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Listening from your heart

Listening from your heart

Many of us have in some form or another come across the wisdom that we cannot solve problems with the same thinking that created those problems in the first place. For me, the subsequent question to this is, how do we get to new ways of thinking both in ourselves and with those around us?

The issue with thinking patterns is that they occur rapidly and are often difficult to spot. After all, what we think about the world develops as a natural conglomeration of our experiences and the way our mind interprets and learns from these experiences. In order to really place a finger on our thinking patterns we have to first engage with the systems within us that try to protect those patterns and keep them from being challenged. These systems have been described by some as the "voices" of judgment, cynicism and fear. 

Otto Schaerma from MIT's Presencing Institute describes the engagement with these three voices as one of letting go in order to let something else come. 

Specifically, it is through learning how to temporarily suspend our voices of judgement, cynicism and fear that we can then notice the thinking patterns that they veil. Suspension allows us to let our minds rest and opens up our hearts so that we experience ourselves and those around us with freshness and innovation. We can imagine that we wear these voices like a jacket. Within this image we can then figuratively take this jacket off, hang it on the chair next to us and become a neutral and open receptor. In this way our usual patterns of thinking are put aside and we allow ourselves to actually notice an issue or interaction as if it was the first time. 

This is certainly no easy task. In fact, once we start paying attention we may notice that even when we try to suspend these voices they continuously reappear while we communicate. Reflect on how often in conversation what you hear is filtered by doubts regarding what someone else is saying (voice of judgement), not believing someone else's information (voice of cynicism) or feeling hesitant to really empathize or feel someone else's emotion (voice of fear). By suspending, all we are really doing is placing our intent on noticing these voices every time they appear and letting them go...noticing them again and letting them go....and continuing to notice them and let them go. 

Suspension allows us to let our minds rest and opens up our hearts so that we experience ourselves and those around us with freshness and innovation.

The more we practice this the better we get at it. Soon enough we may enter a state where while listening to someone we actually can hear much more of what they are saying, without getting distracted by what we will say next or by our own analysis and meaning-making. In these moments we finally have the possibility to communicate with presence from the heart. Pay attention to your heart and bring focus to asking questions and speaking from this part of the body. Schaerma calls this "generative listening" and is referring to communication in a realm that is greater than both the listener and speaker previously knew were possible. It results from this intent to listen with presence. It allows for new perspectives, ideas and feelings and can produce solutions that would have never been discovered had the old thinking patterns been kept in tact.  

After such a generative conversation, it can often be useful to take a few moments of silence to reflect and digest what emerged from the open communication. It is here that if we choose, we can put our “jacket of voices” back on and discover what we have learned through the experience. Whether through meditation, journal writing or taking a walk, this can be a great opportunity to uncover something about ourselves. Here we can assess the usefulness of both maintaining some aspects of our past thinking models and the necessity to change others aspects. Ultimately, suspending allows us to modify and develop our default habits. In turn we enable conscious and engaging processes that bring our hearts into every conversation that we have. 

MOVE publication on presence and embodiment in business

MOVE publication on presence and embodiment in business

The Association for Coaching Global Magazine published an issue entirely dedicated to exploring somatic intelligence, in which a shortened version of MOVE founder Daniel Ludevig’s academic paper on embodiment has been published. The article, entitled “Embodied Intelligence: Presence and Somatic Intelligence in Business” (page 40) takes a deep dive into cases and examples in which MOVE has used movement and embodiment methodologies to support businesses in gaining access to greater creativity, innovation, communication and intelligence. Click here for the online version or click here for the original full article published in the Journal of Organizational Aesthetics. 



Is silence the golden rule?

Is silence the golden rule?

Ask any parent of a teenager and they are likely to agree that they often have better conversations with their child sitting next to them while driving a car than across from them at a dinner table. Or how many of us have ever experienced that it's easier to resolve a conflict with our partner when taking a walk together in the woods rather than sitting at home? Why is that? 

According to Arawana Hayashi, Shambhala Buddhist teacher and co-founder of the Presencing Institute, "The eyes are the easiest escape from the body". What she is referring to is our body's natural capacity to be mindful of ourselves and aware of others--in other words connected. The problem is that for many of us, we have completely lost touch with the variety of ways in which we can sense and connect with what is going on in the world around us. As a result we rely heavily, and at times exclusively, on visual stimulus to connect. While the visual world is beautiful, many of us use our eyes to project our inner thoughts onto the world that we then end up seeing, rather than seeing the world for what it is and allowing that to shape our reflections about it. 

We have completely lost touch with the variety of ways in which we can sense and connect with what is going on in the world around us.

The above examples represent situations where other forms of communicating actually allow us a deeper and more meaningful way to relate to and understand another person. These are situations in which side-body and back-body "listening" take priority over exclusively listening through our eyes and ears. In a way, it's almost as if changing our orientation from both facing each other to both facing forward opens a deeper listening capacity within. There is something profoundly basic and beautiful about two people side by side both sharing a common forward view whether sitting in a car, walking amongst nature or staring out at an ocean view. This shared experience has the capacity to unlock additional sensory "antennas" that we can use to actually feel another person during conversation.

Silence...has an amazing power to bring to surface all the somatic feelings that we otherwise miss while remaining attune only to our heads.

But what does that mean to feel another person without physically touching them? Take a moment to reflect on the last time that you felt that someone was standing behind you before you could actually see them, or when you felt a warm rush in your heart while listening to a friends story, or had a strong sense in your gut that someone wasn't telling you the truth: these are some of the ways in which our bodies use felt sense to speak to us. For the most part however, we have completely blocked our body's attempt to communicate with us in all instances except for when we are feeling ill. When sick we become hyper-sensitive to our body's needs and how we are feeling. Yet outside of this situation so much of our communication is interpreted and influenced through thoughts from our mind. And while there is value to the information registered through our brains, there is also a world of body intelligence that many of us are completely ignoring. 

For those interested in reconnecting to their bodies there is a golden "trick" that allows us to rapidly jump from being consumed by our mental chatter to beginning to feel our body's natural sensing: silence. Silence, through meditation or even simply between two people during a conversation, has an amazing power to bring to surface all the somatic feelings that we otherwise miss while remaining attune only to our heads. Although initially silence may make us uncomfortable and provoke even more thoughts, with a bit of practice the conscious use of silence can allow us to let our thoughts go and bring our attention to our feelings. Suddenly we notice different parts of our bodies speaking to us through gentle movements, new sensations and even uncomfortable reactions. If after some silence we then consciously speak and listen from our heart and gut, rather than from our minds, we may find ourselves connecting in ways more meaningful and authentic than we usually do. 

Remember, in the end it's not about one over the other, but rather honoring the beautiful communication between mind and body that we all have the natural capacity to experience. 

Is your body anything more than a brain taxi?

Is your body anything more than a brain taxi?

For most of us, everything from the neckline down doesn’t play a role in our day to day jobs. At most, our bodies act as a brain taxi: transporting our brains from one office to another, from one meeting to another, from one conversation to another. It is our incredibly complex and intelligent brains that get all the attention. And why not? Our brains spend hour after hour thinking through complex situations, crunching numbers, formulating ideas and processing information. In the way we currently work the brain plays the most important role. 

But should it?

Our bodies are a majorly untapped source of intelligence and knowledge.

The truth is that within the corporate world our bodies are a majorly untapped source of intelligence and knowledge. Stemming from its puritan roots and resulting in a culture ready to sue over about anything, the American and Western business world has all but shut out any integration of the body at work. The body is covered up in conservative business attire, greeted with no more than hand-shake contact, and never viewed as a source of wisdom. 

Except for one part of the body: the gut.

Interestingly, the gut has managed to escape work-place imprisonment and has its own valued place in daily language. We often hear people say things like, “I just have a gut-feeling that this is the wrong thing to do”, or “I can’t explain it but my gut is telling me that this is the right choice.” Wait, our guts are telling us what?! Particularly fascinating about our reliance on gut-wisdom is the word most often paired with it: gut-instinct. Instinct refers specifically to a knowledge that doesn’t necessarily adhere to reason or logical proof, but is just something we feel is right. It is in other words an intuition we have. Stemming back to its Latin roots, intuition actually refers to a process of looking inside and contemplating, suggesting that gut-instinct or intuition actually refers to an inner kind of knowing. This inner knowing doesn’t come from the analytic left-side of the brain, but rather from the intuitive right brain and the body--specifically from the heart and gut.  

The heart pulse is the first point visible in an embryo, the first organ to form during human development and in an adult body radiates an electromagnetic field far larger than the brain.

So how much could or should we rely on intuition and feeling in the workplace? Well perhaps at least as much as we rely on the brain. Why’s that? The heart pulse is the first point visible in an embryo, the first organ to form during human development and in an adult body radiates an electromagnetic field far larger than the brain. The gut, sometimes referred to as “the second brain” contains some 100 million neurons and is shown to be responsible for far more than digestion, including most interestingly our emotions which of course then have influence on our thoughts. Einstein himself was quoted as saying that what is really wrong with our time is that we have made the King -- the heart -- serve the servant -- the brain. 

Our bodies are “speaking” to us throughout every moment of every day. Though we have socialized their voices out of current corporate culture, we all know what it feels like when our bodies try to warn us about the fatality of a decision we are about to make. How many of us have read accounts of bankers after the past decade’s financial crisis admitting that in their hearts they knew that their decisions could lead to a complete financial meltdown but their brains kept pushing forward motivated by profits and rewards? 

I’m not suggesting a total shutting down of the brain. Rather, let’s find a way to bring the full body system -- mind, heart and gut -- into the natural balance with which it was designed to function. Do you believe your quality of work could be improved if you let your body come into conversation with your mind more often? Perhaps at your next meeting you’ll find that communicating what you body is feeling could be the one critical perspective that was left unshared.