Ask Your Body
It's Right There
During a recent coaching conference, the presenter talked us through a simple breathing exercise that lasted about five minutes. When she asked for feedback, the coach seated at the table behind me commented that he now had clarity about how to handle an issue that had been on his mind for weeks. Surprised by how quickly he was able to access his own knowledge of what to do, he concluded that that he would start doing this kind of mind-body scan more regularly.
Is it as easy as pausing, breathing, and asking? Actually, yes. And you can train yourself to do it.
Your Body's Wisdom
Even though listening to your heart and going with your gut are expressions in our vernacular, we often ignore or fail to trust the intuitive information our bodies relay. One reason is that this kind of "tuning in" is often portrayed as flaky or contrary to a rational approach. There are growing studies, however, that indicate the body's wisdom is an essential complement to the rational mind.
In her book The Discomfort Zone Dr. Marcia Reynolds references:
1) Dr. J. Andrew Armour, the pioneer neurocardiology researcher who first introduced the concept of a functional heart brain and 2) Dr. Michael Gershon, the neurogastroenterologist whose research illustrated that the human gut contains all the classes of neurotransmitters found in the brain. While obviously the heart and gut cannot be equated with the brain in your head, it's clear that sophisticated communication occurs to, from, and within the nerve centers in these areas.
Current research continues to build on the conclusions of these earlier studies: Intelligence is distributed throughout the entire nervous system and body-mind complex.
It's interesting that in different ways, modern science, ancient healing practices, and various holistic modalities all seek to decode information that resides within our bodies. Interpreting your body's sensations and messages - receiving the wisdom - will be up to you.
In Marcia Reynolds' work coaching leaders, she utilizes a technique called Three-Centered Listening: consciously paying attention to the different kinds of information that your head brain, heart brain, and gut brain are providing you. This internal inquiry can be used on your own when making a decision or with another person as a way of listening more fully. (1)
Consult All Three
Listening to your body is one way of sharpening your intuition. The practical application is broad, from enhancing your business acumen to clarifying life decisions both major and minor.
Consulting all three - head, heart, and gut - is a useful technique to practice. Actually, you can interview any part of the body that is giving you feedback in the moment. All that's needed is to close your eyes, take a few breaths and ask:
- What is the sensation? What am I feeling?
- What information is being provided? What's the message?
This type of check-in makes decisions easier. Leah, a former client and business owner, described it perfectly in a recent update she sent me:
My spirit was calling me to submit the application and go for this opportunity. I had all of these ideas in my head about how things should look before I did that and I was holding back. But once I dropped the decision into my heart, everything fell into place. In fact, I realized that everything my head was telling me needed to exist, already was in place. Pretty amazing. (2)
This Week's Call To Action:
- Practice listening to and with your body. Use the simple approach above or experiment with one of the two techniques in the Resources below.
"The body knows things a long time before the mind catches up to them."
- Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
See you in the current,
(1) Marcia Reynolds, The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations Into Breakthroughs, (San Francisco, CA, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., (c) 2014), pages 67-85.
(2) Name changed for privacy.
(1) Dr. Marsha Reynolds explains Three-Centered Listening in the 5th video listed here entitled: Using Intuition For Better Decision Making: A 3-Step Exercise for Accessing Inner Wisdom.
(2) Here is a short-version of "Focusing", a process for helping your mind listen to the wisdom of your body.
(3) Articles about the intelligence of the Heart and Gut:
Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance
Your Backup Brain
Think Twice: How the Gut's "Second Brain" Influences Mood and Well-Being
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