A huge thank you to everyone who filled out the survey.

To express my gratitude, today I’m sharing the link to a recording of one of my favorite somatic practices, which I call 3-Dimensions Centering. (Near the end of the post.)

The insights I gathered were incredibly helpful, especially as I’m hard at work on a few new offerings:

  • A new group coaching program—The Life + Leadership Cohort!
  • A pay-from-the-heart course in Radical Discernment!
  • And, a training in Radical Discernment Coaching, starting next year, for new and experienced coaches and leaders who want to integrate these skills into their work.

I’ll be sharing more with you in the fall!

And now, on to our regularly scheduled programing:

Many years ago, during my Presence-Based Coaching training, my teacher, Doug Silsbee told the story of two high-powered executive clients.

They both had a habit of being overbearing and taking over, and they needed to learn a more collaborative way of being.

Doug instructed both to choose a somatic practice.

What is Somatic Practice?

Soma is a Greek word that means the body in its wholeness: body, mind, emotions, spirit as one. A somatic practice is any practice in which we cultivate our awareness of our body’s sensations and emotions and embody the shape of the person we’re called to be.

One of Doug’s clients decided to take ballroom dancing lessons with his wife.

The other—a competitive tennis player—invited Doug to the tennis court. For two hours, he served Doug balls in a way that Doug could easily return.

Largely as a result of these somatic practices, both men learned to embody a more centered stance as leaders.

Centering is a type of somatic practice that can help you embody a physical shape from which you have greater capacity to stay accountable to your commitments.

Over-Accountability & Under-Accountability

To get a sense of what I mean by centering, if possible, I invite you to lean your body forward.

Then lean back.[1]

The leaning forward stance says, “This is mine to handle.” Over-accountability looks like habitually leaning forward and taking responsibility for that which is not ours.

The leaning back stance says, “This is not mine to handle.” Under-accountability looks like habitually leaning back, not taking responsibility for that which is ours.

You may notice a tendency toward over- or under-accountability in different areas of your life. Many high-achieving changemakers have a tendency to do both.

For example, you might be overaccountable with your work or activism, always putting yourself in the role of facilitator or taking on another task rather than making space for others to take the lead or beating yourself up if a project doesn’t go as you hoped despite giving it your all.

At the same time, you might be underaccountable in your relationships, blaming your partner for not meeting your needs but not taking responsibility for how you communicate or not investing time in creating meeting structures that support shared leadership.

When we burn out, it’s often because we take on responsibility for far more than we are able to hold and yet don’t take responsibility for saying no or developing more healthy relationship dynamics.

Centered Accountability

Now, bring your body to the space between leaning back and leaning forward, aligning your pelvis, belly, heart, and head with one another. This is the posture of centered accountability.

Centered accountability is the embodied state from which we can compassionately witness and take responsibility for our feelings, needs, thoughts, and actions.[2] Rather than trying to do everything, centered accountability does something. Centered accountability is the shape of choosing to choose.

We embody centered accountability by getting centered in our bodies.

When we repeatedly practice centering in our bodies, centered accountability can become our default state. It becomes far easier to lovingly turn toward the parts of ourselves who tend toward over- or under-accountability and to lean forward or lean back depending on what is needed at any given moment.

Even when our default state is centered, we will still feel thrown off balance at times. We will still occasionally get triggered. But we have an easier time taking responsibility for what is ours, letting go of what is not, and returning to center.

Practice: Centering

I invite you to download an audio recording of one of me guiding one of my favorite practices for centering now.[3] Click here to download.

Here’s an abbreviated now:

  1. Take a deep breath and notice the vertical dimension of your body, your height.
  2. Take a deep breath and notice the horizontal dimension of your body, your width.
  3. Take a deep breath and notice your depth, the space from the front edge of your body through the back edge and back into the space behind you.
  4. Imagine that you have a tail connected to your shoulders and upper back, extending out onto the ground behind you. Like a sturdy T-Rex tail or a beautiful dragon tail. Rest back into your tail.

Notice how you feel.

I hope you enjoy this practice.

 

[1] If your body is not able to lean forward or backward or come upright, my intention is for these words to be metaphorical as well. I hope that you find an interpretation of my words that feels supportive to you, and if not, feel free to disregard them.

[2] I learned the term centered accountability from Staci K. Haines’s book The Politics of Trauma.

[3]  I first learned this practice from Doug Silsbee who learned it from Richard Strozzi-Heckler, who like many somatics teachers, studied the Japanese martial art of aikido.

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