What does it mean for us to be present in the moment with our clients and colleagues? There is a deep listening and a full awareness of what has been, what is, and what will be. We are rooted in our purpose. We are first present with ourselves.
Watching Bill T. Jones (a multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer) talk about phrases, it mirrors much of our communications. He is fully embodied.
What is significant here in this for me is his ability to take the time to continually get to his breath and to center. From there he describes verbally and non-verbally in great detail. He charges us “to say what we feel and think without censorship”. “What you say affects what you do; what you do affects what you say”. I find this breathtaking and exciting to experience.
We don’t need to be a dancer like Bill T, we only need to be embodied. There are many ways to get there. Here are a couple:
This reminds me of an exercise when in acting school (New Actors Workshop) called the Awareness Continuum. George Morrison, our teacher, taught this to help us to become fully present and to overcome nervousness.
It works like this: Move around the room, and speak sub-lingually “I’m aware of… and fill in with sights, feelings, sounds, smells, sensations, tastes – all the things you are aware of. “I’m aware of my hands being cold. I am aware of the honking horn outside. I am aware of my breath being shallow, I am aware of people looking at me. I am aware of being tired. I’m aware of my red shirt. I am aware of the garlic taste in my mouth”. And so on. And when you were ready, you go into your scene, speech, presentation and you are present.
In another exercise I learned in an intensive called Self Directed Acting this past summer with Raina Von Waldenburg, we scored our monologues. We put phrases of movement to the words. It kept us present and made us come alive with meaning.
While coaching a senior woman in banking to be ready to deliver a keynote at the annual sales meeting, her nerves were a big issue. After writing a terrific storyline replete with a perfect analogy for the business, it had to be delivered flawlessly. What worked was to score this presentation.
It had “choreography” – meaning there was movement that was repeatable that used the stage and was congruent with her message. One part of the stage was the past, another the future. Another part was when referring to clients; where another was when she would confide with the team and so on. It brought great life and variety to her presentation because she became embodied through the movement.
On top of that, we gave a vocal score to it. It was seamless, coordinated and elegant. The best part is that the words of the story were rooted in the movement and the tone. She was now able to embody her communication. Because she was focused on the audience, her message and the score, it removed her from being in her head and becoming nervous. She didn’t have to memorize a script because the words and messages were internalized in her body and readily available to her.
Next time you are getting ready for a high stakes interaction, try the exercises here. Being embodied is what brings us to a physical being present state.
Watch the grace and wonder of Bill T. Jones for inspiration: