases? Well, you can by elevating your heart rate on a regular basis. Yes, I’m talking about exercise!

John J. Ratey, M.D., author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, and researcher on the mind-body connection, has found that exercise is our best defense against everything – mental disorders, addiction, mood swings to mention a few. “Moving our muscles produces proteins that play roles in our highest thought processes.” Ratey says.

The wonderful thing is that we can feel an almost immediate change in our brain after a workout. Why is that?

First, regular exercise helps your body optimally use energy. For example, food is broken down into glucose – the body’s energy fuel. Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which regulates the amount of sugar in your bloodstream by letting glucose into the muscle, fat and liver cells. “We think of insulin as a ‘key’ that opens doors to the body’s cells, so glucose can enter,” said diabetes educator Gary Scheiner. 79 million people in the US are pre-diabetic because their sedentary lifestyle has made them insulin resistance. The insulin key can’t open the frozen lock, so glucose can’t get into the cells to fuel your muscles. The resulting increased blood sugar makes the pancreas crank out more insulin, which causes you to become very tired. It’s a vicious cycle! Exercise can reverse this process and give you your energy back. That’s just one of the many mind/body systems that your body needs regular exercise in order to function properly.

Regular exercise also builds a sustainable cycle of wellbeing. Regular exercise builds strong lifestyle patterns that support mental wellbeing, which in turn motivates you to keep exercising regularly. It’s a win-win-win! And when you are physically active, you’re more social, which boosts self-confidence. It alleviates anxiety, stress and depression. It improves focus and helps you replace addictive behaviors and bad habits with healthier choices.

How much and what types of exercise will help you achieve your peak performance? It’s recommended that you exercise 30 minutes per day/5 days a week at the minimum. That’s only 2½ hours out of 168 hours of your life every week. Isn’t that a small investment for the greatest return – a long, healthy, and happy life? (Note: If you have any medical problems, consult with your physician before beginning a new exercise routine.) Here are some suggestions:

Aerobic Exercise. This type of exercise gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat and can be sustained over a long period of time. Work up to doing aerobic exercise four days a week, at 60 to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. Try running, swimming or biking.

Anaerobic exercise. This is high intensity exercise that can only be sustained for a brief time period, like sprinting. For example, after you’ve warmed up and have walked for about 10 minutes, break out into a sprint for 5 minutes, then go back to walking until your heart rate slows again to where you can comfortably talk, then repeat the sprint/cool down cycle.

Strength training exercise. Use weights or resistance machines twice a week. Do three sets of your exercises with weights that allow you to do ten repetitions in each set. Personally, I love my Cross Fit class!

Balance and flexibility exercise. Focus on this twice a week for thirty minutes. The Feldenkrais Method® (which relieved my chronic pain too), Yoga, Pilates, tai chi, Aikido, martial arts, archery, and dance are all good choices.

Brain exercise. Never stop learning. Numerous studies show that the more your brain continues to learn, the more likely you are to keep your thinking abilities and ward off dementia.

Doing a mix of low, medium, and high intensity exercise is important as each does beneficial things for your mind and body. If you need to split it up into 10-minute intervals, 3 times per day, that’s still effective. Your brain and all your muscles needs to be used in order to keep your quality of life at its best.

I recommend you read or listen to the audio of: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey. It will get you up and moving as it changes forever how you look at the connection between brain health and exercise.

Are you motivated to try some of these types of exercise, but you need someone to keep you accountable and on track? Contact me and let me support and challenge you each step of the way as you activate your inner abilities to achieve and maintain your motivation for total wellness and fitness.  Let’s get started as soon as possible!

If you haven’t you received your free copy of The 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment yet, download it right now. It will help you get started on the path to a healthier you.

How to Improve Self Image and Fitness with Cutting-Edge Mental Strength Training Techniques

improve self image by mental training“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.” ~ Joyce Brothers

Did you know that how you see yourself in your own mind has a great impact on your fitness level? Scientists and sports coaches have found that when you imagine yourself as fit and healthy, the brain believes it, which encourages you to make choices that consistently support your self-image as a fit person. To reinforce this positive shift you can definitely benefit from mental strength training.

That’s right! To improve your physical fitness you need to strengthen your mental fitness. Why? Because mental strength training will help you shift your self-image so you are empowered to reach your potential. Imagine how your fitness will improve when you can…

  • Focus and deal with distractions. Rather than having a result-oriented focus, you’ll be able to focus on the present moment rather than becoming self-conscious.
  • Develop a fearless mindset. You know that one event doesn’t define you as a person so you’re not afraid of embarrassment or failure.
  • Control your emotions. You’ll be able to deal with setbacks and errors as you stay composed under pressure to perform.
  • Improve endurance. You’ll be able to perform at your peak for a longer period of time when you are able to work in the “zone”.
  • Find your true motivation. You’ll be able to deliver your optimal performance because you’ll be doing things for the right reasons.  

 

What mental training techniques can you use to create a better self-image and boost your fitness level? Here are a few techniques I like to use with my coaching clients:

Relaxation: Calming your mind and body relieves tense muscles, which is essential to allow your muscles to stretch without tearing or pulling your skeletal frame out of alignment. By relaxing and contracting mindfully through all of your muscles groups you create deeper mine/body awareness that allows you to move more freely.

Visualization: Imagine yourself enjoying the benefits of reaching your goal. Do you want to reduce one size? Visualize how great that feels…how much better your balance is…how much stronger you are…how much more stamina you have…how well your clothes fit…how happy you are with the renewed energy to take that mountain hike or play ball with the children. The more engaged you become in this, the more your brain actually believes it to be true.

Anchoring: An anchor is a preset response to a specific stimulus. To help you feel like working out, recall a time when you had an awesome workout. Visualize the experience fully, and at the peak moment set an anchor or cue that makes your brain relive this feeling each time you employ the anchor.

Reframing: Identify your unhelpful thoughts and replace them with positive statements that support a positive self-image. Remove the phrase “I should” from your vocabulary. Instead use “I can do X now, which is so much more than when I started.” Also, get rid of the all-or-nothing mentality by refusing to personalize or over-generalize each event. One event does not define who you are as a person.

Mental editing: Whether you perform an exercise routine or only picture it, you activate many of the same brain connections that link what your body does to the controlling brain impulses. It also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which increases the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. For example, Jack Nicklaus excelled because he practiced each shot in his mind before taking it.

You’ll get the best results if you enlist the assistance of a trained coach who can teach you how to do each of these techniques correctly. Mental strength training is all about taking you from where you are now and enhancing your fitness and self-image incrementally until your mind/body health transforms you into a top performer. Contact me and we’ll schedule an appointment so you can get started on your path to an excellent self-image and improved fitness.

Do You Feel Centered or Off-Balance? Discover Centering Practices That Promote Excellence

“Be strong then, and enter into your own body;     
there you have a solid place for your feet.   
Think about it carefully!    
Don’t go off somewhere else!      
…just throw away all thoughts of     
imaginary things,     
and stand firm in that which you are.” ~ Kabir

archery is one of the centering practices that promote excellenceCan anyone achieve excellence? How do high achievers attain their success? Is it because they’re born with some special power? Not at all! They achieve excellence because they are able to channel their energy effectively under extreme conditions.

Many would say that they consistently tap into their inner strength, their self-control, or self-discipline. I like to think of them being very intentional and deliberate. Rather than getting caught up in checking emails or social media, watching TV, surfing the web, they choose to use their time for developing what really matters to them, enhancing their skills, improving their health and inner being.

Being centered undoubtedly helps you become more intentional. However, don’t be surprised at the beginning if learning to center yourself is challenging. It will involve some effort as you develop new muscle memory. You might be used to being slightly off-balanced!

Also, once you are centered you can’t expect to stay centered for very long! You deplete your energy resources throughout the day, especially during stressful situations. This is why you need a committed practice that keeps you refueled and replenished. Over time you’ll even expand your reserves so you can live life more richly. Consistency is essential to your centering practice.

To illustrate: What happens if you center yourself at the beginning of the day and then stress arises? Will your early morning centering carry you through? It will help, but consistently centering yourself throughout the day is essential to maintaining your balance. Even when you are not feeling particularly emotional or in need of centering, you’ll find that it deepens your practice.

What can you do to begin a steady centering practice?

Anything that helps you feel still and aware can become your centering practice. It’s a way to connect with that space within you that is always calm and at peace. This space is often referred to as your “calm center”. Decisions made from this calm center will be more in alignment with your values; actions taken from this place will be more deliberate and purposeful.

I personally have several practices that help me with centering. A few times a week I practice Aikido at a local dojo. The name Aikido is composed of three Japanese words: ai, meaning harmony; ki, spirit or energy; and do, the path or the way. Aikido is the way of the spirit of harmony. Through this weekly practice, I continue to explore ways to stay centered in my body, to use my center to interact with others and to harmonize with the world in ways that are both self-promoting and life enhancing.

I also practice archery. I’ve done so for the past four years and just recently I’ve started training as a horseback archer. To me horseback archery is not just a cool and fun sport. It’s the harmony of four elements – horse, rider, bow, and arrow – into a powerful center. It’s about moving forward with purpose. It’s a centering practice and a metaphor for life.

My daily Feldenkrais practice also aids centering time to my life. When I lay on my mat or table and I sense into my self through slow, mindful movements. I cultivate that center that’s so useful when I need to be calm, resourceful and perform.

What these three practices have in common is that, in order to perform them, you have to find, develop and express your center. It’s not necessary to spend hours cultivating a centering practice. You can start small, exploring what you enjoy and can practice consistently with ease and pleasure.

Would you like to develop your own customized centering practice to help you cope with stress and live more fully? If you live near Ashland, Oregon, please contact my office and learn how somatic coaching helps you engage your whole mind and body in achieving excellence. 

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