I’d developed this practice as part of my embodiment training. Embodiment is about the body as an aspect of who we are. It relates to our subjective moment-to-moment experience. We recognise that the sensations in our bodies are a source of intelligence. The body is more than a piece of meat we manage with our mind.
As a change leader, as I illustrate above, embodiment has been crucial in my ability to lead.
When we’re navigating transformation, things can be fuzzy, we feel our way. New information emerges with each step. This data challenges our old habits and assumptions, and new perspectives emerge.
In our bodies, learning builds upon existing neural networks. The more neural pathways we can activate and tune in to, the more profound and lasting the learning is.
Our body has 5 independent networks that give us 5 different ways of perceiving.
#1 The first network includes the familiar senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell - collectively known as exteroception.
#2 Interoception refers to the sensations we can detect from inside our body - our internal organs, connective tissue and, at times, our skin. Most of the time, we manage these through unconscious processes, but there are some we can detect, like butterflies in our stomach and, with practice, we can learn to detect many more.
#3 Proprioception is our sense of our body in space - we know where our left knee is in relation to our right elbow without having to look at either of them. Gymnasts and dancers have highly developed proprioception to execute their moves with precision.
#4 Conceptual intelligence is perhaps the most familiar network. This is our stories, narratives, beliefs - how we explain the world and our place in it, to ourselves.
#5 Emotional intelligence is in common use as an awareness of our emotions and those of others. Neurobiogically, emotions are a bridge between body sensations and conceptual intelligence. Emotions are how we label a collection of sensations (with a name, like “joy”) and attribute meaning to them.
The practice I had developed for being “open and receptive” was constructed to use all the intelligences and helped me to quickly choose a different response. As change leaders, we may be accustomed to working conceptually and perhaps emotionally. With an awareness of the other modes of intelligence, we can tap into more of our current experience and unlock more options for action.
Image by Siavash Ghanbari on Unsplash