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The art of good relationships is connection not disconnection

Disconnection

In your relationships of all kinds, do you notice how you or others disengage from conversations or interactions? There is a disconnection that can take place by which you or they are no longer present to the conversation. Sometimes this will be because you are thinking of the next thing to say once the other person has finished. Other times you might be bored and so you drift off into some fantasy.

Further examples might include feeling uncomfortable with the topic or tone of the conversation, so people might leave the room completely or sit back and stop listening altogether. Obstinate refusal to understand what the other person is staying or see another view can lead to raised voices and frustration in which no one is listening. Over zealous chatter because someone is nervous at a party can create a powerful disconnection in other people. Conversely, having a silent respondent can also feel like you are talking to your self. Whatever the reason for the disconnection, the other person may feel hurt, offended or simply not listened to and this can affect the quality of the relationship.

Why do you disconnect from pain?

In my experience, these points of disconnection are done very unconsciously. They are not done to hurt or harm even though they can have this affect. The reason for our disconnection is because we feel pain in some way or other and we want to move away from the pain. We are biologically programmed to steer away from pain such as hot flames and ferocious animals. To our mind and body, pain is pain. We do not make a distinction about its source. We set about avoiding pain of all sources in a most unconscious way.

Not all pain needs to signal that there is something to avoid though. Some pain is telling you that something is happening that you could deal with by steering into it, not away from it. Why do you feel uncomfortable about that topic? What is it about raised voices that make you shrink away? Why do you disengage when you are bored rather than maneuver the conversation towards topics that interest you? What is it about that person that makes you feel uncomfortable?

Steering into the pain

In Mindful Movement classes we do an exercise that looks at this topic. Based on Aikido principles of light touch and flow within flow, participants are invited to lead and follow each other around the room. Inevitably, tension in the body results, as people begin to feel uncomfortable in the exercise and lose that light touch connection. Tension is a way in which the body and mind manifest pain.

Relaxation allows you to respond to situations with a light touch

I invite people to explore the nature and location in their bodies where that tension lies and ask them to relax into it. The responsibility of leading or the frustration of being led can result in a lot of tension in the body. It brings up something uncomfortable which is a mild form of pain. The body and mind respond by creating tension. This means that the body does not work as well as it might (muscle tension, shallow breathing, poor posture, lack of awareness of the surroundings).  The mind is neither focused on the task nor has clarity of purpose, emotions are in a place of fear and lack and the connection between partners is poor at best.

Relaxation dissolves resistance

Once participants are reminded to relax, suddenly the whole process changes. The tension that once blocked the pain and kept it frozen in place is removed and suddenly that energy can flow through the mind and body. Suddenly the pain gives way to dynamic flow and a relaxed creative process can begin to take place.

Though there is a leader and follower, both are co- creating the dance of movement much like people create a magical conversation together. The mind is clear and focused and better able to hear the intuitive voice. Emotionally, participants are more responsive to themselves and each other and a confidence in the process develops in which both people feel safe to explore and test ideas.

 Body tension tells you there is pain to address

This exercise is a metaphor for daily interactions in which tension can often lead us to disconnect. Simple awareness of the process can be enough to mindfully interact with people and be more conscious about how we are when we interact. When we feel the tension in the body and notice how the mind and emotions are responding as well, we can take action to relax. This will not change the situation immediately. It will, however, change how you respond to it and so the outcome of your interaction.

From personal experience I can share a couple of public speaking engagements I attended. The first was a networking event and I froze in front of all the people as I stood up to say my piece. I never allowed the tension to leave my body and so I remained short of breath, my mind remained foggy and I was unable to speak. The second was a better experience. I arrived at the venue expecting 10- 15 people to turn up. As people arrived the number grew to 25. With each new person I felt the tension rise. Once I noticed it, I could let the tension go and I was able to speak in front of all those people quite easily. Most importantly, I was relaxed and myself. That meant the audience enjoyed the experience far more than if I had been as tense as I had been before.

Relaxation releases tension and pain

By noticing tension, you are able to take steps to release that tension.  We can do that through centring, breathing or actively relaxing the body. When you are relaxed, you can choose to steer into the pain or discomfort.  This brings your awareness to it and dissolves it away. It invites you to face what is perhaps most urgent and important in this moment. Tension and pain are the ways in which the mind and body communicate the need to deal with urgent and important situations.

Rather than interpret that information as something to avoid, I invite you interpret it as something to steer into. Through the awesome power of your awareness, you can dissolve that tension. The result is deeper, more intimate and powerful relationships with others and yourself as well as better health and well- being. The body and mind are not supposed to remain tense for too long. These are short term signals to get your attention. Not long term inconveniences to get used to that ultimately tighten up and restrict mind and body. A relaxed body and mind thinks clearer, reacts more appropriately, heals better, loves deeper, works longer, focuses more sharply and gives more fully.

Relaxation frees body and mind

Mind and body are meant to be loose and free in movement. Physical and mental versatility, agility, adaptability and flexibility are the hallmarks of relaxation. Tension and rigidity give us no choice but to disconnect. Relaxation allows us to remain connected through the most troubling and difficult situations. It also allows us to remain connected when we receive praise, love and generosity. It is this acceptance of all life’s situations, the ups and the downs, that relaxation allows. If we can learn to steer into them, we can improve the quality of our relationships, with ourselves, others and the world around us.  We can explore the potential that exists on the other side of tension and disconnection.

Over to you

How do you disconnect? What things move you to disconnect? Are you able to remain connected when you are faced with difficult situations? How well do you receive praise and do you fully accept it graciously? As always I’d love to hear from you. Please post your comments in the box at the foot of the page and share your thoughts, experience and understanding.

Pass it on

If you found this blog useful, please pass it on to someone you think will benefit. If you like the sound of topics covered in the Mindful Movement classes you can find out more here. Alternatively, send me an e- mail (david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk) and I can answer your questions and give you additional information. Thank you.

When your body speaks- the power of awareness

various DIY tools in an orange tool holder secured to a bare wooden wall

Your body is a tool kit that can be used to determine your state in any given moment, feeding back to you your state of mind and being

You cannot consciously and purposefully change anything without being aware of it first.  Awareness gives you power to choose your actions. It is perhaps the single most important aspect essential for personal growth.

The Learning Cycle

You may know this cycle of learning:

  • Unconscious incompetence
  • Conscious incompetence
  • Conscious competence and
  • Unconscious competence.

We start the process unaware of what we don’t know (unconscious incompetence). Then through guidance or insight we realise that we don’t know something.  We discover we need to improve (conscious incompetence). This spurs us to learn and consciously apply our learning.  Firstly in quite a crude and clumsy manner.  Then with progressively more skill as our knowledge and experience develops (conscious competence). In time we act with great skill without paying conscious attention to our behaviour (unconscious competence). Then the process repeats, endlessly growing our skill base and competence. True growth never stops.

Judgement Free

This is as true for our feelings and emotions as it is for our practical and intellectual skill. Emotional intelligence is an important part of our behavioural and relational repertoire. Awareness of how the body feels is a route into our state of being in this moment. We recognise tension, discomfort, relaxation or pleasure in the body.  That tells us valuable information about how our body responds to this current situation. It takes practice to notice these feelings in the body rather than think about them and judge the reaction. There is great power in noticing how we feel without judgement.  Then we are free to act from where we are emotionally. 

We can then make a choice about whether this response serves us and the people around us.  Mindfully we begin to take responsibility and make changes to alter the way we affect the outcome.

Awareness Applied to Public Speaking

Recently I had a public speaking engagement.  I noticed myself getting nervous, tense and shallow breathing developing into panic behaviour. As soon as I realised it I began relaxing and deepening my breath which calms me down. I was able to deliver the talk without any difficulty. Previous experience tells me that left unchecked this panic reaction leads to ineffective communication, forgetting my lines and not interacting with the audience.  As a consequence the attendees do not get what they came for. It was better for all that I noticed.

How awareness influences conversations

When we are having a conversation with someone, very often we pay attention to what is happening between us and them. Is the atmosphere calm and relaxed, charged and edgy, aggressive and threatening? That is one level of awareness. Another is noticing what is going on for the other person and how they are contributing to the environment. A third is how you are feeling and how you affect what is going on. Only by being aware of how you are feeling can you affect the space around you consciously. The onus is on you to notice and then take responsibility for your role in co- creating the outcome.

Body as Tool Kit for Awareness

Your body then is a tool kit that can be used to determine your state in any given moment, feeding back to you your state of mind and being.  Developing methods to increase your awareness of your body and its feelings is important for greater relaxation, confidence and well- being.  I cover these and many other strategies during my Moving Meditation Courses.
You can e- mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk to learn about future events and  to discuss creating bespoke courses for your workplace.  We can also discuss how we can work together to build your confidence from the inside out. Click here to find out about and book tickets for future Moving Meditation Courses.

Over to You

How do you use your body to be aware of your state?  What do you find easy or struggle with about awareness?  Do you use your awareness of your body to adapt how you are in situations like the public speaking one I described?  Are you aware of how you use your body when you communicate with other people and yourself?  I’d love to hear from you.

Pass it On

Think this article or the Moving Meditation Course might be useful for someone you know? Why not send them a link to the blog or forward them the details of the course? I’d really appreciate you spreading the word.

The Power of Breath

The breath is a powerful force. Not only does it keep you alive, it also helps you manage your mood and state of being

When was the last time you considered your breath? You take breathing for granted. As long as it is working so that you can work, rest and play you do not give it a second thought. From the moment you are born this essential process happens subconsciously, fuelling the body, feeding the cells the oxygen they need to perform their essential tasks to keep you alive and in good health and getting rid of the carbon dioxide that would otherwise build up to toxic levels in your system. On average, you take about 960 breaths an hour (that’s over twenty three thousand breaths a day). Until that moment when this process stops and your thoughts, emotions, feelings and awareness are no more.

The Power of Breath

The power of my breath was brought home to me most strongly when I as a teenager learning to SCUBA dive. Part of the training process is to learn drills should something happen underwater and you have to safely get back to the surface. One such drill is buddy- breathing. You always dive in pairs and if one of you runs out of air or your equipment malfunctions the other one can share their air while you both make a safe ascent. On one such practice dive, I was sharing my air with my buddy. As my buddy passed the mouth- piece to me so that I could take my 2 breaths, the instructor, unknown to me, turned off my air.

The feeling of trying to draw air and getting nothing in return sent me into panic. In fear I broke for the surface, which can be fatal for a diver, as the air is pressurised and expands as you rise. The instructor grabbed me before I got too far and got me to think about what I had to do to be safe. As I shared his air gratefully I felt the panic subside and clarity of thought return.

Needless to say, it was a dramatic lesson in how we are wired to take that next life- sustaining breath. I was also intrigued about how to control my thoughts, feelings and emotions in such a situation. Knowledge, practice, awareness and experience are all essential ingredients to success during an otherwise potentially stressful event. There are practical steps you can take to ensure you respond with confidence, calm, effectiveness and creativity.

The Relaxation Response

There are two strands to the way you respond to situations. There is either the relaxation response or the stress response. We are most familiar with the stress response: fight, flight or freeze. The relaxation response is less well known and is coined “rest and digest”. These two strands activate completely different parts of the nervous system.

When you are stressed and in the fight, flight or freeze response your sympathetic nervous system is engaged, driving your heart rate up, quickening your breath and dilating your blood vessels and muscles for action. This stress response is really important and useful in small doses. When your system is exposed to this long term, it can harmful affects on your mind and body, suppressing your immune system, making you irritable and aggressive, reducing effectiveness and creativity and much more.

Conversely, when you are relaxed, your parasympathetic nervous system is active, your heart slows, your breath slows and deepens and your blood vessels and muscles relax. You are meant to be relaxed for the majority of the time, promoting a strong immune system, a calm and relaxed demeanor, giving you resilience during stressful situations because generally your body and mind are not worn out by the excessive effects of long term stress.

The Power of Awareness

When you find yourself in stressful situations for much of the time, you can learn to engage the parasympathetic nervous system.  This promotes relaxation. You can learn to relax your muscles and calm and deepen your breathing so that you remain calm, attentive and aware throughout the day. The first stage to this is awareness. You have to realise that your body is reacting in a stressful way. Awareness exercises practiced regularly allow you to become more mindful of your state of mind and body so that you can recognise your state of being and consciously act to alter your state. They have the additional advantage of regularly relaxing your body system, keeping it calm for more of the time so that you enjoy better health and well- being. You will also interact with people better as a result and give off a feeling of calm and confidence.

Deep breathing in meditation and pranayama (yoga) practice is used to access spiritual connection, calming the body and allowing the mind’s brain waves to change to a beta state and even lower giving deeper rest, relaxation, awareness and realisation.

Controlling the breath

The breath is a powerful force. Not only does it keep you alive, it also helps you manage your mood and state of being. People tend to breath one of two ways, either by moving the chest or stomach. Chest breathing tends to be more shallow and is reminiscent of the stress response. Breathing from the stomach is much deeper and calmer. You are not literally breathing with your stomach. You are moving your stomach out, leaving room for your diaphragm to contract down, drawing more air into your lungs. This is much more healthy, calming and relaxing for the whole body. This is how you control your mood and response. Practice breathing deeply using the stomach and you can use this to activate the relaxation response during more stressful situations.

Moving Meditation Course

This is one of many methods I use with clients to help with confidence, awareness and relaxation. I cover this and many more during my Moving Meditation Courses. Please e- mail david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk to learn about future events.  We can also discuss  how we can work together to build your confidence from the inside out.  Click here to find out about future Moving Meditation Courses.

Over to You

What do you notice about your breathing when you are relaxed and stressed? Do you find you experience shortness of breath? How do you control your mind and body when you’re in a stressful situation? I’d love to hear from you and learn about how you use your breath.

Pass it on

Is this article or the Moving Meditation Course useful for someone that you know?  If so, please send them a link to the blog or forward the details of the course. I’d really appreciate you spreading the word.