Why Being in Your Body Can Change Your Life
by Katherine Golub
posted on December 27, 2017
Has anyone ever told you that you’re “too much in your head?”
Perhaps you’ve told this to yourself. You may have thought you need to be more in your body, but this can be hard to do. I’m here to share some inspiration to help you get in your body and to offer a few practices to make it easier to be in your body.
First, a bit of context. As a professional coach, my clients come to me with a desire to change their lives.
Usually, their goals are related to work. They want to find a new job. Or grow their business. Or find more work-life balance.
Like most people, at first, they’re usually focused on the external steps they need to take to achieve their goals. And, of course, writing a resume and building a website and having that important conversation with their boss are often necessary steps on the path to a life and work they love. However, just as often, it’s the inner pieces that hold my clients—and the rest of us— back. Fear of failure, confusion, distraction, stress.
Creating a life we want depends just as much on changing our way of being as changing what we are doing.
In order to reach success, we usually need to make an emotional shift and develop new inner habits. Because of this, I help my clients not only reach their big goals but also develop the life-long habits they need to keep reaching similar goals long into the future.
And that’s where the body comes in. Our habits live in our bodies, and to change our habits, we must engage with our bodies.
What is a habit, exactly?
Habits are behaviors you engage in automatically, like tying your shoes or riding a bike. You weren’t born with any of the habits you have now. At some point, you engaged in behavior that got you what you wanted, and from that point on, you practiced it over and over until it became automatic. A habit was born.
To develop new ways of being that serve you more, you need to practice until these new habits are just as automatic as the habits you now have. Like going from rolling over to crawling to walking to running to riding a bike, it takes practice. But, you can learn.
We store our habits in our tissues and nervous systems, and we respond automatically to anything that triggers these stored memories.
You may have seen the famous TED talk from Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at the Harvard Business School, entitled “Your body language shapes who you are.” In the talk, she explores the impact of our body’s posture and movement on our thoughts and behaviors. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend checking it out.
Research like Cuddy’s shows that our bodies are stronger drivers of behavior than our conscious minds. They determine and limit what we perceive and how we respond.
So, how can being in your body change your life?
Your nervous system offers a treasure trove of information. When you train your mind to notice the subtle sensations of your body, you can use the information that arises from your body to generate more creative responses to the world around you.
Although you may not notice it at first, whenever you have an urge to engage in an old habit, such as reaching for that second donut or yelling at your child or going on Facebook, this urge is always accompanied by a physical sensation in your body. Being aware of your body reveals the earliest indicators that an urge is arising, and this awareness offers you a conscious choice about what to do next.
How can you develop this awareness of your body?
Self-awareness and somatic practice are the keys to habit change. Somatic practice is a new word for most people. Soma refers to the body as experienced from within, and somatic practices bring awareness to the integration of the body, mind, emotions, and spirit.
I always encourage my clients to engage in a somatic practice related to the habits they want to develop. For example, my teacher, Doug Silsbee, worked with two different clients, both of whom were high-powered executives who needed to learn to listen better and lead in a way that could be easily received. One client was also a skilled tennis player, and together, he and my teacher went out to the tennis courts. Instead of playing competitively, my teacher had his client serve him the balls in a way that he could easily receive. My teacher instructed his other client to learn ballroom dancing with his wife so that he could practice embodying a new leadership style that was more graceful and communicative.
Some other somatic practices my clients enjoy include aikido, biking, Contact Improvisation, working out at the gym, Feldenkrais, kickboxing, Pilates, rock climbing, swimming, walking in nature, weightlifting, and yoga. Whatever practice helps you to be more aware of the sensations of your body can work.
What turns regular exercise into a somatic practice with the power of changing your habits is twofold. First, you engage in the practice with awareness of your body. Rather than letting your mind wander, you keep bringing your attention back to noticing the sensations of your body. And, second, the practice is a metaphor for how you want to be in the world. If you’re wanting to become more grateful, take a walk in nature and really take in the beauty around you. If you’re wanting to take more risks, go to the rock climbing gym and learn how to scale more and more challenging walls.
Happiness is not just a mental experience. It is something we feel in our bodies.
If we aren’t able to feel the sensations of our bodies offer, then no amount of accomplishment will deliver the happiness we seek. The good news is, you can practice happiness like any other strength. Ultimately, to be happier, you must learn to be in your body.
I wish you all the best on your journey towards learning how to be in your body and creating a life you love. If you’re interested to learn more about receiving support from coaching, I invite you to check out my professional coaching services. I’d be happy to speak with you!
Read the NY Times article by Jane Brody!
Read the New York Times article by Jane Brody:
“Trying the Feldenkrais Method for Chronic Pain”
posted November 7, 2017 by Fritha Pengelly
Fritha and Sarah were interviewed by the Boston Feldenkrais Training
Dancing and the Feldenkrais Method
posted June 2016 by Fritha Pengelly
The process of engaging in Feldenkrais lessons can lead us into unexpected terrain. Learning about ourselves through awareness in movement can result in profound and deep change. We can learn to find clearer support and an ease in movement that help us feel lighter and reduce pain and difficulty, and these changes resonate with deeper layers within our personality. The Boston Feldenkrais Training Blog interviewed Feldenkrais Collective members Fritha Pengelly and Sarah Young about their experiences with Feldenkrais in relationship to dancing. Read the interview here: http://www.bostonfeldenkraistraining.com/blog/the-feldenkrais-method-a-partner-in-dance-and-self-discovery