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Back to body basics

Most of us, including my executive coaching clients, typically live in our minds. We try to think our way to creative answers for vexing and complex challenges. But we get our best ideas when we’re doing something physical: taking a shower, walking the dog, working out.

Now science is verifying that the best way to open the door on our creative juices is to drop into the world below our chins. The body can actually expand our creative thinking. Wray Herbert’s recent report on the connections between our physical and cognitive experiences describes how.

I’m easily distracted by the mind. It’s terribly sticky. I get into a conversation with a client and quickly forget that the body can be a wonderful ally, especially when the challenge is complex and engaging.

Self doubt, for instance, is a common theme with many of my clients. Talking about it sometimes produces a new insight. But when I have them embody it, they get a whole different experience. Here’s one practice I use.

When self doubt rears its familiar head, stand up and immerse in the sensations of it. Notice where and how it feels in the body. Notice your posture … your breath … muscle tension.

Then take three steps to the side, literally, and recall a time of feeling confident and grounded. Get into that physical stance, and again immerse in the sensations. Where and how does it feel? Savor it. Notice how it differs from standing in doubt.

Take three steps back to the posture of doubt … then back to the posture of confidence. Repeat until you can drop into each physical state at will. Be sure to change locations, not just postures.

In the coming week or two, take a few minutes each day to practice these two stances. It only takes a few moments, and the act of standing and moving will help clear your mind.

Then when self doubt knocks at the door, take a deep breath, drop out of your mind, get grounded in your posture of confidence, and enjoy the benefits of your investment!

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