“When we learn to tune into our bodies more attentively, what we’re doing is we’re tuning into the force of life.”–Amanda Blake
The Halo Sport neuro-stimulation system is an easy to use headset which puts your brain in a hyper-learning state, so that you get more out of your workouts. Mark had a podcast with one of their co-founders, Dr. Daniel Chao, and he was impressed with the underlying science of the device. At its simplest level, the Halo sport is allowing you to develop muscle memory faster than usual. It has already been used in the military, by professional sports teams and by Olympic athletes.
Right now, you can join thousands of those customers by using a generous offer that Halo is giving to the Unbeatable Mind tribe. Go to haloneuro.com and use the code UNBEATABLEMIND at checkout to get the product for $475—over $200 off the regular price.
Amanda is a graduate of Stanford where she took her degree in Human Biology. She is also an author of the book “Your Body is Your Brain.” Somatics is the understanding that the whole body is a part of thinking. She has put her knowledge to use as a trainer of whole body learning in the service of business leadership.
- The ways that you move affect the ways that you think and feel
- Differences between kinds of dance affect the way that dancers behave
- Changing your posture and stance can give you confidence and ability for the new job or stressful presentations
The Somatic approach that Amanda is taking is mirrored in the kind of approach that Commander Divine is taking in the Unbeatable Mind program.
PowerDot is an electrical stimulation device that allows you to increase performance, speed up recovery and overall achieve a deeper mind/body connection. Many stim devices can be clumsy and hard to use. PowerDot achieves simplicity and is well-designed. They put professional-level physical therapy in your hands easily and inexpensively.
PowerDot loves the SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mission, and have generously offered the tribe 25% off of their device. You can check it out at powerdot.com–use the code “UnbeatableMind” at checkout and receive 25% off one of my favorite tools for achieving increased muscle performance and recovery.
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Hey folks. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Welcome back. Thanks so much for joining me today. Super-appreciate it.
If you’re driving in your car, then just kick back and enjoy listening, but don’t lose your concentration on the road of course. There is a lot we’re going to talk about, so if you’re not sitting in the car, grab yourself a notebook and a pen. My guest today is awesome. We’re just going to have such an interesting conversation. You’re going to want to listen closely.
Before I get started and introduce you to Amanda Blake–our author slash awesome human being that we’re going to talk to today. Let me remind you, if you haven’t heard of it then I don’t know where you have been. But for most of you it’s a reminder that we’re doing an incredible challenge this year to raise money and awareness for veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress. In particular those who have spiraled down and are suicidal. It really saddens me when I hear that 22 veterans a day–roughly–are committing suicide.
It’s really painful to think about that, cause there are… there’s help. But they’re not able to get the help that they need through the normal channels. Which is like the VA system and whatnot.
Now there are a lot of good initiatives and folks like the Courage Foundation, what we started, and others that are stepping up to help. And we wanted to raise awareness and money for this cause so I challenged a team from our tribe–SEALFIT, Unbeatable Mind. You, who are listening to this–to help me do 22 million burpees this year. And at first I thought, “Holy Cow. Is that even doable?” So I committed to 100,000. I just passed the 60,000 mark. And so I’m well on our way now.
And as a tribe we’ve got almost… we’re very close to 10 million of those burpees already done and in the bank. And we’ve raised 170,000 dollars. Our goal is 250.
So we’re about half way there. And interestingly enough we’re about half way through the year.
So check it out at burpeesforvets.com. It’s an initiative for the world, for the vets. And can be done by anyone who’s willing to challenge themselves… You don’t have to do 100,000 burpees. You can literally just commit to 10,000. You could jump on someone else’s campaign or team and just sponsor them if you want. So whatever you want to do.
But they suffered for us, so we can suffer for them and help them get what they need.
And by the way, the money will be going directly to vets who are suffering. And we’re going to put them through a 3 day immersive experience doing a lot of the training that we’re going to talk about in this podcast. Helping them find purpose. Reconnect with a team. Create new dialogues around their loss and their guilt and shame and whatnot. And to have a long-term after-care. 18 month program with a qualified coach. And we know that that model is going to be successful.
The other thing I want to say is that I’m excited to finally launch a SEALFIT certification. So we’re going to be launching the SEALFIT certified trainer program and then licensing facilities to offer SEALFIT as a program. We’re going to kick it out first to those who had my aborted attempt 2 years ago to do this. So if anyone listening was at one of our basic training certs then contact us. [email protected] and we’ll get you all the info you need.
And then we’ll roll it out to the broader community. So finally letting go a little bit. Kicking SEALFIT out of the nest and going to help let the community… engage the community to help us grow and to train more people. Our mission–both between SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind is to train and inspire 100 million people in 25 years. So that’s by 2045. So this is one way we’re going to do that.
Awesome. Enough of the public service announcements.
So I’m super-excited as I mentioned to introduce to you Amanda Blake. When I saw her book come across my email inbox I immediately purchased it. I said, “This is a must-read.”
It’s so in-line with what we do at Unbeatable Mind. So she’s just written a new book called “your Body is your Brain.” Subtitle “leverage your Somatic intelligence to find Purpose, build resilience, Deepen relationships and to lead more powerfully.”
And Amanda synthesizes research from a couple dozen scientific fields into this book. And just really, really cool. I couldn’t put it down.
She has a degree in Human Biology from Stanford. She’s a Master Somatic coach. Founded an organization called “Embright,” which really does leadership development using these principles. And what I love about her also–she’s a yogi, she’s a mountaineer, musician… And competed internationally in synchronized swimming. Ha! Awesome.
Amanda, welcome. Thanks for being with me today.
Amanda Blake: Thank you so much. It’s really good to be here.
Mark: Yeah. So let me start out… I like to… this show is about people who have an Unbeatable Mind. They don’t need to know anything about what I teach, but they have an Unbeatable Mind and they’re displaying it. And so it’s really interesting for me and for others to really think about how you got the way you got. Like, what was your early life like? Tell us about yourself.
And well before you became an author-slash-thought leader. Who is Amanda?
Amanda: Hmm. You know, sometimes I talk about my path… for all of us, I think our path to where we are today is just a full lifetime journey. And when I was a child, really small child, I remember my mom being pregnant with my brother. And there was this fascinating book that she had about childbirth.
And I’m like 3 years old, and I started to get really interested in the human body, and biology. And I grew up in a medical family. And just had a lot of support in that direction. I actually thought I was going to become a doctor.
And then at the same time, I was an athlete. As you mentioned. And so I was really interested in the Human body from that angle. But that was never all of it for me, so also as a child, I would read these books about psychology. Some people of a certain vintage might remember a book called, “TA for tots.” It was Transactional Analysis for kids. And they talked about “warm fuzzies,” and “cold pricklies.” And all of that was just really interesting to me before I ever even reached the age of 10. And then I went off to college, and I studied in a really interesting program. It’s a Human Biology program at Stanford and they really take the point of view that you can only understand human beings by looking through the lens of both the natural and the social sciences.
So I studied a lot of biology and a lot of psychology. And how they intersect and inter-relate. And that’s sort of at the level of the individual.
But I also studied the same thing at the level of community. So I looked at culture and nature or ecology and anthropology and how those intersect and affect one another.
And that’s a weird degree to graduate with. So I kind of went out into the world and was like, “What am I going to do with this?” And kind of took a long winding path to find home in my career. Which really, ultimately became the work that I do now, which draws on all of that, that I learned in my academic education. So I had various stints in business and education and all along the way was mostly all about experiential learning. And helping people learn through experience.
And ultimately wound up in executive coaching. And then wound up in this very weird niche piece of executive coaching that applies mind/body science to the development of leadership qualities.
Mark: That’s really interesting. When you were at Stanford was the field of Somatic coaching…? It wasn’t even a field yet, was it?
Amanda: No. Certainly not known. Somatics comes out of psychology. And really started back in… I don’t want to say “Started” cause there are long traditions that are always fueling these things that we say, “Well, here’s the start date.”
But really even started back in the early 1900s and kind of in the 1930s, people started to really look at, “Well, there’s this link between the body and psychology. And the way people behave in the world.”
But it was really confined to the area of psychology and health and healing. And didn’t really start to make its way into the world of leadership until very, very initial moves in kind of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
So, no. Really was not a field. At that point.
Mark: “Soma” is movement, right? Or what is the root of the word “Somatic?” Help us understand what we’re talking about here.
Amanda: Sure. So a fellow named Thomas Hanna talks about somatics as a word that is used to describe the whole human. So he’s one of the founders of this movement of somatics in the United States. And he talks about somatics as being mind, body, spirit and emotional–you could say, agility, health, high-performance, right? Somatics is the whole of the human.
And the way that term is commonly used is as just about the physical body. But his conception was it takes all of us–our whole selves–to be effective in living in the world. Whether we’re in a leadership position or not. It takes all of us.
And I think he drew on the Greek tradition, which also had this view of the whole… it takes a holistic view of humans to be a good citizen.
Mark: Yeah logos, ethos, pathos, right? Logic, emotion and character.
What I love about this is you had all this academic background to kind of like ground you, and then you explored these things through your own self, of course. Through athletics, through yoga, through breath-work. And of course with clients.
Where so many people really either have the academic or they have the experience without grounding in the academics. So I love that you’re able to bring both.
IN fact, I could almost say I’m in that later category, even though I’ve backtracked my way into trying to understand the academic and the research side. But my life has all been experiential learning. I mean, the SEALs are probably the most incredible experiential, immersive, somatic whole person development program I’ve ever seen in my life.
I’ve seen people come through training who were really one dimensional, and I’m thinking, “Man, this guy doesn’t have it going on.”
And then 10 years later, they’re geniuses. And they’re using their whole body/mind system. We have this thing… I’ll just say this, because everyone’s heard me say this before… our kind of approach is called the 5 mountains. And we try to integrate the physical, mental, emotional, intuitional and what we call Kokoro–which is heart/mind. Intelligence is all… to create an integrated whole approach to living. Which is very similar to what you just said, using completely different language, right?
Amanda: Yeah. It sounds very, very similar.
Mark: And then like you said before that shows up in this domain of the self. Domain of the self with others, which is our relationships. Shows up in how you move your body–the health of your body. And the actions you take.
And then also in your stand in the world, and what you’re going to do about it as a leader.
So I know you have a similar model, which is cool, and we’re going to get into that.
But before I get into that–your 4 quadrant model–I want to talk about different types of perception. Cause this is fascinating and I think it’s really important for people.
Can we talk about the four different types of perception that human beings have? And I’m talking about perception, extra-reception, proprioception and interoception. It’s critical to start there, I think. In my opinion. Some people tend to understand these different ways that they perceive that they show up in the world.
Amanda: Yeah. I mean, I really often start here because I think it’s actually a little bit of a mind-bending concept for how we ordinarily go through our lives, think about ourselves and our bodies. And what we’re doing in the world.
Different kinds of Perception
So we have these different classes of perception. And I often say, we all have 5 senses. We know what those 5 senses are. We have organs of perception. Our eyes perceive visual stimulus and light. Our ears perceive sound waves. And that externally focused perception… the taking in of information from outside of the boundaries of our skin. The neuro-scientists call exteroception. And biologists. Not just neuroscientists.
But we have these other classes of perception. And the other two that I think are really relevant to what we’re talking about today are interoception and proprioception.
So interoception are the senses that we use to sense our internal state. And similarly… like we have eyes and ears, we have organs that give us information that perceive internally in our heart and our gut. And even our connective tissue around our muscles and our muscles themselves. All are organs of perception we actually pick up information about the world and our experience in life. And our relationships with other people through these visceral senses.
And we all know this from our own experience, right? Somebody says something that is hurtful or pisses you off, and you have a visceral reaction to that. But most of us are not taught to skillfully understand and then make use of that information.
Mark: Agree. We talk a lot about the heart/mind and the belly/mind. And how the warrior traditions have cultivated these. The Japanese have an art called Haragei, which is cultivating your gut intelligence. Your belly intelligence.
And warriors know that you store energy in your belly. The Lower Dantian they call it.
But now I love how research is showing–guess what? We have like a half billion neurons in our enteric nervous system and our gut. And same thing with the heart. And so they really are part of our brain system. Our brain holistic system.
Amanda: They are all part of what I call the distributed brain. And the gut is… some people may have heard… it’s referred to as the second brain. There’s a researcher out of UCLA, Emerin Myer who calls the gut and the enteric nervous system, an extension of the limbic system. Our limbic system is our emotional part of our brain. That’s a pretty over-simplified way of thinking about it, but there is actually quite a lot of intelligence and emotional intelligence that lives in our enteric nervous system. And that part of our distributed brain is the only part of our nervous system that can actually turn down messages from the brain and the head. And say, “No, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to do this other thing instead.”
About 95% of our serotonin is in our gut. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that is affected by SSRIs like Prozac, Wellbutrin. It’s a mood regulator. And most of it is in our enteric nervous system. Not actually in the brain in our head.
So… and I could go on and on. There are similarly really interesting neurobiological tidbits about our connective tissue and the information that we get from there…
Mark: That’s cool. That’s pretty new research, isn’t it? That the fascia has all this intelligence too.
Mark: Like it’s almost your internal skin. And your skin is such a big receptor of information so why wouldn’t it also happen on the inside of your… on the other side, right?
Amanda: It’s true. You know, so one of the things… I’ll just tell you one thing about fascia, and then we can jump to proprioception which you had asked about too.
So it used to be thought that the eye–the retina–was the most densely enervated organ in the body. For those of us who are sighted, we picked up the most information about the world through our eyes.
But it’s actually the fascia that is both the largest organ–used to be thought that the skin was the largest organ. Our fascia, our connective tissue that surrounds every muscle, every organ allows your body to move and stay in the shape that it’s in. It has more nerves than any other organ system, and it’s larger than any other organ system. And it tells us a ton about our internal state. And it plays a really big role in proprioception, which is that 3rd class of perception.
Mark: Yeah. This one’s awesome. If anyone who’s done any type of athletics or martial arts or movement. Especially where you have to move in awkward planes and be around circular and dynamic movement back and forth and all directions. And up and down.
You start to get a really good sense of proprioception. Which I used to just call “Kinesthetic awareness” but it’s much more than that, isn’t it? It’s awareness of your relationship to other things, right?
Amanda: Yeah. So a couple of things. For listeners right now… for you Mark. Where you’re sitting without looking you know through your felt sense where your right shoulder is in relation to your left knee. That’s proprioception. Proprioception is your ability to balance. Proprioception is your ability to know what the position of your body in space.
So we have external-facing, internal-facing, and then positional modes of perception. And something that’s really interesting about our body position is that if we hold our posture in a particular way… or we have a particular way of gesturing… that all communicates something about our emotions, our mood… Like, other people will perceive us in a certain way, depending on whether we’re sitting up tall or slumped for example.
And that’s like a really obvious example, but there’s also if your head’s cocked a certain way. Or are your arms folded or not folded.
Some of this varies by culture, but what we also know is that these proprioceptive, movement based position in space patterns are tied to emotions. So… like a really upright posture tends to be tied to more positive emotions than a really slumped posture.
And I always say, artists know this, actors know this. And this is actually part of our universal biological heritage, so while there are tweaks and differences, absolutely, by culture, there are also certain patterns that are recognizable across cultures, that researchers have found consistently.
Like folks who are blind will throw their hands overhead in victory stance, just like folks who are sighted will do. And it’s partly because not just in humans but across species a larger, wider, more open posture is kind of both a signal–an indicator–of “I’m good here. I have access to power and resources. I’ve done well.”
Those large, open postures. It’s true across many other mammals, not just humans.
Mark: Yeah. That’s fascinating.
Movement and Emotions
Mark: I love this other… to me one of the big ideas here is that… I’m not sure I’ll be able to articulate it well, but that your body and the way you move obviously–and you just said this–affects the way you feel and the way you think. So your emotion and your cognition.
And most people kind of get that. They’re like, “Oh Yeah. That makes sense. Cause Tony Robbins has been teaching… You want to change your mind, change your emotions. Change your emotions, change your state. What’s your state? It’s your felt sense of who you are.
But most people don’t really then think, “Well, I’ve got this pattern that I’ve been living for 20, 40, 50 years. And that pattern shows up in a lot of different ways. The way I greet people. The way I relate to people. How far I stand from people. My facial expression when something good happens. My facial expression when something bad happens.”
And there’s a million little nuances, and all of that essentially affects how you perceive reality. And so if you want to change your reality, start with your body. Change your body…
That’s fascinating. And it’s very much in-line with one of the things that I’ve been trying to really penetrate and talk to people about. You wanna change? Start breathing and then start moving and it’ll start stirring up different thoughts, and then you’ll start stirring up different emotions. And now you can direct all that toward a positive aim.
And what you’re saying is not only that, but you could actually develop greater care, greater choice, greater sense of purpose. Greater presence. Greater collaborative capacity and courage.
And you break it down with specific stories on how you can develop all those capacities. Just by moving your body in a new way. Or learning how you’re body moves.
Sorry that went so long. I was trying to understand it myself, just talking it through.
Amanda: No, it’s great. And I mean it’s why I get excited about this stuff. I want to be clear. I don’t claim that this is… that working through the body is the only way that one can change.
Mark: yes. It’s one of the avenues.
Amanda: It’s one of the avenues. And what I think is really cool about it, is it’s very actionable and operational. Just change your frame of reference. Change your mind about a certain situation. That can sometimes be hard to do, and the mind flits around and sometimes it’s hard to sort of catch your thoughts while they’re happening.
But when you actually have something physical you can do. Like, I’m going to pay attention to the level of tension in my shoulders and my neck. And whenever that starts to rise, I’m just going to soften down the back of my spine. I’m going to do that while I’m in conversation with everybody I come in contact with, including… and especially… my boss. Or my direct report who kind of needles me. Or my spouse when we have that argument that we always have about taking out the trash, or whatever it is.
So you have something very actionable that you can do. You can go, “Oh, I notice that always in those situations I tighten my eyes. Or I clench my fists or my feet grip the floor. And what I’m going to do is really pay attention to those physical cues and then start to shift them.”
And in the same way that sitting up straight can actually start to change your breathing. Get more oxygen to your brain. Help you think more clearly, and change your mood.
Sort of opening your fingers or relaxing your feet. Or changing your stance can all have… even in really subtle ways…can all have big impact on your mood. Which then impacts what you do. The actions you go take. Which then impacts the outcomes that you get.
Mark: That’s amazing. I love the story that you tell about the work you did with the woman who ran… I think it was the Woman’s Fund? Or Global Woman’s Fund?
And how just terrified she was to speak in front of all these celebrities and influential people. And she had… she literally just changed her stance. Instead of leaning back she leaned into it. And raised her chin. And did some breathing exercises.
And these very subtle shifts in how she used her bio-physiology made her much more confident and courageous on stage. And then that led to a virtuous cycle of positive feedback, which then fed back into her work. And it transformed her.
Tell us a little bit more about that.
Amanda: Yeah. Well, so she… this wasn’t a client of mine… this was a client of a colleague of mine. And I spoke to her about her experience. Her name is Nicole, and what she told me was that when she was starting out as CEO of the Women’s Fund in Columbus, Ohio, she was quite young. In her early 30s. And she was under an enormous amount of pressure. And she had just given birth to her second child. And a lot of women struggle to lose weight after a pregnancy. She was under so much pressure, she just lost weight well below her pre-pregnancy weight within just a few months. And her job was incredibly stressful. And she wasn’t handling the stress that well.
And one of the things that she said to me… I don’t even remember if I wrote about this in the book… but one of the things that she said to me was she said, “I felt like my true self was being eaten away from the inside.”
Now she did not realize or make the connection to that language–she felt like she was being eaten away from the inside–and the fact that she was losing all this weight.
But this is actually how it works. It shows up in our language in ways that we don’t expect. It shows up in our behavior.
So part of what she did is she was working with a friend of mine, a colleague of mine named Susanne Roberts and I would say there were two main things that they did. One is that Nicole learned how to change her stance and change her posture in a way where the best way I can put this… is she had a felt sense of her own care. And she could stand in that really confidently. So she came… as you described… she came a little bit forward. And she was more solidly planted over her hips. And she felt, in her heart, the real care that she had for women and children in their community and how much she wanted to help and make a difference there.
And then the other thing that they did together… Susanne’s trained in a particular form of bodywork that opens up stuck places. So we all have a certain range in which we can change our posture, change the tilt of our head or whatever.
But then we also have… because we’ve had these repeated patterns throughout our lives… places in our bodies that are just held and stuck. And that limits our range. It limits the range to which you can get yourself over your hips. Or straighten your spine. Or drop your chin.
Because all your musculature, and your fascia, and sort of all those neural connections are holding you in a particular structure. So she changed both her posture and her structure. And tied that to what she really cared about.
And the result was she went from being an effective, but really kind of fearful leader, to a leader that could stride out on stage in front of thousands… an audience of thousands of people and be up there with Vanessa Williams and Whoopi Goldberg and other celebrities who had come in support of this cause.
And she could lead that event, both feeling confident inside herself. And being perceived as having a very powerful leadership presence. And as a result of that, the work that she did was able to have some really amazing impacts in that community.
Mark: That’s a great story. What I heard is that if you can change your range of motion, then you’ll change your range of emotions…
Amanda: Beautiful! I love that.
Mark: Right. And then you can change. Transform. But you’ve got to identify what those gaps are. What the stuckness is.
And you use this term… and I love this… and I know it’s probably common in the somatic world, but that term of “Armoring up.” And how we armor up over the course of our lives through the family patterns. Through our societal patterns. Whatever. Our own genetic patterns.
And then this “Armoring up” leads to us having a typeset of physicality I would say… or kinesthetic awareness. Proprioception, perception and interoception.
And that these have archetypal patterns. Tell me about the most common kind of archetypal patterns we kind of have that dominate someone. I’ve done a little bit of work with the ideogram and understand archetypes from a leadership perspective.
But I’ve never really thought about it this way. That your body’s mobility patterns and physiological patterns are either one of the causes or are resulting factor of those archetypes.
Amanda: Yeah. Well, it’s interesting. So we’re so trained in Western culture to think linear cause and effect. And I actually talk a lot about how I think it’s much more useful to think about body and behavior. Body, emotion and mind. To think about these things more like playing a chord on the piano or on any instrument. Where there are certain notes, and you can pull out certain notes. And you can go, “Here’s what my body’s doing. And here’s what I’m doing in my behavior.”
But actually all of that in our experience happens all at once. And rather than thinking about it as cause and effect, thinking about it more as this is a whole. That we sometimes in order to better understand it, sort of take apart into its component parts. To better understand it.
But actually in our experience, we hear the whole chord. And so what happens with these archetypes is they’re these movement patterns. They were first discovered back in the 1930s by some women who were doing physiological studies of dancers.
And then later in the ’70s a woman named Betsy Wetzig, a dance instructor, kind of took up these archetypes she read something about these four different movement patterns. That we all have access to. But from birth… based on this research in the 1930s or so… from birth we tend to have a preferred pattern.
And what Betsy did is she started to notice these patterns in her dancers, based on the different kinds of dance that they did. Like, ballet dancers would always come into the studio very well put together. And their bags were organized and they were on time, and they would set their bags to the side. And there was a lot of precision in their behavior.
And whereas the modern dancers–the jazz dancers–who have a little bit… especially the modern dancers have a little bit less or different kind of precision. Would come in with their bags a little bit in disarray or maybe their hair in disarray. Or maybe a few minutes late.
And their behavior matched the kind of dance that they gravitated to. And she took this kind of too some pretty interesting ends. To the point where she really learned about this deeply enough that she was able to… and she would do this in New York, SoHo parties in the 1970s where she would go into a room and see a painting by a painter that was known in her artist community, but she didn’t know who had painted this particular piece. And then she would start to move like the painter. Based on their painting. And she would almost always nail it.
Because our bodies, our brains, our behavior… we play that experience like a chord. So much later… fast-forward to 1990s, early 2000s. Betsy the dance instructor hooks up with a woman named Ginny Whitelaw. Colleague of mine who was interested in leadership development. She had a long history in Aikido.
And they together started looking at these 4 movement patterns and how they might apply to leadership behaviors. And so they’ve named these movement patterns–driver, organizer, collaborator and visionary. And what happens is we each have access to each of these movement patterns. Given a healthy body and brain, we each have access.
But we tend to have this home pattern. So if your home pattern is driver–which tends to be a forceful, forward leaning… kind of like a triangle moving forward. There’s a lot of energy moving forward. If that is your… and there’s an intensity to it, right? And sort of a fierceness to it.
If that is your home pattern, when it comes time to sit back with your team and imagine what the future’s going to be like for the next 1, 2, 3, 5 years. You were talking about setting some goals–these 22 million burpees… I don’t remember if I have that number right.
Mark: Yeah, that was right.
Amanda: Right. So when it’s time to kind of envision what the future’s going to be, that’s actually what that experience is more of lean-back. Let your eyes go up to the horizon. Open your senses. Open yourself much more widely to a sense of possibility, which is really different from a movement pattern that is driving forward for results. Both are needed…
Mark: So are they teaching… Yeah, no kidding. So you can take this into a leadership setting and teach an executive team how to access all of these at the right time through how they manage their bodies? Am I getting that right?
Amanda: Exactly. So it’s like, “what are we doing right now? What is this meeting about? Are we planning how we’re going to work together and exchange tasks?” Well let’s get into a little of a collaborator energy, which is more of a swinging rhythm.
You can imagine a bucket brigade. Or a dance that is really well-coordinated. Or drumming together. There’s a rhythm, together to that collaborator movement pattern.
And so these movement patterns actually intersect with the way that we behave in the world. And when we learn what they are and learn how to shift from one to another, we can go, “What’s the activity in front of me, and how do I need to shift my body? What options do I have available to kind of get into the energy that I need to be successful?”
Mark: That is awesome. I love that.
4 Somatic Competencies
Mark: kind of wrapping this all together into your very cool model of self-awareness, self-action, relationships with others, and then relationship with the world. You talk about 4 somatic competencies–sensing, centering, presencing and galvanizing. Can we dig into that a little bit? And talk about why that’s important and how a leader could use or a listener could kind of use some of the knowledge here to develop more capacity in those 4 areas?
Amanda: Yeah, yeah. So the first thing I’ll say from a leadership perspective specifically is that there’s now decades and decades of research demonstrating that emotional and social intelligence–the ability to be aware of one’s own emotions and the emotions of others and how that might affect outcomes. That a high emotional and social intelligence is what separates outstanding leaders from average leaders. Consistently it is a predictive force. If you’re high in that you are going to have employees that stick around longer. You are going to have a more positive climate on your team. And there are all kinds of metrics that have been measured.
So what I did is I broke down emotional intelligence is awareness of your own emotions. And also the ability to regulate your own emotions.
So there are several–there are a dozen different competencies at least in these 4 quadrants–but I really tried to break it down to sort of the central nugget.
So what isn’t very much discussed yet, in the literature, but what I hope to contribute to over time, is that these capacities for emotional… like, it’s really easy to say, “Well, you should be more aware of your emotions.” Or, “You should be able to regulate your emotions more.”
But actually how do you do that. It’s hard. Easier said than done. So there are somatic competencies that underlie these capacities. So if we just talk right now about emotional intelligence, there’s kind of the awareness aspect and the action aspect.
When you become aware of your emotions more, one of the things that you can do is to sense more and that’s why I call this first somatic competency “sensing.” And that is using your interoceptive and proprioceptive sense. Sensing your body in space and your visceral sensations. Opening your range of motion so that you can actually sense more of that. De-Armoring, so that you can sense more of that. That’ll tell you more about what your emotional state is.
And centering is the capacity to regulate your emotions. And very often… I often say we know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, we know from our own experience. We know from all of the neurobiological research–stress is a physiological thing, right? If that’s true then resilience must also be a physiological capacity. Because what you’re doing is you’re counter-acting the physiology of stress.
But most of the time when we’re stressed out, we try to talk ourselves out of it. And sometimes that works, but often it has a limited effectiveness. So if you can learn ways to center yourself… And lots of people will go to a yoga class or Tai Chi class. All that’s great. Continue doing that, if that’s something you do listeners, please continue.
But what I think is really most useful for us in the world. Not as an alternative but as an addition to those kinds of practices. Is learning how to center ourselves on the fly. How do you shift your body while you’re in conversation with someone? How do you soften your eyes or drop your shoulders? And what is the signature move for you that’s actually going to help you get centered while you’re in conversation with someone else?
But sensing and centering in both of those somatic competencies really support emotional intelligence.
And then the other two –presencing and galvanizing–are the somatic competencies that support social intelligence. So I talk about presence as the capacity to have your attention on yourself and another at the same time. So that you’re not getting lost by overly attending to what someone else needs. But neither are you ignoring the other person or group of people that you might be working with.
And that’s actually a pretty high-order thing to do with your attention. And it takes a lot of practice. To be able to feel your own sensations, be aware of your own emotions, and still be in conversation and relationship with someone else in a way that they feel felt.
But what’s interesting is that we’re biologically equipped for that. So the anatomy that we use to sense ourselves in our entire distributed brain is the same anatomy that we use to experience empathy with another.
And there’s all kinds of technical details about that in the book. But I don’t want to bore people with a bunch of technical details on the podcast. But it’s the same anatomy. The more we can feel ourselves, the more we can actually empathize with another. And that deepens our presence and our capacity to connect with others.
Mark: You think that’s because we’re actually feeling others? Or we’re just feeling ourselves in a more refined capacity, and our emotional reactions to how other people are receiving us?
Amanda: Uh, yes. (laughing) So how philosophical do you want to get?
Amanda: Then I go like what’s self and what’s other?
Amanda: How separate are we really?
Amanda: So our bodies… neurobiology’s an open system and what that means is we are changed. We take in information from outside our own skin and we are changed by it. And there are lots and lots of ways that that happens in situations of rapport. People’s brainwaves, blink-rate, heart-rate, breathing-rate will sync up.
Mark: Yeah, resonation. That’s cool.
Amanda: There’s this process of resonance or synchrony and it is in the research literature known component of what creates rapport between people. Or what is a result of rapport. Sort of back to that chicken and egg. It gets played like a chord.
So our bodies affect each other through space just through the atmosphere and the emotions that we’re experiencing and then emanating.
Mark: Mm-hmm. That’s amazing.
So what about galvanizing? Galvanizing is really about showing up in the world, right? And being a leader from a grounded, centered self. Being present and knowing clearly who you are and why you’re doing things. Purpose.
Amanda: Yes, yes. Yes, to all of that. I say that the more you sense, the clearer you get about your purpose. The more you center, the more resilient you get. The more present you are, the more empathetic and connected you are.
And all of those add up to a capacity to galvanize others. Now it takes other skills as well, right? You need to be able to communicate really clearly. You need to be able to resolve conflict. You need to be able to inspire and invite people into a vision.
One of the things that’s really interesting is we all have places where it’s uncomfortable for us to speak up. So I once worked with a group of men–I write about this in the book–a group of men who do inspections and mechanical repairs at height. They work on wind turbines, and bridges, and dams.
Mark: Oh, these are the rope workers, right?
Amanda: Yeah, yeah. And so they’re a bunch of climbers and they go out and they…
Mark: My kind of peeps…
Amanda: It’s awesome work that they do. And they go and they take care of America’s infrastructure. And actually they’ve started doing this internationally now too.
And when I worked with them, we had them do an exercise–what we were actually doing for the company was helping them get better at delivering assessments, delivering feedback essentially. Because they were really, really, such a nice and wonderful fun company. But they couldn’t tell each other the hard truths.
And that limited where they could go together. They were like, “We need to learn how to do this better.
Mark: That’s pretty common with most companies, by the way.
Amanda: Yes. (laughing) It really is. And what was interesting was that in our work together, we were doing an exercise where people were sitting close together. And it was sort of… that kind of feedback can actually be quite intimate. Not in a romantic way, obviously. But in a way where you’re really… your words really touch someone where it counts. Like, “Am I respected? Do I belong here? Am I safe? Can I keep my job?”
So delivering feedback inside of an organization can be really tough because it can really throw off all of our alarm systems.
So we’re working with this company, and this group of guys. And in this one exercise where we’re having people say something true to each other while standing pretty close to each other. One guy said…
Mark: Invading their space…
Amanda: Just a little bit invading their space, right? And this guy said, “Oh, this is how I feel when I’m in a hard conversation or like an intimate conversation with my wife.”
And the room–which was mostly men. Like, 98% men–just busted up in laughter. And all said, “I really recognize that.”
So my point is that we all have places where it’s hard for us to say the thing. And in order to galvanize people, you have to say the thing. In other instances, other people that I’ve worked with, it’s been like, “I really have this vision, but I’m afraid to tell people about it. Because maybe I’ll get ridiculed. Or maybe I’m not up to the task.
So there are places where what we need to say is vulnerable. And challenging and what we can do is learn to quiet all of the internal, visceral intensity that goes along with saying the thing. And be able to stand up and say it from a place of care and confidence.
So we can sort of circle back to Nicole who we were talking about earlier. The woman who was so stressed out at her job, but later was really learned how to move in such a way that she could galvanize a room full of thousands of people to take action.
Mark: I love that. So essentially what you’re saying is the leaders can learn to de-Armor, to be more vulnerable and authentic and that way they’re going to show up as stronger, not weaker.
Mark: More collaborative, more caring, more concerned. And what I love–I’ll borrow from Wilber–also more world-centric in their care and concern, right? Which is a big push for us. It’s like get people out of their little tribal viewpoints. Whether it’s a corporate tribe or us versus the competition. But hey, we’re all in this together. Back to what you said.
We’re not that… we’re not separate from everybody else. We have this separate sense of self, and our uniqueness, but ultimately we’re all made of the same stuff. We’ve got the same spirit flowing through all of us, including Mother Earth and my little pet puggle who’s lying down next to me. Snoozing. So yeah, that’s a beautiful vision for the world, and I think your work and this book is really going to help people understand the integration of body, mind, emotions and action.
Amanda: Yeah. And I just want to comment on the one thing that you just said. Because this is my deep belief–is that when we learn to tune into our bodies more attentively, what we’re doing is we’re tuning into the force of life that moves through every living thing. We’re learning to pay attention to the force of life. And if we can learn to move–to take action, to behave in cooperation, in concert with the force of life, then we start to take action that is based in a more care and more world-centric concern.
And that’s my big hope for the world, and my big hope for how this book can impact people.
Mark: You just summarized the whole spiritual belief of Taoism in that statement.
Now, everyone’s going to be, “What’s that? I gotta go research that.”
That’s a good thing.
Awesome. I could talk about this forever with you but we’ve been going on for a while so we’re going to kind of close it up here.
But where can people… obviously, your book came out. It can be found on Amazon. Do you want people to get at your website, like I did? Because you sent me some nice audio practices on how to sense and deepen… find my center and that kind of stuff. So what’s your website? Let’s just say go to your website. Go to Amanda’s website to get this book.
Amanda: Yeah. So the website will direct you to your favorite bookseller, but where you can go is embright.org/book and there you can find some of those special goodies that I sent to you Mark. And those probably won’t be available for all time, but at the time of this recording–at least for the next month or so–those are up. And we’ll always have something that people can… There’s tons of free resources on the website. So please feel free to poke around, avail yourself of what’s there. It’s a really rich path of learning.
Mark: Do you have any seminars or workshops that you lead? Or is that something you’re considering?
Amanda: Yeah. So for people who are I say Human Development Practitioners–so coaches, therapists, yoga teachers–we have educators. Equine guided Therapists. Come through a class of mine called Body Equals Brain. Which is specifically for practitioners. Anyone is welcome, but it is probably a little in-depth for folks who just want to learn how to apply this in their leadership life.
So for practitioners I would direct them to that course, which is on the Embright website as well. And then I do actually have planned another program that is directed for leaders. Currently my work with leaders is all inside of organizations and by invitation, but I’m getting more and more requests for “Can you do a public program?” So I do have something like that on the radar that we’re planning to launch within the next year.
So I would say if that’s of interest, hop on the mailing list and stick around. We’ll let you know when it’s ready.
Mark: Got it. And you do one-on-one coaching? Do you have time for that type of work?
Amanda: I do do one-on-one coaching with select individuals, but my time for that type of work is becoming more and more scarce. I love doing it though, and it’s available. So reach out, and we usually make people go through a little bit of an application process and make sure that we’re a good fit before I’ll take someone on.
Mark: Awesome. Amanda thanks so much. Great work with the book. Thanks for doing what you’re doing. I know you’re just getting warmed up.
And I hope to meet you in person some time, and do some movement together.
Amanda: I would love that, Mark. This has been a lovely conversation. Thank you so much. And thank you for the invitation. It’s been great being here with you.
Mark: It’s been my pleasure. It’s been a lot of fun. So Hooyah.
Mark: All right, folks. What an amazing conversation. Highly, highly recommend you check out Amanda’s book, “Your Body is Your Brain” at embright.org. Fascinating stuff. And really important.
It’s right in-line with Unbeatable Mind and SEALFIT and what we’re trying to teach people. With a lot of nice nuance and a lot of validation from both experiences with other students and teachers, as well as scientific community. It’s really important stuff.
If we want to operate at our 20x potential, then we have to be able to tap into the full wisdom, intelligence of our body/mind system. And we just learned how to do that.
So thanks for listening. And as usual, I’m honored that you’re participating in this podcasting journey. Which started out kind of as a fluke–“Hey, everyone else is doing it. Why don’t we do it?”
But now it’s actually turned into something quite enjoyable, and I get to meet people like Amanda. And all these cool guests. And have a conversation with you. So it’s pretty cool. And I’m really stoked that you’re interested in the things that we’re talking about here. Cause it’s important stuff.
All right. Enough said on that. Train hard, stay focused and be unbeatable.