Mary’s story started with her arrival at her parents’ home and then looped to other times and places as her mind raced and words sped past my ears.
I recognized the nervous energy driving the storytelling. The voice is higher pitched, the words flow fast. I couldn’t see my client through the phone, but I easily imagined her energized tense upper body as she looped more memories into her story.
Two other clients that same week took similar detours and got lost in storyland trying to connect loose ends inside their thoughts. (I am known to do this myself! You too?) There is a kinetic nervous/excited energy that takes over and propels thoughts and words forward. The energy kicks into overdrive evading any discomfort in the body.
You might not present this way in a coaching session, but chances are you also have times when your thoughts are sprinting ahead of you, running through mazes of connections that keep you looping around the same ideas.
It happens when you are a little anxious about the story, the audience, or what you should be doing in that moment. You invest energy trying to think your way into a new situation. In a society that gives a lot of attention to language and talking heads, you scan your thoughts and your mind for ideas and solutions.
So often you are trying to analyze and control your thoughts and feelings that you completely bypass the emotions in your body and the important information that they can share with you. Sometimes you speed by those emotions intentionally because you don’t like the way that they feel.
Time after time, just guiding a client out of her mind and into her body (really into a mind/body integration) yields profound shifts during a coaching session. When the client is in her body, she connects with her own inner wisdom and insight. She is in her experience instead of talking about it. She is in touch with what she senses and feels. Instead of thinking about the concept of what is, she is living it.
Your conscious thoughts represent only a small percentage of what you know. Throughout the day, you collect a lot of implicit knowledge that goes under the radar of the linguistic brain. When your conscious brain is driving the thinking train, it moves slowly and more clumsily. In contrast your body stores a lot of implicit knowledge that you can access if you slow down and give it a chance to bubble to the surface.
How does this happen? The storytelling part of your brain is the part that analyzes, learns new concepts, thinks through problems and plans. It wants to fill in all the dots between what you have seen, heard and understood. It wants to create certainty and give you a why and how for the
When you settle into yourself and relax with your breathing, you allow the different parts of the brain to talk to each other and work together. You slow down the wordy part of your brain and access more of the information your body has learned from experiences.
To get unstuck and to get creative, you need to go out of your mind.
Get into your body. Get integrated.
Here are two kinds of tools that I use with my clients:
Slow down and Breathe.
Bringing your attention into the senses can also integrate the mind and body to become more resourceful.
Asking Mary to stop for a moment, breathe and then slowly go back to her story completely transformed the way she sounded and the way she showed up in the session. Her emotions rose to the surface and she started to have insights about what was really at the heart of the issue for her.
When my clients slow down and breathe, they get much more in touch with their intuition and wisdom. They uncover the root emotions and the cause at the heart of the quick language and storytelling. Once they have discovered it and named it, the power it holds over them diminishes. Instead, my clients develop the power to use that information in ways that serve them in living their values and reaching their goals.
Try it. The next time you want to get off the speeding train of your thoughts, try one of the exercises above. Then ask yourself a question and just listen. If the answer doesn’t come, breathe again and listen again. Notice how you are feeling.
What wisdom and insights bubble up to the surface?
When Mary allowed herself to feel the emotions that surfaced, she got clear about what was really bothering her and found real power in her authenticity.
What will you find?