How Do You Do Appreciative Embodying?
I'm on a quest. I want to to find out how we might show up if we were to actively engage in "appreciative embodying?"
Intentions of Season 4 – Appreciative Embodying
This is my short introduction to Season 4 of Positivity Strategist Podcast. My topic is Appreciative Embodying. I’m framing this season of between 8 and 12 shows as an inquiry or a search into the topic of embodying, specifically appreciative embodying. I want to learn more.
In this introduction, I offer you some background to the topic and how I plan to proceed with conversations with those who might know something about embodying. In a nutshell, I am curious about relationship between awareness and action. And I am keen to explore how, when we see from the wholeness of who we are, we embark on a developmental and generative process.
I’ve been hosting Positivity Strategist since 2014 and it’s changed over the five years. I went from experimental beginnings to burning out; to taking a short break and to coming back in a new format – based on seasons. Season 2 was about Appreciative Voice and Choice with my cohost Sallie Lee, and Season 3 was about Appreciative Leading and now, Season 4, I’m curious about Appreciative Embodying.
Embrace The Wholeness of Being Alive
As I go about my life, often times I know what I want, and why, but I can lack the how – the process the steps, the practice. Take this new topic, Appreciative Embodying. What’s being in our bodies mean? I want to embrace the wholeness of being alive and in relationship. I seek to pay greater attention to all that I experience – both the good and the bad. I seek to respond with grace and ease.
So in this show I’m talking to other practitioners to learn from them, from researchers and authors, from therapists and artists, and business leaders. What are they discovering, and learning, and teaching that might offer us learnings into this topic of appreciative embodying?
For me right now, it is about a consciousness and a practice: unlearning, relearning, creating, taking steps, body movement, novelty for ourselves. Talking of novelty, you know that one of the ways to keep the brain healthy and active is to increase novelty in your life – that comes from moving in new ways, taking new routes, reading new things; anything to refresh, renew, reinvigorate, re-enliven, re-energize, re-imagine. I just came in from a walk. I took a slightly different route and these ideas came to me.
I get bored easily. At school my report cards would say, Robyn would do better if she concentrated more. I was reprimanded for day-dreaming. I still day-dream. I think that's why is love walking so much.
Paying Attention to our Bodies
Back to introducing this Season, my big wish is that the conversations will focus on how we pay attention to our bodies in the integration of mind body and spirit; and specifically, how to do that with greater intentionality and joy. It’s moving from the view of mind is one thing, body another and spirit yet a third. I’ve become very curious during my self-imposed sabbatical over the last four months about embodiment and what is that, how we might live that way with grace and joy.
My curiosity started with the question:
How do we embody appreciation and positivity?
These are the two areas I focus on in the work that I do. The more I started to look into it, the more excited I became, and the more I realized I knew nothing, and then I began to remember all the training I’ve had, all the choices I’ve made, the relationships I’ve had, all the work I’ve done and the experiences I've had. As I reflected, there was so much in all of that that I might now refer to as embodying different states. My inquiry expanded to
How do we live fully embodied lives?
Full confession: I live in my head. Yet, I’ve always been very physical and active my entire life. I’m fully aware how enlivened I am when and after my body’s been active and moving in space. I know about the endorphins giving me a high after good physical activity. I was an aerobics teacher for a good number of years. I worked in gyms, community centers and I offered classes to businesses at lunch time and after work. The intention then was to improve fitness and develop a healthier life style. It was and still is about quality of life.
Over time, I discovered that it’s not only about the activity that you experience, it’s also about the stillness. It’s a both and for me, as I’m a meditator as well. I am aware how mindfulness practices impact our bodies in relationship to our thoughts and emotions. I love it when my body is still and I am feeling my heart pumping, and my chest rising and falling; and, my abdomen rising and falling along with my breathing; and, my breath as it enters and leaves my nostrils. I know the sensation of the cool breeze on my clammy skin as I walk under the shade of oak trees in the Florida summer heat, even in the early mornings.
Guests To Share Insights on Embodying
In this season, I invite my guests to talk about where they are at on this topic of embodying. Some practice and teach, others have conducted research and written on the topic. Others are playing with it, and others just have a good sense that it is very important to develop a deeper and more loving relationship with our bodies. How our thoughts and feelings show up in our bodies matters. We can learn so much from that.
Questions and Contexts
What are the practices we can become aware of and make part of our daily life? What might work in the different contexts – at home with family or at work, as a leader or as a team member? Or, in your community and how you define that whether it is a professional community, a sports group or a faith-based group?
Having no Energy, and Worrying
This topic came during a time when I was feeling out of sorts. I was sick. I had become sick while on vacation in Europe. I lost my energy in all parts of my being. My body, my mind, my spirit were off. I had no energy or interest in anything. I was feeling somewhat directionless. Four weeks in bed led to another four weeks of doing as little as possible. As we moved into peak summer time, and it's very hot in my part of the world, I felt somewhat justified with my state of inertia because it was the season for rest and recreation. I did read a lot. I caught up on fiction, and that was a treat for me.
As I began to regain my energy, I started to worry about the responsibilities I had abandoned. This podcast was one of them. I really didn’t know if I would continue. I felt so bad because just towards the end of last season, Season 3 I had started a Patreon Account and I had three lovely patrons. Most significantly, about half way through my downtime, I received a beautiful note that I had been awarded funding to produce ten shows in collaboration with a research and educational institute in my field. I was so thrilled with that news, yet I still felt bad at the same time, because here I was in this frozen state.
Listening to My Body
Where does 'appreciative embodying" fit with this personal story of illness? How did I deal with my state of uncertainty and passivity during those four months?
I actually listened to my body. With four four weeks in bed, I had no choice, yet, and as began to regain my physical strength, I still had this mental confusion which was more about experiencing a lack of certainty. It was uncomfortable and puzzling. Why was I hesitating? I was reading heaps. I had begun to conceive of different ways forward.
I just could not make a decision which way to go.
I talked to some trusted buddies about this passivity yet it didn't shift me. It just stayed like a blob ruminating and feeling unwilling to move in any direction.
I wasn’t judging of myself in this time. In fact I was most understanding. I allowed it to take over my life and reasoned that it was summer and hot and many people take breaks, and I needed this down time. I truly believed all that. I developed a compassion for myself and treated myself with kindness. I focussed on reading, on walking, on supporting my husband in his business. I had lost my appetite to do my own thing even though I still had commitment to it and knew my work was of value. I started to inquire more into self-compassion and self-kindness and that’s how this topic of appreciative embodying emerged for me.
I’m back and most grateful. I am back to being fully alive, and I am back with great excitement about my podcast and this season on Appreciative Embodying. Then next Season, Season 5 will be in collaboration with the institute. I'm excited to say more about that in future episodes.
Inner Work and Outer Work
As I started my inquiry into Appreciative Embodying, I began to remember other activities or events in my life that, at the time, I experienced at the outer level and only now am I appreciating them as experiences of inner work. For example, back in Australia, I worked for many years with a company that included an outdoor adventure component in their leadership development programs. An experienced outbound firm designed challenging activities in the bush with the goal of identifying leaders and at the same time work on team building.
Adventure in the Bush
After the strenuous and exhausting work of problem solving in the bush, we’d debrief the learnings that came out of such experiences. At the time, there was this emphasis on winning and competition, yet it was the collaborations and relationship aspects that we wanted to emphasize. As I look back, as facilitators we could have done a better job of bringing into the open what was going on inside that worked or didn’t work to achieve their desired outcomes. What conversations and actions were successful for the participants?
I was also reminded of the Presencing work of Otto Sharmer and Arawana Hayashi. I was first introduced to it in 2004 when I did a workshop with the Authentic Leadership Institute in collaboration with the Shambhala tradition of Buddhism. I wasn’t aware that I was learning practices of embodying as I moved my body to express emotions and experiences in a range of different scenarios, with the encouragement and guidance of the dance teacher Arawana. In another activity involving the body, we moulded playdough or plasticine to bring shape to a future that wanted to emerge. It came from within my inner most being.
I remembered also my visits to Peace Village, a tranquil retreat center in Haines Falls, New York state, run by the spiritual community Brahma Kumaris . The essential Spirituality of the BKs is to
Spark deeper reflection on the subtle inner terrain that holds the solutions for many outer maladies.
In such an environment, the gentleness of being is enhanced.
I cherished holistic practices of feeding the mind, the body and the spirit in such a beautiful natural setting. Taking breaks in between classes to walk the trails, to practice Tai Chi before breakfast, to join in group meditations, to meander in the labyrinth allowing my busy brain to unravel, allowing my body to find a place in the beautiful landscape is such an honoring of my being.
In this natural peaceful environment the nervous system is softened.
Our bodies let us know what we need. It might be sleep or daydreaming, or feeling very present and at one with the ground, the plants and the air. Finding one's own speed and place in nature is a powerful mirror that can reveal to you what you might be seeking and what you’re ready for.
What My Body Wanted To Bring Forth
I look back and can interpret my illness over the summer as a time when I let go – albeit unintentionally, and sometimes that is just meant to happen. Months later I let come that which wanted to emerge. It was my body that gave me very strong signals to go deep before I could emerge again and begin to envision what else is possible and embody the new.
I hope you are curious also to travel join me in this season of Appreciative Embodying.
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