A couple of years ago, I attended a weekend workshop on the Alexander Technique. The Alexander Technique works with your body awareness to help identify and release bad habits of movement that you have built up over a lifetime of stress. This tool is especially useful for singers, musicians, actors, dancers or athletes to help them perform at their full potential.
During the weekend, something struck me that I think is important for facilitators, trainers, and group leaders. The teacher was working with a reflexologist who was working on a client. To make a long story short, what he essentially did was to instruct her on how to transmit her own self-healing to her client. The learning was that her body already knows what to do as an instrument. When this instrument is clear, balanced, unimpeded by extraneous thoughts, and free of personal agendas, it offers the clearest channel for this clarity and balance to be transmitted to her client.
From my perspective, this is something master facilitators, trainers, and leaders do as well. That is, to use their senses and awareness as instruments into what’s happening in the group.
There are so many skills, techniques, and tools for group leaders to ponder that we can come to believe that the success of our group depends on pulling out the right tool or saying the right thing at just the right time. There’s no question that using an appropriate tool at the right time can be very helpful. But there’s more to group leadership than that.
How we are within ourselves shows up perhaps louder than any words we say or technique we employ. If we want our groups to cooperate and collaborate, what if we were first to ask, “What stands in the way of cooperation inside myself?”
What kind of impact might the resolution of your inner struggles have on the dynamics of your group? I believe that we teach what we are, so I’d say that what’s going on inside of us has a significant impact on others.
So what can we do to build inner cooperation? Here are some ideas.
Notice your inner state. Everything starts with self-awareness. Whether we have a physical sensation, an emotional feeling, or a thought, these energies impact our outer actions and responses. So, if we are experiencing a strong judgment, sadness, a headache, etc. we have two choices.
Our first choice is to give our attention and energy to these disturbances, thereby amplifying them within ourselves and transmitting them to our group to some degree.
Our second choice is to simply notice these disturbances, then choose to place our attention on a more uplifting or ascending thought, emotion, or feeling. In the Alexander Technique, we find a place in our bodies that is free of stress. A place that feels at ease. They recommend starting with the back of your neck. The body cannot produce stress without it originating in our necks. Therefore, finding ease in the neck and revisiting this area with our attention as we act tends to amplify it through our bodies over time.
In the meditation technique I teach called Ascension, when we notice a thought, we place our attention on a thought of appreciation, gratitude, or love. This puts the mind at ease and short circuits the stress response.
Take action or not. In the suggestions above, we are not asking you to repress or ignore the thoughts and feelings that pass through you. You may receive a natural impulse to share something with the group or offer an intervention of some kind. What we are suggesting is that you first find peace and ease inside before you take action. A response coming from inner peace is more likely to create a higher outcome than one coming from inner turmoil. Once again, when your mind, body, and spirit are cooperating, you are in the best position to transmit cooperation to your groups.
Repeat. We are never done. Each moment offers a new opportunity. So now, when you check inside, what is your inner state? Again, release that which impedes peace and ease and act from there. It’s a simple but continuous process! The challenge here is to remain awake to your own awareness and not get caught believing in a problem (which simply fuels inner conflict). To the degree your actions come from stillness, you will be teaching that which all leaders aspire: a congruent, focused, powerful collective movement.
Try this way of being in your groups and let me know what happens. Do you have any comments to make about this perspective or experiences to share? We’d love to hear from you! Just add your comments below to share your questions, feedback, or experience on this topic.