Keeping balance in the storm – an experiment


Aug 9 2022


Keeping balance in the storm – an experiment

It’s storming on the proverbial sea while you’re navigating. Do you cramp up and brace yourself? Or do you remain firm and resilient? We all know that how you feel affects your posture. But the other way around is also true. How you stand and sit affects how you feel, how you think and how you speak. And that’s good news, because we can consciously choose our posture. And it turns out we can also use it to find our resilience. It can even help us to connect more easily with others.

This idea is used in Eastern martial arts. Modern science then teaches us how posture is related to our physiology. For example, a cramped posture is associated with the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is a killer for our creative thinking abilities.

Let’s explore the effect of body posture in a short exercise. To do this, take a situation in mind that you experience as intense or overwhelming. Either work or private, it doesn’t matter. Then go with all your attention to that situation. Notice what thoughts come up. What is going on in your head? There is no right or wrong, simply examine how it is at this point in time. And then shift your attention to your body. How does your body feel when focus on this situation? And what happens to your breath?

Then exhale deeply. Begin to feel the back of your body. From your heels up through your legs all the way to the back of your shoulders and your head. Make yourself long and as you do that consciously breathe in. And on the exhale relax your shoulders, your jaws and your belly. Do it again and then on the exhale think of something that makes you smile or someone you love. Then become aware of the space in which you are standing or sitting. Use all your senses to perceive this moment. And then revisit your challenge. What is different now? How do you relate to your situation now? Most likely your perspective has changed.

This short exercise is loosely based on the work of Wendy Palmer and others. The effect exists because of the interaction between posture and physiology. Straightening your back activates the production of testosterone, which allows for a feeling of confidence. The thought of something or someone you love, promotes the release of oxytocin. And that makes it easier for you to connect with others.

Now this was just a short exercise. But it does give you an idea of the potential effect of  awareness of posture. Something as simple as posture can help you to be creative, to make connections and to connect. And that is particularly important in a complex environment.

Still curious to learn more? I coach people -one on one or in teams- to use the whole body in leadership. Want to know more? Feel free to get in touch!

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