Bowing to the Sovereign Within

When the coronavirus pandemic started, we were encouraged to use an “elbow bump”. An informal and COVID-safe greeting that replaced the handshake. In 2021, however, I have been introduced to the Corona Bow. I think I prefer bowing to bumping. It points to self-respect, mutual appreciation, trust and humility.
But, what does bowing have to do with coaching? The process of coaching has you reclaim and gain greater clarity of your sovereignty and self-authority. It builds awareness of how you undermine your sovereignty. And how you can more consciously reclaim and affirm your self-authority. And when you reclaim your sovereignty and self-authority, you are a role model and inspiration to others to do and be the same for themselves.
At its best, bowing connects you to your sovereignty and can remind you of the sovereignty of others. You could think of it as a practice to connect to your own sovereignty as well as see the sovereignty of someone else.  In bowing, you might actually remind those others of their sovereignty too.  Just like in the film Avatar when the Na’vi greet each other with “I see you”. It is a mark of honour and respect. A pause to acknowledge the sovereignty and greatness in everyone.

Bowing around the world

The tradition of bowing is thousands of years old. And it’s many gestures are used throughout the world.
The Nepalese and Indian Namaste says ‘the Divine within me bows to the same Divine within you.’ That we are brothers and sisters. We can learn from each other and we are the same.
And the similar Thai Wai says “I come in peace”, I wish to work with you, honour you, co-create with you.
Japanese and Chinese bows mean similar things. There are abundant ways of bowing depending on situation, context, relationship, age and so on (you can find out more about the Asian traditions of bowing in this National Geographic article).
And of course the use of bowing in European courts signifies humility and respect. Bowing is so much more than a respectful “hello”.

Bowing and martial arts

Bowing to the Sovereign within everyone

I first learned about bowing during my Japanese martial arts training. Initially, it was something I was told to do as a mark of respect. It made me mindful. Bowing meant that I didn’t rush into things without thinking. It created a boundary between finishing one thing and starting another. Bowing marked leaving the outside world and entering the universe of the dojo (training hall). And returning to the outside world.

As my experience and understanding grew, it came to mean much more. It also became about respect and humility. About camaraderie and mutual appreciation. And, ultimately it became about love.
My adversary in combat is also my teacher. As I am a teacher to them. When my partner does her/ his best, it brings out the best in me. I bow to say I am of service to you. It is a thanks to you for being of service to my learning.

Bowing to Sovereignty

When we bow, the Sovereign in me witnesses the Sovereign in you. From a perspective of archetypes, the bow begins with a self-acknowledgment and centring. I connect to my power, strength and those things for which I am a stand.
As soon as I do that, I become more aware of the Sovereign in you. I sense the things for which you are a stand, feel your power and strength. Therefore, I acknowledge and respect you for that.
Bowing is an exercise in self-respect and humility. I take a moment to consider and contemplate myself and this other person as we greet. There is something beautiful in that.

Bowing and archetypes

From this empowered place of mutual respect and sovereignty, I can go about my interactions with this person using all my archetypes in their most balanced and powerful sense.
Alternatively, at its worst, bowing can be a power game. The chance to dishonour and disrespect another. The tyranny and abuse of Sovereign that brings every other archetype into shadow.
At its best, bowing allows me to use the determination, focus and fierceness of Warrior and not fall into arrogance and tyranny. Lover can bring me into mutual connection, strong boundaries and interdependent relationship rather than living without boundaries, and therefore in co-dependence and victimhood. While Magician can enjoy the co-creative dance, let the imagination soar and intuition guide, instead of controlling through domination, limitation and intellect alone.

Bowing to Challenges

Bowing then is a state of mind and a state of being. And so, when I meet the challenges of life, I can bow to them. Bowing is an acceptance. When I bow I acknowledge the reality of this challenge and then set my resourcefulness and resilience to work to overcome (or be set back).
Coaching builds your resourcefulness and resilience to overcome the challenges you are facing in life. Sometimes that comes in the shape of acquiring new skills. Often is a remembering of skills forgotten. Always it is about deepening awareness which leads to greater choice and therefore freedom.
When you bow to those challenges, you do so with surrender and confidence. The body is strong and also relaxed. There is vulnerability. You may fail or succeed. In both there is learning. In learning there is humility. And humility leads to personal growth and a greater sense of your own sovereignty, confidence and self-authority.

Over to You

Bowing is so much more than a greeting.  It marks the relationship you have with yourself and how you relate to others.  It does not need to be a grand gesture.  A simple, mindful pause when you meet someone will suffice.  A moment to acknowledge the greatness and sovereignty in you both, which sets the path for your interaction.  That is renewed every time you meet.

Try it as a practice.  Does it change the quality of how you show up?  How does it influence your interactions?  Does your sovereignty impact positively on the other?  And over time, what do you notice changing within you?  What difference does bowing make to your relationships at home and work?

Your sovereignty (and the sovereignty of others) is worth honouring I think.  Don’t you?  Taking small moments to acknowledge the sovereignty within could make us kinder, calmer, humbler, more compassionate, peaceful, respectful of ourselves, others and the planet.  What impact is it having on you?

Pass it on

What will you take away from this piece about bowing?  Do you know someone who would enjoy this blog for the same reason?  If so, please pass it on to them and share the love of mutual appreciation.

Ready to find out more?

Would you like to explore your sovereignty?  And in tapping into your own inner sovereign power, inspire others to do the same?  If so, why not book a call today and find out how I can support you on that journey?