Words are powerful. Embodying a word or concept can be even more powerful, because it makes it your unique experience and adds presence and energy to what and how you communicate.

This Tuesday we had another Holding Space Conversations event. We met to discuss and explore the concept of leadership embodiment. Instead of talking and mentally deconstructing the two words into its elements, we decided to start with a physical exploration of what those concepts meant to us, the people in the room. Knowing that everyone of us would have a different experience and thus shape the outcome of our exploration.

The words we explored were taken from a quote by Wendy Palmer in her book on Leadership Embodiment: centered, failure, success and brave.

‘The centered leader is brave and can welcome both success and failure with complete openness.’ – Wendy Palmer

An embodied exploration of concepts

 

How we did it:

  • Each of us was standing in a place where we felt comfortable.
    If you wanted you could also do the practice sitting.
  • Shirley was giving us the keyword and we had a few moments to take it in. We started with ‘centered.’
  • The instruction was to embody what the word meant to us.
    So, each of us would take on a posture that for us meant and felt centered.
  • We stayed in this position for a while to get a deeper sense of it.
  • And then we had a chance to take a look around and see how the other people in the group embodied the same concept in their own unique way.
  • And we moved out of it
  • Next, we had time for reflection where we could write down what we experienced and learned about ourselves about those states.

In the following, I want to share what I experience while embodying the words.

CENTERED

I have a strong sense of the rear side of my body. I feel supported. The rear feels dark, I feel a line of connection from the legs up to the head my perception is open and wide. I notice my perception or the shape I was taking was more vertical, less horizontal (as in taking space to the sides).

FAILURE

I feel weak. At the diaphragm level I’m slightly bent forward. My weight is entirely on my right leg. With time, the right knee starts shaking and gets weak too. My body is twisted and turned towards the left. My focus is on the lower part of the body and my chest is only a bit in my awareness.

SUCCESS

I have an open chest and my sight is high. I feel light and it’s enjoyable. I have a sense of pride. My feet are solidly on the ground, but my legs are not heavy. My focus is up and forward. Even though I’m standing, my body feels like preparing for forward motion.

BRAVE

I feel a strong connection between my chest and my eyes/head. I have a solid shape and feel strong. My perception is more narrow and very focused. I can feel the intensity in my eyes. There is a strong sense of direction and purpose. I feel very connected to the space and the people around me.

 

What to those concepts mean to you?

I’m curious what the others felt when they were embodying those concepts. If you are reading this (you know who you are! ;-)) and want to share, feel free to comment below.

If you got inspired by this practice, you can do it yourself and see what comes up for you.

It’s very enriching and enlightening for me to learn how differently you can experience something as simple as a concept (not even talking about more complicated interpersonal subjects).

 

Another aspect we didn’t have time to go into but touched on in the conversation that followed this embodied exploration, was the discernment of being in a reactive or responsive state. In what state of being did I embody the concepts above? Being able to tell the difference between being in a reactive state or responding to life with all my skills and abilities available is a vital tool for confidence and (self-)leadership. (But that’s a different aspect that we’ll explore at aonther occasion. )

Every person has their individual relationship to and history with concepts we use in everyday language. Becoming aware of them in an tangible and physical way is one strategy to gain awareness of what you are communicating to the people you meet and share space with regarding those subjects. This awareness, in turn, is the basis for making more conscious choices and influencing the direction you’re moving more clearly.

If you feel like exploring aspects of holding space together with us, you’re very welcome to join us in one of our upcoming Holding Space Conversations.