Making Your Body a Place You Want to Live — and from which you want to Lead

What is Embodied Leadership?

There comes and goes a variety of hype around “embodiment” and “embodied leadership” but even as someone who has been in the field for 20 years, a lot of it seems fluffy. What’s it supposed to MEAN? Why should I care? Will it make me more money?

I’ll take on a more in depth look at Embodied Leadership over the next few articles, but let’s start with an easy analogy…Picture when you put on your favorite sweater, all geared up for a comfy day in clothing you don’t have to think about, only to have your sweater suddenly be to small! Or those jeans…yeah, you know the ones…the FAVORITE skinny jeans that are now on the top shelf waiting for you to, well, get skinny?

No matter how much you kick and scream, no matter how many friends you call to complain to, no matter how many times tell the story of how they USED to fit…they just don’t fit anymore.

Our bodies do this to. Physically, we change. What used to work for us, say running 10 miles a day, or the ability to sit at your desk and code for hours, just suddenly doesn’t work any more. And just like that clothing we weren’t prepared to think about, we get ourselves into positions in which we MUST think about our body.

Our physical body can keep up with our minor daily abuses until one day, like your sweater, it just quits. And that’s how we think about our physical body. “IT” gets hurt. “IT” stopped working. We don’t usually think “I” am hurt.

So that’s the analogy. But so what? Before I go into that, I want to let you know about your OTHER bodies.

But wait…there’s more. What? I have more than one body?

The Four Body Model

The Four Body Model is a holistic model to integrate all aspects of you. In this way, you have four bodies — physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual — and you can learn to be in touch with all of them. In fact, when you are you’ll experience “embodiment”.

We often start our work with the physical body because…it just makes sense to us. You can see it, feel it, sense it and it’s existence is generally not up for debate.

When you’re in physical pain, especially if it’s acute (severe and quick onset) or chronic (ongoing pain in the same area), it can be hard to concentrate on anything else. However, as we quickly see in our work, physical pain is not always CAUSED by physical issues. This is why we encompass the Four Body approach.

Definitions:
Acute pain: a type of pain that typically lasts less than 3 to 6 months, or pain that is directly related to soft tissue damage such as a sprained ankle or a paper cut. Acute pain is of short duration but it gradually resolves as the injured tissues heal.
Chronic pain: a type of pain or unpleasant sense of discomfort that persists or progresses over a long period of time. In contrast to acute pain that arises suddenly in response to a specific injury and is usually treatable, chronic pain persists over time and is often resistant to standard medical treatments.

What is Embodied Leadership?

We don’t need more leaders who know about leadership — we need leaders who embody the capacity to lead in the midst of uncertainty and complex times. The idea of embodied leadership is born from somatic coaching, an approach that brings the body to front and center as the place we first create change and transformation.

When we see that our actions, feelings, and thoughts are intricately linked, and we must develop one to develop another, we find meaning in the word “embodiment”.

When we embody our own mission, we feel “grounded” and stable and can lead ourselves and others through times of change and ambiguity.

The Four Body Leadership Model

The Four Body Leadership Model is a system that integrates daily rituals and routines into your life and puts you in touch with listening to your four bodies — physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual. It enhances your ability to listen to the clues and cues that surround us; you learn to trust what you hear; and you can learn to apply self-correcting techniques to release the aches and pains in any body — that means physical as well as the pains of emotions, the fears, the doubts and worries.

As you become aware of the voice of each of your four bodies, you will increase your capacity to resolve stories and issues of the past so that you can live fully in the present. And THAT leads to effective leadership.

In a practical sense, you learn to let go of chronic, nagging pains, be them physical, emotional, spiritual or cognitive, and more often than not, a surprising combination of all four bodies, to become a more vibrant leader of your life and influencer of others.

We go more in depth into the practicalities of each body and some simple examples of routines that can help you become more vibrant in upcoming articles.