I love ideas. I love interesting conversations. And I’ve been learning that when we are over focused on cognitive knowing we are temporarily suppressed other ways of knowing. For instance, the knowing that happens via bodily sensations. (Known as interoception)
I invite you to take a moment to pause and join me in some simple exercises...
Think about something you are looking forward to; something that gives you pleasure. What does your body feel like in that future state? ... Do just think about it as you read this.. Take a moment to close your eyes or at least look away from your screen and really feel what your body feels like.
Now imagine a time when you are stressed at work. How would you describe the shape of your body? Do you have tightness anywhere? Maybe your jaw, the back of your neck? Or somewhere in your back? Does it feel warm or cool; tight or open; still or active?
Our bodies and the bodies of others are giving us valuable information all the time. And most of us are missing it.
Last week I was in a session led by Amanda Blake - author of Your Body is Your Brain she led myself and 100 plus other participants through this exercise. I invite you to do this as you read this.
Take two different objects that are nearby that you can hold in your hands. One object in each hand.
Hold them with an open hand and feel the weight of the objects.
Really feel and sense their weight; and the difference in weight between the two objects.
Now grip each object tightly.
And notice the sensation of the weight of both objects.
Did you notice a change once you started gripping them tightly?
(Often people notice less of a difference in weight between the objects when they are gripping them tightly.)
“Our bodies and our physical sensations give us information about the world. When we are tightened up and tense we can’t sense as much. Can make it harder to recognize what’s actually happening. When we tighten up, we get less information (paraphrase from Amanda Blake).”
There can be numerous reasons why we are tense at work. I think it’s safe to say (no pun intended) that a big reason is because our bodies do not feel safe.
It’s vital that leaders create space where their teams can experience psychological safety. And we need to do the hard work of having difficult conversations that require bravery (and kindness) in order to get to a healthy and flourishing space.
We are cutting off access to vast amounts of information and resources that could help us tune into ourselves and each other to a much greater degree. What would be made possible if we could begin to access this sensory information? What would this do for collaboration, agility, creativity and teamwork?
Leaders have a responsibility to create psychological safety first and foremost because it’s the humane thing to do. And secondly, we can tap into opportunity and possibility! When we are holding less tension, we are able to take in so much more information. And connect and collaborate with each other.
I invite you to practice tuning into the shape and sensation of your body throughout your day. Awareness is key. Practice is what really makes a difference.
"Awareness creates choice. Practice creates capacity" - Amanda Blake