A Coaching Power Tool Created by Daniella Gross-Menahem
(Life Coach for the Equestrian World, ISRAEL)
Connecting with the body – Bypassing the mind
Our soul uses our body to get our attention. DR. Cristhiane Northrop
Personality psychologist John D. Mayer says, “Emotions operate on many levels. They have a physical aspect as well as a psychological aspect. Emotions bridge thought, feeling, and action – they operate in every part of a person, they affect many aspects of a person, and the person affects many aspects of the emotions.”
Emotions connect insights with a deeper level within us, thus increasing the chance that they will truly take root in our being.
One of the reasons I think coaching is such a powerful tool is that although it appears to be done through talking and reasoning, it is very much about listening for emotions and reflecting on them.
It is, to my feeling, a sort of meditation at times, and works best when the whole of the person is engaged. This is true for both the coach and the client.
A very powerful way to access this deeper level is through the body.
When we connect with our bodies, we gain an immediate path to our inner being. Our minds can play all sorts of tricks on us, but the body does not lie.
In addition, knowing how to be true to ourselves can at times be an elusive endeavor. The mind can confuse us, whereas we often feel more clarity if we listen to our bodies.
Think about something that you are struggling with. First, ask yourself: what is the emotion you are feeling?
Notice where and how this shows up in your body.
A useful general question to ask yourself is doing you feel contraction or expansion when you think this thought.
- What are you doing with your hands? Balling them up or holding them in a fist?
- Are you clenching your teeth or feeling the tension in your jaw?
- What are you doing with your eyes? Are they relaxed or tense? Are you squinting?
- Where are your shoulders?
- What is your breathing like?
Go through the rest of your body like this to gain awareness of how your body reacts to your thoughts and reflects your feelings.
Now think of a thought that would be a slightly better feeling thought. Again, notice your body and the way it feels. See if you can locate where these thoughts reside within you.
The body lives totally in the moment. This is a very useful fact and has been used to advantage in many forms of therapy such as EMDR, and the many techniques using the mind-body connection such as meditation, yoga, biofeedback, etc.
Often a client can get into a loop or a rut with their thoughts (as do we all). They feel as though they have no way out of their familiar self-talk. It can be very useful, at that point, to try to connect them with their body using questions like “Where do you feel that?” or “How does that/would that feel?” From there it is helpful to imagine a calmer better sensation in the body through guided imagery. In addition, visualizing the ideal outcome or even just a slightly better one and again checking in with the body can be a very strong anchor to the more positive direction.
I would like to share an instance in which I had such a breakthrough as a client as a result of connecting to the body.
I was expressing the thought that I feel damaging to myself and was very caught up in the idea of my low self-worth. This is a very old underlying belief of mine and |I couldn’t see it freshly.
My coach then asked me where in my body |I felt this. I reflected upon it. My first thought was that it was in my mouth since this was a sort of mantra that I was very used to say to myself. However, upon deeper reflection, I felt my heart. The moment I connected to my heart I felt it was impossible to say that I was damaging to myself. I felt the strongest resistance from my soul via my heart that would not allow me to disparage myself in that way. It was a very powerful experience and is with me still.