Two weeks ago I finally got the courage to launch this quirky project called the Centaur. The idea came from a long-inhibited desire to create a group space where we could investigate the impact of the body on communication and where the knowledge coming from Rolfing, Anthropology, Psychology and many more “-ologies” could be thrown in and put to the test. The centaur seems a perfect image for that kind of work as it fuses the human and animal into one graceful creature. During this 2-hour research lab we looked at what happens when I am heavy, huge and self-assured versus when I am light, forward-coming and eager to please. We looked at the impact both body attitudes have on our communication and how to bridge them so that both qualities can be used freely.
So here is what we discovered.
In general, we all have a preference for either staying with ourselves, more gravitas, or being “invested in the world,” with more eagerness to please. Both attitudes have a huge impact on the way we communicate and are being communicated to. Having gravitas or being eager happens through our posture, the way we move, and how we perceive ourselves and others in space.
The liberating thing is that we can train both of these possibilities and use them to aid our communication skills. We know that gravitas makes us more restful, better at listening, and we appear more authoritative. Our arguments somehow carry more weight in conversations and we are generally less tiresome, but we can also be projected upon as being aloof.
When we are eager to please, then lots of affect and uplift shows up. We are very engaging, our eyes sparkle with enthusiasm – but the danger is that others may project superficiality onto us. We are much more likely to be tired or even exhausted if we overuse this mode of communication.
During the workshop we discovered that what works best is joining the space of gravitas with eagerness. Having these two modes at our disposal makes us enthusiastic but also a great listener and adds an extra depth and authority to our presence that is rare. The challenge is to seamlessly and effortlessly oscillate between the two attitudes. Here are 3 steps on how to get there.
Before you start: Its good to remember that it takes time to develop a truly embodied and perceptible experience, so leave space for this in each exploration. I suggest you spent 5 minutes for each mode and then you will definitely feel the impact.
Step 1: Grow your gravitas
Growing gravitas is all about allowing your body to sink into its weight and feeling the support that this gives you.
To get there:
- Allow both of your feet to land on the ground equally so that your pelvis and spine are supported evenly on the left and the right by this amazingly rooted system of your feet and legs.
- Then imagine and feel that your back and the space behind you is huge, enormous, gargantuan, just fantastically big and alive.
- Add your breath to it so that you can feel every inhale and exhale moving your back and expanding your awareness of the ground and the back space
- Then imagine that your eyes are situated deep at the end of your skull so that you looking at the world as if from the tunnel and make no effort to look at anything – as if the images just come to you.
Step 2: Grow eagerness
Eagerness is about being invested in the people and objects around you by allowing your body to “go to them”. The feeling is of wanting something out there very much. In the body this happens a lot through your hands, face and chest.
- Look at the object around you that you like and focus on it. Invest your eyes to study its features and feel your desire to bring it closer. Smile and pay attention to the feeling of your face lifting up.
- Put both of your hands on your chest and feel your breath, then allow the chest to be drawn to this object but without moving your legs. Notice what happens to your perception of the space in front of you and behind you.
- Take your hands away from your chest and stretch them to embrace the space in front and above you. Sense for the feeling of the space and remember it.
Step 3: Oscillating between the two
Now that you understand and can embody the difference between the gravitas and eagerness, explore shifting between both states so that you can begin to use them in your everyday encounters with your boss, colleagues, neighbours, friends and queuing companions.
- Go to the space of gravitas and allow time to feel into its every aspect. Check how being there changes the way you feel about yourself and the world. Feel how the perception of time is affected. Ask yourself: what is it that supports me here?
- Then gently begin to look intently at an object of interest that is around you. Shift your perception from the back space to the front space, smile gently, and grow your desire for the object more and more. Track what happens to your hands, arms, chest, head, face as you do it.
- When you are fully in the eagerness space then begin to grow your roots again and fold back your senses to the huge back and ground whilst tracking the shift in the quality of your perception. Then repeat 3 times so you have a good distinction of the two modes and the transitions between them.
Now that you have all 3 steps you only need some commitment to play with them. Once you discover and own your embodied resources it will be so much easier to negotiate that pay rise, make a contribution at your community meeting, and make the right impression in all your communication.