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Connecting heart, hands, and head
Surrounded by complexity, the leaders and teams I work with often find themselves stuck in their heads and disconnected from the rich data and insights available in their bodies. Our brains are marvelous things, but leadership is an embodied practice that requires an integration of heart, hands, and head.
A simple technique to help get you back into your body is something called "Three Breaths." Not surprisingly, this involves taking three deep, conscious breaths. The great thing about breathing practices is that you need to do it anyway, so might as well get the extra benefits.
Simply taking a few deep breaths has countless physiological benefits. I suggest including a simple body expansion meditation as you do it. It doesn’t take any more time and might help you connect back to all that good stuff below the neck.
Take each breath slow and deep - in through your nose, hold it for a second or two, and out through your mouth. You can do this standing or sitting. I prefer standing for the full effect, but try both to see what works for you.
Breath 1: Length
As you breathe in, think about lengthening your body. Feel your feet on the floor, straighten your spine, relax your shoulders, and feel your body lengthen and straighten, connecting you deep into the ground and up into the sky. This is a move toward dignity and self-worth.
Breath 2: Width
On your second breath, think about the broadening of your body. Claim your space in the world and expand to the sides to include the parts of yourself that you've neglected or forgotten. This is a move toward inclusion and wholeness.
Breath 3: Depth
For the third breath, think about your life stretching far into the past and future. Feel the generations of ancestors who stand behind you with their hands on your back, resourcing you with courage and love. In front of you all the lives you will touch and make better. This is a move toward ancestry and legacy.
Think of this simple practice as something like putting air back into a balloon - filling and expanding your soul with dignity, wholeness, and a connection to your past and future. Not a bad deal for simply paying attention to something you need to do anyway.
Illustration credit: Liana Finck
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