“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.
“You dream. You plan. You reach. There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits.” ~ Michael Phelps
Have you ever heard of the CrossFit Open? This year it’s happening between February 21st and March 25th. The CrossFit Games are world-renowned as a grueling test for the toughest athletes on Earth. It’s a five-workout competition. And it’s thrilling to see what people are capable of doing!
I love CrossFit and all that it stands for. I love its philosophy. I love its comradeship. I love the intensity. It’s my kind of workout. Every week I get to push my limits physically and mentally. I always learn something new about myself.
Since I started Crossfit over 3 years ago, it has become a metaphor for life: push your limits – find your strength!
Here are some life lessons you can takeaway from Crossfit training:
Your physical strength is fueled by your mental strength. When your body or mind says “you can’t”, try it anyway. More often than not, you can!
The more flexible you are the more resourceful, resilient and courageous you’ll be.
Progress doesn’t come automatically. There’s always a learning curve. Invest the time to develop skill “A” to get to skill “B” and so forth. If you jump from “A” to “Z” you’re going to hurt yourself!
There’s always some move you can make. Maybe you can’t do a Pull Up, but you can do a modified version of it, as you strengthen your body so that you can do it eventually.
Believe in yourself! Trust your coach and soak in the encouragement from your community. When you compare yourself to someone else, you hurt yourself. Use their success as inspiration instead.
Discipline and consistency build a reserve of strength, grit and conviction that gets you through the days when you’re feeling down. To become fit, you have to value your well-being over your desire to be a people pleaser.
Can you see how these lessons apply to all areas in life? People say, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” We have the choice to let life happen or train for the long game. I’m in it for the long game.
I never thought I would ever enter the 2019 CrossFit Open, never. I thought of competing with my friends, but not entering at such an international level. But this year I did! Why? Because I believe in these principles and I wanted to practice what I preach to others.
If you go to the leaderboard website, you will see that I was there. It’s an amazing experience! No, I’m not in the top 10. That’s not the point. I trained to push my limits, to see what I could do. I accomplished more than I would have thought possible a year ago. And I know that next year I’ll do even more!
Ultimately, I entered the 2019 Crossfit Open, because I wanted to communicate these important messages to myself:
- I am good enough right now.
- I only compare myself to myself.
- I push my limits to find my strength.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Don’t take life too seriously either.
- Life is short, go for it.
- Happy is on the other side of fear.
- Courage takes you there.
During the open an amazing thing happened! Right after each grueling workout (five total), and not before I could stand and breathe again, it would all make sense. The everyday training itself started to make sense: how to train, how to push myself each day and week, how to gradually increase my effort, and why all of this is important.
In life, as in CrossFit, you have to train hard (with substantial periods of rest and recuperation in between) in order to sustain even 15 minutes of intense work. Imagine practicing your public speaking every day for just 5 minutes in the shower and then getting to your public speaking event and feeling like “I can do this!” This is what Crossfit has taught me to do every day. It takes consistent, daily discipline to get to the critical moment where I can perform well, with ease and skill.
I know I will do the open again…and again…and again. And from now on, I’ll see every day as an opportunity to improve, get better, get where I want to be. Like we learned from the story of the Tortoise and the Hare – slow and steady wins.
Would you like to find the same kind of courage, determination and resourceful within yourself? Please join us at our Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. I know you have it …let’s bring it to life!
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” ~ The Buddha
I believe that the phrase, “You are what you eat,” could be replaced with, “You are what you think.” When you feed your mind full of positive, grateful thoughts, you leave no room for self-doubt or negativity. You make better choices. You can’t help but become more productive, cheerful and enjoyable to be around. This in turn, makes people want to work with you and for you. Yes, you can erase self-doubt! But it will take time and effort. Determination is the key to success!
Are you determined to succeed in your quest to conquer self-doubt? Remember the fairytale The Little Engine That Could? He started the long trek up the mountain with a strong burst of energy and the self-talk, “I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can,” streaming through his mind. No one else thought he could. But his determination – the mental strength to try and not give up – was key to his success!
As a way to reinforce this same kind of mental strength and determination in you, here are some key ways to invite positive, self-nurturing thoughts to flow your way…
1. Always look for the positive. There is a world full of good things out there! Be determined to practice gratitude and feel blessed. Look for and appreciating the good that is present or that can eventually arise, from each situation. Greet each challenge as a blessing, because it will spark the growth you need to become more successful.
2. Zap negative thoughts. Just as a bug zapper “bzzzzts” and stops pesky annoying bugs, be determined to turn on your Negative Thought Zapper and stop them from taking hold and spiraling out of control. When you catch a negative pattern, assess it for truth, and then consciously re-phrase it to a pattern that oozes opportunity and possibility.
3. Speak positivity. I cannot stress enough the importance of being mindful of how you speak out loud and to yourself. When you start down the road of criticism, complaining, sarcasm, and abusive speech, STOP! Be determined to retrain yourself to seek ways to commend and build up yourself and others instead.
4. Shift your focus from getting to giving. When you become more other-centered – caring more for everyone else – you will be taking power away from the need to reach your quota, achieve a certain status, earn X amount of dollars, etc. When you become a person who serves from a state of compassion, people will respond and reward you with their business, with their cooperation, and with their respect.
5. When you doubt yourself, prove yourself wrong! If you haven’t tried, you’re lying to yourself when you say, “I can’t!” Nothing is accomplished by quitting before you even begin. Once you act in harmony with your intention to succeed, new avenue often open up before you, so you accomplish a task you never thought you could. And if, for some reason you “fail”, you’ll find a better path. No matter what happens, your self-confidence is lifted because you TRIED!
6. Envision the outcome you desire. It’s easy to let the disaster reel play like a movie in your mind, imagining everything that could go wrong. Be determined to replace it with a success reel. Play the “happy movie” of how everything turns out better than you dreamed of.
7. Take baby steps. Keep the big picture in the back of your mind, but only actively concentrate on what you can do right now, today, to move yourself forward just a little. It would be unrealistic to expect perfection. Rest when you need to, but never stop. Even taking a detour to learn a new skill is a step forward toward reaching your dreams of success.
Of course, there will be times when you feel down, hurt or fearful. Allow yourself to experience those emotions, but do so mindfully and with the clear purpose of identifying where that feeling comes from and what it’s teaching you. Train yourself to get back up and believe more strongly in who you are and what you want.
Adopting these new thought patterns will take gentle, but firm work on your part. Your success depends on your determination to change your life to one that fulfills and satisfies you. As Channing Pollock put it so well…
“The only good luck many great men ever had was being born with the ability and determination to overcome bad luck.”
Do you “think-you-can” succeed? Do have that kind of determination? If so, I-know-you-can! I invite you to join us at our annual Women: Wisdom, Presence, and Flow! Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. (FLOW stands for Fierce Leaders Organizing Worldwide!) We’ll help you turn your “I-think-I-can” to “I-know-I-can” to “I-did-it!” Determination IS the key to success!
If you’re hiking in the woods near my hometown in Oregon and you see the glowing eyes of a cougar, will your heart start racing? Of course it will! The fight or flight stress response kicks in with a vengeance, because you’ve heard reports of people being killed by big cats like cougars. You know you’re in danger. Your life depends on what happens in the next few seconds. It will take all the courage you can muster to stand your ground, maintain eye contact, and raise your arms to make yourself appear bigger and noisier to scare the big cat off.
Sometimes we meet people who are like wild animals. You might even work with them or they might be your family members. There’s no reasoning with them. They have mercurial personalities – their mood and behavior change in a flash. They’re so unpredictable you don’t know where you stand with them from one minute to the next. On the other hand, you may personally have trouble regulating your emotions so little things trigger either an aggressive or defensive state. In either case, the key to achieving more peace in your life, is to learn to tame your fight or flight stress response.
Because our lives are often stressful, many people live in a perpetual state of fight or flight stress response. This state should only last as long as you are in real danger. Then, it’s supposed to calm down. When you live under prolonged stress, your body thinks it’s in danger, when it really isn’t. Being in a constant fight or flight state will eventually lead to many health problems like poor digestion, adrenal fatigue, obesity, insomnia, and anxiety. And it doesn’t do your mood any good either, so your relationships suffer.
The good news is that sympathetic nervous system, which kicks in your fight or flight reaction, can be calmed down. The key to turning it off is to mindfully reassure your body that you are safe. When your body believes it’s safe, it shifts into parasympathetic mode, which signals your heart to slow down, your lungs to breathe deeply, and your digestion to resume.
How do you switch off the fight or flight response? A good place to start is to practice mindfulness in these three ways:
- Practice mindful awareness. Suspend judgment as you tune into your body sensations. Learn what the fight or flight stress response feels like in your body. Accept your natural biological response and give each sensation a name. Naming each one lessens its power. Reassure your body that you’re okay.
- Practice mindful breathing. The situation may seem to be out of your control however you can always control your breathing. And that may be enough to get you out of the fight or flight stress state. Here are some breathing exercises that will move more oxygen to your cells and shift you into the “I’m-safe-to-rest” mode.
- Practice mindful assessment. Discern the difference between discomfort and pain. Distinguish between unpleasantness and danger. Give your body the information it needs to know that the situation at hand is not going to kill you. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s not life threatening. Sit with and completely absorb the feeling that you’re safe.
When you give your body a chance to recover, you’ll improve your health and your relationships. 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: Wisdom, Presence, and Flow! Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. FLOW stands for Fierce Leaders Organizing Worldwide! We’re empowering women, like you, to live a vibrant life, elevate their presence, and make a difference in the world.
“Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” ~ Roy L. Smith
Do you think of self-care as relaxing in a flower-strewn bath, letting stress melt away? That is certainly one small aspect of it. But the best self-care skills take a lot of commitment, hard work and grit. It’s not glamorous. It’s not pampering. It’s getting tough with yourself as you make choices that nourish your body, mind and spirit.
Some people say that self-care is selfish…that nurturers can’t take the time. However, I’ve found that too often this is an excuse. As leaders in our industries, community and families, we need to create within ourselves the strength to lead. This takes strong self-care skills that are based on discipline. Otherwise, we can’t influence others – our business associates, our romantic partners, our children – to become the best versions of themselves.
Self-care is not indulgence. It’s discipline to do what’s best for YOU and others. Can you really say you’re taking care of yourself if you’re sitting for hours, eating tubs of ice cream? NOT! Real self-care skills require mental toughness and a deep understanding of what really matters.
Five essential self-care skills everybody needs:
Get plenty of restorative sleep. This means mindfully choosing to quit working or looking at a screen an hour before bedtime, allowing your mind to shut down and peacefully drift off to sleep.
The problem: After a stressful day, it’s easy to mindlessly watch TV or your Facebook feed. Or if you have a deadline, you push to get it done.
The solution: Put the remote in a hard to reach place so you have to think about what you’re doing. Create a special space and time for a relaxing project (like talking with a love one or doing something creative). This should quiet your mind so you can fall asleep quickly. Don’t allow anything to break this appointment with yourself. You’ll accomplish more in the long run.
Exercise regularly. Our bodies are designed to move and work. If you don’t, you’ll hurt and become more anxious and stressed.
The problem: People hate discomfort (not the same as pain), exercising in front of others, going to a gym, getting sweaty, etc… What’s you’re current “reason” for not exercising?
The solution: Find something you love. Mindfully focus on the increased energy, mental clarity, stamina and endurance you achieve each time you push yourself.
Eat healthful foods and stay hydrated. Throughout history, nations have used starvation as a way to torture and control others. Why would you do that to yourself? Why would you willingly deny your body the fuel it needs?
Become more aware of how different foods affect YOUR body. For example, you may not be able to eat wheat like other people do. While your taste buds say, “Yum!”, your body cries, “Why are you poisoning me?!”
The problem: People hate to “go to the bother” of fixing healthful meals. They’d rather grab something and run.
The solution: Make healthy eating your passion. The Whole30® program changed my life. Find something that works for you. Take a class. Find a recipe buddy. Make sharing meals with friends and family a regular, pleasant activity you look forward to.
Create boundaries. We “take care of others” in the sense that we support them and respect them. In our families, this means providing food, clothing, shelter, open communication and love. But each person is responsible for their own well-being. If an option isn’t right for you, have the mental strength to say “no” despite how others react.
The problem: We have the tendency to either be controlling or be people pleasers.
The solution: Give others respect by letting them take care of themselves. YOU are responsible for YOUR emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Be financially independent. We all have needs. Having MORE doesn’t guarantee more happiness. It’s a trap to compare what you have with what other people have or with what you see in magazines. Gratitude for what you have will help you see the difference between needs and wants.
The problem: Living with credit card debt or paycheck to paycheck is stressful.
The solution: Live within your means. That includes having the discipline to save a certain amount out of every paycheck for an emergency fund and a certain amount for your retirement. Pay off your credit card debts so interest rates don’t eat up your funds.
It takes discipline to always do the things that are good for you. Why not reboot your self-care skills by joining us at our Women: Wisdom, Presence, and Flow! Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. You’ll return home with renewed purpose and energy!