how to create a movement-rich life

how to create a movement-rich life

to shift, v.

:  to change the place, position, or direction of

:  to exchange for or replace by another

:  to go through a change

how do you move through your days?

if you’re anything like me (+ the rest of most of the modern western world, it seems), we’re pulled into this tic-tocking rat-race of go-go-go, do-do-do--- constantly.

our days are driven by packed schedules, competing demands, + juggled responsibilities,

this sense of pressure for productivity from outside of us somehow gets under our skin + into our bloodstream, chronically elevating our heart rate + inflaming our stress level.

+ the rub?

-- we’re hardly ever still, yet we’re rarely moving meaningfully. + a lot of the time, we’re just exhausted.

sound familiar?

well, what if we could shift this.

 
 

that’s the challenge that one of my medical science heroines dr. katy bowman, has take on with fierce dedication + infectious gusto. dr.  bowman is a super brilliant + radically cool md who studies functional movement with an intention toward empower the masses, each + every one of us to design our lives in more movement-rich ways.

how do you create a “movement-rich life”?

we start designing our environments + our days to nourish our bodies as opposed to weakening them. dr. bowman offers an abundance of exceptional research + resources about why + how we can do this-- some of it seems pretty radical at first, + yet, it’s intriguing. as someone who is constantly in motion, who has declared war on chairs + literally cries on long commutes, who strikes yoga poses in meetings + does spontaneous stretch breaks at the movies, i am absolutely not dr. bowman’s toughest audience. + yet, the people she’s reached + impacted demonstrate the range of men + women both who have overhauled their personal + professional practices + spaces to better care for their bodies through increased intentional movement.

this piece on her website “nutritious movement” is a terrific place to take a look at some of the ways, large + small, that all kinds of folks are implementing these strategies. perhaps it will inspire a few movement life-hacks of your own!

“to shift” something is to provoke motion, to ignite change. this verb is my action gift to you all as we wrap up our “move” week. it’s an invitation to change, mentally + physically, in some small way. it’s an invitation into movement.

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MEET GRETA

for nearly a decade, greta nelson has worked with women + girls in myriad capacities; she brings this kaleidoscope of skill, experience, + energy to active voice. she is a graduate of duke university's integrative health coaching program + holds a master's degree in english education from columbia university teachers college. in addition, she is a practicing educator, writing clinician, + e~ryt 500 certified yoga instructor. greta synchronizes expertise with passion to be a guide, an advocate, + a sister in support to each every one of her clients.

8 must-have ingredients of connection

8 must-have ingredients of connection

to listen, v.

to hear something with thoughtful attention :  give consideration

to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true

I’m struck, even now, by the depth and weight in this word, the way that it commands a certain kind of reverence. Listening to someone, truly and honestly listening without judgement, without walking in with assumptions about what or how they are going to speak or be; this is one of the greatest gifts we can give another person because it gives her room to make a different choice, to write a different story for herself.

So in this post, as we wrap up our first “connect”-focused week, I’m offering this invitation to open your ears rather than your mouth in the service of building and enhancing the health of your relationships. This is “other-oriented” listening; it’s a “being-with” another person in his or her own experience without shadowing it your own “stuff.” It’s an empathetic presencing. And it is possibly one of the most powerful mindfulness practices each of us can integrate into our lives.

so without further ado, let's get on to these 8 ways show up as a listener.

1. be present

nothing gets in the way of creating meaningful connection than distraction-- and wow, how rampant this is in our modern lives. I won’t begin to enumerate this myriad ways we’re constantly being pulled out of the moment-- suffice it to say that effective listening cannot happen if your attention is divided. gift yourself permission to put aside these competing demands on your mind, then, and instead, practice some present-ness with this other person.  

2. suspend judgment

interactions become explosive if we’re entering them with judgment, positive or negative. even if you don’t agree with your coworker or teenager’s point of view on a topic, effective communication and negotiation requires that we bring to it a spirit of authentically wanting to honor and understand the perspective and motivation of another person.  

3. put aside a desire to “solve” an issue

in our relationships, personal and professional, we often fall prey to a need to “fix” something for a person who’s decided to share a struggle with us. while there’s certainly a time and place for this kind of advice-giving, there’s enormous power, too, in just listening to a person’s full story without reacting with a solution. instead, make your single goal in this process that of listening to the other person, fully and completely.

4. hone awareness and observation

pay attention to the details. like a scientist, notice the speaker’s tone, body language, word use, general manner-- engage all of your senses. gather this data-- it’s invaluable to shedding light on what she or he is really saying.  

 
 

5. demonstrate receptivity

let your body language convey the spirit that you’re bringing to this exchange-- openness, eye-contact, warmth and empathy in your facial expression-- all of these elements create a safe and support atmosphere for the speaker to share authentically.  

6. say less

some of us have been trained to show that we are listening to another person actively by interrupting him or her with incisive comments or questions that prove that we’re “paying attention”. if we know a person well, we might also have a tendency to finish her sentences, thinking that this is evidence of our closeness. in these cases, we measure the quality “active listening” by the content of our own contributions to the exchange. actual listening though, requires us, not just rein in our impulse to speak as much (if not more than) the person we’re listening to; we need to also stop planning out the script of what we’re going to say when that person finally finishes!  notice yourself doing this? take a breath, apologize for an interruption, slow down, breathe, and gently redirect your thoughts back to what the speaker is saying.

7. strategize your speaking

change up your patterns of responding; make them about the speaker rather than about you.  instead of critiquing or interrogating, try offering paraphrases of what the speaker is saying to get clarification, summarizing points he or she has made, reflecting key words or emotions back like an echo or a mirror, or asking open-ended “what” or “how” that invite description and depth rather than provoke defensiveness or shame. when in doubt, never underestimate the power of pause, or of an empathetic shared silence.

8. cultivate curiosity

humans are fascinating creatures! use your listening as an opportunity to be surprised and delighted by the unique person in front of you. likely, you’ll discover something fresh.

MEET GRETA

for nearly a decade, greta nelson has worked with women + girls in myriad capacities; she brings this kaleidoscope of skill, experience, + energy to active voice. she is a graduate of duke university's integrative health coaching program + holds a master's degree in english education from columbia university teachers college. in addition, she is a practicing educator, writing clinician, + e~ryt 500 certified yoga instructor. greta synchronizes expertise with passion to be a guide, an advocate, + a sister in support to each every one of her clients.

body language: strike a POWER POSE!

body language: strike a POWER POSE!

to integrate, verb. 

1.to bring together or incorporate (parts) into a whole.
2. to make up, combine, or complete to produce a whole or a larger unit, as parts do.
3. to unite or combine.

my wish is for these messages to be, in themselves, gifts to each and every one of you. gifts that you can hold and try on and treasure and pay forward. 

i want for each one to offer an ah-ha and an action,
an insight and, well, something to do about that insight. 
right. now. present tense.


i selected this as the first area to explore with you all because, while all areas of the wheel of health are by definition interrelated, the mind-body connection aspect is a keystone in what we’re up to in integrative health coaching: partnering with clients to help them tune into their own inner wisdom. 

because it’s that gut sense that can authentically guide each of us to greater health and happiness. 

recognizing and leveraging the connection between our body and mind helps us access that that deep knowing. when a person is connecting her mind (her intellectual and analytical “thinking” self) and her body (her flesh and blood physical self), she’s tapping into a powerful thing: the capacity for transformation through awareness and choice.  

we hear a lot about “mindfulness” in our culture right now. we are noticing more and more negative effects suggesting that what’s happening in our minds (namely stress, in all forms) shows up in our physiology. this is the connection between body and mind at work as an alarm system for us— it alerts us to the fact that our health and wellbeing are being compromised. and the concrete, measurable impacts of this are very real. any time we try to separate what’s going on in the body from what’s going on in the mind, we run into failure that manifests as disease or dis-ease. 

cultivating the communication between the mind and the body, paying attention to the way that one impacts the other, and vice versa, has tremendous implications for our health and wellbeing. there’s buzz aplenty around formalized disciplines like yoga in which practitioners demonstrate the positive influence that activating the body can have on the mind— decreasing stress, anxiety, depression, and myriad other complaints while increasing their positive, healthy counterparts. 

basically, when we work with our bodies, we can are also working with our mental and emotional states. over time, commitment to these physical practices can and do shape and sustain rich and vibrant lives. 

so there’s potential in that, isn't there, for transformation?

but how do we begin to sync up our bodies and our brains?

well, you can start here, right now. 

in her 2011 ted talk, dr. amy cuddy offers an exquisitely simple practice, based in exhaustive research, that illuminates just how powerful this linking can be, even in tiny conscious infusions. if you haven’t yet seen this talk, it’s an absolute must-watch. if you have already seen it, take another look— for me, it’s a game changer, again and again— each time. i take away something new and empowering. 

in a nutshell, this super-sharp social psychologist and professor at harvard business school presents evidence  that how we humans live in our bodies, as conveyed by our body language, affects how people see and feel about us and, more important, how we see and feel about ourselves. the result is that this “body language” largely determines the personal and professional opportunities we’re given and the choices we make throughout our lives. she eloquently and boldly argues that “…our bodies change our minds, our minds change our actions, and our actions change our outcomes.” 

in two minutes, she claims, of “power-posing” any of us can distinctly shift our body chemistry and physiology to make us appear and actually feel more courageous, confident, and capable, and then act from that place.

so, that’s your action gift for the week; your experiment. give it a go, and see what linking can yield!

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MEET GRETA

for nearly a decade, greta nelson has worked with women + girls in myriad capacities; she brings this kaleidoscope of skill, experience, + energy to active voice. she is a graduate of duke university's integrative health coaching program + holds a master's degree in english education from columbia university teachers college. in addition, she is a practicing educator, writing clinician, + e~ryt 500 certified yoga instructor. greta synchronizes expertise with passion to be a guide, an advocate, + a sister in support to each every one of her clients.